How EDI Helps a Historic Clothing Brand Keep Pace in a Fast-Moving World
In the clothing business since 1897, Trau & Loevner is a company that prides itself on innovating and moving forward. Based just outside of Pittsburgh, Trau & Loevner specializes in screen-printed T-shirts, tanks, hoodies, and other apparel, producing thousands of items every week. You can find this respectable old brand capturing the latest trends in some of the nation’s largest fashion retail stores, including Kohl’s, JC Penney, and Urban Outfitters, as well as in specialty stores like Five Below and on Amazon.
The family-owned company is dedicated to its retail customers, so when many of them began requiring Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) in the early 2000s, Trau & Loevner wanted to implement it immediately to make doing business as simple as possible. “We had potential customers who would only send EDI orders,” recalls Ken Schnur, Trau & Loevner’s Production Coordinator. “If we wanted their business, we had to do EDI.”
As the company explored how they could become EDI-capable, they realized that a top priority would be finding a solution that could integrate with their Microsoft Dynamics environment. The business was already thriving using Microsoft Dynamics SL, and they didn’t want to have to reinvent the wheel when it came to their order processing operations. As it turned out, TrueCommerce had just such an EDI solution.
Saving Time and Building New Efficiencies with TrueCommerce and Microsoft Dynamics
Trau & Loevner’s initial goal was to be compliant with their customers’ EDI requirements, but over their years-long partnership with TrueCommerce, they have built in new efficiencies by adding elements of automation to their TrueCommerce Microsoft Dynamics integrations. One of the recent automated functions TrueCommerce recently deployed for the company was an item cross-reference table, which quickly became one of Schnur’s favorite features. “Once we set up a cross-reference table and link it to Microsoft Dynamics, it works seamlessly,” he said. “As soon as I bring in an order, TrueCommerce transfers it over to my Dynamics environment, so I don’t have to manually type anything in.”
By automating the transfer of EDI information to and from Dynamics SL, Trau & Loevner is able to avoid the vast majority of human error in their orders. That, Schnur says, is great for maintaining customer confidence in the company.
Many of the benefits of EDI for Microsoft Dynamics that Trau & Loevner feels are most impactful for the company, however, have to do with internal operations. “TrueCommerce lets me move as fast as I need to,” Schnur says. “I can run an EDI order through faster than our production shop can keep up. That makes me happy.” It also keeps the team streamlined, since Schnur estimates that the company would have to hire at least one more full-time employee just to process orders if they didn’t have an EDI solution that integrates with their system.
EDI Gives Trau & Loevner Agility Exactly When They Need It
One of the times when having EDI proved to be crucial to Trau & Loevner was during the pandemic. In early 2020, the fashion and apparel industry was in chaos. With retail stores closed and e-commerce sales skyrocketing, the company had to navigate through troubling uncertainty and change. Trau & Loevner’s retail orders were being canceled while their Amazon business started going way up. With strict guidelines for employee safety in Pennsylvania, the company was unable to produce new products and instead had to fulfill orders from their existing inventory. “Retailers who had planned orders months ahead for their summer rollouts had to cancel. It was easier handling those cancellations because we had EDI,” Schnur said. “We didn’t have to type the data into Microsoft Dynamics by hand.”
TrueCommerce made sure that they were always available to help the company manage all their order changes. When stores began to open again in the summer, Schnur reports that the business was “absolutely slammed with orders.” EDI made it possible to process all those high-volume orders quickly as well, keeping Trau & Loevner’s partners happy.
A Significant ROI
After all these years in operation, Schnur believes EDI is one of the best investments Trau & Loevner has ever made. “TrueCommerce definitely pays for itself because it lets us do business so easily,” he says. “We wouldn’t be able to deal with big customers like Five Below if we didn’t have an EDI solution. Kohl’s couldn’t work with us without EDI; neither would Walmart. It makes a huge difference.” Ultimately, Trau & Loevner’s biggest savings has been in the most precious commodity there is: time.
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About the Author: Lincoln Mousel is a Pre-Sale Engineer at TrueCommerce. His specialty is solution design for clients looking to streamline and automate the many complex functions involved with today’s modern supply chain. Lincoln’s industry knowledge comes from over 7 years of direct ERP integration experience, helping customers leverage sustainable, scalable solutions offered by the diverse TrueCommerce product lineup. In his free time, Lincoln can be found enjoying the seasonal weather of southern Minnesota, and spending time with family and friends.