The department store group, which has 47 outlets across the UK, will use the integration features in Biztalk to offer its 1,300 suppliers the option to exchange information via traditional EDI, web-based EDI or XML to increase efficiency and drive down costs.
This will improve the piecemeal nature of the existing EDI systems which means it takes a long time to create messages and add suppliers, said Andrew Bond, development services manager at House of Fraser.
The store group has begun to replace its existing communications infrastructure, which is based on various forms of EDI technology and paper forms, aiming to complete by the end of June. It wants to offer smaller suppliers low-cost access to its network via the internet. Traditionally, suppliers have had to run expensive value-added networks in order to use EDI.
Bond said, "At the moment about 300 suppliers - which represent 50% of the volume - communicate electronically but we want to address the smaller ones. We want to drive the use of electronic communication among our suppliers by reducing the cost of entry for them.
"The idea is to offer IP-based solutions, which work out cheaper than existing value-added networks for both ourselves and our suppliers."