In the past decade, the retail landscape has seen major changes because of increased competition, new business models emerging, a more integrated supply chain and the increase of online retailing. As the industry continues to evolve, more businesses are getting on board with EDI and realising community enablement is an important factor that needs to be considered.

As a result, many retailers, large and small, are starting to look at supplier portals.

A supplier portal is a web-based portal that facilitates collaboration and allows suppliers to trade with their customer without having to implement fully integrated EDI. It allows the retailer to get the full benefits of EDI.

The first decision that most retailers make is whether to do this in-house or outsource. Building a portal yourself can be costly and time consuming. This is where outsourced supplier portals come in.

Some EDI supplier portals support basic EDI documents such as purchase orders (PO), purchase order responses (POR), advance shipping notices (ASN) and invoices (INV). However, supplier collaboration in retail supply chain gets more sophisticated than just exchanging trading forms.

So, what should you look for in a supplier portal?

Supplier enablement and management

The portal should enable all your suppliers and trading partners to get on-board, regardless of their size and technical capability. It should be a place for you to be able to manage the onboarding, offboarding, relationships with your suppliers and more.

No costs imposed on your supply chain

To maximise uptake, your suppliers should bear no cost when joining a supplier portal and trade electronically. In fact, imposing costs is an inhibitor to your suppliers getting on-board your EDI journey.

Advanced technology

This ensures the portal can adapt to new requirements as your business grows and the industry changes.

Continued development

If your portal supplier has a focus on R&D, you can rely on them to keep your business at the forefront of technology. It’s likely they’ll be introducing new functionality to you regularly.


It should follow the right standards and procedures to handle your sensitive business information.


Every business has its own needs, and even your suppliers may have their own needs. A supplier portal should be flexible enough to be customised for your business.

Ability to walk up to EDI integration

Some suppliers may not want to, or be able to implement full EDI integration from day one. Does your supplier portal allow them to start out on a web portal, and walk up to integration when they’re ready?

Bi-directional trade

If you’re in the B2B space, why not consider a portal that can enable you to get EDI efficiency from both your suppliers and your customers?

A central place for all business collaboration

The supplier chain isn’t limited to just procurement messages. Consider these things when looking at a supplier portal:

  • Enable trade through the exchange of purchase orders (PO), advance shipping notices (ASN), invoices (INV) and more.
  • Allow you and your supplier to maintain real-time product data. This means you will always have up-to-date product data at the time of placing a PO.
  • Be a place to source new products and suppliers, to expand your trading network
  • Share other business information like MIGs, new store openings and more.

MessageXchange’s complementary service, Colladium, is a central place for all your trading requirements. It enables you to remove the barriers to EDI adoption and collaborate more efficiently with your trading partners.

Want to find out more? Check out Colladium here.

Or, talk to us today.