On Demand Webinar

Optimizing 3PL Management for Multi-Channel Operations with Integration

With the unprecedented impact of COVID on supply chain, now more than ever, businesses need to optimize their 3PL management processes. Whether they need to work with fewer resources or process an increasing number of orders, automation is key for operational efficiency.

By integrating their 3PL into NetSuite, businesses can eliminate the need for manually exchanging product, order, and fulfillment information with their 3PL Providers, and keep accurate track of inventory leading to healthy business decisions.

In this on-demand webinar, Chris Bidleman from Celigo discusses best practices for fully automating 3PL management processes.

Topics include:

  • State of Ecommerce and impact on supply chain
  • Challenges managing 3PL for multi-channel ecommerce
  • Best Practices for 3PL Management Automation
  • Q & A

Watch now!

Full Webinar Transcript
Thank you, everyone, joining us today. We have a very hot topic today, so we’ll talk about optimizing 3PL management for multichannel operations with integrations. And I’m here with Chris Bidleman. So Chris, is the Director of Solutions Integration at Celigo, and he heads up the solution architect’s team. And he has been with the company for more than nine years now. And before that, Chris, has worked for different consulting and software companies. And he focused on solution driven results in health care, IT and supply chain management. And he also has more than 20 years of experience in e-procurement and in e-commerce. So for those of you new to Celigo we’re an iPaaS integration platform as a service company. And on our platform, any application can be connected with any other application to automate business processes. So whether you’re struggling to handle an increase in sales or had to recently narrow down the size of your operations and work with fewer resources, in either case, automation helps. For example, with order to cash automation, you can technically process and fulfill more orders without increasing the size of your operations. And if you have NetSuite as your ERP, you can connect any of the business systems you see here on this slide to NetSuite like e-commerce marketplaces, storefronts, 3PLs, POS systems, return management applications and so on. And once connected, you can centrally manage all aspects of your business from your ERP. As an example, whenever an order is placed on Shopify, it can be or it will be automatically processed for fulfillment in NetSuite. And so today, we will specifically focus on automating 3PL management. And so, Chris will start by briefly talking about the state of e-commerce today and the impact on supply chain of the various events. And then he will also talk about the challenges of managing 3PL, and then he will share with us his deep experience in this area and walk us through the best practices for 3PL management and operations. And now I will hand it off to Chris. Thank you, Ebru. Hello and welcome. Good morning, good afternoon, everyone. As Ebru as mentioned I am the Solution Architect here at Celigo. And it’s been an interesting ride for the last since COVID hit in March. And there’s been a big influx in conversations I’ve had with our different customers across the world as far as just the variety of impacts. But I think everyone has seen– the majority of them have seen this uptick in the number of online orders. So a lot of stores had to close physical stores and everyone’s seen a big spike, especially ones that folks that were selling essential goods or even the changes in policy at Amazon as far as shipping out goods, only essential goods, but then forcing a lot of customers to do MFN or merchant fulfilled orders that way. So this spike you’ve seen kind of peaked around May at least to CC insight as far as the retail sales and online orders are replaced. So this did put a big strain on just the supply chain in general just from the eCommerce standpoint, but also just the change in the quick reaction people had to do as far as spikes and knowing what stock they had available and when it was going to get there and be able to make some promises. So again, I’ve had some interesting conversations over the last several months with different customers, which I’ll try and share with you today. There are various challenges as far as managing what’s going in on your third-party logistics companies because you may have your own warehouse. You may have some 3PLs in different parts of the country– east coast, west coast. You may want to be opening up a new marketplace. I’ve seen a lot of customers wanting to expand the– into European marketplace or Australia down under. And so I’ve been doing this for a long time and have thought about– being able to spool up a warehouse in weeks as opposed to months that used to take is– still kind of blows my mind. But there are a lot of things you have to evaluate to understand– is what it is you’re trying to achieve? What is it you want to do with that? If you want integration going on, can you still handle it manually? So there’s different aspects to the different business processes that you have to look at. But I’ve done literally hundreds of integrations with 3PLs and no– not a single one of them has been the same because business needs have been different. The products have been different. What the 3PL’s is doing is different because they all offer different solutions across a map. Some do light manufacturing. They can do embroidery. They can do lots of other things