Are spreadsheets holding your brand back?  [webinar]

Are spreadsheets compromising your mission-critical supply chain processes? In this webinar, PorterLogic's Anya Skomorokhova and Jonathan Porter explore how you can stop losing revenue because of inaccurate inventory.

The duo talks through the journey of a brand at each stage of growth and how growing brands reach a point where managing their inventory and demand across the complicated network becomes challenging. Then, they talk about why starting out in spreadsheets is actually the right thing to do and then get into the warning signs that you might be outgrowing your processes and what you can do at different phases along the way to alleviate your pain. 

Watch the replay. 

Keep scrolling to read the transcript. 

Notable time stamps

2:40: Early/”green” stage

6:44: How early-stage companies can automate and optimize their processes.

8:21: Gaining traction/ “yellow” stage

10:59: How to change data sources at this stage?

13:00: The importance of data cleanliness 

13:02: What are the warning signs that your spreadsheet-based manual processes are holding your brand back? 

15:28: How spreadsheets can lead to burnout

16:07: Possible solutions

18:29: Growth/ “red” stage

25:43: How PorterLogic can help

27:30: Q&A session

32:26: Why does everything default to a spreadsheet?

Transcript

Anya Skomorokhova: Welcome, everyone. Thanks so much for joining today. I'm excited for this session. We've got a jam-packed discussion for you today. To briefly go over the agenda, we'll start with some brief introductions, and then we're really going to get into the meat of things.

We're going to talk about the journey of a brand at each stage of growth and how growing brands reach a point where managing their inventory and demand across the complicated network becomes a challenge. We'll talk about why starting out in spreadsheets is actually the right thing to do, but then get into the warning signs that you might be outgrowing your processes and what you can do at different phases along the way to alleviate your pain. Finally, we'll just wrap it up with Q&A.

If you have questions during the discussion, please go ahead and submit them into the chat as we go.

So by virtue of introduction, I'm your host today: Anya Skomorokhova. I am the chief commercial officer here at PorterLogic, and I've spent the majority of my career in B2B SaaS software, helping companies streamline their processes using technology.

Jonathan Porter: Hi, everybody, my name's Jonathan Porter, I'm the CEO and founder of PorterLogic. My background's all in warehouse and fulfillment technology. I started at Manhattan Associates, where I built and implemented supply chain software for multiple Fortune 500s as well as many mid-market and early-stage brands. I've now been working on PorterLogic for coming up on two years and talked to just hundreds of companies and brands about all their supply chain challenges over that time. So I’m looking forward to getting into the discussion today, Anya.

Anya: Awesome. Jonathan, can you tell the audience just in 15 seconds, what is PorterLogic?

Jonathan: We make workflow automation software for supply chain. Basically, we help companies automate manual processes, connect disparate systems and really systemize their operations.

Anya: Awesome. All right. So to set the stage, what's the audience that this journey is for?

Jonathan: Today we're diving in and really getting to the shoes of a head of operations or head of supply chain at a growing brand. This may be the founder owner of the company or maybe one of the early employees. You enjoy working at this fast-paced small environment, but supply chain is often incredibly daunting. It's hard enough to find customers that want to buy your product, let alone then getting that product to them. We're really going to dive into the various stages of how supply chain fits into a growing brands journey.

Anya: Awesome. Great. So let's get into it. So, at that early stage, what does that look like?

Early stage data sources: DATA SOURCES Inventory CSV from 3PL Carrier data in portal Shopify for open orders and sales Spreadsheets to track POs and demand planning

Jonathan: This is one of the more exciting points for a brand. So, you've developed a product that people love. That's really the starting point. So whether it's one or multiple products, you've gotten it out in the world. You've probably started getting it professionally manufactured at this point. So, you're kind of into the the journey of selling your product. You've probably brought on a fulfillment partner at this point, likely a 3PL or some type of other fulfillment network.

Many of these companies have been around for a very long time. You've probably talked to your references about who you should go with. You've probably set up an e-comm store. That's likely where you've started, whether Shopify or kind of one of the other marketplaces. Thankfully, you've been able to get connected with carriers too. So that's the part that a lot of people also don't think about is you don't have to just store and make your product, but then you have to move it as well. So carrier partners are vita as well as last mile delivery is more and more commonly needed for brands to be able to deliver quickly.

Anya: Gotcha. And so where are you getting your inventory and demand data from at this stage?

