What is Web EDI?
Web EDI is a tool for connecting to suppliers that lack the infrastructure to conduct electronic data interchange (or EDI) in the traditional manner.
In addition to enabling your suppliers to read the EDI messages you send to them, Web EDI allows suppliers to create follow-up documents and return them to you. Web EDI thus enables businesses to extend automation across more of their supply chain.
For your smaller partners it allows simple transmission of EDI documents via a web portal.
For you, meanwhile, deep integration with your ERP system ensures that message exchange via Web EDI looks no different to that via classic EDI.
Why is Web EDI needed?
Generally speaking, a supply chain business’s suppliers can be divided into two distinct groups: larger suppliers and smaller suppliers.
- Larger suppliers: Larger suppliers are typically already able to do classic EDI. All that’s required to start exchanging EDI messages with them is for a message implementation guide to be exchanged and mapping and routing to be completed.
- Smaller suppliers: Smaller suppliers on the other hand generally don’t have the ability to conduct EDI and are only able to trade automated messages if their partner provides access to a Web EDI portal.
Although each smaller supplier may not seem significant, when added together, smaller suppliers often constitute a substantial proportion of a business’s partner network (this is referred to as “the long tail”). Communication with smaller partners also typically requires a huge amount of time and effort from internal teams to ensure everything is processed correctly.
An efficient EDI solution should aim for total automation of supply chain communication and should thus cater for both types of supplier. As Web EDI offers the only way to achieve automated exchange of structured documents with partners lacking EDI capability, it is therefore an essential part of a successful EDI solution.
What does using a Web EDI system involve?
So what does using a Web EDI system involve? To answer this let’s examine your perspective and that of a partner using your Web EDI portal.
From your perspective
As far as your ERP system is concerned, once smaller partners have been provided with access to your Web EDI portal, there is no difference between the messages received via Web EDI and those received from larger partners via traditional EDI. All B2B message exchange is automated, with all incoming messages arriving directly into your ERP and all outgoing messages sent directly from your ERP. Essentially no additional work is required (assuming your EDI provider takes care of updates and monitoring).
From your supplier’s perspective
For your suppliers the experience involves slightly more input. First they will be provided with a login to your own tailored portal, within which access rights and alerts can be set as desired.
When an incoming message is received, the supplier is alerted via email to make sure it isn’t missed. The structured data in the EDI message is converted into a human readable format and can be downloaded as PDF. This can then be filed/stored by the supplier as desired.
When sending messages via the portal no EDI knowledge is required either. All the supplier needs to do is enter the relevant information and click send. The portal converts the data into the agreed format and delivers it to your ERP.
Outgoing messages can even be semi-automatically filled with pre-populated information, based on incoming messages. For example, to send an order response the supplier may not need to manually enter any information, as the data will be pulled directly from the incoming order. This process is also known as a “PO flip”.
In the best systems your ERP and Web EDI platform will always be in sync, meaning suppliers will be able to see any order changes in real time. In such systems it may even be possible for individual order changes to be merged automatically.
For example, let’s say you ordered 4 crates of bananas from your supplier initially, but then subsequently wanted to amend this order to cancel one crate of bananas and add a crate of apples.
In a modern system your changes would update the original order in the Web EDI portal directly and notify your supplier instantly.
In addition to reducing the likelihood of you experiencing order issues, the combination of real time synchronisation and automatic data merging makes life much easier for your suppliers.
The benefits of Web EDI
In summary, Web EDI provides several benefits for both suppliers and customers.
For customers the main benefits are…
- A more streamlined partner network
- Cost and time savings through increased automation
- …and reduced pressure on in-house teams
For ecosio customers these benefits are also bolstered by 24/7 platform monitoring, automatic updates and unparalleled data visibility thanks to deep ERP integration.
For suppliers, the benefits include…
- Semi-automated creation of key B2B documents
- The ability to trade with larger partners
- … and access to real-time purchase order information and purchase order changes (in ecosio’s system all order changes can also be merged automatically)
Find out more
At ecosio we are experts when it comes to Web EDI and efficient, automated partner connections. If you would like to learn more about our unique Web EDI platform, please click here.
Alternatively, feel free to contact us. We’ll be more than happy to help you experience the benefits of Web EDI and are always happy to answer any questions you may have!