besides just pick, pack, and ship. So it’s evaluation of knowing all those different aspects and what they can offer as far as different 3PLs. Celigo as an iPaaS provide that automated management to be able to sort of route this– the logistic side of the orders that are coming in from your multi-channels. We have a lot of customers we see have expanded their capacity within their eCommerce platforms spooling up other– maybe a B2B site versus a B2C site. And so being able to manage that throughout your entire supply chain, you need to be able to have that visibility. And we like to think with our products and iPaaS, you can be able to control that and be able to see when there is problems, but also optimize across your supply chain. As I’ve said, we’ve had some recent conversations with customers who had a huge spike of orders coming in if they would do a flash sale or something and to be able to handle that through their systems. We found some bottlenecks. We’ve made some optimization changes, some timing changes. And they’re able to get their orders quickly. And of course, that translates to customer satisfaction. So those kinds of things that we want to be able to look at to be able to see across your entire ecosystem. So as I mentioned, when automating the 3PL integrations or be able to interact with your 3PLs, there’s different aspects that you need to kind of look at. You don’t have to do everything. It’s just what is going to be most important? And what are those aspects we want to do? So I’ll get into it a little bit more. With this roadmap, you can do a phase approach as far as– probably most important, of course, was order fulfillment. That’s where you want to be able to get your orders and get your shipments and get things moving through the excess. But then, there are other– especially if you’re multi-channel, that inventory visibility is very important to be able to syndicate out that inventory so folks know what they have available. Or if you have multiple channels that you’re trying to allocate orders across and not do any stockouts then, again, this real-time visibility into the supply chain, again, is one of those things that sort of blows my mind to think about. Now we can do two-day Prime. Now we can do same-day shipping with these type of systems in place and the way the warehouses have optimized their own operations. So it is amazing. And the consumers are also expecting this now. They’re expecting to know where their order is. They’re expecting to know how much you have in inventory, or if you’re out of stock, when is it going to be in stock. So that visibility, there’s a lot of backend systems that need to be brought into place to be able to do that. As far as items, whenever you introduce new products, too, to be able to do a successful launch and be able handle that expected spike when you do release that new products, especially if you’re in the apparel business where you’re constantly changing your inventory: new seasonal changes, discontinuing others, clearances. So it may be for you it’s more important to have that automation and control over your product set or your item catalogue. We have some customers, all they do is sell five items. So they really don’t need automation on that because it’s pretty much the same products, just sells thousands of them. We could do a whole seminar on return processing, but I’ll touch lightly on that here. And then as far as just getting orders to your 3PLs and to your other distribution centers that you need is also important. But, again, maybe depending on what you’re doing internally and what your business processes are, that each one of these may have a different priority level for you. So what I’d like to do is kind of step you through sort of the guidance that we try and provide to some of our customers, as far as, when they do want to automate some of the 3PL integrations or think about expanding out to different marketplaces, to kind of go through these different steps as far as review the business processes, look at the data that’s being transferred between the two endpoints, be able to select an integration option because, again, there is a lot of 3PLs and others that are still using EDI. Maybe they have to go through a value-added network. So I’ll touch on that in the course, what is going to be the next steps? So let’s jump into– look at the business processes. As I said, as you look at your orders, your inventory, inbound shipments, and your catalog, there are some things to think about. I’m not going to talk about all of these, but I just do want to point out a few things. And one of the main things is order volume. How are you going to handle backorders? Which is an interesting conversation in itself, is some folks allow the 3PL to control those back orders. So if you don’t– you have an order with three items. One of them’s out of stock. Do you hold that order or do you ship out those two items and then ship out the back-order item later? Some folks have policies as far as ship only holding those on. And some 3PLs actually have a policy that they have what they call a fill or kill. If they don’t have the item, they’re going to kill that line item and cancel it. And so now you have to replace that order for that item that wasn’t available. So there’s different things that you have to take into account when you’re talking through your back-order handling. Our recommendation is you handle back orders within your ERP to be able to allocate those out again a little bit later here because when you’re doing multichannel order