Columbus, OH October 14, 2002 Wal-Mart is ramping up its drive to achieve direct, Internet-based connectivity with its global supplier community, and the big box retailer has tapped a trio of technology companies to help with the move
With annual sales of $218 billion and 1.3 million employees worldwide, Wal-Mart operates nearly 3,300 U.S. stores and about 1,200 stores internationally. Needless to say, that much commerce makes for a vast chain of suppliers that must continually trade data with the retailer.
For years Wal-Mart has been using electronic data interchange (EDI) to trade data with its business partners through value-added networks (VANS). Now the company is moving to take advantage of the relatively new electronic data interchange-Internet integration (EDI-INT) using the AS2 (Applicability Statement 2) protocol, which promises to leverage the Internet to offer faster data communication at reduced cost.
EDI-INT AS2 technology is a set of communication protocols used to transport data over the Internet. Proponents say that AS2 offers the peace-of-mind of "confirmed information delivery" and the security of digital signatures with encryption, as well as the speed and cost effectiveness of the Internet.
Wal-Mart has endorsed the technology and is seeking to use it to replace bisync communications for direct connectivity with its global supplier community. Wal-Mart's Internet-based system will enable the company to exchange vital data such as purchase orders, invoices and advanced shipping notices with its suppliers.
Sterling Commerce, a wholly owned subsidiary of SBC Communications, will provide Wal-Mart with interoperability services for EDI-INT AS2 connectivity between the retailer and its supplier community. Additionally, Sterling's hosted network services will provide contingency mailbox services to provide predictability in the supply chain and to identify and support points of communication issues.
IBM will provide similar services to Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart also has selected iSoft Corp.'s Commerce Suite Software to EDI-INT. The software will provide trading community management, public key infrastructure technology and IP-based secure communication infrastructure. Data transmitted over public and private global networks using AS2 will be digitally signed, secure and non-repudiated, according to iSoft.