AE3 Agencies/Shoppers/Items (v6.0)

Modified on Thu, 16 Nov 2023 at 11:12 AM




AE3 Agencies/Shoppers/Items



Purpose of this document


The purpose of this document is to explain the setup of Agencies, Shoppers, and Items to support the use of Agency Express 3 with Ceres. This document is a supplement to the overview documents for Agency and Item setup and Agency Groups.

Ceres Object release 6.00.00 is required for the functionality described in this document.







Agency/Shopper Setup


Before utilizing Agency Express online ordering, web enabled Agencies, Shoppers and Items must be set up. The following sections will outline this process. There are many other steps to properly establishing communication between Agency Express 3 and Ceres, and assistance from both Techbridge and your Ceres provider is required.

Agency Setup – Web Enabling


The following set of steps outlines the process of setting up an Agency for web ordering.

  1. Agencies can be accessed by selecting “Search” from the Dynamics 365 Business Central Banner and entering “Agencies” in “Tell me what you want to do” then selecting “Agencies” from the results in the Go to Pages and Tasks section OR by selecting the “Agencies” menu action (if present) from your Role Center home page.


  1. This will open the Agency List Page where you can select the desired Agency. Click on the Agency number to edit the Agency.



  1. On the Information FastTab, select an Agency Group Code. You will need to select a Code that corresponds to the Location assigned to the Agency that you are web-enabling. The Agency Group’s Location is used to limit the Agency to only inventory available in that Location as well as any other qualifiers associated with that group. Inventory in other locations will not be available to this Agency during on-line ordering. The assignment of Agency Group Code can now be completed without Permit Web Orders being flagged on the Agency Card to ensure the Agency can only order items they are qualified to order.

Note: To see the Location Codes, you will need to click on Select from full list.



  1. Click on the drop down arrow in the Agency Group Code field to select the proper Code for this Agency. Assigning an Agency to an Agency Group will also assign the associated qualifiers to the Agency. The Agency will inherit the qualifiers from the Agency Group’s Qualifiers.

Note: Adding qualifiers to the Agency Card does not update Agency Group Qualifiers.



  1. Back on the Agency Card, toggle Permit Web Orders. Toggling this field will cause Ceres to verify several additional fields are filled in for the Agency you are working with. If no errors are received, continue to 6. If Ceres determines that a required field is not filled in, you will receive an error. You must go back and fill in the required field and toggle Permit Web Orders again. Repeat this process until all required fields have been populated with data. An example is provided below.




  1. Once Permit Web Orders is toggled, the Agency is web-enabled.




There are several other fields of interest with regard to ordering online. The following section describes these fields and how they are used:


Credit Limit: This is a base Ceres field used to govern Agency credit limits. This value is also transmitted to the web and utilized for credit monitoring online, depending on Credit Limit setup on AE.

UNC Activity Status: This field dictates whether an Agency is able to order online. Agencies with an Activity Status that allows posting will be able to order online if permitted. Agencies that have an Activity Status which does not allow posting will not be able to order online. They will, however, still be able to log in and perform other activities.


Agency Fee Group: This is assigned to all Agencies that will use item fees (special item pricing). This field should only be populated if special fees are applied to particular agencies.


Note: Filling this field in without item fees being set up properly will cause an agency not to see inventory online.



Location Code: This plays a role in item availability. The Location Code must coincide with the Agency Group Code as described in the previous section.

Delivery Zone Code: This can be used in conjunction with online delivery fees. Filling in this field, when delivery fees have been set up and transmitted to the web, will allow Agency Express to assign a delivery fee to all online orders for a particular Agency. The fee shown in Agency Express is an estimate, the actual delivery fee will be calculated by Ceres at invoice generation time. Agencies should be aware that the delivery fees shown during on-line ordering are estimates.

Shipment Method Code: This is used for scheduling in Ceres. If an Agency will be using both Delivery and Pickup appointments online, this field should be left blank. Otherwise web orders will have trouble auto-validating on a consistent basis. For example, if Agency A-001 is set up with a Shipment Method Code of “Deliver”, and a Pickup order comes from the web, auto-validate will fail because it will see that the Agency is a Delivery Agency.

Shopper Setup – Web Enabling


The next step is to set up a Shopper. If a Shopper already exists then you will simply need to activate it for web ordering by toggling Permit Web Orders. For this example, we will assume no Shoppers exist for the Agency we just activated for web ordering. The following steps outline the process of creating a web-enabled shopper:

  1. From the Agency Card, select Related à Agency à  Shoppers to open the Shopper List.


  1. Click New to create the shopper card:


  1. The shopper card will open so you can fill in the following fields:


 No: The Shopper No. will populate when the name is entered.

Name: Shopper Name (required) – must be a first AND last name.

E-mail Address: Used for auto-generated emails in Ceres (Field is required).

Web Login: The login used to access Agency Express (Field is required).

Permit Web Orders: Once toggled, this field enables a shopper for web ordering.

Once the circled fields are filled in/selected, then the agency/shopper will be able to order online (after the information has been transmitted to the web). To enable additional shoppers for web ordering, repeat the steps outlined in this section.

If you edit a Permitted Shopper, make sure that the shopper always has Name, Email and Web Login fields populated or you can create issues in importing shopper data into Agency Express 3.