allocation what is the policy? Are you putting priority on your B2B wholesale business? Do they get the largest part of the order? Do you want to react to the different use steal stock from one of the other locations to be able to fulfill those orders, or do you just take everything in a first in first out, FIFO approach? So that’s part of the order allocation thing that you have to look at, and I’ll tell you some strategies here in a moment. As far as inventory, obviously, there’s adjustments and different things going on within the warehouses themselves. What is available inventory? And be able to keep those in sync, because if there is things called shrinkage, which happens where a stock just kind of disappears or gets lost. Even within Amazon, they have a whole inventory adjustment report that says we found stock, we lost stock, we damaged stock, etc., etc. So it’s one of those things where stock movements can cause some changes that you thought you had the stock available, and it’s not. It’s sitting on a cart moving from one location to another. So it sort of disappears. Or as Amazon often does, they’ll actually move stock between the warehouses. So having some of that visibility, understanding where your stock is, is also very important, especially if it’s sitting on a boat coming across the sea. So to understand where that is and when you’re going to get it. As far as catalogs, I did mention a little bit as far as sort of the strategy there, as far as the frequency of how often things change, how many skews you have, which is the stock-keeping unit? Some systems call them items. Some call it products, but it’s all kind of the same thing. As I mentioned, personalization of those items, too. How do you get that? How do you send that personalization message to the warehouse so they can put it on the embroidery machine and do some of that type of work before it gets shipped out? So there is some things to work out in your supply chain to be able to get that information properly. And just what type of items do you sell? Are they assemblies? Are you doing drop-ship orders from other locations? Are you kitting it? So all those aspects have to be taken into account when you’re– especially kits because a lot of times warehouses don’t know your kit number. All they know is the two items that are in that kit that they have to pick off the shelves. So again, it’s a matter of providing the right information to the warehouse so they know exactly what they are shipping and how it needs to ship, especially if you have customers on your website who are picking. They may have a kit of different items that they are selecting from different sizes, different colors for this particular kit, which we call variable kit or variants. And that’s also can be quite tricky. So there’s different strategies that you need to do as far as being able to tell the warehouse exactly what it is that your customer ordered. But then you got to keep the accountants happy to know what did that item sell for and what is the refund value of those items that were sold in those kits? All those type of strategies need to be taken into account as you’re figuring out where you want to automate. And then finally, inbound shipments. This is anything that’s coming into the warehouse, so a shipment from a vendor, a transfer from another warehouse, maybe a return that somebody went on to your portal or your web store and wanted to return is going to ship it back to the warehouse. So all those things the warehouse needs to be aware of that something is coming in and so they can properly receive it. So for Celigo, we do a lot of NetSuite integrations. It’s the majority of what we do, and I imagine some of the folks on this call have NetSuite as your ERP or order management system. So there are a couple things to consider, hence, if you will, that I want to at least bring up for your sake, is how you’ll set up your 3PL in your basically virtual locations, how are you going to handle the status. So normally they would have two different locations for maybe good, damage, or QA locations. They would actually be completely different setups of physical locations. But NetSuite recently released what they call inventory statuses. So within the same inventory location, you can have good inventory, bad inventory, and be able to allocate across that. So part of your strategy needs to understand which of those features are going to enable. Inventory status is a little trickier because it gives a false view if you just look at that inventory location because maybe everything went into QA and is being inspected. But it’s really not available to pick, pack, and ship. So those are the kind of things you have to consider whenever you’re building your safe searches or anything else. Within NetSuite, they have what’s called the inbound shipment record. A lot of the other ERPs have similar sort of records where you might have multiple purchase orders that are accounted for. It’s in a container ship that’s actually going to be received for those multiple POs at the warehouse. So, again, which of those are you going to utilize? And it’s best to speak to your NetSuite consultant on the pros and cons of that particular record. Serialisation or lot numbers, if you have to manage those, we’ve often found it’s sometimes easier just to use custom fields instead of using the native NetSuite functionality with those serialisation or lot numbers because there are some restrictions. You have to have those numbers in the system before you can actually do a fulfillment. So