EDI for food & beverage business has become the solution to strained supply chains struggling with the online grocery surge.

The sudden consumer demand for online food and beverage shopping is mainly attributed to the pandemic. However, online retail, including online grocery shopping, has grown immensely even pre-pandemic. So, this trend is not expected to change any time soon.

Despite this boom, turning a profit continues to be a challenge for many Food & Beverage (F&B) retailers. This is due to increasing downward pressure on grocery delivery margins.

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) helps F&B retailers needing efficient, rapid and cost-effective business processes. A business strategy that focuses on efficient supply chain management reduces operational costs and maintains business agility.


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Get EDI online with your food & beverage retailer today for just £495 per annum! Transalis eDI Instant™ is the perfect solution for fresh food suppliers just starting out with EDI.

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The rise of food and beverage online shopping

It took two decades for online grocery to go from zero to around 7% of total UK grocery sales. This growth ballooned due to the pandemic, with the market share increasing from 7% to 13% in just eight weeks.

Growth is also recorded in parts of Europe that have previously been slow to adopt ecommerce. Researchers at Bain estimate that both German and Italian online grocery sales doubled during the pandemic. They note that German online grocery now accounts for 2.9% of total sales, with Italian online grocery growing to account for 4.3% of total sales.

The main obstacle, however, is the resources required for home grocery delivery. Sainsbury’s chief executive Simon Roberts summarised recently, that COVID-19 was “moving sales out of our most profitable convenience channel and driving a huge step-up in online grocery participation, our least profitable channel”.

The profit margins on moving perishable items around the country are relatively slim. They typically account for just 3% to 5% of earnings before interest and tax. This means that the more online products that are delivered, the greater they will cannibalise net profit.

The "new normal" of food and beverage delivery

This conundrum regarding grocery home delivery is only set to intensify:

  • Disruptor brand, Amazon is promising free grocery delivery by the end of 2020.
  • 71% of UK respondents said they will shop online as often or more after the pandemic (UBS)
  • between 35% – 45% of the recent increase in online is estimated to be permanent (Bain)

So, what should F&B retailers do as they face increasing challenges around profitability?

One very effective strategy is the digital transformation of supply chain management. These pressures on the retail sector constitute the perfect storm for which advanced EDI solutions were designed.

What is EDI in the food industry?

EDI for the F&B industry transforms the time-consuming and error-prone manual processes that impact profitability. EDI solutions provide digitisation and automation to efficiently manage the processing of orders, invoices, ASNs and other vital documents.

EDI for food & beverage ensures orders are efficiently processed through the retailer’s trading partner network. Food EDI covers the whole order cycle: from manufacturer, to wholesaler, to distribution hub, and to store before they go out to the customer.

Cloud-based EDI from a SaaS provider, simplifies the the set up of EDI for food & beverage businesses. They manage the mapping and testing of EDI messages between trading partners. It can even be integrated into existing business systems for greater data visibility, such as an ERP or accounting software.

EDI speeds up document exchanges required to complete transactions. It provides an accurate, immediate view of proceedings.

Find out more: The benefits of EDI

Rapidly onboarding the F&B trading network with EDI

Cloud-based EDI enables rapid onboarding of new trading partners. Connections are added to the network in a fraction of the time compared to fragmented email and Excel-based processes.

This means F&B businesses have supply chain agility to swiftly change trading partners, ringfence slim profit margins and ensure continuity of supply.

Cloud-based EDI for food & beverage SMEs

Changes in EDI technology and its pricing models, mean it is no longer reserved for the bigger brands. They are now within easy reach of tier two and three suppliers.

COVID-19 and other factors are intensifying the trend to online home delivery. Uncertainty around Brexit continues. Therefore, the F&B retailers that do not automate their order processing risk losing competitive advantage at a time offering few opportunities for growth.

Transalis eDI Instant™ is the ideal solution for efficient supply chain management for smaller businesses. This EDI solution offers easy set-up, quick connectivity, simplified order and invoice processing and for a low cost. Food and Beverage suppliers can be online with their chosen major grocery retailer in as little as 24 hours.

eDI Instant

As simple as 1,2,3. Buy EDI online in an instant and connect with your trading partner today


eDI Essential

Buy online now and exchange digital documents with up to 2 trading partners


eDI Freedom

Build your own bespoke EDI solution according to your supply chain & integration needs


eDI Connect

Ideal for companies with many trading partners, high order volumes, requiring enhanced stock & sales reporting


eDI Connect+

Perfect for larger organisations requiring complete visibility across their supply chain to improve efficiencies


If you feel you would like to Get Started with a cloud-based Transalis eDI™ link to Transalis eDI™ Solutions or you can reach us on 0845 123 3476 or +44 1978 369 343 (for international callers), or email sales@transalis.com.