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Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), is a standard format for exchanging business data. EDI has been in use since the 1980s when it was developed to allow companies to communicate electronically with each other and exchange information such as purchase orders and invoices.

Some technologies last considerably longer than expected, despite the fact that most don't age properly.  This explains why electronic data interchange(EDI) continues to be popular. Each new year brings confident predictions of its impending destruction, despite being a cornerstone of business for well over 50 years. Every year, however, the pattern is defied, and EDI continues to grow.

Over the years, it has been predicted that EDI would become outdated with the development of the internet, the XML programming language, and now application programming interfaces (APIs).

But this hasn’t happened.  What’s happened is that we now have EDI for AS2, EDI for AS4, web-based EDI, and mobile EDI to name just a few variations. Organizations have viewed APIs as a supplement to EDI rather than as a replacement since they can quickly and affordably integrate with their current electronic data interchange infrastructure. Due to its dependability and versatility, EDI has survived.

Today, the basic network service that became increasingly popular in the 1990s has dramatically changed into the EDI VAN. Benefits are now being reaped by EDI VAN providers that have remained committed to investing in cutting-edge capabilities over time.

What is EDI?

Electronic Data Interchange, or EDI, is a standard format for exchanging business data electronically. It's also known as an electronic business process and can be used to exchange any type of information between businesses.

The EDI standards are defined by ANSI (American National Standards Institute) and EANCOM (Electronic Commerce Committee). Electronic data interchange allows businesses to exchange business information in a standardized format. This saves time and money by automating repetitive tasks such as order processing, invoicing, paying bills, and tracking deliveries.

Forbes claims that Electronic Data Interchange VANs “are collaborative solutions for supply chain processes built on a public cloud, many-to-many architecture to facilitate better decisions and collaboration. In short, these are many-to-many supply chain networks.”

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How does Electronic Data Interchange work?

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is a computer-to-computer interchange of business organization documents. This technology allows businesses to exchange information in a standardized format, which makes it easier for them to do business with each other. EDI is often used by companies that frequently send and receive large quantities of electronic data and forms.

An Electronic Data Interchange document is based on standards that specify how the data is presented. This makes it easier for partners that support the same standard to exchange digital data.

A complex set of data can be represented in an EDI document. For instance, an Electronic Data Interchange ASN (advanced shipment notice) may include delivery information, shipping specifics, and information about the contents with standardized product IDs and quantities. For shipping labels, an ASN may additionally include barcoded ID numbers.

Up to 86% of firms employ EDI in their supply chains now, according to research.  

86% interchange EDI documents with retail partners, more than 60% utilize EDI for e-commerce platform integration, and more than half engage with warehousing and logistics partners using the technology.

Electronic Data Interchange can be used in many different ways:

  • Automating document distribution between companies, suppliers, and customers
  • Sending invoices directly from an ERP solution to payables systems or accounts payable departments
  • Documenting purchase orders, contracts, or agreements.

Today, several sectors have created their own EDI standards, such as ODETTE and VDA in the automobile sector and Tradacom and VICs in the retail sector.

Up to 95% of Electronic Data Interchange implementations, according to estimates, were designed from scratch.

Source: Pinterest

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A Traditional Document Exchange of a Purchase Order vs  An EDI Document Exchange of a Purchase Order

Most businesses use computers to prepare invoices, print a paper copy, and mail it to the client. The invoice is typically marked up by the client upon receipt and entered into its own computer system. Information is simply sent from the seller's computer to the customer's computer at the end of the entire transaction. The manual processes required for this transfer can be reduced to a minimum or possibly eliminated thanks to EDI.

The process efficiencies provided by EDI are substantial and can be quite drastic. There are many advantages to an EDI document exchange of a purchase order. The most obvious is that it's faster and more efficient than the traditional paper-based process. This efficiency cuts down on time, which means less money spent on shipping costs, storage fees, and other expenses related to storing physical documents or managing a large team of people who handle them.