those are some of the things you have to consider. And then if you have more than one 3PL, if you want to figure out maybe like zone bay shipping, which warehouse is most cost effective to ship out of. There are some functions within NetSuite and other ERPs that do have that sort of order allocation feature to figure out which warehouse that you’re going to allocate those orders to once they come in to figure out what’s the most cost effective shipping that you can get. And some 3PLs will actually do that for you, whereas like a Ingram Micro or some of these others where you just send in the order to them and they figure out where it needs to ship out of most effectively. I mean, that’s essentially what Amazon does with their FBA. You place a Amazon order, and they’re going to figure out which warehouse is going to be lowest cost for them. And so that’s why sometimes your stock is spread across multiple regions. So, again, it just depends on who your partners are to be able to fulfill that need. So when you’re thinking about automating, obviously, you want to look at what you’re doing manually today. A lot of times, the old what we call sneakernet when you’re taking orders off your web, printing them out, and then are having to manually enter them to your order management system or into a 3PL portal or their site is not the best way to do that. If you’re a low order volume, sure, maybe that’s not a big deal to you. But we often see errors with that. So those are the type of things that present themselves as good opportunities to save a fair amount of money and repurpose those FTEs that have been doing that manually. When you’re looking at these things, you and certainly, look at hours per week, and look at your return on investment if you do want to automate some of these steps. As I said, the orders, there’s a couple of different strategies with orders that we’ve seen, even if you’re doing this manually or through automation, through like an iPaaS, like Celigo has. A lot of 3PLs can pull those orders directly out of your web store, and they’ll go into that system, but then if you’re multichannel, a lot of times we recommend maybe you– actually, if you have multiple stores, bring that order directly into your ERP. You can allocate it to your different channels if you will. Give priority to it, and allocate it at the ERP, and then send it to the 3PL. So, again, it’s really up to you how you want to manage that, but it’s just a part of your strategy, and last thing you really want to do is enter those orders in two different systems, possibly three, if you have a dropship vendor that’s also going to fulfill that order that was placed on your storefront. So that’s a totally different animal to have to deal with. As far as shipping, certainly, different systems need to know about when the order ships, what’s the tracking numbers, and such. So, again, if you’re having to manually enter that, that’s a lot of labor, but certainly with a automation to pull that information out, you can syndicate out that information from the 3PL back to your ERP order management system, and then send it out to the proper channel that that order was placed in. So if you have an eBay order that was fulfilled, or Amazon order that you fulfilled, you can certainly route it to that particular web store so then the person can get their notification because I think everyone who’s in supply chain management understands that the customer is anxious, and wants to get that message that it’s shipped, and understand it, and be able to track it through FedEx or UPS, and see that it’s going to arrive next day if they ordered that overnight shipping, or two-day shipping. So, again, that visibility into the supply chain is hugely important. And a lot of 3PLs do have the ability to what we call real-time pushes or webhooks, or there’s other– they can syndicate out those messages to whoever subscribes to that event, if you will. So we, Celigo, have the ability to be able to consume that message and do the same sort of syndication out to others in a near real-time basis. So there are a lot of advantages you can have to be able to automate this and get this out to everywhere it needs to know. And same thing with the items. Usually, your ERP is your item master. So you want to be able to syndicate out the pricing, the inventory, the item information to your storefronts, as well as your 3PL because they have to understand what is the size of that item, where is it going to be stocked, and all the other things before they can even receive or ship that item out. So, again, it’s very important to keep the 3PL updated on all your different items. So as far as integration options that you may have, as I mentioned before, you can handle this in-house, develop a lot of this yourself, but, obviously, some pros and cons associated with that. There are certain 3PLs that still route through what they call value-added networks and utilize EDI. I mean, the EDI’s been around 30 plus years, and so it’s been part of the supply chain. I mean, when I started mainframes, we were still doing EDI, and here we are doing a lot of EDI integrations to this day. So it is still highly utilized within the supply chain management systems support for all your trading partners, as well as your 3PLs. So it’s something to consider. 