Skip to main content
  • Blog
  • EDI Connection 101

EDI Connection 101: Everything You Need to Know for Seamless Data Interchange

October 17, 2023

dist-warehouse-worker-making-inventory - article banner

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) refers to the computer-to-computer exchange of business documents between companies using a standardized electronic format. By enabling businesses to effortlessly exchange data with trading partners such as suppliers and customers, EDI offers a faster and more accurate alternative to traditional paper-based transactions.

Having an EDI connection eliminates the need for manually printing, signing, scanning, faxing, emailing, and retyping documents like purchase orders and invoices, reducing administrative costs and errors. By standardizing data formats, EDI facilitates quick electronic transfer of information between partner systems, improving supply chain visibility and efficiency.

This article will provide an overview of EDI connections, explaining the basic EDI process and components, details on getting started, integration, and security considerations. We’ll also summarize EDI's major benefits for seamless business data exchange.

Let’s go for it!


What Does Having an EDI Connection Mean?

EDI is a standardized method for exchanging business documents digitally. An EDI connection refers to the infrastructure, standards, and protocols used to securely transmit EDI-formatted data between trading partners.

Imagine all the transactions that take place between your businesses and your partners every day–we’re talking about purchase orders, invoices, shipping notifications, payment information, inventory updates, and more. Previously, these documents would be printed, mailed, faxed, and even manually entered into computer systems—a labor-intensive process fraught with delays and prone to human errors. EDI changes this dynamic.

The beauty of EDI lies in its standardization. Specific formats, like the widely used EDIFACT and X12, dictate how data should be structured. This standardization ensures that a company in Japan with an EDI connection to a supplier in the USA can send a purchase order, and both entities, regardless of their internal systems, will understand and automatically process the data being exchanged.

Faster transaction processing times lead to quicker business cycles. The reduction in manual data entry means fewer errors. And automation translates to cost savings, not just in terms of staffing but also in reduced paper and postage expenses. Furthermore, with more timely information exchange, companies can refine their inventory management, allowing for strategies like just-in-time supply chain management.


EDI Process and Components

To fully grasp the power of an EDI connection, we need to understand the underlying processes and components that drive it. Let’s dive in.


3 Parts of the Basic EDI Process Flow


1. Data Translation

The journey begins within a business's native application, such as an ERP system or accounting software. Here, specific business documents are generated. However, these documents are typically in a format unique to that application. To be sent via EDI, they must first be converted into a universally accepted EDI format like X12 or EDIFACT.

2. Transmission

Once converted, the document is ready for transmission. It is then sent electronically over the internet to the intended trading partner using secure connections.

3. Receipt

Upon reaching its destination, the transmitted document undergoes validation. If it adheres to the agreed-upon format and contains no errors, the data is then translated back from the standardized EDI format into a format that the receiving application can understand. It's then integrated into the partner's systems, making it ready for processing.



The Key Components of a Seamless EDI Connection


EDI Software

EDI software facilitates the EDI connection and the electronic exchange of business documents. Acting as the bridge between internal systems and the EDI standard, it is responsible for converting data to and from the EDI format, ensuring consistency and accuracy.

Value-added Network (VAN)

Businesses often employ a third-party service–a VAN–to transmit their EDI documents securely. Think of it as the electronic counterpart of the US Postal Service—a channel to move your company’s data from point A to point B.


The mapping process defines the relationship between data fields in an organization's internal and standard EDI formats. It ensures the correct alignment and interpretation of data between different systems.


Getting Started with EDI

An EDI connection can be a game-changer for your business, which is why the largest companies in the world, like Amazon and Walmart, rely on it and mandate their partners do, too. We've helped numerous clients, like Betco when they began supplying to Office Depot, become EDI compliant fast.

Here's a step-by-step guide to getting started.

1. Select an EDI Software Provider

Explore providers that offer robust EDI translation software, ensuring it aligns with your business needs and technical infrastructure. Go for a vendor with decades of EDI experience and tens of thousands of trading partner maps in place (so you can get started quickly.)

2. Choose an EDI Format

Selecting an appropriate EDI standard, such as X12 or EDIFACT, based on industry requirements and partner agreements.

3. Reach Out to Trading Partners

Engage with your trading partners to determine which documents will be exchanged via EDI and how. They may have an EDI Implementation Guide you can refer to.

4. Map Data Fields

Use EDI software to create maps or templates for each document type, mapping data fields between your system and the EDI standard.

5. Establish a Transmission Method

Decide between using a VAN or AS2 connection for secure data transmission. While VANs act as third-party transmitters, AS2 allows direct and encrypted connections between partners. The majority of EDI transactions are currently done via a VAN network.

6. Test the EDI Process

Before going live, conduct tests with your trading partners to ensure data is being exchanged correctly and efficiently.

7. Develop Error-Handling Protocols

Set procedures for addressing errors, ensuring backups, and managing any unforeseen issues that might arise during data exchange.

8. Train Your Team

Place strong emphasis on training your staff to use EDI software. The more confident they are, the faster they will adapt and adopt.

9. Integrate

Integrate EDI with all your core systems, like ERP, to maximize automation across your organization. Guillevin International, one of our clients, has experienced significant benefits from this EDI-ERP integration. Learn more here.

10. Prioritize Security Over Everything

Ensure all data exchanges are secure by adopting encryption, updating firewalls, and regularly auditing systems.



EDI connections transform business communication, streamlining data interchange for enhanced efficiency and precision. Through proper setup and integration, you can unlock seamless data flows, reaping the benefits of reduced costs, improved speed and agility, and the ability to partner with a greater number of larger businesses without increasing manual effort.

Ready to simplify your EDI experience? Reach out to one of our dedicated EDI specialists at 1 EDI Source. With over 30 years of EDI expertise and a library of 50,000 trading partner connections, we're in the business of making EDI straightforward. Plus, we continuously manage EDI mapping updates so that you can avoid fees and chargebacks.

You don't have to navigate the complexities of EDI alone. Let our team get you up and running quickly.