The benefits don't stop there; because EDI document exchanges are digital, they're also more secure than paper-based processes. Because companies can store the information in their own systems rather than sending it via mail or fax machines across state lines (and therefore have no control over how much information is being shared), there's less risk involved with losing sensitive data such as credit card numbers or social security numbers in transit.

Now let’s take into account, for instance, the distinction between the conventional paper purchase order and its computerized equivalent:

A Traditional Document Exchange of a Purchase Order

An EDI Document Exchange of a Purchase Order


This process generally takes between three and five days.

The buyer decides what to buy, writes a purchase order, and prints it.

The buyer mails the supplier the purchase order.

A purchase order is received by the supplier, who then enters it into the order entry system.

The buyer contacts the supplier to check on the status of the purchase order, or the supplier mails the buyer an acknowledgement of the order.



This process generally occurs overnight and can take less than an hour.

A purchase order is created by the buyer after making a purchase decision, but it is not printed.

The purchase order is automatically transmitted to the supplier through EDI software, which also makes an electronic version of it.

The purchase order is received by the supplier's order entry system, which changes the system right away.

The order entry system of the supplier generates an acknowledgement and sends it back to verify receipt.


What are the different types of Electronic Data Interchange implementation?

When implementing EDI in your company, you can choose from two options.

Point-to-point implementation

The first is a point-to-point implementation, which allows two parties to exchange information directly with each other. For example, when a manufacturer sends out an order to an auto parts supplier through the EDI system, the supplier will receive and process that order as soon as it’s received.

Point to Point implementation EDI | Nanonets
Point to Point implementation EDI | Nanonets

Online hub/ Gateway service-

In this scenario, one business acts as a middleman for all of its trading partners: it receives messages from them via their own proprietary software systems (which are often not compatible with one another). It then translates those messages into standard formats before sending them on to their final destinations using EDI technology. This option allows businesses to use their own software packages without having to invest in additional hardware or software programs beyond what they already have installed on-site at HQ or regional offices around the world; however, this method is not suitable if there are long delays between sending and receiving messages due because these might mean that incoming data could become outdated by time they reach its destination point due.

Gateway Service EDI | Nanonets
Gateway Service EDI | Nanonets

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The modern enterprise is equipped with a variety of technologies. EDI VAN, or electronic data interchange, is the most common way to exchange business documents electronically. It can be used by all industries, from healthcare to manufacturing and materials handling. In fact, it's used for all types of business transactions, from purchase orders to invoices and even human resources data.

Most EDI transactions today are carried out via Electronic Data Interchange VANs. The EDI VAN enables enterprises to connect with trade partners of all sizes while protecting them from the complexity of numerous EDI protocols and versions and providing value-added services that aid in the efficient management of a company's supply chain.

The following are some key trends driving modern EDI VAN adoption:

Supply chain visibility and resilience top the agenda

Resilience is the top priority for supply chain leaders, according to the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM).  Operational and strategic degrees of resilience deal with currency shocks and disruptions as well as how to address ambiguous future business situations. For instance, the capacity to proactively identify changes in demand is one characteristic of a robust supply chain. The company requires insight into every link in the supply chain in order to meet these objectives. In order to provide end-to-end visibility and support supply chain resilience, modern EDI VANs collect data on all information and transactions within the network.

EDI is important to e-commerce

78.04% of all B2B electronic sales in 2019 ($7.00 trillion) were made via EDI.

Online B2B sales took off and have continued to rise since 2020. Due to the fact that EDI has been optimized for many important business operations, the two sales channels—B2B E-commerce and EDI—are becoming more intertwined. It supports the manufacturing and supply chain activities in a way that few other technologies can match, as well as purchasing and invoicing. Modern EDI VANs also incorporate EDI and B2B e-commerce features to deliver information and insight into these crucial procedures.

Healthcare is a strong sector for Electronic Data Interchange

The expansion of laws like HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), which assure data security and privacy, promotes industry expansion. The advantages of EDI VANs, such as secure data interchange, product traceability, and accelerated delivery times, are also being reaped by a notable rise in end-user spenders, such as pharmaceutical and medical device firms.

