It was 1994 when Walmart entered Canada amid much fanfare – the world’s largest retailer! One of my clients was a pantyhose manufacturer called Sara Lee Hosiery – née Giltex. Sara Lee, being a rather large player with over 1,000 knitting machines, worked very hard to get Walmart’s business and were overjoyed when they obtained a national contract to supply the new Canadian Walmart stores.
Icefan was tasked with setting up the EDI system that would electronically receive all of the store orders from Walmart and automatically integrate them into Sara Lee’s internal order management system. Now, we had installed many EDI systems by this point, but Walmart had some unique requirements. Nevertheless, the first orders were received, produced, and shipped without a hitch.
Two weeks later another order was received and the people at Sara Lee were stunned. This new order was huge and exceeded all forecasts by miles. The sales manager was ecstatic, the production manager was aghast. They immediately added a third shift to production and worked around-the-clock. They got everything done just in time to meet the delivery date and the trucks fanned out across the country. When the first truck arrived at a Walmart store, the store manager took one look at the tractor trailer filled to the brim with pantyhose and said, “I didn’t order that. Get out of here!”
Frantic telephone calls were then exchanged and it was determined that the order had been processed wrong at Sara Lee. The trucks were all told to return home. And I was immediately summoned to have a little chat with the President of Sara Lee. I told him I would get to the bottom of this and after some analysis discovered that our software had left a switch on that multiplied the quantities by ten. This was exactly correct for the original placing order but was exactly wrong for the replenishment orders !