3PLs also offer some of these integrations that they can plug into your order management system or, as I mentioned before, directly into your e-commerce system. So that is certainly an option. And, of course, we, Celigo, offer iPaaS, an integration platform as a service to be able to provide some advantages there, too. So, certainly, can look at all those, as far as which is going to be your best option, the most cost-effective going forward. So it kind of wrap things up here, there’s different checklists you want to be able to do to get through to make sure that you have a successful integration project. As far as understanding your experience with you and your different partners who are involved with that integration, how much in-house knowledge you may have on the technology itself or your ERP. You definitely need to have your admin, whoever that is, available, and then be able to sort of go through these checklists of getting credentials and file samples and understand the mappings between the systems. As I said, one might call a product, another would call it a SKU, another would call it a variant, another would call it a matrix item. So there’s lots of different translations. And that’s sort of what we, Celigo, do as far as iPaaS to be able to provide that sort of mapping between the systems easily and effectively. And certainly, cutover and project planning, as I said, you don’t need to do a big bang. You can do this in small chunks and be able to get this– start realizing your investment right away, hit your orders, get your shipments, and then phase in all those other aspects of the different flows that are available to you. So I’m going to show a little bit about this. But there are some common data flows that we often see for each one of these. Doesn’t matter who the 3PL is or who the ERP or order management system is, they’re all kind of the same. There are some minor differences. Let me just mention on inventory, there’s two different type of inventory reports that you can get. One’s called inventory adjustments, which is stock movements that you might want to know when stock’s been damaged or when they find new stock or lose stock or cycle counts. That’s where that comes in. And then there’s inventory snapshots, which is, like the name says, what do I have at this point in time? So this is where you can also pick up shrinkage or other things that might be going on in your inventory. And hopefully the other hasn’t been too much of that going along the way. And as you see, the amount shipments, there’s a lot of different transactions that go on there. So we want to be able to address that, depending on how your business model is, because perhaps when you ship orders from your vendor, they come into your central warehouse, and then you’re going to do a transfer to the 3PL instead. Or you may have it shipped directly to the warehouse. So you may want to use inbound shipment. So there’s a lot of decisions that need to be made along the way as far as which data flows might be appropriate for you. And as I said, whenever we would do– if I do a scoping call with somebody on their 3PL integrations, there’s a lot of different possible data flows that you may want to do depending on if you’re doing NetSuite, for example, as your ERP, we want to step through each one and understand what is a priority, which is one you want now, do you even need it? Maybe, for whatever reason, there’s reverse. Or you just have returns sent in and they just show up on the doorstep of the 3PL and now we have to figure out how to get those returned and back in the stock, and then, of course, get a refund back out to your customers. So there’s lots of different things that we can show. I would like to just quickly give you a view of how this looks when you’re looking at it from an integrator standpoint. So this is our integrator.io platform, as I mentioned. Each one of these data flows is a flow that we can set up to handle that. We look at it as endpoints. And as an example for sales or it really doesn’t matter what the data format is that the 3PL might be using. They could be using CSV flat files. They could be using EDI. For us, it looks pretty much the same thing. If we’re going to be sending an order out of, say Netsuite, it’s the same search, goes into– transforms into the CSV file. But if it’s an EDI, same thing, exact same– export out. But then, we transform it to that 940EDI format that the 3PL needs. But perhaps, they’re a little more modern. And they’re using Web Service or they’re using XML as a flat-file. So again, there’s lots of different options that are available. But for us, it’s just the matter of changing the different endpoints and how they need to communicate and be able to schedule that for you. So we have a lot of templates associated with different 3PLs. So DCL, for example, is a 3PL we’ve been working with for years and years and done lots of those integrations. We have these preset templates that are already built out. DCL happens to have a web service that is RestAPI. So we can communicate with them very effectively and be able to connect to their API, send them their order information, and then update the order in NetSuite of whatever that internal ID is for that order. So now, we can reference that whenever we want to query about has it shipped yet, and be able to do that. And so again, the whole idea is to give you a user interface that’s user-friendly, easy to manipulate. And you don’t have to be a programmer to do that. So as I mentioned, we have a lot of examples, different customers who have deployed in this manner and be able to do this. Hair House Warehouse is one of those. They are based out of Australia and be able to– they have a supply chain [laughter]. They want to be able to get out to their different stores. So