At Vital Farms, “pasture raised is what we do.” In partnership with over 100 small family farms, this Austin, Texas-based company produces pasture-raised eggs and butter.
While demand for Vital Farms’ products has been soaring, its electronic data interchange (EDI) vendor had seemingly “flown the coop.” After almost two years of implementation efforts, Vital Farms still could not achieve an acceptable integration level with the company’s new NetSuite ERP environment.
As a result, its small accounts receivable department was forced to manually process an increasing volume of customer purchase orders (POs) and invoices—wasting time, introducing costly errors and incurring significant chargebacks from major grocery retailers.
Worst of all, “we were ending up with data in accounts receivable that wasn’t valid,” says Theresa Owens, controller for Vital Farms.
Early in 2018, the company began searching for a replacement EDI solution that was easier to use, backed by solid customer service and could integrate seamlessly with NetSuite to eliminate manual pain points.
After evaluating several vendors, Vital Farms chose TrueCommerce, a Highjump company, Cranberry Township, Pa.
“As soon as we got going with TrueCommerce, everything just came together and our new, integrated EDI was up and running in just over a month—as promised, which was awesome,” says Owens. “Now, everything we’d been doing by hand is automated.”
At go-live in October 2018, the TrueCommerce EDI solution supported about 10 trading partners, and Vital Farms has added six more since.
“From the time we started our implementation with TrueCommerce, everything related to EDI has been worlds easier than it ever was with our former provider,” adds Owens.
Handling more EDI orders without adding staff
By turning EDI from a time sink into a driver for efficiency and productivity improvements, Vital Farms saves significant operational cost.
“Our business has grown exponentially in the past two years,” says Owens. “If we hadn’t upgraded our EDI, we would have been looking at hiring more employees to handle the growing manual work volume.”
Instead, Vital Farms’ accounts receivable department can now process approximately 350-450 EDI sales orders per week, about 85-90% of their total order volume. POs sent by EDI trading partners flow automatically into NetSuite as sales orders. As orders are fulfilled, invoices automatically go back to customers via EDI.
Eliminating manual processes has also allowed Vital Farms to significantly improve their cash flow situation.
“Now we’re able to consistently invoice customers within a day after we ship,” says Owens. “We’ve cut our days receivable outstanding from 36 days before TrueCommerce to 23 days now. I would attribute a lot of that to all the new EDI automation.”
Lifting the burden of manual work also improved the department’s overall productivity and effectiveness.
“When you don’t have to re-type PO and invoice data, you have a lot more time to do other things,” says Owens. “And, who wants to do data entry in the first place?”
More prepared for what’s next
Vital Farms is already looking to drive more automation with its TrueCommerce EDI solution. One project underway is to automate EDI 856 Advance Ship Notices (ASNs) and EDI 855 Purchase Order Acknowledgements.
“We are also looking to start a project to convert the POs we receive from non-EDI customers via email, fax or phone into EDI orders, so we can process them automatically also,” says Owens. “The goal is to no longer process any incoming orders or outgoing invoices manually.”
The benefits of automating this remaining 15% of the company’s orders (currently about 50-100 per week) would be significant.
TrueCommerce Order Automation Connector—the web-based solution that makes this possible—automatically converts emailed (PDF, etc.), faxed or printed customer orders into sales orders in NetSuite or a wide range of other business systems from Microsoft, Intuit, Sage, SAP, Acumatica and more.
Customers also benefit from the improved responsiveness and accuracy that comes with automation, without needing to re-key their POs into a web portal or otherwise change their current ordering process.
The EDI integration with NetSuite allows Vital Farms to extract additional return on investment from its NetSuite deployment.
“I find NetSuite user-friendly and it works well for us,” says Gina Fochesato, accounting manager, Vital Farms. “The TrueCommerce EDI integration with NetSuite is seamless and works very well also. Both systems are still relatively new for us, so there are probably even more features we can eventually take advantage of.”
Even the standard TrueCommerce support level turned out to be sufficient.
“We haven’t had any problems or negative experiences with support,” adds Fochesato. “Any issues are always resolved within the agreed timeframes. Overall, I would recommend TrueCommerce EDI to other businesses in our industry.”