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The industry recently took a giant technological (and collaborative) step forward in 2014 when a number of forward-thinking technologists launched the first iteration of the inventory web service standard currently detailed at promostandards.org. DistributorCentral (DC) was the first service provider to adopt the standard, launching a solution to consume and re-broadcast inventory data to our 20,000 distributor users within weeks of the 2014 Tech Summit where the initiative was announced.
While the inventory standard has proven to be a fantastic tool by which suppliers can easily share inventory data electronically with industry distributors, it has also somewhat difficult to encourage adoption among suppliers who might not have the technical expertise on staff to build the service or the resources to outsource such a project.
Several of DC’s supplier customers fell into this category, and it was that barrier to entry that encouraged DC’s IT director, Chris Schlemmer, to come up with a solution to address the needs of these suppliers. Under Chris’ direction DC built and launched a service whereby a supplier can easily upload inventory data to DC in a simple, text-based format or by using a pre-built app, downloadable from DC, which can be installed locally on a computer located at the supplier’s facility. From there, DC is able to “re-broadcast” the inventory data in the standards specified at promstandards.org. Any distributor or service provider in the industry can access that supplier’s inventory data by hitting DC’s web service, just as they would when retrieving inventory data directly from a supplier who hosts their own inventory web service.
Since DC provides technology tools free to every distributor in the industry, this means that every industry distributor now has access to real-time inventory data rather than just those distributors who have the technical expertise to build a tool to retrieve and consume data from a web service. Inventory data is automatically pushed to the more than 8000 distributor websites hosted by DC as well as being an integral part of DC’s internal product research and presentation tools.
As an additional benefit to larger distributor users who are interested in integrating directly with DC’s web service, any distributor with a DC login and API key can retrieve inventory data from every DC supplier using the same credentials, eliminating the need to hit multiple supplier web services and track multiple sets of credentials.
DC’s first service hosted on behalf of customer and industry supplier, Alpi International, is already being consumed by multiple industry distributors and service providers. Working with Alpi’s team, and the people behind promostandards.org, to implement this service was a true collaboration of efforts which resulted in a tool that will save suppliers time and money and simplify the process of retrieving inventory data for every distributor in the industry. We look forward to working with many more suppliers and distributors to provide easier access to real time inventory data as well as product and order data as collaborate on additional industry data integration initiatives.