Electronic data interchange (EDI) is a technical delivery mechanism that automates the sharing of essential transaction data such as invoices and orders. By eliminating the need for paper and improving overall accuracy, EDI has brought universal time and cost savings in business document processing over several decades. But what exactly should you look out for when choosing an EDI company?

Efficiency and accuracy

If you trade with multiple partners, especially if altogether you’re processing thousands of customer orders, you really don’t want to be spending time ironing out different approaches to EDI or new standards requirements when you could be out there generating profit.

According to the standards organisation, GS1 UK, there are many compelling reasons to switch to EDI, whether you are a retailer, manufacturer or supply chain partner:

Cost savings

UK grocers together save more than £650 million a year thanks to EDI. Businesses in general save £14 an order and £8.50 per invoice.

Faster processing

The use of EDI in invoicing cuts ten minutes of time per invoice, creating an annual saving for UK retailers of around £100 million. Public sector organisations report a wealth of efficiencies too. The Danish government, for example, saves the equivalent of 2,000 man-hours per year.

Environmental benefits

Even if there were no cost or time savings, it would still be sensible to move to EDI to help reduce paper waste. It eliminates paper-based manual processes that are increasingly seen as unsustainable.

Maintaining accuracy

GS1 UK have found that on average, up to 5% of the data on a typical paper invoice is inaccurate. Going digital can eliminate such a costly error rate.

Six essential questions to ask EDI companies

So, if you are thinking of engaging an EDI company, what should you consider?

Can I trust that the solution from this EDI company will suit my business needs?

To create a seamless way of working across your trading network, message formats need to be made interoperable.

This is a complex task involving data mapping, reformatting and translation. You don’t want to have to do all that yourself. Ask for reassurance from your prospective EDI company that they’ve already sorted this headache for you. You also want to know that whatever functionality they are offering is completely scalable for your particular business needs and is easy to implement and operate.

How much will the EDI company charge me?

You want to find a transparently priced EDI solution that is tailored to your needs and that can generate a return on investment. Ask your EDI provider about the pricing model and the support they offer.

Be sure that the price reflects exactly the level of help you need and comes with no hidden extras or upfront fee.

What benefits can I expect to see from an EDI solution?

The whole purpose of switching to EDI is to move away from the task of raising orders and invoices manually, sending documents by post or email, and inputting the related information manually into your internal systems.

With EDI, you avoid all that thanks to automation. Your proposed EDI company should be able to articulate the cost and time savings their solution will deliver. Ask them about different processes and the kinds of documentation their system covers.

Can the EDI company make adjustments to the solution if needed?

The answer should be ‘Of course’.

A good EDI company is with you every step of the way and able to refine the EDI solution as required. Confirm with them how outputs will be scheduled, how different documents will be mapped from source files and integrated, and how testing can ensure data is validated before it is shared. Going forward, keep everything under constant review.

What experience can I expect my EDI company to have?

They should be able to demonstrate considerable experience so you are reassured.

Do they already service a host of companies and organisations? Have they got a track record in delivering ROI?

Transalis for example, has built a global client base over the past 20 years in sectors such as retail, manufacturing, distribution, logistics, health and beauty, and FMCG. The company’s EDI solutions help facilitate the exchange of around 40 million virtual documents a year, underpinning £4 billion of global trade. Top brand clients include Argos, Smeg, Pret a Manger, AG Barr, The Hut Group and Superdrug.

In 2020, Transalis became one of just 12 EDI companies globally to pass a rigorous new EU eInvoicing standard and proudly took its place in a related consortium, called EURINV19. Under EURINV19 protocols, companies can signal to other traders that they operate EDI to a recognised common standard, so making the electronic exchange of invoices, order data and other documentation much easier.

Transalis is also one of the few UK tech firms to have been certified as an AS4 Peppol provider, reflecting its compliance with the highest level of international public procurement standards. Both the EURINV19 and AS4 Peppol support the goal of enabling safe and secure trade through greater supply chain interoperability.

How quickly can the EDI solution be live?

You want your preferred EDI company to look after all aspects of implementation and ongoing functionality so you can concentrate on running your business and going for growth. With Transalis, you can have a free, no-obligation process review. If you’re happy with our feedback and suggestions, you could be trading electronically within days.

You can also go online right now to check your potential savings from switching to Transalis by visiting our ROI calculator at www.transalis.com/why-edi-from-transalis/.

Talk to our expert team on 0845 123 3746 or +44 1978 369 343 (for international callers), or contact us via email sales@transalis.com

The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of Transalis and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Union.