Agency Express Managing Web Orders (v5.0)

Modified on Wed, 20 Sep 2023 at 09:15 AM



Agency Express Managing Web Orders



Purpose of this document


The purpose of this document is to explain the process of managing web orders from Agency Express in Ceres. This document is designed to supplement the initial project process, to implement Agency Express, or as a support document for the ongoing use of the tools. 

Ceres Object release 5.00.00 is required for the functionality described in this document. 


Table of Contents



Before a web order can be processed in Ceres, we must first determine which setup options to implement.  This is a one-time process and is not likely to change after it has been completed.  The following section describes each setup option and how it will be used during the order process. Ceres supports Techbridge’s on-line ordering system called “Agency Express” (AE).


Agencies & Receivables Setup


To access Agencies & Receivables Setup, select Departments à Agencies & Receivables à Administration à Setup à Agencies & Receivables Setup:



Web Ordering Fast Tab


There are many fields in the Web Ordering setup that control the behavior of Ceres. This guide is to explain the different fields and give a better understanding of some of the parameters available to tune Ceres for different company’s unique requirements. Under normal circumstances, once these fields have been set up by your implementer they should only be changed by or at the direction of authorized support from your Ceres VAR or Feeding America if you are running in Feeding America “hosted” environment.



Enable Web Ordering:  This field controls whether or not Ceres is synchronized with AE.


Note: This field should not be used to turn agency shopping on or off; that is controlled from within Agency Express.


Web File Path:  This field is the path to the location of the files received from Agency Express and the creation of outbound Agency Express related transactions from Ceres.


Temp PO File Handling:  This field determines whether or not Ceres will process the temporary PO inbound transactions from AE. If left unchecked, Ceres will not process these transactions. AE sends orders in a temporary PO file and once the entire order is received, the temporary file is normally deleted. If for some reason, the temporary file fails to get deleted, this parameter determines how Ceres will handle such files. If checked, Ceres will attempt to process the temporary file as if it was a completed PO file. If unchecked, Ceres will ignore the stranded temporary PO files.


No. of Processing Attempts with Error: This is the number of times that Ceres will attempt to process a file.


Delete Queue After: This field determines the length of time Ceres will store processed transaction files and queue data. This is a normal time field within Ceres; for example a value of “1W” indicates one week, “10D” indicates ten days, and “1M” indicates one month, etc. All process transaction files and queue entries older then this timeframe will be deleted automatically by Ceres.


Auto-Validate Web Order:  Determines whether auto-validation is possible.  There are two options for this field, “If No Errors” and “Never.” By selecting “If No Errors,” only orders with no errors will auto-validate.   Selecting “Never” will disable the auto-validate functionality.


Bypass Credit Warnings: If checked, credit limit violations will not be considered as an error during the auto-validate process.  Any order that is over the credit limit will still be auto-validated if this option is selected.


Note: This keeps the web order handling from failing due to a credit issue.


Auto-Accept Web Orders:  If checked, Ceres accepts web orders automatically if auto-validation occurs.   This option is used in conjunction with Auto-Validate Web Orders.  If auto-validation occurs and this option is selected, the order will automatically be accepted by Ceres.


Inbound File Nos.:  This field specifies the numbering series to be used by Ceres to automatically number inbound files from AE.


Outbound File Nos.:  This field specifies the numbering series to be used by Ceres to automatically number outbound files created for transmission to AE


Web Ordering Batch Name:  The batch all web orders will be placed in.  If order batches are not being used, this field cannot be filled in.


Web Order Location Override:  This field is applied to the inventory as a flow-filter to restrict inventory available on the web. If this field is entered, only inventory in the location specified will be available for ordering regardless of the location specified on the agency card. This allows the food bank to maintain location specific agencies for non-web ordering while forcing all web orders to be serviced from a specific location. In addition a field has been added to the zone table to allow for the exclusion of product stored in specific zones of a location from web availability. Reference the document “Zone Overview” in warehouse documents for more information on this capability. (Release 5.00.00)


Web Delivery Shipment Method:  This field designates the valid Ceres shipment method code used to designate deliveries for web ordering.


Web Pickup Shipment Method:  This field designates the valid Ceres shipment method code used to designate pickups for web ordering.


Allow Modify of Web Orders:  Determines whether Ceres will allow order modifications.  This is set up in conjunction with Techbridge.  If this option is not selected and an order modification is imported into Ceres, an error will occur on the order.


