Five Tips To Help You Choose The Right EDI VAN For Your Business
Tuesday, August 7, 2018Lauren Macdonald
Most businesses engage with Value Added Networks (VANs) when they are mandated to do EDI by a major retailer, like Costco or target, or they want to supply a vendor with goods. They often base their VAN selection decision on basic features that fit their present-day needs and agenda, as well as initial cost.
Unfortunately, many quickly realize that large VANs will increase their fees unexpectedly and before they know it they are paying out thousands of dollars each month. The reality is that EDI VANs should be looked at carefully, considering price and reliability. VANs form a key gateway through which sellers will communicate and exchange business documents with their biggest and most valued trading partners and customers.
Therefore, a VAN should be selected on the basis of growth long into the future. As the business matures and develops they will require a greater number of EDI transactions, and what was once affordable might quickly become an expensive selection for EDI due to large numbers of kilo-characters. A kilo-character is essentially one thousand characters, and it's important to know that typically within an EDI document, every single character, every single space, every single delimiter is one character. One should also consider inevitable upgrades and changes to accounting or ERP software, and other applications, and how those types of software changes will affect the EDI VAN they choose.
Here are five tips to help you discern a reliable, long-term EDI VAN, from one that is a temporary solution to a business’s current critical system integration challenges:
Choose an EDI VAN that offers flat rate pricing and will not charge you per transaction
If you’re starting out small, per transaction pricing may not be a major burden, but as your business grows and your transaction volume increases, you will want to have an EDI VAN that offers flat rate pricing (not based on kilo-characters).
Ensure that the EDI VAN will integrate easily with your current accounting/ERP system
Determine that you can easily connect your EDI system with your accounting/ERP, to avoid manually keying data between the two.
Go a step further and ensure that the EDI VAN has the ability to integrate with a wide range of accounting/ERP systems as your business changes
As businesses grow, upgrades and changes to accounting/ERP software are inevitable. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure that your EDI system will be able to integrate smoothly and cost-effectively with the new accounting/ERP software you choose.
Determine if the EDI VAN offers value-add capabilities that will simplify other business processes
Especially for businesses with a high volume of EDI transactions, automating other business processes will go a long way when it comes to maximizing efficiency, productivity and profitability. Look for an EDI VAN that can also help with things like:
- Integrating with your eCommerce store or online marketplace
- Integrating with your shipping software
- Automated shipping label creation and printing
Evaluate the total cost of ownership (TCO) of the EDI VAN when making your selection
Ask things like, is there a cost associated with updating trading partner mapping specifications? What does it cost to add a new trading partner to my solution? What about network fees and data transmission costs? Are there additional charges for support?
You’ll want to choose an EDI vendor that is upfront about any additional charges, and that includes unlimited access to support. Some VANs, such as IBM Sterling who charge per transaction, will often increase their price without warning which can catch business’s off guard.
Use eBridge as your EDI vendor and you’ll get:
- Flat-rate EDI VAN pricing
- Integration capabilities with all of the leading accounting/ERP systems (40 +)
- Option to integrate with eCommerce platforms (i.e. Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento, WooCommerce, etc.) and online marketplaces (i.e. Amazon, eBay, etc.)
- Option to integrate with CRM applications (i.e. Salesforce, MS Dynamics CRM)
- Access to inhouse support at no additional charge
- Ability to add and remove trading partners from your solution with ease
- An total EDI solution that will scale along with your growing business