ecUtopia: Solutions for Supply Chain Management Challenges

Eric Wensley SVP, Technology, ecUtopiaEric Wensley SVP, Technology
For years now, organizations have been striving to achieve paperless office, yet paper transaction and record-keeping never seem to go away. To fulfill this need, ecUtopia recognizes the benefits of gaining a streamlined, paperless system across the entire supply chain. Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) emerges as an obvious corollary, connecting retailers to manufacturers, suppliers, and carriers using a common standard that is meant to eliminate human intervention.

ecUtopia’s founding management team of Eric Wensley and Ron Sellers, have a rich history in EDI. They founded and sold their respective companies to GE Retail Systems in the early 2000’s. In 2011, still not satisfied with the adoption and benefits being realized, they founded ecUtopia. The new company focused on reducing long lead times, enhancing business efficiencies, and insuring product availability for the end consumer. Today, ecUtopia has over 12,000 trading partner relationships and handled $4.7 billion in volume in 2015 with 2016 pace increasing by 40 percent.

“Our customers are experts at selling furniture, apparel or pencils. That’s what they do best, it’s what they know,” says Wensley. “They don’t know how to handle EDI data nor should they. But they love the end result—product delivered on the day it’s promised. They leave the countless moving parts that made that happen to us.”

EDI is a set of data interchange standards that to the untrained eye are garble, but Wensley cautions against its customers thinking in those terms as fear of the unknown can stifle progress. “ecUtopia’s EDI solution is five percent technical and 95 percent business,” he says. “Our challenges are rarely technical; we solve business problems.

ecUtopia’s EDI solution is five percent technical and 95 percent business

We’re not simply passing data back and forth; we integrate with systems, so we have to know our customer’s business as well as they do.” ecUtopia applies EDI to build solutions that enhance and extend the capabilities of its customers’ existing systems. “Our motto is ‘Powered by EDI, driven by you,’” says Wensley. “Our solutions are tailored to our customer’s specific business needs. They enjoy all the benefits of EDI without having to understand anything about it.”

Beyond efficiencies, ecUtopia takes advantage of the rich data EDI provides. Since ecUtopia has access to all data components of a customer’s supply chain, it’s able to leverage this data to engineer solutions that its customers would otherwise never have in their legacy systems. Having visibility into order status, supplier inventory, ATP dates and more enable the retailer to “wow” its customers.

Most customer’s ERP system only provides visibility “inside” its business. ecUtopia’s cloud-based EDI ERP allows its customers to track and manage what is happening “outside its walls.” ecUtopia engineered a solution for a top furniture manufacturer. An inefficient legacy system made it impossible for their biggest retailer to guarantee delivery dates to their customers. ecUtopia built a solution that automatically creates Load Tenders for the retailer’s 3PL based on receipt of an ASN. This triggers return statuses from the 3PL, giving accurate delivery dates. ecUtopia gets around the retailer’s lack of a TMS and updates then re-feeds the ASN to their ERP each time the status changes. EcUtopia provides full visibility and management of these documents through their EDI ERP and its API’s.

“Supply chain management is all about efficiency. It’s no different than running a household,” says Wensley. “We want to give our customers the same efficiencies in their business that we expect in our personal lives.”