Allow Allocation Orders Online:  If this option is selected, allocated orders can be transmitted to Agency Express and processed as a standard web order.


Note: This option must be turned on if you wish to have ALL item master data sync’d to AE, regardless of whether items are permitted for web ordering or not.


Synchronize Schedules to Web:  if this option is selected, Ceres will transmit all schedules that are configured to transmit to the web. If a food bank uses an open model for AE but still used agency schedules within the food bank, this parameter will allow the food bank to create agency schedules without having those schedules impact the AE scheduling component.


Sync Past Appointments:  Specify a date formula (i.e. 1D = one day, 1W = one week, 1Y = one year) to control how far back in time calendars and appointments are synchronized.  If left blank all calendars, appointments, and standing appointments that exist in Ceres will be synchronized. It is recommended to set this to 0D.


Sync Extended Item Text:  If checked, Ceres will transmit all extended text entered for items flagged as “permit web orders” in addition to the other information transmitted for items. This can be useful to provide the AE user additional detailed product information about the item. Unchecking this field still allows entry of the information, but it will not be transmitted to AE.


No Sat. or Sun. in Schedules:  Checking this field will exclude all Saturdays and Sunday dates from the schedule creation automatically. If left unchecked, the dates will be created and the AE administrator at the food bank will be responsible for editing this dates prior to synchronizing Agency Schedules with AE.


Web Shipment Method Priority:  Agencies can be set up with a default shipment method of pickup or delivery. AE users can select a shipment method that is different from the default setup on the Agency. This field determines how Ceres will handle orders where the shipment methods do not match. The available options for this field are:


Agency – The order will be processed and the shipment method on the agency will be used. The shipment method selected by the shopper on the order is ignored.


Order - The order will be processed and the shipment method on the AE order will be used. The shipment method on the agency card is ignored.


Exception Queue – The order will be place in the Exception Queue for manual processing. The order could be summarily rejected or the agency would need to be changed temporarily to match the AE order method. Then the order could be manually processed. Once the order has been manually processed, the agency should be changed back to the correct shipment method code.


AE Invalid Characters:  Currently, certain characters can disrupt communications between Ceres and AE. It is necessary to eliminate those characters as part of the data transmission process so they do not disrupt communications between Ceres and AE. Specify in this field any characters that should be stripped from outbound transactions from Ceres to AE. This will strip the characters entered here from anywhere in the item information (including description).


 Web E-mail FastTab



E-Mail from Address:  Enter the “from” address to be used when Ceres send Web ordering related emails.


Send ASN:  Ceres generates an email acknowledgement for each order received from the web ordering system. This field determines at which point that email is generated. In all cases, an attachment of the order as it currently stands at the point of ASN generation. The available options are: 


On Accepted – This is the earliest point in time. The ASN will be sent as soon as the web order is accepted by the food bank.


Note: If auto-acceptance is turned on, then the ASN will be sent as soon as the order is received and accepted.


On Processing – In web ordering, processing is the point where the order is moved from “Shopped Only” mode to “Food Bank Only” mode. Food Bank Only mode stops shoppers from making any additional changes to the order (if allow order modification is turned on). 


On Released – This is the latest stage at which an acknowledgement can be sent back. Typically orders are released when the warehouse is ready to work and pick the orders.


ASN Email Body:  This field allows you to define the email body message sent with email acknowledgement for each order. You are limited to 250 characters and it is a static message; no references to agency, contact or order #, etc. will be referenced in the message.      


SMTP Mail Setup


To access SMTP Setup, select Departments à Administration à IT Administration à Services à Administration à SMTP Mail Setup:





Fill in the information for your SMTP requirements.


Once web setup has been completed in Ceres, on Agency Express and on the Sync Server, we are ready to begin managing web orders. 


Agency Web Order Processing


There are a variety of ways a web order can potentially be handled.  The following section will outline the various paths a web order might take and how best to manage it at each of its various stages.


Before it is possible to process web orders, it is important to understand their attributes.  The following section will list all web-related fields and functions, identify their purposes, and explain how each are utilized during the web order process. 




General Fast Tab



Shipment Date: The projected shipment date for the order.  This is initially assigned by the shopper when the order is submitted online.  It can, however, be changed at any time by the food bank if deemed necessary.  


Note: This is a critical field in the agency order scheduling process and must contain a value.


Appointment Time: The projected appointment time for the order.  This is initially assigned by the shopper when the order is submitted online.  It can, however, be changed at any time by the food bank if deemed necessary.  


