Thinking about ditching paper-based documentation processes in favour of greater agility?

If so, you’ll need to know at least a little about electronic data interchange (EDI). Here we set out some indispensable answers to the most common questions about EDI to help you.

What is electronic data interchange?

Electronic data interchange, or EDI, is a fast, accurate and unified delivery mechanism for the sharing of essential trading data. It enables you to build more efficiency into the processes involved in exchanging documentation with your trading network. Compared with paper-based systems, some of the benefits of EDI are:

  1. reduce costs by up to 80%
  2. improve security
  3. regulatory compliance
  4. reduce auditing time

EDI has supported global commerce and industry for decades as the bedrock of computer-to-computer document exchange across distribution networks and supply chains.

It means you don’t have to raise orders and invoices manually, send documents by post or email, or input related information manually into management systems. You avoid all that by going digital.

Other advantages of EDI includes how it improves so many processes from inventory management to shipping to audit. As well as orders and invoices, it automates the use of shipping notes, quotes, despatch and returns instructions, tax summaries, debit and credit notes, remittance advice and many other kinds of documentation and master data.

What type of companies use electronic data interchange?

All kinds of companies use electonic data interchange…

From manufacturers, retailers, and wholesalers, to transport and logistics companies and other supply chain partners. EDI is prevalent in all sectors, including; food and beverage, white goods, automotive, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, beauty, FMCG and household and business appliances.

Automation with electronic data interchange directly benefits all sorts of teams within organisations. The key functionalities of EDI benefit finance directors and controllers, procurement managers, heads of AR and AP, business support managers, IT directors and many others involved in the processing of trading documentation.

Is it expensive?

EDI software doesn’t have to be expensive.

Our best advice is to;

  1. Find a transparently priced solution that is tailored to your needs and can generate a return on investment for you.
  2. Ask the provider about the pricing model and the support they offer.
  3. Be sure that the price reflects exactly the level of help you need and comes with no hidden extras or upfront fee.

At Transalis, our ‘bundle-based’ model provides a complete solution without any additional VAN, or ‘value-added network’, charges. In other words, no separate, per-transaction fee or penalty for breaching a data limit in a set period.

Is it complicated to install and use?

Your provider should be able to install your EDI software and make it easy to use, so you don’t have to worry about going ‘under the bonnet’ at all.

The bigger your trading network, the more there is to do to oversee connections and stay up to date so you will want to find a provider who doesn’t just understand the tech side but who ‘gets’ what your business does and understands what you want to achieve.

Do I need to manage and upgrade the EDI software?

No, your EDI provider should take care of all that so you don’t have to learn the technical ins and outs. Instead you simply access your solution on a remote cloud network via a web browser or API.

How can I encourage my buyers and sellers to use my EDI?

Ongoing success with electronic data interchange depends on your trading network having the same ability as you to receive and send documents. Transalis will help you reach 100% adoption of your partners through a fully-supported on-boarding process featuring training, guides and user testing.

Is electronic data interchange secure?

Yes. Electronic data interchange includes security and control elements such as user identification numbers and passwords.

Extensive data editing and error-checking ensure only valid data is sent and received for processing. EDI provides you with instant real-time reporting to receive an accurate in-the-moment view as well as a full audit trail and automated validation of invoices. You also have a deep-store digital archive of invoices to reduce your retrieval and auditing costs. If you have overseas partners, you have the reassurance that Transalis is a PEPPOL-accredited provider, compliant for European trade with both the private and public sectors.

What's in it for me?

Electronic data interchange is designed to take out the cost, time and hassle of exchanging business documents with your trading network. It does this by connecting everyone involved with a hosted trading platform. Standardisation across a digital supply chain ensures you and all your trading network benefit from easily understood digitised information. This enables you to minimise errors, maximise efficiency, reduce delivery times and speed invoice payment. In short, electronic data interchange will help free up your internal resource to focus on more revenue-generating activities and customer services.

Thanks to our handy ROI calculator, you can go online right now to check your potential savings from switching to electronic data interchange.

See our cloud-based EDI solutions or get in contact with our expert team on 0845 123 3746 or +44 1978 369 343 (for international callers), reach out via email