Direct EDI, also known as point-to-point, is prominent within the retail space and is a single direct connection between two trading partners. Direct EDI has been viewed as an alternative to a wide area network (WAN).
This method offers control for the business partners and is used primarily by large companies that exchange a high volume of transactions with another partner. If you plan to utilize direct connection, you’ll need a software platform that meets your implementation communication protocol guidelines.
Common direct communication protocols include AS2, SFTP and FTPS. Once you have agreed upon your trading partner communication method, you will then lay out the schedule and frequency of your transactions.
VAN/EDI is an alternative to the Direct EDI method. The majority of EDI transactions are currently done via a VAN/EDI network. This method protects you from the EDI complexities of a single connection.
The appeal of EDI networks lies in the value-added services that the EDI network service provider delivers. These often include back-office integration, management information, community and business partner enablement, as well as EDI outsourcing.
EDI Through AS2
AS2 is an Internet communication protocol which enables data to be transmitted securely over the Internet. Electronic data interchange via AS2 delivers the functionality of EDI with the ubiquity of Internet access. Today, it’s one of the most popular methods for secure and reliable data transport (especially EDI data).
Many organizations opt to use an EDI network provider for AS2 connectivity. This allows for the constant ability to receive EDI transmissions.
EDI Through FTP/VPN, SFTP and FTPS
FTP over VPN, SFTP and FTPS are each commonly used communication protocols for EDI transactions over the Internet. Any of these can be used to connect to business partners directly (Direct EDI) or through the use of an EDI network service provider.
Web EDI conducts EDI using a standard Internet browser, such as a web-based platform. Organizations use different online forms to exchange information with trading partners. Web EDI makes electronic data interchange easy and affordable for small- and medium-size businesses.
Web EDI works by replicating paper-based documents into web form. The form will contain fields where users can enter the pertinent information. Once completed, the information will be automatically converted into an EDI message and sent via secure Internet protocols.
Users have traditionally accessed EDI by a private network such as a VAN or the Internet to send and receive EDI documents. Mobile EDI has had limited adoption, in part due to security concerns with mobile devices across an EDI infrastructure, but mainly due to restrictions with the mobile device technology available.
The advent of tablet computers, however, has changed what can be achieved with mobile computing devices. Companies have begun to launch apps to mobilize their supply chains. The retail industry, in particular, has adopted Direct Exchange (DEX) to aid in the flow of products and information through the supply chain. DEX allows delivery personnel to scan a barcode into a mobile device to create an electronic invoice.