For over 30 years, General Hearing
Instruments has manufactured hearing
aids for millions of people affected
by hearing loss. The Louisiana-based
company’s humble beginnings started
with individually-tuned hearing aids
for audiology patients and has grown
to offer dozens of specialty hearing
products sold by Fortune 500 retailers.
The integration of DiCentral’s EDI
solutions helped the company
automate complex supply chain
processes, thereby enabling consumers
to purchase quality hearing aids, both
online and in brick and mortar stores,
for a fraction of the price of prescription
|“When we began working with the
biggest name in retail, we knew we
needed a centralized hub where
all the orders were consolidated
into one location. DiCentral is
exactly what we needed, providing
flexibility and relieving stress in the
order entry process.”
VP of Operations
at General Hearing
For years, hearing aids were only available through prescription and required highly trained
audiologists to perform complex tuning of the rice-sized speakers used in the devices. Over time, as patients became more educated on hearing aid solutions, consumers began to weigh the cost-to-benefit of prescription devices. General Hearing recognized this trend early in 2008 and began offering an affordable, over-the-counter option tuned for average hearing loss.
The addition of direct-to-consumer hearing products required an equally progressive approach to the supply chain and order fulfillment processes. Prior to partnering with DiCentral, General Hearing employed a team of as many as 10 people to manually log into several disparate retailer websites to process the hundreds of orders it received each day. This required more time, more manpower, and an increased risk of human error in the ordering process. The need for an EDI solution was made urgent when the company expanded to supplying multiple Fortune 500 retailers.
“Hearing loss patients now have the option to order an affordable hearing aid from an online retailer. We then receive the order through DiCentral before shipping it to their doorstep,” said Robert Artigues, vice president of operations at General Hearing. “Now they’re able to buy it, try it, and return it directly to the brick and mortar location, if necessary.”
Additional supply chain implications included the stringent compliance requirements of HIPAA and the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). The retail hearing aids are Class 1 medical devices and the prescription hearing aids are Class 2 medical devices – each requiring a thorough quality assurance program and specific manufacturing requirements. The difference in order volume for retail versus prescription products justified the investment in a scalable EDI solution.
|Founded in 2000, DiCentral is a
leading global provider of B2Bi
managed services. Headquartered
in Houston, Texas, DiCentral has
10 offices worldwide supporting
customers in more than 27 countries.
DiCentral’s services and solutions are
singularly focused on B2B integration
and are used by many Fortune
1000 companies, processing over
$200 billion in transactions for over
30,000 organizations worldwide.
The company’s vertical expertise
transcends through the automotive,
retail, distribution, manufacturing,
pharmaceutical, healthcare, energy
and financial services. DiCentral
provides turn-key cloud-based B2Bi
managed services, which allows
organizations to connect and exchange
critical business documents with
their trading community. The core
components of the managed services
offering include ERP integration,
secure B2B communications, data
transformation, business rule analytics,
inventory management and trading
partner community management.
The company develops and markets a
complementary suite of supply chain
applications. Visit www.dicentral.com.
General Hearing required a singular EDI platform to receive the exponentially increasing order volume from retailers. DiCentral provided a cost-eﬀective, flexible, cloud-based EDI solution that could scale with the company’s growing need to integrate with retail giants. Working together, DiCentral and General Hearing developed a customized EDI system that functions as a centralized hub, consolidating all orders into one location while simultaneously integrating with the company’s existing proprietary ERP.
“We used to have to log onto the individual websites for each customer,” Artigues recalled. “When we began working with the biggest name in retail, we knew we needed a centralized hub where all the orders were consolidated into one location. DiCentral is exactly what we needed, providing flexibility and relieving stress in the order entry process.”
While most EDI providers outsource ERP integration to third party vendors, often leading to delayed projects, increased costs, and lost revenue, DiCentral uses proprietary ERP adapters that integrate with over 100 ERP, WMS, and accounting systems. General Hearing uses the DiCentral EDI platform to process orders across its distribution chain from a single dashboard while DiCentral’s ERP integration eliminates the labor costs and errors due to manual data entry.
By deploying the DiCentral EDI solution, General Hearing was able to leverage technology and supply chain efficiency to improve operations and increase order output, allowing the company to reinvest resources that were historically expended on manual order process into product development and bring their innovative hearing aids to a much larger customer base. Today, General Hearing can offer listening aids to those who may not have been able to afford them previously.
“Customers can evaluate the cost-to-benefit ratio of hearing aids without such a significant investment,” said Artigues. “And if they have any problems, we’re just a phone call away. DiCentral helps make all that possible.”