EDI observes rapid expansion in small businesses

According to Fortune Business Insight's analysis of Electronic Data Interchange software, the market's main driver is development among small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMBs). The only path ahead for many businesses is to increase their digital capabilities, and many of them need a simple approach to going digital for the first time. SMBs must operate on a limited budget while being required to conduct business online, particularly with major clients. Companies are using cloud-based EDI VAN services to connect and transact swiftly with trading partners around the world when they lack the internal expertise or infrastructure to do so.

PEPPOL protocol continues to go global

It is an EDI standard created to make the purchase-to-pay process between suppliers and public entities simpler. It has gained extensive support in Europe since its introduction in 2012 and has been embraced in nations including Singapore, New Zealand, and Australia. More nations throughout the world have adopted the Peppol protocol as a result of invoicing laws, which are motivated by the desire to combat tax fraud. To assist enterprises in implementing the protocol and integrating it into existing EDI operations, top EDI VAN providers are becoming Peppol Access Points17 and adding Peppol-related services to their offerings.

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Why should you choose Electronic Data Interchange?

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is a standard format for exchanging business data between organizations. It is used by large companies and small enterprises, as well as government agencies around the world. Using EDI improves efficiency, saves time, eliminates errors and processing costs, reduces manual data entry and creates new efficiencies within your organization. Some of the major reasons to use Electronic Data Interchange are as follows-

Pre-built trading partner community

Access to a pre-built trade partner network and the ability to easily communicate business documents and information are two of an Electronic Data Interchange VAN's main advantages. Successful businesses were able to modify their supply chains while swiftly locating and integrating new partners, as demonstrated by COVID-19.

Unified B2B integration platform

All B2B formats, standards, and protocols should be supported by an EDI VAN in the ideal world. However, B2B integration now encompasses more. The top Electronic Data Interchange VANs provide connections with your most important business apps. Platforms with pre-built connector libraries and, increasingly, bespoke API development are available to broaden the scope of your integration.

Automated business processes

Since COVID-19, the CIO's main focus has been the need for automation. You may automate additional B2B operations by using a cloud-based Electronic Data Interchange VAN, promoting safe digital trade among your trading partners.

Rapid visibility

Increased visibility is required as automation grows. You must be aware of the status and effectiveness of each of your transactions. Few Electronic Data Interchange VAN systems provide real-time data visibility. You can drill down into your B2B data with the help of a contemporary EDI VAN so that you can quickly and easily observe what's happening.

Key business benefits of Electronic Data Interchange

The key benefits of Electronic Data Interchange are as follows-

Saves time

Electronic Data Interchange can save time because it eliminates manual data entry and its associated transcription errors. It also reduces processing costs by eliminating the need for middlemen to review documents, as well as reducing the number of people involved in transactions.

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) speeds up business transactions by replacing paper documents with electronic ones -- which enables partners to exchange information and execute transactions in a faster manner than the traditional mail or fax systems previously required.

Eliminate errors and processing costs

EDI can eliminate errors by creating a single format that all parties agree to use in their transaction. As long as both sides adhere to this format, there won’t be any issues with data interpretation or formatting problems. Research also says that the use of EDI can reduce your transaction costs by 35%.

Reduces manual data entry

Because EDI is an electronic system designed specifically for businesses and organizations, it eliminates any risk associated with physical mail delivery—there are no concerns about lost packages or paperwork being misplaced during transit or storage at a warehouse facility.

Creates new efficiencies

EDI creates new efficiencies by standardizing processes across organizations; one company using an Electronic Data Interchange system will be able to communicate directly with another similarly-equipped firm without needing a third-party intermediary like Portfolio Management Systems Inc.(PMS).

Creates an efficient workflow

EDI requires an upfront investment that includes software or online services, hardware, employee training and mapping processes to create an efficient workflow.EDI standards are usually developed by an industry consortium and help ensure that the data being exchanged is accurate, standardized, and consistent. Electronic Data Interchange can save time, eliminate errors and processing costs, reduce manual data entry and create new efficiencies in both small-and large-scale businesses. It's commonly used by large companies but can be used by small enterprises as well.