Jonathan: It's the part that people don't really think about and when you get into it. And like I said earlier, there's so much going on that getting accurate data from all these different sources is probably at the back of your mind at this stage. If you're only working with one fulfillment partner, you're probably getting an inventory spreadsheet. So that's kind of one side of it. You need to know what you have in storage.

Another side of it then is carrier data. So what you have in transit, you're inevitably going to have inventory that's inbound to your fulfillment center. You're going to have product that's outbound to ship to your customers. You're likely getting that information from a carrier portal. Most of these carriers have kind of portals you're going to log into, and you may be able to download a spreadsheet from there or kind of just view in-transit information, shipment information.

That's really the demand side of it, right? Then you need to know, how much you have, what's in motion, what's at your fulfillment partners. You then need to understand how much you're selling. If that's Shopify or if that’s one of the other e-com partners that you're working with, that's another dashboard you're logging into pulling data out either into a spreadsheet or viewing it straight in their platform.

I'd say the last major piece then kind of from a data perspective, once you have all of this, you really then need to be able to plan out what you are going to need going forward. And that's really demand planning and demand forecasting. You're pulling all of this information together then likely in another tab on your spreadsheet at this point, right. We grow five plus spreadsheet tabs. But you're able to plan out how much do you think you'll need to then put in purchase orders for a few months down the road.

Anya: Got it interesting. So it sounds like spreadsheets are somewhat the right way to manage processes at this stage.

Jonathan: I'm going to surprise to people and actually say yes, absolutely. So when you're an early stage company, you're valuing flexibility almost above anything else, right? You're still learning. You're still trying; you're still figuring out what your customers really like and pricing and how to fulfill and how often all of these questions are unanswered.

And it's frankly too early to go out and, you know, build or buy a system that's fits exactly every one of these needs because your needs change too frequently. So yes, I think that spreadsheets are absolutely the place to start. It's a ubiquitous format. I mean you can work with it across all devices and people understand it. It's a easy way to exchange data between fulfillment partners and between carriers, all these places, you can pull it all together, you can run formulas on it. So yes, I think spreadsheets are absolutely where you should start as an early brand.

Anya: Gotcha. Interesting. Let's say more of a tech forward tech-forward type of brand. What are some ways I can start automating or optimizing your spreadsheets at this stage?

Jonathan: Even if you are early in trying things, you're still, of course going to be looking for areas to optimize and make things run more efficiently. Especially at this stage, start looking for manual processes and simple processes, right? Those are going to be the easiest that you can kind of knock off, low-hanging fruit, so to speak. That's going to be things that you're doing every day, very manual and repetitive.

There are a lot of tools out there that are very easy to get set up. Zapier is one actually that I'm super familiar with. We actually use that internally a lot. For example, if you go to our website and want to download a white paper, it's actually Zapier that's running a lot of things in the background there. It's triggering a Google Drive download. It's adding you into our CRM so that we know who you are. If you've decided to subscribe to our updates, it's going to add you into Flodesk, which is our kind of email newsletter software.

So there's some of those type of basic repetitive tasks that can be translated into a fulfillment environment. If you find yourself doing something over and over again, there are some of those simpler tools that you can set up yourself very quick and easy to get integrated and usually at a fairly low price point as well.

Anya: Gotcha. It sounds like once you’re a little bit past this stage is when I might start me to looking at different solutions.

Jonathan: So you've kind of teed up our next section pretty well. We can move into this yellow section of gaining traction. You do kind of get to a point as a company that spreadsheets and manual processes really start to become a burden.

GAINING TRACTION. You have: 15-30 SKUs 3-4 Sales Channels 2-5 3PLs 2-4 Suppliers 6-8 Carriers

You’ve moved into the yellow phase when you've really started to move quickly and expand your operations just to keep up with demand. That's the main thing. So your customers are pulling this product out of you. They've told your early customers, who've told their friends, who've told their friends and I mean it's exactly what you've wanted to happen. But from a supply chain and fulfillment perspective, you are expanding product lines. So you're offering a wider variety of services and products to your customers.

As a result, you're bringing in more suppliers. You've increased your supplier base. You've probably had to increase your number of carriers. You're probably now bringing product in from different parts of the country, likely you're also increasing the number of 3PLs and warehouses, right? You're now storing more product, but also needing to store in a larger geographic area. You may be starting to service customers farther away from the region you started in.

You may have also started increasing your sales channel. So Amazon is obviously, the elephant in the room. There can be some pros and cons of working with Amazon, but many brands do find that selling on Amazon, especially early on, just for the distribution channel. You can optimize around your algorithms and your SEO that becomes probably another sales channel.