To change the contents of this field and/or to review Appointment Lines the user can place their cursor into the Appointment Time field then right click > Look Up (F4) or click the edit assist button.


Note: This is a critical field in the agency order scheduling process and must contain a value.


Shopper:  Shopper number.  This field is assigned automatically by Ceres when the order is imported from the web.   This field is editable and can be changed as needed.


Shopper Name:  The name of the shopper who placed the order.  This field is filled in automatically and cannot be changed.


Your Reference:  This can be thought of as the web order number.  It is also often time referred to as the PO number. When an order is submitted online, this is the number that Agency Express uses to track it.  The Your Reference field cannot be modified, in Ceres, for web orders.


Order Modifications:  This field is used to determine whether an order can be modified by a shopper online.  Order Modifications has two potential values, Shopper Only and Food Bank Only.  If Order Modifications is set to Shopper Only then the shopper can still modify the order, the food bank cannot make changes to the order at this time.  If Order Modifications is set to Food Bank Only, the shopper can no longer modify the order.  The food bank has total control at this point.  


Note: This field cannot be directly modified.   To change Order Modifications from Shopper Only to Food Bank Only, you must use the Process action in the Agency Order Actions list.  Also, if you are set up to send an ASN On Processing (Agencies & Receivables Setup   à Web E-mail), an e-mail will be automatically generated once Order Modifications changes from Shopper Only to Food Bank Only.  See previous section for further detail.


Order Version:  If order versions are enabled, this field will display the current version of the order.  


Shipping and Billing FastTab



Location Code:  The Location Code for the order.  This field will default based upon the order’s Sell-to Agency. 


Note: This is a critical field in the order scheduling process and must contain a value.


Shipment Method Code:  The Shipment Method Code for the order.  This field will default based upon the order’s Sell-to Agency or as defined in the Web Shipment Method Priority of Agencies & Receivables Setup. See earlier section on Agencies & Receivables Setup.


Delivery/Web FastTab



Delivery Info:  The delivery information for the order.  This field is the concatenated result of the Delivery Info from the Sell-to Agency card and the order comments from the imported web order.


Delivery Zone:  The Delivery Zone for the order.  This field defaults based upon the Sell-to Agency.


Shopper:  Shopper number.  This field is assigned automatically by Ceres when the order is imported from the web.   This field is editable and can be changed as needed.


Shopper Name:  The name of the shopper who placed the order.  This field is filled in automatically and cannot be changed.


Shopper E-mail Address: The e-mail address of the shopper associated with the order.  This field is used for all e-mail shopper functions.


E-mail Shopper:  Indicates whether Ceres should auto-email the shopper.  This is set to “Yes” by default.


Web Order:  Indicates whether the order is a web order.  This field cannot be edited.


Web Acceptance Status: The Web Acceptance Status of the order.  There are three potential values: blank, accepted, and rejected.  All web-orders start out with a Web Acceptance Status of “blank”.  Once an order has been validated, it can then be accepted and processed.  If an order is rejected, it must be deleted.  


Note: Rejection is permanent. Once an order is rejected, it cannot be un-rejected and then accepted. However, an accepted order can be rejected.


Rejected Reason Code:   This Code may be used in conjunction with the Web Acceptance Status.  A Rejected Reason Code must be specified before a rejected web order can be deleted.


Note: A web order will NOT validate in Ceres if there is an invalid Rejected Reason Code in the incoming file.


Web Accept. User ID:  The user id of the individual who accepted the web order.


Web Accept. Date:  The date the web order was accepted.


Web Accept. Time:  The time the web order was accepted.


Allocated Order:  Indicates whether this is an allocated order.


Web Allocation Status:  Indicates the current web allocation status.  This is only for ALLOCATED (push) orders. There are four potential values for this field:


Blank – Nothing has happened.

New Order – This value is currently not used by Ceres.

Sent to Web – The allocated web order has been transmitted to the web.

Accepted by Shopper – The allocated web order has been accepted by the shopper and re-imported into Ceres.


Web Order Validated:  Indicates whether the order has successfully undergone the process of validation.


Web Transmitted:  This field indicates whether a web order has been transmitted to the web.   This typically occurs (the first time) once an order has been accepted.


Managing Web Orders


There are a number of ways a web order could be potentially handled in Ceres.  The following section will outline the most common methods of processing web orders, the variations, and the logic behind the decisions that must be made in the web order process.


Processing Web Orders


When an order is imported into Ceres, one of two things is likely to occur: 


  • the order is imported, auto-validated and (depending upon setup) potentially auto-accepted, or 


  • the order is imported and is not auto-validated or auto-accepted.  


