EDI in Shipping Industry

How EDI is used in the shipping industry (1200 × 628 px)

EDI has often been referred to as the lifeblood of the logistics industry. Implementing a proper EDI solution can do all kinds of incredible things for the shipping/logistics industry. It can improve operational efficiency, increase visibility into their supply chain, and most of all, strengthen customer relationships throughout their ecosystem.

The EDI in shipping industry helps manage the documentation for


Here is the full list of EDI X12 Document Types Used in 

EDI X12 Document Types Used in Shipping Industry

EDI X12 Document Types Used in Warehouse Industry

EDI X12 Document Types Used in Air and Motor Industry

EDI X12 Document Types Used in Ocean Industry

EDI X12 Document Types Used in Rail Industry 

Logistics Chain Operations in Shipping Industry

Here is the list of logistics chain operations that use EDI in shipping industry. In other words, this is how the data will flow in a normal day-to-day operation in the shipping industry,

  1. Exporters
  2. Freight Forwarders
  3. Customs Broker
  4. Customs Officer
  5. Shipping agents/NVOCCs
  6. Port Operators



Exporters or manufacturers may use an EDI system with EDI ANSI X12 standard to receive incoming EDI 850 purchase orders.

Freight Forwarders

As mentioned, freight forwarders prepare shipping documents. Immediately, the 3 shipping documents that come to mind are: –

  1. Invoice
  2. Packing List
  3. House Bill of Lading

Freight Forwarders use the EDI systems in place to submit a cargo manifest. 

Customs Broker

A customs broker is an intermediary between the customs officer and cargo owners or freight forwarders. They are tasked with submitting custom declarations for any item imported or exported to and from the country.

Customs Officer

The Customs officers receive the information transmitted by the customs broker and the freight forwarder. Then customs officer uses the transmitted EDI information in order to run risk assessments on the cargo transported.

Shipping Agents/NOVCCs

Shipping Agents and NVOCCs submit shipping manifests to port operators and customs officers

Port Operators

Port Operators are the ones that receive the vessels. While the systems in place for each country to transmit data are different, the data required itself is similar in any type of port. The information in question may include: –

  1. Cargo Manifest
  2. Discharge List
  3. Transport Order (Cargo Haulers)
  4. Customs Control (inspection, collection)
  5. Declaration of Dangerous Goods
  6. Equipment Interchange Receipt (EIR)

Why it’s Important to be EDI compliant for Shipping Industries

A recent survey data shows that poor integration overall led to 14% of companies losing $1 million or more in 2021, and nearly 1 in 4 lost $500,000 or more

Shipping/Logistics companies that aren’t EDI compliant are going to soon realize how quickly fines can add up. Going one step further, besides costing your company money, non-compliance impacts the trust companies have built with trading partners, jeopardizing those relationships, and lowering the competitive threshold.

How to Get Started With EDI for Shipping Industry

Here are the steps to get started with EDI,

Step 1: Understand EDI Standards

You as a business need to understand what standards apply to your shipping company so that you can use EDI effectively. There are two main standards used today: ISO 20022 (EDIFACT) and EDI ANSI X12 Standard.

Step 2: Setup Your EDI Solution

Identify whether you want to build your own in-house EDI solution or want to use managed EDI services from 3rd party provider. Once you’ve set up your EDI solution, you’ll need to add your customers and vendors to the system. This will allow your shipping company to automatically send and receive EDI documents electronically. 

Step 3: Create Your EDI Document Templates

You can use EDI templates to make sure your shipping company has everything it needs to process orders quickly and efficiently. If you’re using a third-party service provider, ask them what kind of template they need to work with.

Step 4: Start using Your EDI Solution

Now you can automate your entire data exchange process with your business partners. It’s easy to set up, and once you do, you won’t ever have to worry about manually entering data again.

Benefits of Using EDI in the Shipping Industry

The Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) allows companies to exchange information electronically between each other, which helps reduce paperwork and costs associated with paper documents.

Here are eight reasons why it's worth considering

  1. Saves money.
  2. Saves time.
  3. Improve business operational efficiency.
  4. Make data more accessible.
  5. Eliminate manual data entry errors and automates the data processing
  6. Gain visibility into your business supply chain.
  7. Improves relationships with your business partners
  8. Easily scale your business across the world

Reduce Costs

EDI is an electronic data interchange (EDI) system used by shippers to exchange information with carriers and other parties involved in the transportation process. It allows companies to share information electronically instead of manually entering data into paper forms. This saves time and money.

Increase Efficiency

EDI also helps businesses save time and money by increasing efficiency. By using EDI, shippers can automate processes such as invoicing, tracking shipments, and receiving payments. They can also use EDI to track inventory and manage customer orders more efficiently.

Eliminate Errors

EDI allows companies to eliminate errors and reduce costs. It also improves customer service because customers receive accurate bills and invoices.

Streamline Operations

EDI helps streamline operations by reducing manual data entry and eliminating errors. This reduces the need for human intervention, which means less time spent processing paperwork and more time spent doing what matters most – serving customers.

Access information in Real time

The introduction of EDI in the shipping industry is considered a boon in many ways. One of them is accessing real-time information. This helps avoid possible delays in sending or receiving data/documents. 

Integrated communication system

Thanks to the EDI, you can now have an integrated communication system in place for all your shipping operations. The one communication flow ensures traceability, integrated transactions such as purchase orders, order receipts, invoices, pending payments, and more. 


EDI reduces 99.99% of paperwork required in your business

you can save a few dollars otherwise spent on:

  • Buying paper
  • Postal service
  • Document storage
  • Loss-proof documentation
  • Improve customer service

Improve trading partner relations

EDI helps you to communicate with your trading partners swiftly. Unlike paper documentation which takes more time to convey a message

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