Direct store deliveries (DSDs) are part of the daily routine for any convenience store, but the constant re-keying of information from an invoice hard copy into a computer is time-consuming and prone to error.
The task is becoming less daunting for convenience store operators who use the Computerized Daily Book (CDB) back office system from Service Station Computer Systems Inc. (SSCS), a Salinas, Calif.-based solutions provider. This is because the CDB makes invoice information at the product item level–for approved vendors–available to SSCS customers through the use of electronic data interchange (EDI).
EDI functionality makes SSCS’ DSD automation possible, providing seamless transfer and capture of data. Invoice information is sent from the vendor’s secure AS2 server over the Internet to SSCS’s secure AS2 server where it can be accessed by the retailer’s CDB program. Once in the CDB, information can be converted with the click of a button to a transaction record with item names, quantities, costs, suggested lists (users can choose to maintain their own pricing), invoice numbers and dates.
New items in deliveries are identified as well as cost increases and decreases. Any retail price on any item can be changed and sent to the c-store’s point-of-sale (POS). The bottom line is improved efficiency and accurate margins which lead to increased profitability.
Coca-Cola Customer Business Solutions is one of SSCS’s approved EDI vendors. The company collaborates on technology with Coca-Cola Enterprises, the world’s largest marketer, producer and distributor of Coca-Cola products. As a result, SSCS users across the country are capitalizing on the ability to engage in electronic commerce with a leading beverage distributor.
Joe Anello, division manager for 19 Nittany Minit Mart stores throughout Pennsylvania, said the automated DSD process is a huge timesaver.
“Thanks to the EDI interface that Coca-Cola and SSCS have set up, I estimate I save up to an hour a week at each store–two deliveries at 30 minutes each,” he said. “Though it is harder for me to quantify a reduction in human error during the input and processing of invoices–‘fat fingering’ as we call it in the industry–I know it to be quite significant. This kind of automation definitely increases the productivity of my managers.”
H. N. Funkhouser & Co., a petroleum products and services supplier that operates 20 c-stores throughout the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, is another of the company’s success stories.
“The benefits of the Coca-Cola EDI process are threefold,” said Kevin LaFollette, Funkhouser’s vice president of operations. “First, it saves time by eliminating the need for a store associate to scan in the delivery. Second, it increases the accuracy of the invoices, which makes our inventory more exact and reduces the audit time by our accounts payable staff. Third, it streamlines the process with Coca-Cola Enterprises, creating a win-win situation for both of us.”
The SSCS automated DSD function benefits from the incorporation of NAXML file layouts established by the Petroleum Convenience Alliance for Technology Standards (PCATS). By subscribing to a well-established standard for file transmission, to which leading retailers, wholesalers and technology vendors voluntarily comply, c-store operators are assured a level of operational consistency as well as early access to the newest technologies. This further provides a competitive edge for SSCS customers.
“The c-store industry has long had to deal with the tedium and imprecision of manually processing delivery information,” said SSCS Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Al Stoeberl. “We’re happy to partner with Coca-Cola and other vendors to bring our mutual customers this convenience. Every day we see the beneficial impact of paperless processing for c-store operators through the implementation of automated DSDs.”