The retail industry is in the midst of huge change. There’s an ever-increasing amount of competition from online-only stores, the rising cost of brick and mortar retail space, a bevy of information available for consumers and many shoppers conditioned to find the lowest price.

Slow economic growth has forced households to reduce their spending, and retailers are following suit. The flow on effect from this is being seen throughout the whole supply chain, right down to suppliers and manufacturers.

With the new financial year approaching, here’s how we predict retailers and suppliers will become even more efficient in 2017 and beyond…

Movement towards the ‘holy grail’ supply chain

While organisations have been using EDI for years, they’ll now start to look to the ‘holy grail’ supply chain. Not only will data flow seamlessly between a company and their goods suppliers, but this information will integrate with other service suppliers like transport and logistics providers. Organisations will try to streamline their business processes as much as possible, so when an order enters an application, everything thereafter follows like clockwork.

Emergence of standards

The Digital Business Council’s eInvoicing standard was released last year, with the network set to go live in the coming months. The initiative presents a common standard, which will reduce the barriers to electronic invoicing for all businesses. With support from Government, this standard is set to grow, just like it has in Europe and South America.

We’ll see businesses start to adopt GS1’s transport instruction and response messages to get yet another level of visibility into their supply chain. Organisations will be able to access information from when they ship goods, to when they’re on their fourth, fifth or sixth leg of delivery.

Focus on smaller suppliers

Many organisations have their top trading partners using EDI, but now they’ll start to focus on the others. Very few supply chains use 100% electronic trade, but with new tools like Colladium that address cost the cost of EDI for small suppliers, as well as the issue of cost from supplier churn, companies roll out these solutions to achieve 100% electronic trade.

Integration with more than just suppliers

The data held in EDI messages is extremely valuable. In a typical EDI scenario, the automated process brings great efficiency to your business, but it can bring efficiency and benefits far beyond that. In 2017 and beyond, we’ll see more businesses leverage this data for things like bank reconciliation and extending finance to suppliers. We’ll see EDI, which was once used to bring efficiency to an organisation’s supply chain, now bring efficiency to other areas like finance.