Closing the Digital Divide: Transforming Regional Economies and Communities with Information Technology

By Stewart Marshall; Wallace Taylor et al. | Go to book overview

12

Facilitating E-Commerce in the Beef Industry

Shirley Gregor and Don Menzies


INTRODUCTION

The authors of this chapter are engaged in an ongoing program of action research in the Australian beef industry with the aim of assisting the industry with electronic commerce. One phase of the program was concerned with the use of electronic data transfer in supply chain management (SCM). In the general sense, a supply chain supports the flow of goods and materials from the original supplier through multiple production and logistic operations to the ultimate consumer. Supply chain management plans and controls this flow, to speed time to market, reduce inventory levels, lower overall cost, and enhance customer service and satisfaction. Electronic data transfer or electronic data interchange (EDI) can be used to support supply chain management. EDI means that business transactions, such as orders, invoices, and feedback about products, are sent between computers connected by a communication link. The communication link can be a special, private network, or the Internet (Turban, McLean, and Wetherbe 1999).

There has been interest in electronically enabled supply chain management in the beef industry for some time, both for forward planning with the supply of cattle to markets and for obtaining feedback about the product that eventuates. Supply chain management requires producers to commit to the production of quality meat according to agreed specifications, including documented feeding strategies and animal health inputs, trace-back procedures and even taste tests to ensure their product meets the expectations and the promise of the retailer in terms of flavor and tenderness. (O'Keefe and Hughes 1998)

At the time the authors' project began in 1998, efforts to introduce EDI on an industry-wide basis had not been successful. Some data transfer took place electronically, but instances were few. Where EDI occurred it was primarily in vertically integrated organizations or alliances. An industry standard for message exchange was produced some years ago. The standard had not been

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