You’re probably having to hire a lot of people to do all this, right. That’s one of the things that's standing out of all these things that start getting added. For example, you may have to hire a person specifically to handle your Amazon marketplace, to manage all the inventory, to manage the fulfillment of just your Amazon pieces.

You may also even be expanding into retail and wholesale at this point. As you've grown a more loyal following, your customers may be asking some of their local retail partners to start carrying your product. That's a very common entry point into the retail world. From a fulfillment perspective though, I think most people know and can appreciate retail and e-com couldn't be more different, right? E-com is single SKU. High volume of order retail is two, two trucks a week or something going to a fixed number of locations. We put yellow on this section because this is when you're starting to get into the meat of your fulfillment journey.

Anya: And your data gets more complicated as well. How do your data sources change at this point?

Jonathan: So, this is when you really start feeling the pain of all those manual processes that work so well early on. You're starting to see them break down. Really where that centers around is every one of these different partners that you're now working with probably has a different way of sending you data and different systems that are going to be producing that data.

Even if all you have three or four, you know, fulfillment 3PLs, they're all, even if they're all sending spreadsheets, you're probably having to combine formats, right. It's very unlikely that that format's going to be exactly the same between fulfillment centers. There's an additional manual process in on top of handling this increase in demand.

You now have more processes to start combining spreadsheets as opposed to just opening up the one and looking at it.

The same can kind of be said for carriers and channels. You'll start to hear words like EDI and API thrown around, and as an early brand, you may not know exactly what all these means. That's extremely normal. It’s all just different ways of exchanging data really. The more systematic and programmatic you get from a kind of wrangling the data perspective, the more actual systems you need to support that. You’re not going to just necessarily go pull inventory data from an API without having a system. That's kind of doing a lot of that for you.

If you get into some of the retail and wholesale, it varies wildly, but that's actually at another kind of a data point that you're now having to bring in. If it's some of these mom and pop shops, you're probably going to be bringing in estimated spreadsheets. They may not even track it. They're just kind of sending you what they think they sold.

So data cleanliness is a big part, how to get all of this data into one place and one format that really starts becoming your challenge.

Anya: It sounds like some of those are the warning signs that you are you're in the stage essentially.

Jonathan: We can hit on a couple of the main specifics that I'd say are true warning signs. If your team is spending most of their time just wangling data, that starts to become a clear sign that some of those spreadsheet-based processes are breaking down. A real-world example is your team just hates pulling inventory, right? I mean, I know that that it's that simple. But that's something you can really actually look for and see, if your team is groaning every time that they have to pull inventory. There is a reason, right? There's something going on there.

The other thing is if you start like, say, you want to add a new product, add a new product line or something, if that becomes burdensome, that would be another warning sign. So it should not be a challenge beyond the obvious, but from a fulfillment standpoint, it should not be a challenge to add new products. Adding new products and selling more is the goal of what we're all doing here. Right. But if it's adding a new product on 10 different tabs across three spreadsheets and making sure to drag the formulas down, and that's what I'm talking about of that, that really starts to become it's your process of starting to break down things that used to work just aren't working anymore. But you really can start to see it as you get into some of these things.

Anya: Got it.

What are some of the risks of kind of ignoring those signs, warning symptoms and not taking action?

Jonathan: Yeah. I mean, I'd say first and foremost is just hindering your growth, right? You're losing revenue, or you're not capturing new revenue that you could. Some of the other more specific ones are stockout levels can be go, can go up. That can be another, you know, output that you're seeing of this. You're not able to get your inventory where it needs to go, or you're having to put “sold out” onto your ecom channels or something like that. You unfortunately may start losing orders, right?

If you can't keep track of where everything's at from a shipment perspective, customers may start not seeing their orders come through, or they may be delayed and delayed. Or, if you're selling food products, maybe you risk spoilage. There are some specifics that you will probably start seeing, as you have to add more of these additional processes just to support your spreadsheets and your manual tasks.

You’ll also probably start seeing your team burning out. Honestly, I mean, these are people who want to spend their time making insightful decisions and being challenged and problem solving. They don't want to spend their time copying and pasting Excel data for four hours a day, especially in this labor market too. I mean, it's something you really have to consider as a leader where your team's at and where their mentalities are at. That's another kind of output that you may see from some of these processes is team burnout.

Anya: I think we've definitely seen that across a number of different customers. I think everyone has seen it in this market at this point.

Jonathan: Yeah, absolutely.

