Expert EDI Advice: Everything you need to know about EDI document types, trading partners, integrations, and more.

Expert EDI Advice: Everything you need to know about EDI document types, trading partners, integrations, and more.

Thursday, February 23, 2017Lauren Macdonald At lunch yesterday, a friend asked me, “I’ve got online selling down, but what does it take to sell my products in ‘big-box’ stores?”  Apart from knowing that she’d need to have a barcode on each and every item, she wasn’t sure even where to start.  In the evolution of any growing business, merchants eventually hear the acronym “EDI.”   

If you’re new to the world of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) there can be an overwhelming amount of information to consume. EDI is not the easiest concept to wrap your head around if you haven’t been using it on a day-to-day basis as part of your regular business process.

EDI is a fundamental component of doing business in this day and age, making it an important concept to learn and understand.

As experts in the EDI integration realm, we know a lot about EDI and thought we’d summarize the important information for you in one easy-to-digest blog post.

What is EDI?

In its most basic form, EDI is an electronic exchange, between two companies, of standard business documents (think invoices, purchase orders, etc.).

EDI Basics provides a great recap and graphic of EDI.  

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The ability to electronically exchange business documents makes it easier for big-box retailers (i.e. the Walmart’s and Home Depot’s of the world) to sell other businesses’ products on their shelves. Exchanging these documents in an electronic, standardized format has a wide variety of benefits, including:
  • Increased efficiency from automation transactions
  • Reduction of errors from manual data entry
  • Validation of content (via EDI standards and receiving software) to confirm documents contain the appropriate information for proper processing
  • Improved traceability and the ability to search through archived documents with ease
  • Reduced costs of doing business
  • Faster transaction processing
  • Less waste from the elimination of paper-based document exchange
How do I get started with EDI?

Once your company and your trading partner decide that you want to conduct business using EDI, there are a few general steps you can take to begin the process:
  • Obtain the EDI Implementation Guide from your trading partner. This will define how your selected electronic business documents will be structured.
  • Purchase EDI software that includes document maps and a translator. This software is used to transform your accounting system data (i.e. orders, shipments, etc.) into the layout requested/required by your trading partner.
  • Once this software is setup you and your trading partner will typically begin testing document exchanges.
  • Communicate with your trading partner to determine how your EDI documents can be exchanged. The most common methods are via Internet EDI, a Value Added Network (VAN), or direct one-to-one/peer-to-peer electronic document transfer. The eBridge Connections ePortal solution uses Internet EDI as the primary method of exchanging business documents with trading partners. We can also exchange documents with VANs as interconnects.
  • Conduct a set of tests with your EDI solution provider to verify that your software operates correctly and your trading partner receives the documents correctly.
  • Perform parallel document processing where you still send and receive your paper documents with your trading partner.
  • Eventually switch off paper business document exchange. You will notice a large reduction of document processing costs, dramatic increase of accuracy of the data, speed of exchange of business documents, improved cash flows, reduced processing errors and an increase in customer service levels.
What are EDI trading partners?

Simply put, EDI trading partners are the ‘big-box’ retailers that require business documents to be electronically exchanged in a standardized format in order to do business with them.

There’s a never-ending list of retailers that have strict requirements for EDI. A company like eBridge Connections supports the electronic exchange of documents for these retailers, enabling businesses (like yours) to sell your products on their shelves. For a comprehensive list of the retailers that we currently have pre-configured maps and connectors for, please look here. Keep in mind that trading partners not listed on this page can be easily and quickly implemented.

What are EDI document types?

EDI is a ‘language’ most commonly spoken about using numbers, which is part of what makes it so confusing to a newcomer trying to understand the complex world of EDI. If you’re guilty of typing into Google something along the lines of “what is an 824?” or “what does EDI document number 947 mean?” you’re not alone.
These numbers are simply ‘names’ given to the various document types that can be electronically exchanged between two businesses. The three most common ones that you’ll likely come across if you’re doing EDI would be:
  • 810- Invoice
  • 850- Purchase Order
  • 856- Shipping Notice

That being said, there’s hundreds of different document types that are possible to exchange using EDI. Here’s a handful of others that we’ve been asked about a time or two:
  • 215- Motor Carrier Pick-Up
  • 812- Credit/Debit Adjustment
  • 816- Organizational Relationships
  • 824- Application Advice
  • 830- Planning Schedule with Release Capability
  • 852- Product Activity Data
  • 860- Purchase Order Change Request (Buyer Initiated)
  • 861- Receiving Advice/Acceptance Certificate
  • 943- Warehouse Stock Transfer Shipment Advice
  • 947- Warehouse Inventory Adjustment Advice
For a complete list of EDI document types, see here.

What is EDI integration?

EDI integration is what businesses like eBridge Connections use to describe the connection that allows documents to be exchanged electronically between supported ERP/accounting systems. The eBridge Connections platform powers EDI document integration with any of 30+ supported ERP and accounting systems to achieve EDI trading partner compliance while maintaining cost efficiency.
Here’s how it works, in as few words as possible:
  • Our integration platform supports EDI transaction processing through the eBridge Connections ePortal.
  • With ePortal, you receive the benefits of having a translator and mapper without the headaches.
  • ePortal removes the need for 3rd party communication by enabling connectivity with any trading partner using the method that specific trading partner requests.
Benefits of using a company like eBridge Connections to enable EDI for your business include:
  • A repository of trading partner EDI document maps
  • Strict adherence to trading partner EDI transaction implementation guidelines
  • Data mapping and trading partner testing
  • Compliance monitoring
  • And, (the best one!) no transaction fees, kilo-character charges, or interconnect costs. Clients can process unlimited transactions for one low annual fee.
Take a peak at some other business’s we’ve set up EDI capabilities for:
  • Coravin connected MS Dynamics GP with a whole bunch of EDI trading partners
  • We helped this cool company connect Epicor with 70+ trading partners.
  • This massive Tax Service company connected MS Dynamics GP with several EDI trading partners
  • TeleDynamics needed an EDI integration that would transfer documents to and from their Sage MAS 500 accounting system.
  • We polished up Boston Bay Diamonds’ EDI trading process using their MS Dynamics NAV ERP
  • This DVD distribution company using Sage BusinessVision as their accounting package needed an EDI integration solution to do business with many retailers.
  • Idea Village used eBridge Connections to bridge the gap between MS Dynamics GP and their EDI trading partners
  • Hitfar eliminated manual paper-based document exchange from SAP Business One with their eBridge Connections’ EDI integration solution
 
Still have questions about EDI? Reach out anytime.
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