Replaces traditional paper-based documents with electronic versions

The major benefit of EDI is that it allows businesses to automate their document-delivery systems, reducing costs and increasing efficiency. Electronic Data Interchange replaces traditional paper-based documents with electronic versions without requiring any human intervention.

With traditional paper-based document delivery systems, there are several problems such as the paper documents can get lost in the mail or become damaged during delivery. When a paper document arrives at its destination it needs to be manually entered into a computer system and processed before being used by employees. This process can take hours or even days depending on how busy the office is at any given time.

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The future of EDI

The evolution of modern EDI VAN has evolved from the exchange of digital transactions to an integration platform that boosts corporate productivity and supply chain efficiency. It is now essential that Electronic Data Interchange VANs keep expanding the number of services they provide to clients.

With the growth of EDI, the future is bright for businesses to increase their efficiency and reduce costs. As more companies realize the benefits of adopting an EDI system, expect to see more industries using this technology in the future. Imagine being able to send invoices and purchase orders electronically and receiving payments without ever printing a single piece of paper!

With so many opportunities for improvement in business operations, we're sure that EDI will become an even bigger part of our daily lives as time goes on. It is predicted that the worldwide EDI market would grow by 50% to over $3.5 billion over the next six years.

EDI will serve as the primary document exchange technology in supply chains of the future, supporting breakthroughs like the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, and artificial intelligence (AI)3. Future EDI will make use of the following:

  • IoT sensors are integrated within a shipment's packaging and connected to recurring EDI 214 messages to increase package condition visibility in close to real-time.
  • Blockchain technology EDI information flows for shipments to provide a shared version of the truth that may swiftly settle and even prevent chargeback disputes.
  • An AI agent that keeps track of all pertinent information and events related to a shipment and can spot a non-compliant occurrence. Additionally, AI agents may assess the most effective source of replacement, decide whether a reshipment is necessary, start a new shipment, and approve a return.

Electronic Data Interchange use cases

The range of use cases that modern EDI VAN providers are now tackling has expanded owing to their arsenal of new technologies. These consist of:

Demand planning and forecasting-

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted significant flaws in widely adopted business paradigms. Standard methods like just-in-time and build-to-order have failed in a variety of global sectors. The emphasis has shifted to demand planning and forecasting to better match inventories to real customer requirements in order to increase resilience and agility.

To enhance inventory management and demand forecasting, Electronic Data Interchange VAN providers are looking into the possibility of integrating AI and machine learning. The first step in doing this is to have precise visibility across stock orders. Knowing the criteria for when there is a stock shortage when stock needs to be reordered, and when there are too many stock risks that might result from supply chain interruption is important.

You may operate with the needed volumes of inventory held at the proper places considerably more successfully with enhanced demand planning and forecasting. Applying AI and machine learning to the transactional data and documents moving through your supply chain is necessary for this.

The results are outstanding. In supply chain networks, AI-powered forecasting may minimize mistakes by 30 to 50%, according to McKinsey. Up to 65 per cent fewer sales are lost as a result of the merchandise being out-of-stock due to the increased accuracy, and storage expenses drop by between 10 and 40 per cent.

Customer experience-

Additionally, businesses need agile B2B procedures to plan a successful client journey. In addition to speeding up partner onboarding, it also fixes transactional problems. Simply said, current EDI systems may assist businesses in accelerating business operations to improve the agility, joy, and effectiveness of client interactions.

Modern EDI VAN solutions give businesses the ability to automate crucial business procedures and promote accuracy. The service will minimize the number of human touch points required for customer engagement while ensuring correct process mapping to the customer journey.

Less client interaction, according to research from Harvard Business Review, increases customer happiness and loyalty.

This was further reinforced by McKinsey. The consultancy company discovered that by enhancing client experiences through EDI integration, industry leaders might achieve operating margins up to 6 per cent higher.