Anya: Yeah. You talked about there's, there's a lot, a lot of different problems to tackle at this stage. What are some of the possible solutions someone can start looking at?

Jonathan: Frankly, part of why we built PorterLogic because honestly there's not a ton of great solutions at this stage. You're kind of in a middle ground where you may not be quite big enough for a full ERP system, but you're definitely outgrowing your spreadsheet.

One of the things that I would really highly suggest at this point is to bring in experts and consultants that really know what they're doing, especially for brands at your stage. We work with a number of partners. NewGen Architects is one of our main ones. They focus on growing brands and slightly earlier stage companies, right. There are a lot partners out there that will help you and are really specifically tailored to companies at your stage and can understand your problems specifically.

Frankly, if the only real options you have at this point are you're probably trying to hire more people, right? If you're adding demand and adding process, you're just have a larger majority of work. So you're probably hiring additional analysts. You're probably hiring additional clerks in your fulfillment center or something like that, maybe. But you also may could consider bringing in some contractor or employee developers, some more technical folk to actually start building out some of your systems.

Now I kind of hesitate to say that just because that comes with a lot of risks and a lot of overhead, not just from the direct cost. But if you're ever building anything custom, even if it's just a macro, you end up in a situation where one person probably is the one who understands how that works. That may be this contractor that may be an employee. But I mean, it's a difficult position to put your business in when you rely on one or two people to understand fully.

I kind of caution against trying to build too much technical debt. But at the same time, I mean, hiring people is tough. This is really a difficult stage to be at.

Anya: Interesting. And the truth is you're successful as a brand, it only gets worse and that's kind of how we get into that growth stage. And so what do things look like here?

Growth stage warning signs: WARNING SIGNS Hiring more people to throw at the problem Feels like you’re too late to implement software Constant firefighting, large initiatives pushed back

Jonathan: We labeled it red. It's funny you say that though because this is absolutely where every brand wants to get. I mean you're exploding on product lines. You're really off to the races here. From a company perspective, you have struck gold, and your company is really going. But there's just even more challenges that come along with this, right? You have five, 10 open positions on your supply chain team. You cannot hire people fast enough. You’re really trying a lot of things that are working. That’s normally what brands start seeing at this point they found product-market fit. And so even say they start trying a monthly membership or a monthly subscription or something probably is going to start working. You've really you've hit on this loyal customer base.

You bring that into a supply chain and fulfillment perspective though. That's a huge new challenge. So subscription boxes often mean kitted product, right? That's often you're putting multiple products together into one box. You're either going to be paying a fulfillment partner to do that, but you're still having to manage all the inventory side of it. You may start trying to do that yourself. I just say that because there's a lot of additional complexity that starts coming as you really start to build out your brand, build out your network. You're adding 3PLs. You're adding partners. We’ve worked with companies that have over 10 different fulfillment partners just to manage all their demand, right? Again, it's great.

You grow 300% year over year for three years in a row. It’s amazing, but it is really challenging to start keeping up with all this.

And especially then you get into a systems perspective. You get to this stage, and it becomes very difficult to start implementing large-scale systems. This really is probably when you need an ERP system. This is where you want to start bringing in more systems around your processes.

But those systems take so long to implement right. There is now the challenge you are moving so fast; you are just trying to keep up. We put on the slide here, you're fighting buyers. You're just trying to do your best. You may suggest to your COO or to your board or somebody like that that we need this major investment. They're either maybe hesitant, or they want more proof where maybe the timing doesn't work. There’s all kind of reasons that some of that may not work out. This is why we labeled it red. Right. You're really now into a crunch of how do you keep up with all this?

Anya: It's a great position to be in and to have this problem. But at the same time, it's a tough problem to have. And so what are the risks of not recognizing and addressing some of these symptoms earlier on?

Jonathan: I think that at this point, if you're still working in spreadsheets, you really are holding back and hindering your company. I will have now made the full journey over to spreadsheets. They don't work at this point anymore. Of course, you're going to have spreadsheets here and there. I mean that's the inevitability of it. And that's kind of, frankly, to my point earlier, that is a good thing to fill little gaps with spreadsheets.

But if you're still running your inventory completely out of a spreadsheet at this point, you're probably not accurately maintaining what inventory you have. You're probably losing money on lost or damage or spoilage. You probably are not fulfilling all the demand that you could be or losing some of that new demand.