Let’s examine both scenarios.


Auto and Manual Validation


In Ceres, a web order must be validated before it can be processed.  When an order is imported from the web, it comes into Ceres with just the basic information (i.e. Agency No., Shipment Date, Appointment Date, Item No., Quantity, etc.).  Ceres must “validate” this information to ensure there are no errors.  If it is able to do so, the rest of the fields on the order header and lines will populate and we may proceed with order processing.  


If an error occurs, such as an appointment scheduling error, the order will not validate.  Someone must fix the error and then attempt to re-validate.   In Agencies & Receivables Setup, there is an option called “Auto-Validate Web Order.”  Typically this is set to “If No Errors”.  When this is checked, any order which comes into Ceres will attempt to validate automatically.  This means that if there are no errors, the order will come into Ceres, all information will be populated and Ceres can proceed with processing it immediately.  If there is an error on the order, auto-validation will not occur and we must manually address the issue.  Errors are usually few and far between if the data in Ceres is set up correctly and consistently.  Thus, this option is highly recommended and provides an immense amount of value.  If “Auto-Validate Web Orders” is set to Never, orders will never validate automatically.  In this case, users would need to validate the order manually.  


Let us consider an example.  Assume that Validate Web Orders is set to If No Errors in Agencies & Receivables Setup. Order AO-00420 has come into Ceres but did not auto-validate. This means that before the order can be processed, it must be determined why it did not validate, fix the error, and then the order must be manually validated. Here is what would need to happen:

Select Actions à Functions à Validate Web Order.  This will force Ceres to re-attempt order validation.  If there is an error, it will present itself to the user.




In this case, we see that the error relates to scheduling.  This is actually fairly common and will likely account for 80% of all errors relating to non-validated web orders.


In this case, the error occurred because the Location was missing and Ceres was unable to resolve the appointment.  By adding a Location to the agency, and subsequently updating the order, the order (and future orders placed by this agency) should now validate. 


Upon validation, fields that were previously left blank will now be filled in.  Also, on the Delivery/Web tab, the Web Order Validated field will be checked.  Ultimately, this is your indication that the web order has been validated and can be processed.  


Note: As previously mentioned, if the order is imported with no errors (and Auto-Validate Web Orders is turned on), the process of manual validation is unnecessary.  Ceres will handle the process automatically.


Auto and Manual Acceptance


After validation, web orders must be accepted before they can be processed any further.  In Agencies & Receivables Setup, there is an option called Auto-Accept Web Orders.  This is used in conjunction with Validate Web Order routine.  Basically, when an order validates, the order will subsequently auto-accept.  In the previous example, Auto-Accept Web Orders was set to yes.  Thus, when we manually validated the order, it was automatically accepted as a part of the validation routine.  Had Auto-Accept Web Orders been set to No, we would have needed to manually accept the order.  This feature is extremely handy during auto-validation.  If an order auto-validates, it is also auto-accepted.   This saves the order taker two steps and allows them to immediately begin processing the order.  A few notes about accepting web orders:


  1. Once a web order is accepted, it may still be rejected.  However, once a web order is rejected, it may not be re-accepted.
  2. Upon acceptance or rejection, a status update is transmitted to Agency Express.  Online, in Order Management, the shopper will see that his/her order has been “Acknowledged” or “Rejected.”
  3. If Send ASN has been set to On Accepted in Agencies & Receivables Setup, an email with a *.pdf copy of the order will be emailed to the shopper on acceptance.


It is worthwhile to note that an order does not always have to be validated and accepted.  In fact, it is expected that on certain occasions, an order should neither be validated nor accepted.  If an order is imported into Ceres and it is determined that it should not be processed based on settings in Agencies & Receivables Setup (i.e. the agency has an overdue balance) then the order may not validate or accept and will go into the Exception Queue where the user may reject the order.  Upon rejection, the only thing left to do is delete the web order, further processing of the order is impossible.   Upon rejection, a notification is transmitted to Agency Express and Order Management is updated with a status of Rejected for the order.  

Shopper Only and Food Bank Only Processing


The next step for web orders is to process the order.  There is a field on the agency order header called Order Modifications.  When an order is imported from the web, this field is set to Shopper Only by default.  The order lines on a Shopper Only order cannot be edited by the Food Bank, only the header information can be changed.  


