Suppliers have two main ways to comply with their retailers’ EDI requirements: EDI webforms (web portal-based EDI) or integrated EDI. Portal or web-based EDI is often the go-to choice for suppliers just starting out.

EDI web portals

They’re usually easy to setup and simply use a web browser to send messages to your retailers. The process normally looks like this:

MKT-570 Blog flowchart
  1. You receive the order to your EDI portal
  2. You send the order details to your warehouse team to prepare order
  3. You then manually enter the purchase order response (this lets the retailer know what you can fulfill)
  4. Once the order is finalised, your warehouse team prepares the advance shipping notice (ASN – this lets the retailer know what’s being shipped, how and when)
  5. You send the information to your accounts receivable team
  6. Your accounts receivable team input the information into their software to prepare the invoice.

If you receive a lot of orders, this process requires a lot of manual inputting, which is time consuming and error-prone.

Integrated EDI

Integrated EDI simplifies this process through automation, eliminating manual reinputting.

  1. You receive the order in your existing software automatically which you can send to your warehouse team. If you have a warehouse management system (WMS) and integrate it to your ERP software then the order can be automatically sent to your warehouse team.
  2. Once your warehouse team check your inventory, you can then send a purchase order response (POR) back to the retailer. The POR is prepared using the existing information from the original order. You can also automate the sending of the POR by integrating your WMS with your ERP software to send PORs without inputting anything.
  3. You then manually enter the purchase order response (this lets the retailer know what you can fulfill)
  4. Once the order is prepared and ready for shipping, you can then send an ASN to the retailer. If you use an WMS, you can integrate with your ERP and automate the creating and sending of the ASN. An invoice will then be automatically sent to the retailer using the information from the POR.

Why do suppliers switch to integrated EDI?

There are a number of reasons why business switch to EDI:

  • You can use your existing software
  • There’s no need for data re-entry
  • You can automate manual processes
  • It improves data accuracy
  • It helps with faster order processing.

Making the decision: EDI web portal or integrated EDI?

There are a few factors to look at when deciding if integrated EDI is best for you, including:

  • The amount of orders you receive, the number of products you sell and the amount of information that is required from your customers
    As these factors increase, so does the amount of manual inputting you will be required to input into each form.
  • The functionality of your software
    For example, if your retailers require an advanced shipping notice with SSCC labels. Can your software produce these? We go through this a bit further in this blog.
  • Your strategic goals
    For example, if you want to integrate with other systems or automate other business processes.

Use these points as a rough guide to know when to consider integrated EDI.

  • You trade with a large number of retailers
  • You receive more than roughly 30 orders a week
  • You sell a large range of products
  • Your customers require a substantial amount of information
  • You want automated processes
  • You don’t want to double-enter data
  • You need a flexible solution that grows as your business does

How to get started

There are a few things you can do to prepare for the switch to integrated EDI.

Who should be involved?

To get buy in from your business you’ll need to get relevant departments involved. These include:


Often will be the first you need to get involved. Make sure to calculate your cost savings and ROI with your current:

  • costs of processing orders
  • costs of rectifying order mistakes
  • costs of resolving disputed/returned shipments
  • costs of producing invoices
  • costs of resolving disputed invoices.

For more information on calculating costing savings and ROI check out our whitepaper.

Information Technology

To get buy in from your IT team, you should think about these things:

  • Will they need to buy or install any new hardware or software?
    Some solutions require new hardware or software to be installed. Here at MessageXchange, we don’t require our customers to install any new hardware or software. We simply connect to your existing software.
  • Will they need additional resources to implement EDI?
    This is dependent on the EDI solution you use. With our technology, your software only needs the ability to import and export messages and exchange them via a secure connection protocol. Check with your IT team whether they can currently do this. If not, what resources will they need?
  • Does the provider adhere to your security policy?
    IT teams are often aware of security risks to your internal systems. Put their mind at ease by showing what measures your EDI provider takes to keep your data secure. MessageXchange is ISO 27001 certified and having developed the software from inception, owns its intellectual property.

Another department that’s processes are influenced by EDI is finance. It’s important to not only show the savings EDI can make for the business but also the reduction in manual processing, leading to:

  • improved efficiency, allowing staff to work on higher value tasks
  • fewer errors: less time and costs to fix mistakes
  • reduced costs: no need to printing and archive paper invoices.
  • more accurate data for decision making.

The nitty gritty

Before implementing integrated EDI, you’ll need to think about these things:

Who are you trading with and what messages do you need to exchange?
Retailers will often send you information packs to get you started with EDI that will include the messages they need you to exchange. It could be purchase orders, purchase order responses, advanced shipping notices, invoices and more. Ask your retailer or speak to your EDI provider if you don’t know what’s required.

Next, you’ll need to know the file format you’re required to exchange:
This is likely to be EDIFACT D01B or D96A or XML. If you don’t know what your retailer is expecting, have a chat to your contact there or your EDI provider.

You’ll also need to find out what your software is capable of, in relation to:

  • The documents your software can use. For example, if your customer requires an advanced shipping notice and SSCC labels does your software support that?
  • The file formats it can import and export, like XML or CSV.
  • The connection protocols it accepts, like sFTP or API.

Our process

We try to make our process as simple as possible for businesses:


Let us know what you want to achieve and we’ll suggest the best solution


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