we want to– we integrated a lot of their backend systems to be able to provide that to the supply chain management with them. So again, I won’t go into all the details here. But as you can see, there’s a lot of things I was talking about as far as the triggers and different things that would be passed between the 3PL provider as well as the inbound and outbound data coming into– they happen to be using NetSuite in this case. So in summary, automating, integrating to your 3PL be it one distribution center or multiple ones across the world is– there’s both aspects to business side as far as be able to have better decisions on your distribution channel and how orders are coming in, provide better customer experience, do that fast, and information that they’re expecting to have as far as where things are, and also just be able to ship some of the operations to a more strategic instead of a lower-level data entry and all that type stuff. So there’s a lot of advantages there. And then, the IT side– certainly reducing the total cost of ownership by managing all these integrations on a single platform so you have a visibility of where data is and how it’s going. And when there are problems, you’re managing by exception rather than always having to manually move data around and be able to easily customize it. And also, the scaling’s up. As I mentioned, we can stand up a 3PL integration and within a few weeks, more orders and shipments. And you can have a new distribution center up and running in no time with less time it takes actually to ship the goods there. So they can actually stock them, and then pick back and ship them when orders do come in. So there’s an amazing scalability that’s available to you in the marketplace now as you can make decisions. I mean, we have small little mom and pop shops now who are world wide distributors of their products with people– less than 10 people in their entire company because they’ve outsourced to all these different partners. And so, again, it kind of blows my mind thinking about the changes I’ve seen over the last 20 years as far as just the supply chain management, the visibility, the systems that are available and the integrations that are possible to be able to provide that visibility up and down the supply chain. I think with that, Ebru, I’m going to hand it back over to you. Thank you, Chris. That was an excellent presentation. And now we’ll be taking some questions. So if you have any questions, you can answer them through the chat window. So, Chris, first question is, when is a good time to start with automating 3PL business processes? Personally, I think day one, it’s always a good time to start, but as I mentioned before, there’s certainly a cost associated with that. I think a phased approach strategy is the best way to handle that. Again, like I say, every time we’ve done a 3PL integration, it’s different as far as priorities. Often, when somebody’s going to fire up a new distribution center, the very– their highest priority is actually getting the inbound shipment because, obviously, that warehouse has to receive that stock coming in. And so we have a little bit of a race of time to make sure that that information gets to them before that slow boat comes in to their warehouse so they can receive it. Okay, great. So, another question is, can you explain how kept items in NetSuite can be fulfilled as separate items and the 3PL? Sure. So, this is a case where you may have a single SKU out on your, say, Shopify web store. It has a price associated with that. What happens is that comes in– within NetSuite, you designate that– those items are our components within that kit. So what happens is we kind of– you have the ability to– I don’t know the term, blow out the bill of materials. Basically, list those two kit items on the order, or the pick order, that’s going to go to the warehouse. Now, often, you want to keep track of the kit parent because, again, that is– you have to know what it was that they actually bought, because in that sales order, it’s just the kit item that has a price. But when we send an order to the warehouse, we’re actually listing out those two kit items, components, that are the ones that they actually have to pick, pack, and ship in that order. Now, again, coming back in on shipments, a little tricky, but that’s why it’s good to reference that kit parent maybe in a custom home field or something of that nature so that when you look that up in NetSuite, they say, “Oh, okay. I know which line item was actually shipped.” And again, that’s another way of making sure that the line items of the order is also sent to the 3PL. So when they actually fulfill it, you can look up the line item. You don’t have to sit there and look– try and look up SKU numbers. Because maybe a kit component can be the same across multiple kits. So then you get into a little bit messy. But that’s usually, again, a conversation needs to be had. A matrix items kind of fall in that same realm, too. But, yeah, definitely kits are– can be a bit of a headache. So hopefully that answers that question Yes, great. So another question is– so you talked about how to set up the integrations. And so how easy it is to manage the integrations? Do I need to maintain technical staff? The short answer is no, you don’t need to add any technical staff. What we often find is whoever your ERP admin is, so be it Acumatica or NetSuite, that they’re– because that’s usually one end of the endpoint that’s being connected to, it’s good they understand the objects and then things that