When Order Modifications is set to Shopper Only, this implies that only the shopper can make changes to the order. If the food bank has decided to allow order modifications (Agencies & Receivables Setup), this is the time when the shopper can make changes to the order online.  Once shopper modifications need to be cut off, the food bank can “Process” the order.   This effectively changes Order Modifications from Shopper Only to Food Bank Only.  Once this happens, a status update is transmitted to the web indicating that the order has been “Released” and the shopper can no longer touch the order.   The food bank now has total control of the order. 



To change Order Modifications from Shopper Only to Food Bank Only:


  1. Select Home à Process à Process  

Note: This can also be done via a routine to process multiple orders at one time which will be outlined later in this document).




  1. You will be asked to confirm your decision.   Select Yes.



3. Order Modifications will now be set to Food Bank Only.




Once Order Modifications has been set to “Food Bank Only”, the order can essentially be treated as any other on-web order.  

Processing Web Order Versions


In Agency Express, it is possible for a shopper to modify their order online if we have allowed it in Agencies & Receivable Setup.  If this occurs, the order in Ceres is subsequently updated to account for any changes the shopper has made.  In its simplest form, a modified web order is treated like a brand new order in that everything starts over from a processing standpoint.  Any previous validation and/or acceptance that had occurred is reset and must be performed again.


The following section outlines the process of handling a modified order (also referred to as an order version):


Order AOR-xxxxx was initially imported into Ceres, the order was validated and accepted.  Order Modifications on the order was not changed to Food bank Only.


The shopper modified the order online.   There were no errors on the order so auto-validation and auto-acceptance occurred without issue.  The Order Version field, which previously contained the value 1, was changed to 2.


This process can continue indefinitely.   However, once the food bank has changed Order Modifications from Shopper Only to Food Bank Only, the shopper can no longer modify the order.  The food bank will have total control.


Processing Web Order - Batch


While web orders can be “processed” on an order by order basis, normally, a food bank would decide to process a group of web orders at one time. This can result a large time savings. For example, if we are ready to work on all orders with a shipment date of 05/24/19, you can run the process web order routine and filter for the desired orders. To access this function select Departments à Agencies & Receivables à Agency Express à Periodic Activities à Process Web Orders.



Ceres will open the process web orders page and you may enter any necessary filter information. Here we have enter our shipment date of 05/24/19. Press OK and Ceres will attempt to process all web orders respecting the filter range. If successful, Ceres will respond with a message alerting you to the number of orders processed. If no orders meet the criteria, you will receive a notification that there are no orders to process.


Note: You can also filter by Shipment Method Code, Schedule Template, etc. to further restrict the orders that will be processed.



Processing Allocated Web Orders


Creating and processing allocated web orders is a fairly simple process.  The only prerequisite requirement is that Allow Allocated Orders Online is checked in Agencies & Receivables Setup (Web Ordering FastTab).   There are additional Procedure Documents on Allocated Agency Orders as well – see Related Documents. The following section will explain the process of handling allocated web orders in Ceres:


  1. Create an agency order.  (Either manually or via the Allocation Order Process from a journal, in which case the “Allocated Order” checkbox will be checked by default).


  1. Add lines to the order.


  1. On the Delivery/Web tab check the Allocated Order checkbox.




  1. Once satisfied with the order, select Actions à Functions  à Send à Send Allocated Order to Web. 



Confirm that you wish to send the allocated order to the web. 




Once the allocated order has been transmitted to the web, the Web Allocation Status field will change to “Sent to Web”.  At this point the order is waiting to be accepted by the shopper online.  Until that happens, the order will be locked and cannot be edited.  Once the shopper accepts the order, the Web Allocation Status will change to Accepted by Shopper and the Web Order flag will be checked.  At that point, the order can be treated as a normal web order.


Email Shopper Functions


There are two built in methods of emailing a shopper directly from a web order.  The following section will outline both methods:


Send Generic E-mail to Shopper


To send a generic e-mail to a shopper, select the “e-mail” button at the top of the order as shown below.  This will open up a blank email addressed to the shopper on the order.  This is useful if you need to inform the shopper about changes to their order.  It can be used anytime without restriction.   




 E-mail Order to Shopper


You can also manually e-mail a copy of an order to the Shopper, from the order.  Select Actions à Functions à Send à Email Order to Shopper.


This will send a generic e-mail (defined in A&R Setup) with a .pdf copy of the order attached.  This function can be used as many times as needed per order.



Additional functionality related to emailing orders to shoppers is outlined in other documents (i.e. setting up auto-emailing).

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