Labels and EDI in SAP

by Jodi Abrams

Most of the information needed on a shipping label is fairly obvious; PO number, product code(s), address etc. What about the more obscure information such as the merchandise type code or department from Wal-Mart?


More often than not, this information is sent in on the EDI order from your customer. It is information that pertains to them, and that they want back not only on the label, but often on the ASN and even invoice as well. Perhaps this information is of value to you, so you can report on sales by Wal-Mart merchandise type or department. However, usually this information falls into the category of what I like to call “pass through data”. This is data that is not at all relevant to you or your business, yet you have to take it in, store it and pass it back out again.


Unfortunately, you will need to store this somewhere in your system in order to pull it back out at the appropriate times. In terms of where to store it, there are a variety of options. A common solution for this data is in a header or item text (depending on the level of the data). I would recommend creating a new text object for each type of data you need and then putting only that data in that field – rather than putting a lot of data in a single object in a specified format for reading out later. This helps to ensure that when you need to read it back out again, it's available untouched.

Another solution is to create custom fields on your sales order. These can be added to one of the additional data tabs on the order. This does give you more of a pre-defined space for the data, but before you know it, you may have a whole screen of custom fields to maintain.


There are certainly more ways this can be done than the two described above, as SAP has endless options. Out of those two though, my preference is for the header/item text. It's an easier configuration - can be done in a matter of minutes. It will also take advantage of standard SAP when outputting this information on your outgoing IDOCs so they can be mapped to your ASN and invoice. If you use custom fields, you will then need user exits to pull these out of the system. In the end, you have a very development heavy project.

About the author: Jodi Abrams

Jodi is an expert in SAP and eCommerce integration, and is Vice President of Applications for CONTAX.