are going on. But they don’t need to be a programmer. There are certain mapping rules and other things that– it’s no more difficult than doing an Excel spreadsheet-type of logic to understand how a mapping might work. But most time we find that nobody has to add an additional FTE as long as they do have an admin person. And the nice thing about the Integrator.io is you can– any user can have a free account, but they can subscribe to a particular data flow. So for example, if an invoice errors out for whatever reason, perhaps your finance or your accounts receivable department needs to be notified rather than somebody in IT to handle that error, understand why there was a problem there. So it does allow you to have some control over notifications and what visibility and who is the owner that has to handle that error, rather than everything always falling on IT. Okay, great. And so one question we have is– so as you said, no 3PL integration is the same. So how does Celigo help its customers with onboarding? So the business processes are usually the same. The only thing that usually changes is perhaps the technology, underlying technology, as far as the data formats. So what we like to think is Celigo, because we do sort of hide some of that through our technology, that you don’t have to do a lot of heavy lifting as far as the data transformations or parsing it. For the technical folks out there, we essentially turn everything into JSON within Integrator.io. So when a message comes in, it turns in JSON, we can transform that data and then transform that JSON to whatever the outbound message is. So we have a lot of ability to do some heavy lifting underneath the covers there. But for the end users, we really do just provide guidance on what is the business processes? What are the accounting impacts to your financial system? And as far as the endpoint, what documents do they need to be able to properly fulfill an order, ship it, and also receive inventory? Really, we try to take a tops-down approach most of the time because to be honest, it’s just– it is all about the business side of the business? That’s silly, business side of business. But business side and the accounting that drives the way the IT should be supporting those different business rules. So that’s why I mentioned, that’s usually what the differences are, is just how a business is run, what different products are selling, how they’re selling it, and just adjusting the different data flows. And the business logic that may be inside of those data flows to accommodate those business rules is what we often have to deal with. Not sure if that whole fully answered it, but yes, we could provide a lot of guidance. Because we’ve been doing this a long, long time, and again, we try and provide best practices as well as try and put you in contact with other customers who have already been down this road before. So we often try to broker those calls between our customers to collaborate together because, you know, you’re going to know better than anyone else about your own business. And it’s best you talk to somebody else who’s already been down the road before. And that’s why we have this kind of summits to be able to also share some of that information. Thank you, Chris. So another question is, I have multiple e-commerce storefronts, and also I’m working with multiple 3PLs. So with integration, can I get real-time view into my inventory across these 3PLs with NetSuite? And can I also make sure my inventory levels are updated across all my storefronts? Yes, absolutely. The trick here is each 3PLs is a little bit different of how they describe what is available inventory, because I think at the end of the day, that’s really what you want to know, is what inventory is available to sell and hasn’t been allocated for another or committed to another order. So to be able to get that information out of the 3PL is what’s part of that and that was that inventory snapshot I talked about. But each system is usually keeping track of the ins and outs of the different orders and inventory. And so it’s important to be able to centralize that information, which is, you know, be done within your ERP system. And what I’ve seen some folks do is actually when they syndicate out the inventory to their different multichannel stores, you can either utilize safety stock as one strategy to be able to adjust, even though you may have 100 units available. You really only want to display 90 to keep some safety stock so you don’t have any stock out situation. So you have that ability to be able to adjust that. I’ve seen some customers actually have custom calculated fields on the item record for different inventory amounts, because they may have situations where they may have a warehouse that has a certain stock, but they have a dropship vendor who has additional stock. So if they run out, they may want to actually send that order as dropship rather than through their own warehouse. And so, you know, this is a decision that needs to be made, but it’s still just a matter of adjusting your safe searches within NetSuite, for example, to be able to say what is your stock that you’re actually going to syndicate out and be able to do that. So you may want to have a different amount on Amazon versus eBay versus your own webstore. So you do have that discrete ability to be able to adjust that. But again, it really is up to you how you do that. But it is all technically possible to do. Okay. Another question is you mentioned EDI integration. Are there any limitations with integrator.io