Note: There are several fields that may only be edited when the shopper is not permitted for Web Orders. In order to edit these fields you must first disable web ordering for the shopper by un-toggling “Permit Web Order”. Then changes may be made to the fields, and once the edits are complete, you may re-toggle “Permit Web Order”. This causes Ceres to resynchronize the shopper with AE. The fields that are prevented from editing while web ordering is enabled are the Search Name, Web Login, First Name, Last Name, and E-mail Address.

Agency/Shopper – Web Disabling


To disable a shopper for web ordering, simply un-toggle Permit Web Orders for the shopper in question. To disable all shoppers, as well as the associated agency, un-toggle Permit Web Order for the agency.

Note: To show that a shopper is blocked in Ceres (this does not affect AE), you may toggle the Blocked field on the Shopper Card and enter a Blocked Reason. This lets anyone reviewing the shopper card know why the shopper has been blocked. However, only un-toggline Permit Web Orders removes the shopper from the ability to shop on Agency Express.



Item Setup


The following section outlines the process of setting up Inventory Items for web ordering and describes the fields of particular interest between Ceres and Agency Express.

  1. Items can be accessed by selecting “Search” from the Dynamics 365 Business Central Banner and entering “Items” in “Tell me what you want to do” then selecting “Items” from the results in the Go to Pages and Tasks section OR by selecting the “Items” menu action (if present) from your Role Center home page.


This will open the Item List. Select the Item to be enabled for web ordering by clicking on the Item number or select Edit.



  1. This will open the Item Card where you can make the necessary changes.


  1. On the Item Tracking FastTab toggle Permit Web Orders as shown above.

At this point, the item is web-enabled and can be ordered online if there is quantity on hand and quantity available for the ordering Agency. There are several other fields which impact what is displayed in the shopping list online. The following section describes these fields and how they are utilized on Agency Express:

The following fields from the General FastTab (general item information) are all transmitted via the ITM file and displayed on the Shopping List online.


No.: Item Number.

Description: Item Description.

Description 2: Item Description 2.

Pack Size: Item Pack Size.

Base Unit of Measure: Item Base Unit of Measure.

Gross Weight: Item Gross Weight.

Feature Type: Feature Type associated with the Item (from a list of default types).

Length (Inches): Used in the calculation of Cube size.

Width (Inches): Used in the calculation of Cube size.

Height (Inches): Used in the calculation of Cube size.

Cubic Feet (Cube Size): Automatically calculated. Used to display how much space an item would likely take up on a truck.

Cube Density: Automatically calculated. This field generates based on the length, width, height and weight fields. It is non-editable by the user and computes the relative density of an Item from the weight of the case and dimensions of the case. It is calculated by dividing the weight by the cubic feet of the Item. Higher values represent denser items which should be placed at the bottom of pallets during pallet construction.



Unit Fees: The item fee displayed online (assuming Agency specific item fees are not being used), a value based on the other fee fields above.

Servings per Base UOM: Used in the calculation of Fee per Serving that displays online.

Fee per Serving: This displays the approximate cost per serving of the Item.



Item Group Code: This is not displayed online, however this field (when used) is used in conjunction with maximum order quantities assigned to Agency Groups.


Adding Extended Item Text


Extended text may be added to any item. If enabled in Agencies and Receivables Setup, this extended text can be synchronized with the Agency Express on-line ordering system to provide on-line shoppers with more detailed information about items, such as a suggested recipe or use. To enter an extended test on an item do the following. 

  1. From the Item Card, select Actions à Item à  More à Extended Text.


  1. Select New.



  1. Move down to the Lines section and begin typing your extended text. Only 250 characters of extended text will actually be transmitted to the web, though you can type as much as you want in Ceres.




Enabling Extended Item Text


Extended text may be added to any item regardless of whether or not the Item is used Agency Express on-line ordering or not. It is important to remember that although extended text is set up for Items, you must enable Ceres to send this extended text to the Agency Express on-line ordering system. Follow these instructions to enable the synchronization of Item extended text between Ceres and the Agency Express on-line ordering system.

  1. Agencies & Receivables Setup can be accessed by selecting “Search” from the Dynamics 365 Business Central Banner and entering “Agencies & Receivables Setup” in “Tell me what you want to do” then selecting “Agencies & Receivables Setup” from the results in the Go to Pages and Tasks section OR by selecting the “Agencies & Receivables Setup” menu action (if present) from your Role Center home page.


  1. On the Web Ordering FastTab and toggle the Sync Extended Item Text field to enable extended item text.



Item Descriptors

Codes linked to an item and synchronized with the web. Item Descriptors are a way to display additional information about an item at a glance. Some food banks use this for passing on nutrition assessment or other subjective factors. The following section outlines the process of setting up Item Descriptors.


Master Descriptors can be accessed by selecting “Search” from the Dynamics 365 Business Central Banner and entering “Master Descriptors” in “Tell me what you want to do” then selecting “Master Descriptors” from the results in the Go to Pages and Tasks section OR by selecting the “Master Descriptors” menu action (if present) from your Role Center home page.


  1. Click on a new line OR select New to enter a Code and Description for each Master Descriptor.


  1. You will receive a message each time you make a change to this form indicating you must make the same change online. That is because this list must be completely in sync with the Master Descriptor list in Agency Express. Be sure that any changes made here are also made online. Failure to do so will result in the functionality not working properly.


  1. Once you have created a list of Master Item Descriptors you can assign them to items. From the Item Card, select Related à Item à Item Descriptors to open the Item Descriptors Page.



  1. Click on a code to select it. Repeat this process until you have added all required item descriptor codes to the Item.

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