Technology is a constantly evolving web of techniques, processes and mechanisms. It’s always evolving to offer consumers better efficiency and simplicity of frequent tasks. Sometimes, it’s also just for fun. As a software in the ecommerce space, we aim to evolve continuously as well, both through our aggressive development timeline and our own knowledge (and creation) of emerging technologies. Our goal is to maintain an agile momentum of growth based on our customers’ exact business needs to stay ahead of what is happening next.

We’ve been presented with some questions regarding EDI – a rather new term for people like me (it’s Tiana writing here), without a computer science degree and newer to the tech scene. EDI (or electronic data interchange) is an expedited method of communication between businesses. A simple definition from EDI Basics is;

“A computer-to-computer exchange of business documents in a standard electronic format between business partners.”

In layman’s terms, this means that your computer can communicate with suppliers and other businesses quickly and automatically, without needing your intervention. You know how you may gather around the water cooler at work to chat with peers? EDI allows your computer to talk with other computers in a standardized and automated way, speaking the same language.

The benefits of EDI systems that electronically exchange your business data include better processing speed, fewer errors and reduced costs of labor. As EDI Basics explains, EDI involve a three part process. To quote the definition, this is how computer-to-computer exchange works: EDI documents travel directly to the appropriate application on the receiver’s computer. There is no human involvement in this process, which saves time as well as reduces error. The business documents and data transferred include any information you might exchange with your business partners, such as purchase orders, invoices, advance ship notices, inventory documents, shipping status documents, and payment documents.

This is similar (but not the same) to how ecomdash communicates with your supplier warehouses. For example, ecomdash will ask eBay (or any other sales channel) for new sales orders. Once ecomdash obtains the sales order, it creates a file from all recent orders and puts them on an FTP site. The warehouse will pick this file up, process it, and ship the items. Then, the warehouse will put an updated file with tracking information on the FTP site. Ecomdash will pull that updated file from the FTP, update shipping information on ecomdash, and send the tracking number to eBay. So, it’s still a completely automated process; it’s just that EDI technology uses standard document protocols whereas ecomdash is more flexible to allow for deviations in the document formatting and delivery. Many small and mid-sized businesses need that flexibility in their workflow and data transfer processes.

EDI Basics provided these diagrammed examples to demonstrate the difference between manual and EDI data transfers.

How EDI systems work

How EDI systems work

Below is how businesses may send a purchase order, without the automation of an EDI system.

The manual data processes that EDI systems replace

The manual data processes that EDI systems replace

Though ecomdash automates most of the process of communicating back and forth with suppliers, warehouses and manufacturers, we do not work as an EDI solely. EDI is for connectivity only, whereas software like ecomdash can operate as more of an ERP system (enterprise resource planning) – meaning ecomdash handles management and functions of operating an ecommerce business overall. Where EDI focuses on standardized data communication methods, ecomdash and other ERP systems will re-format the data in a more customized way based on your business needs.

We intend to provide customers with the greatest efficiency and simplicity when it comes to running an ecommerce business, which does mean greater automation of processes down the line. To try our robust inventory management software for free, sign up for a free trial today.

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