EDI & B2B Ecommerce: 5 Things to Know

Data Analytics

If you’ve spent any amount of time around B2B Ecommerce, you’ve probably heard the term Electronic Data Interchange, or EDI. Many big businesses have adopted the technique for sending and receiving information around things like purchase orders and invoices.

But for those new to EDI, it can on the surface seem somewhat intimidating, in part because business don’t all implement things in exactly the same way.

Today, we’ll go over some helpful things to know about EDI and how it relates to B2B Ecommerce, and how you can link a B2B Ecommerce solution like Zoey to a provider that requires EDI for sending and receiving data.

1. EDI is a Set of Standards, Not a Single Way of Working

The first thing to understand is that EDI isn’t a specific way of doing things, but a set of rules that guide how things can be done. The actual implementation and requirements will vary based on the business you are working with.

In and of itself this can be confusing, because asking the question “Do you support EDI?” isn’t a question that can be cleanly answered. Working with a big retail chain vs. working with a government provider could mean very different rules that need to bet met.

2. The Best Way to Connect Will Depend On Your Partner

Who you’re attempting to connect with for EDI will often have a big influence on the best approach. Some partners will tell you which EDI Integrations are out there to leverage, while others will give you their specifications and encourage you to find a third-party that can link it all up and maintain it for you.

In certain cases, some off the shelf solutions may take much of the guesswork out, with endpoints already built to be compatible with standard data formats, getting things much of the way there. This is generally more cost-effective than a custom solution, but isn’t always available. It helps to do some homework on what can be possible.

Simply asking who they use to connect, or who they’ve worked with in the past to connect to their EDI setup, can help determine if there’s already existing connectivity work that can be leveraged, or if you need to start from scratch.

3. A Value Added Network (VAN) Can Be a Crucial Component

A Value Added Network, or VAN, can otherwise be a lifesaver by offering that middle component that can take data from the system you’re on, convert it into what needs to be provided to the EDI partner, and then send it along to them, and vice versa.

They effectively act as your data translator, ensuring that everything is traveling back and forth in ways that are understandable by both your system and the EDI system.

Sometimes, the EDI partner will have experience working with VANs, as noted in the second item above – it helps to ask those questions when vetting a VAN for potential use.

4. B2B Ecommerce Data Accessibility is Paramount

At this point, closed systems are traditionally very unhelpful for businesses who need to send and receive data in a clean and efficient way. You should vet any B2B Ecommerce solutions for their ability to send and receive data in a variety of formats.

For instance, Zoey has a wide array of options, from APIs to CSVs to webhooks, all with the goal of making data available to send and receive to other systems in a format they can read and process. Any VAN, for instance, will still need to know how to read Zoey’s data for translation to an EDI system, and provide data back to Zoey that it can read. Fortunately, the most popular VANs will be able to do this.

5. Zoey is Not an EDI Provider, But Can Be Linked to One

We want to be clear with our customers that Zoey is not an EDI provider and is not set up to send and receive data directly to an EDI system. Fortunately, with solutions like VANs able to connect systems to each other, this should not be an obstacle, especially once confirming what an EDI system will require and has worked with in the past.

Zoey Makes Data Easily Available for Import/Export

Zoey is designed to ensure data can be easily sent or received to other systems. Learn more about our tools here, and click here to dive deeper into how to best work with Zoey around EDI requirements.

If you’re ready to explore how Zoey can take your business to the next level, talk to our Customer Success team:

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