I would contrast here [with yellow stage] that you're probably losing customers really, right. I mean, customers may give an early brand a time or two that they're out of stock, right. If they go to look for this hot new brand and either their website or their retail partners are out of stock, okay, I'll give it to you the first time or two. But if I've checked four or five, six, seven times, and you're never there, I'm just going to stop trying. Right. That’s just consumer behavior.

You’re start seeing the real negative effects about not being able to really keep up and capture that magic that you've struck on. And again, too, what we were just saying, right? That's the last thing you want to do at this point. This is when you're pouring gas on the fire and going, and that 100-tab spreadsheet that you now have to maintain inventory and demand is really the thing holding you back.

Anya: That completely makes sense. What if I I kicked the can down the road. and I got myself into the stage. Now I'm just firefighting. How do I dig myself out?

Jonathan: I mean, at this stage, you're probably going to have started looking at an ERP, and that's really is probably the long-term solution that you need. You need a system to support all of this, whether it's a full blown ERP or maybe it is just some kind of inventory management system. There's some great , demand and planning systems out there. We've worked with a system called Motus before. I know the folks there really well. They make a great kind of platform for early brands. But if you're at this stage, you need systems around this, right. The speed now becomes a real challenge, right? And that's where you probably need to look for solutions that can be implemented very quickly.

You need something to start putting out those fires. It may not be the Cadillac ERP that’s going to solve all your financial problems and all of your company and everything. That's your five year plan, right? Yes, you would love to get into NetSuite. You would love to get into SAP, but the challenge of getting into those, you need something for now. So that's from a solutions perspective, I would say:

Look for systems that can solve the pains you're feeling and do it very quickly and get you kind of at least to a place that you're no longer just bleeding.

This also may be the point where you could make the decision on custom development. I say that cautiously, but if you feel like that you've hit on as a brand, that part of your unique value proposition is the technology side of it.

Maybe you're doing something really nuanced and custom about the way that your e-com experience is. Right. For example, this is kind of the stage that I would say it's okay to maybe explore bringing in a full team to build right now that that doesn't come without, as challenges. That's a VP of technology. That's a development team. If you're going to go down that route, I think you have to go all in because I don't think that working with just contractors at this point is going to do you any service. You’re going to be even worse. You're going to have a whole custom system that you really don't know how it works. Right. But if you really do think that the technology side of it has is part of your differentiator, maybe it is time to actually explore some custom pieces.

Anya: Got it. That's some interesting insight. And it does kind of go into a little bit of what we do here, PorterLogic.

Jonathan: Frankly, that's why we built the system, and we're trying to fill some of these gaps. We really don't try to replace existing systems, and we definitely don't make you replace processes. We’re trying to give brands and companies, solutions when they're on this entire journey.

This finishes out the journey that we've laid out here because at this point, you’re in that next level up, If you're beyond 10 3PLs and 16 carriers, you're kind of at that next stage of a company. You may be in talks or have been acquired by private equity at this point. You're kind of on that next phase of the journey.

This middle kind of stage, beyond just shipping out of your garage, but not yet with all your own warehouses, it's a dark place. But it's where most companies spend most of their time. Right? I mean, it’s the fun part too. I mean, this is your baby. You’ve built this, even if you're not the founder, even if you're only employee five or 10 or something, you've built this from the ground up, and it's an exciting time.

Anya: I think it’s a rather underserved market as well. Right. People look at the very beginning and people look at the successful companies. How you get to the successful is a little bit neglected sometimes.

So that kind of gets us into the next section. We have a couple of questions come in ahead of time. So I'll kind of ask you those. As, as we do that, go ahead and start thinking about other questions that you guys may have.

First question: while I'm waiting for the ERP or the big initiative that's going to solve all of my problems. What are other ways I can give relief?

Jonathan: The first thing that comes to mind is look for the easiest, like lowest effort, things that you can start eliminating and or automating, right? One way to probably do that is through a process I've heard called value stream mapping, and there's a lot of different ways to do it. Start at the end of your process. So this is going to sound backwards. I know, but start at the very end of your process and ask like “how does my box get to the customer.” The end part is the customer has the box and ask, “how did it get there” and kind of keep asking that question all the way back, but working backwards makes you really have to focus on how did it actually get there.

Customer has the box. How did it get there? Well, a last mile delivery carrier probably delivered it. Okay. How did that last mile delivery carrier get that package? Well, they have an app that they were routed to pick it up from a fulfillment center and bring it to your house. Okay. How did that app, or how did that fulfillment partner know to direct that driver there? You sent an email to them that said, Hey, we've got a new order in. Okay. How did you know that you had a new order? You got an alert from your e-com store. Okay.

