King’s Hawaiian is renowned in the bakery category for its high-quality Hawaiian Sweet rolls, bread and buns. Products from the Torrance, Calif.-based company have long been a staple of in-store bakeries throughout the U.S.
King’s Hawaiian buns have been featured prominently in products sold at fast food giant Arby’s. In 2016, the company even got the chance to enter a float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. (The three-story concoction included a volcano that erupted confetti.)
But according to King’s Hawaiian officials, the company wouldn’t be near the success story it is today without the quiet, behind-the-scenes work of a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based software company, TrueCommerce.
TrueCommerce supplies King’s Hawaiian with the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) platform it uses to handle the high-order volume and diverse procurement requirements of Amazon and other retailers, including many leading grocers, says Ann Harper, King’s Hawaiian’s customer service manager.
True Commerce’s system helps improve the speed, efficiency and accuracy of King Hawaiian’s substantial EDI order volume, Harper says — while also supporting the mandated procurement requirements of some of the world’s largest retailers and food stores.
Without it, Harper thinks King’s Hawaiian would not only lose the great majority of its order volume — it would also need to hire two more customer service staff to manually process the remaining orders.
“We use TrueCommerce as our value-added network provider, and we use the TrueCommerce Transaction Manager software to receive EDI orders from trading partners, validate that they are complete and correct, and then export the data into our ERP,” says Harper.
What distinguishes TrueCommerce’s EDI system, according to Haitham Ghadiry, TrueCommerce’s vice president of sales and marketing, is robust EDI integration with Sage 500 that automates the flow of data between systems. With TrueCommerce, he says, no rekeying is required, which saves time and minimizes mistakes.

That’s crucial for King’s Hawaiian, which processes several hundred orders a day via EDI from major retail and grocery chains including Walmart, Target, and ShopRite, Harper says. 

“The data passes in and out of our ERP system automatically, so accuracy is maintained vs. if someone had to rekey it all as a manual process and potentially make an error.”

In today’s high-tech marketplace, Harper says, EDI is a must. About 85 percent of King’s Hawaiian customers  use EDI. And of those, close to half require it.

“Most of our larger customers generate EDI orders, so manual orders aren’t an option,” Harper says. “As a business trying to keep up in the industry, integrated EDI is just something you need to do.”

Brand-strengthening through e-commerce

Cutting-edge EDI isn’t the only way TrueCommerce helps King’s Hawaiian keep its top position in the market.

The software company’s Nexternal eCommerce Platform provides King’s Hawaiian with a high-quality, customer-friendly and easy-to-maintain web retail presence, says Connie Linehan, general manager of King’s Hawaiian’s online store.

A user-friendly, visually attractive eCommerce storefront extends the King’s Hawaiian brand identity throughout the online shopping experience, increasing  visibility, boosting sales and delivering a positive experience for consumers, Linehan says.

Data management, credit card processing, reporting and other aspects of managing the company’s eCommerce presence are all going smoothly thanks to TrueCommerce, Linehan says, and positive feedback from customers has been the icing on the cake.

 “They nailed the design and everything is working really, really well,” she says.  “I’m thrilled.”

The web store, Linehan says, also allows King’s Hawaiian customers the freedom to order 24/7/365, with delivery anywhere in the U.S.

Nexternal eCommerce has the capability to support comprehensive integration with EDI and ERP over the TrueCommerce network, using the company’s TrueCommerce Connect program. 

But for King’s Hawaiian, this wasn’t necessary, Linehan says — its eCommerce and B2B divisions are totally separate entities. 

Since King’s Hawaiian already has a super-strong brand, the company wanted its online store to complement its existing distribution channels by deepening its relationships with existing customers, and by offering additional products for their “brand evangelists,” Linehan says. 

Once King’s Hawaiian communicated to TrueCommerce what it wanted, the design was completed in just a few days, and the store was up and running, she says. 

TrueCommerce’s eCommerce platform has provided four distinct benefits for King’s Hawaiian, says Craig Ross, the Nexternal division’s vice president of sales.

The first is brand extension. With Nexternal, King’s Hawaiian is able to deliver a consistent brand message throughout the online user’s experience, Ross says.

The second is what Ross calls a “great suite of marketing tools” — social media, integrated email marketing and SEO are all streamlined and user-friendly on Nexternal-created sites. 

Because it’s cloud-based, True Commerce’s platform for King’s Hawaiian allows the company to run and manage the site whether they’re in the California headquarters, in a satellite office or on the road.

Last but not least, King’s Hawaiian’s eCommerce site is fully integrated with Amazon and other platforms, enabling the company to get its products to customers as seamlessly and through as many channels as possible, Ross says. 

Another aspect of the system King’s Hawaiian has told TrueCommerce they like is the ability to sign up customers for subscription sales. Rather than just buying one loaf of bread and calling it good, Ross says, with Nexternal, they can sign up for a subscription and have product delivered to them on a regular basis.

“The website is very different now than it was” before King’s Hawaiian switched to TrueCommerce, Ross says. “No matter what (users do on the site), it’s a unified shopping experience. And it’s very simple to use.”

If, for example, Ross says, a manager wants to tweak the site, they can do it themselves — they don’t need to get their IT team involved.