Additionally, organizations saw increases in revenue of up to 15% and a decrease in the cost of service of 10% to 20%.


The Pan-European Public Procurement On-Line (Peppol) protocol, which was launched in 2008, was created to unify and streamline electronic procurement procedures between European government agencies and their suppliers. In order for businesses to exchange important business documents using a single protocol, it was created to remove obstacles to international trade.

Peppol is gradually being adopted nowadays and has expanded beyond business to government (B2G) transactions to include more B2B and B2C ones. Although e-invoicing was Peppol's initial focus, it now encompasses the majority of other typical company operations.

Peppol offers a common network, similar to an EDI VAN, where parties may interchange business data and documents without worrying about which document type is being used by either party.

Similar to an EDI VAN, Peppol offers a shared network where business partners may exchange data and documents without worrying about which document format is being used by either party. Organizations are protected from the complexity and are able to communicate data at a minimal cost.

Peppol, however, is not going to replace EDI VANS anytime soon. Instead, a large number of EDI VAN suppliers are being accredited to offer Peppol connectivity as a part of their service packages.

Some of the services available are:

  • Peppol translation and validation services make it possible to convert any EDI or B2B format into or out of the Peppol format.
  • Peppol translation and validation services that allow conversion between any EDI or B2B format and the Peppol standard.

The Electronic Data Interchange VAN provider is perfectly positioned to assist you in taking full advantage of the trade possibilities with governments and suppliers in Europe, Latin America, and increasingly across the world as Peppol usage continues to grow.

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How to select the best Electronic Data Interchange Solution

To select the best Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) solution, you should consider:

Experience in the industry-

You want an EDI provider that has been in business for a while and has experience with all aspects of your industry. Be sure to check out their client list and talk to some of their other clients.


If you plan on using this system regularly, it needs to be reliable and fast—you don't want any time-consuming delays or technical problems during peak times!

Customer support-

The quality of customer service from your Electronic Data Interchange provider will impact how quickly they can help guide you through the process if there is any confusion or need for assistance down the road. A good company will have excellent customer support available by phone or email 24/7 so that issues can be resolved quickly without having to worry about missing important deadlines due to downtime caused by technical glitches caused by a third-party vendor’s software malfunctioning during peak hours (which happens). Also, look into whether or not they offer remote access so users who are away from their desks can still log in to see what issues might arise in real-time while still being able to keep track of tasks as they occur throughout each day.

Electronic Data Interchange Outsourcing

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) outsourcing refers to the practice of using an EDI service provider in order to outsource your EDI needs. This can include various services, such as the setup and configuration of your system or its management.

Through EDI outsourcing, the provider takes over management of daily operations, including partner onboarding, systems management, integration, and transaction monitoring. This enables you to concentrate on core capabilities, speed up the adoption of new technologies, and become future-proof against unanticipated technological and economic developments. EDI outsourcing makes ensuring businesses are:

  • Connected: Through a variety of cloud services or a hybrid integration using on-premises Electronic Data Interchange gateway software, a flexible, programmable, and adaptable digital backbone that uses EDI integration links people, systems, and things.
  • Collaborative: To enhance day-to-day interactions with trade partners, applications and services enable contact with them via their chosen mode.
  • Intelligent: Real-time company performance analytics that detects and indicates danger and opportunity provides you with the ability to react quickly and wisely.

Service providers continually invest in specialized technology and qualified personnel for their EDI integration platforms. The broad partner ecosystem, which includes everything from paper and fax to EDI and APIs, may be integrated with both traditional and cutting-edge technology in these situations.

There are many benefits that come with electronic data interchange outsourcing:

  • An EDI service provider is specialized in Electronic Data Interchange platforms and can help companies with their implementation. This is especially beneficial for smaller companies that might not have the resources to set up and manage an in-house system themselves.
  • A third-party service provider has access to a larger pool of resources than you do, so they will be able to provide you with more options when it comes time for choosing vendors or suppliers for your business needs.

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