EDI flows? I’m not sure. I think limitations are if we don’t have something in our library for a particular trading partner. There might be a delay to get that one published for you, though, we have a lot of different generic EDI layouts. For Europe, we do have EDIFACT templates available. So we’ve been able to support both of those EDI protocols. And as I said, part of our service is if you do bring us a partner that we don’t have in our current library, we will produce that. We just need to get a file specification and a file sample that we can test against and be able to publish that out to you. But again, you can take any of the existing 850s, for example, for a purchase order and make those adjustments yourselves to the file templates if you wish. But that is one of the services that we do offer for free. Okay. And another question is how easy is it to add in more 3PLs into the existing NetSuite 3PL integrations once I have one up and running? Oh, it’s very simple. All you need to do is set up that new 3PL location. Obviously, update the inventory that’s available in that location. And then, everything else kind of happens. Now, if we need to route that order to a new 3PL, most of the time what we’ll do is set up a clone of that previous data flow. So we’ll just filter on that inventory location. So even on the same order of two lines are being shipped by one 3PL and the third lines being shipped to the others, it’s very easy to split that order and send it to the– route it to the right location– or right 3PL based on the location that’s at the line level. So all that is fairly straightforward and can be easily handled within Integrator IO. So within a couple weeks, you can actually have that up and running with a new 3PL. And if they– Okay. Great. –happen to be using the same warehouse management system -is I guess what I really [laughter] should mention is- it all depends on their warehouse management system. If they’re the same, then it’s a piece of cake. Okay. Great. Thank you so much, Chris. So a few of the other things I would like to mention are if you are new to Celigo, you can go to our website on celigo.com. And sign up for a free integrator.io account and start building your first flows. And then after today’s session, if you have more questions, you can email us at [email protected]. Also, if you are currently experiencing challenges with your integrations, you can let us know. And our teams will be happy to chat with you further and help you out. And now, we will be showing you a video. How does your company automate its business processes? When your company was young, you had few processes, most of which could be managed in ad-hoc ways. But as your company matured, new systems, applications, and departments were added each with their unique operational needs. At some point, manual processes break down, slowing your company with costly errors and delays. You need integration to automate and keep growing. But how do you keep up? After all, coding your own API integrations is slow and expensive. Native or direct integrations have limited configuration options beyond most common use cases. And typical integration platforms are heavy and require a lot of technical resources to build and maintain. There’s a better way. Introducing Celigo, the complete integration platform built for both IT and business users to automate your business processes across applications. With Celigo’s guided visual interface, building powerful integrations is a breeze. Our platform offers advanced orchestrations, transformations, and customizations. But there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. You can leverage hundreds of pre-built connectors, templates, and even integration apps to automate key business processes across popular applications. Because they are built on the Celigo iPaaS, these integrations are fully configurable and expandable for your company’s needs. Best of all, because the platform is designed for technical and business users, you can even choose to hand off certain integrations to be managed by less technical users, leaving your team to focus on more strategic initiatives that drive the bottom line. The result– an agile company set for growth. Companies of all sizes need integration to scale. Celigo– integration starts here. Visit celigo.com to get started.

About The Speaker

Chris Bidleman

Director, Integration Solutions

Chris Bidleman is the Director of Solutions Integrations and heads up the Solution Architect team at Celigo. Chris has been with Celigo for over 9 years in a variety of roles including project management and services engineering manager. Prior to Celigo Chris worked with a variety of consulting and software companies focused on solution driven results in healthcare IT and supply chain management with a focus on eProcurement and ecommerce for over 20 years.

Ebru Saglam

Sr. Product Marketing Manager

Ebru has a diverse background with over a decade of combined experience in marketing, technical sales and customer services roles across startups and enterprises. She also has hands-on experience in the e-commerce landscape, she has spent more than 5 years running her DTC multi-channel e-commerce business.

Meet Celigo

Celigo automates your quote-to-cash process with an easy & reusable integration platform-as-a-service (iPaaS), trusted by thousands of eCommerce and SaaS companies worldwide.

Use it now and later to expedite integration work without adding more data silos, specialized technical skillsets or one-off projects.


Related Resources