There's your whole process of order comes in to fully fulfilled. Well, you can start now looking at that and saying, where is the easiest start thing to eliminate? And maybe the solution you come to is okay, well, my e-com store is sending me a notification, and then I just send an email.

What if I could make my email go directly to my fulfillment partner? Could I add a notification into my ecom store and just go straight to that fulfillment partner? Okay, bam, there you go. It's an easy thing you can investigate and try it yourself, right?

You don't need to bring in somebody else or try anything there, but it's this just methodical process of walking through how every different process is working. And I, again, working backwards helps because then you can really start seeing where are the areas that I may be able to eliminate.

Anya: Interesting. Another question is why is there not packaged off the shelf software that actually works to manage inventory and demand data across your entire network?

Jonathan: I think that it comes down to that every supply chain is so different. Some people from the outside will look at a supply chain and just say, “oh, all you're doing shipping boxes,” but every company has a very different makeup of the way that they operate and the different systems they use and the different requirements that their products have. If you're shipping food, you have to deal with shelf life and temperature zones and things like that.

But it's also just the nature of supply chain in general. It is a physical box that you're having to move. Right. I mean, that is hard that you got to have somebody throughout the whole process, pick this thing up, put it on a truck, put it on a rail, put it on something. That’s just difficult. So layer that on top of that, like, especially for new newer brands or digitally native companies. The places that your customers are touching your brand are when they purchase it. So your e-commerce experience or your retail experience, and then when they get it delivered, right. That is the other major touch point that your customers have.

And there's study after study that shows it doesn't matter if FedEx is the one delivering it. They're going to associate that delivery experience with your brand. So companies use supply chain as a competitive advantage. I was just shopping the other day actually, and I bought four shirts, and in the package, I got a surprise tumbler, true story. And that's the kind of stuff that brands use supply chain and fulfillment as a competitive advantage and a way to build loyalty, a way to build customer engagement.

But that's a fulfillment thing, right? You're putting a tumbler in every box. And how do you do that? And if you're a MHE facility, how do you route and get the diverts to go to this particular location? There’s all these challenges that come with using supply chain as a competitive advantage.

All of that to say that every company has a very different way of operating. They're unique. They have needs specific to them. So most of the package systems are truly built as 80% solutions. Right. I mean, and, and frankly, that's the better way for those solution providers to do it too. Right. It doesn't make sense for them to build a completely something that can handle a 100% of a customer's problems. Right.

So those are kind of intentionally built with the idea that you're going to have some kind of customization or layer that sits on top of it. That’s just kind of the way that the industry's grown up. And so I think that we're now kind of at a point that supply chain software is moving into the next generation. A lot of those traditional systems do struggle to meet these unique requirements.

Anya: Last question, why does everything default to a spreadsheet?

Jonathan: I got into it a little bit earlier. I should preface all this by saying that I have read actually in multiple places, people say Excel is the best low code tool ever built, and it's kind of a weird way to think about it, but it's extremely true, right. Excel and spreadsheets are absolutely the easiest, quickest way to do something quick. Just try something, you know, do some calculations or throw something into a graph or something like that.

But to your question though, de facto, so everybody understands spreadsheets basically, right? If you work in supply chain, you've messed with, or open spreadsheet many, many times. It is so flexible to be able to build you can use a spreadsheet almost as a UI, right.

You can have data validation set up, so you have dropdowns and you're choosing things. You can do some pretty complicated things if you understand formulas or macros and all of that kind of stuff. It is the way that everybody's kind of familiar with and used to. You can exchange data.

I think I said that earlier, but that's the other thing too, right? One company can export it as a spreadsheet and send it to another company and they can open it. That is not true about APIs and EDI. There has to be some translation layer in the middle there because everybody's APIs are slightly different. Everybody's messages are slightly different. But if it's a spreadsheet, yes, it's a different format, but a person can still pretty easily go in and copy paste and rearrange. It's time consuming. It's boring.

But it's an easy way to exchange data and kind of get close to what you need. And like I said, at the beginning, it is a great way to start out. That’s probably why they're just so ubiquitous: flexibility and ease of understanding across companies.

Anya: That’s fair. I mean, it works for a good long while until all of a sudden it doesn't sometimes. So there you go. That’s really all that we had today. Thanks so much, Jonathan, for walking through and just sharing your knowledge there. To everyone else, thanks for joining us.

We'd love to hear about your journey. So send us a note or connect with us on LinkedIn.

Thanks so much.

Jonathan: Thanks, everybody.

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