The retail industry has been using EDI for decades. It’s been proven to give retailers more visibility, better accuracy and truckloads of savings. And there are even benefits for suppliers too, especially those who fulfill large volumes of orders.

The use of EDI is mature in the retail industry and covers basically all use cases of the procurement process.

Let’s have a look at the different EDI message types that are used in the retail industry and why.

Purchase order

This is sent from a buyer (retailer) to its supplier. It will tell the supplier exactly what they want supplied. It will tell the supplier where to ship the goods to, and it might even tell them when the retailer expects the goods by.

A purchase order typically starts the procurement process.

In the EDI world, you might see a purchase order referred to as ORDERS (EDIFACT) or 850 (ANSI X12).

Purchase order response

A purchase order response is sent from the supplier to the buyer (retailer) to let them know whether or not they can fulfill what’s been requested on the order. Typically, there are three scenarios – the supplier accepts the order in full (if they can fulfill everything as requested), the supplier rejects the order in full (if they won’t fulfill any of the order), or the supplier proposes changes to the order.

Changes on the order response are typically changes to the quantity, the price or the delivery date.

In the EDI world, a purchase order response can be called ORDRSP (EDIFACT) or 855 (ANSI X12).

Purchase order change

A purchase order change comes after a purchase order or purchase order response. It’s sent from the buyer (retailer) to the supplier. As the name suggests, it can be used to make changes to the original purchase order. Or if the supplier sends a purchase order response, some retailers send a purchase order change to confirm the supplier’s changes (response).

Advanced shipping notice

This can sometimes be referred to as a despatch advice. It’s sent from the supplier to the buyer to let them know what’s being shipped and when.

There are a couple of ways that retailers use a despatch advice. The first is a relatively simple one – it basically tells them how many of each product is being shipped, to where and when. It just gives retailers a bit of visibility.

The second one is much more detailed. The retailer requires the supplier to tell them exactly what’s being shipped, how, to where and when. These ASNs have SSCC, or serial shipping container code, details on them. SSCCs are unique numbers that identify a unit. This can be a pallet, carton or something else.

The supplier tells the retailer how many of each product are going into each pallet, for example, and what the corresponding SSCC number is. The retailer may also require the supplier to tell them the batch number, best before and expiry dates of the products in that pallet.

The supplier then prints labels, with the SSCC number represented as a barcode and sticks it onto the pallet they’re sending. This information is sent to the retailer on the ASN ahead of the goods being sent. When the retailer receives the goods, they can scan the barcode to know exactly what’s on the pallet.

In the EDI world, this message is called DESADV (EDIFACT) or 856 (ANSI X12).

Invoice

An invoice is sent from a supplier to a buyer to let them know what to pay them for the goods or services they’ve supplied.

Unlike invoices that you might send and receive by email, EDI invoices don’t typically have bank details on them, because these are usually agreed on as part of the supplier agreement. The EDI invoices generally just outlines the total to be paid, the breakdown of what’s to be paid and sometimes the payment terms, although these can also form part of the supplier agreement.

In the EDI world, you might see the invoice referred to as INVOIC (EDIFACT) or 810 (ANSI X12).

Product catalog

A product catalog gives the retailer details of the products you’ll be supplying to them. It can be as simple as supplying them with the GTIN or item number, product description and unit price.

In the EDI world, this is called a PRICAT (EDIFACT) or 832 (ANSI X12).

Functional acknowledgement

Unlike the other message types we’ve discussed here, functional acknowledgements aren’t your typical procurement messages. These are usually handled behind the scenes. They tell the sender of the message whether it’s been received and if it’s A-OK or why it might have been rejected.

In the EDI world, these are called CONTRL (EDIFACT) or 997 (ANSI X12).

Want to learn more about EDI messages and how they can your business? Get in touch with our EDI team below.

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