What is EDI ?

EDI Stands for Electronic Data Interchange It facilitates the transfer of large amounts of information in a standardized format between business partners.

What is EDI

Introduction to EDI

EDI enables the transfer of transactional documents, such as purchase orders, invoices, and shipping notices, between businesses, suppliers, and customers in a secure and reliable manner.

The adoption of EDI has been driven by the need for businesses to improve supply chain efficiency and reduce costs. EDI automates data exchange, reducing the need for manual intervention and the risk of errors. EDI also improves relationships between trading partners, providing a more efficient and reliable way to exchange information. This leads to increased collaboration, better visibility into the supply chain, and faster response times to changes in demand.

Key Components of EDI

  1. Data Standards
  2. Message Types
  3. EDI Translation

Data Standards

At the heart of EDI is the use of standardized data formats or schemas. These formats define how information should be structured and organized within electronic documents. Common EDI standards include ANSI X12, EDIFACT, and more. These standards ensure that both the sender and receiver understand the content of the data being exchanged.

Message Types

EDI supports various types of electronic messages, often referred to as "transaction sets" or "message types." These messages can represent a wide range of business documents, such as purchase orders, invoices, advance shipping notices (ASNs), and payment remittance advice.

EDI Translation

Organizations typically use EDI translation software or systems to generate, send, receive, and process EDI messages. This software converts data from the organization's internal format (e.g., a database or enterprise resource planning system) into the specified EDI format and vice versa

There are many different types of EDI systems available for integration. Here is the list of most popular ones,

Benefits of EDI

Bi- directional format, sending/receiving computer systems communicate, confirm receipts, and report errors.

EDI users conform to a higher security standard than normal internet data transfers.

Eliminates human intervention by reducing manual processes, human intervention needed only when errors arise.

Flexible enough to pertain to multiple to various business models.

1. Data Exchange Formats

EDI uses standardized data formats that both sending and receiving systems can understand. These formats are often defined by international or industry-specific standards organizations. Two common formats are ANSI X12 and EDIFACT. These formats specify how data should be structured for various types of business documents, such as purchase orders, invoices, and shipping notices.

2. Automation and Efficiency

One of the primary benefits of EDI is automation. Instead of manually entering data from paper documents or emails into computer systems, EDI enables the seamless transfer of data directly between systems. This automation reduces the risk of errors that can occur during manual data entry, resulting in increased accuracy and efficiency.

3. Reduced Paper Usage

EDI significantly reduces the need for paper-based documentation in business transactions. This not only saves costs associated with paper, printing, and postage but also contributes to environmental sustainability.

4. Faster Transactions

With EDI, transactions can occur in near real-time. This speed is especially valuable in industries where rapid decision-making and response times are critical, such as retail, where quick order fulfillment is essential.

5. Improved Accuracy

Human errors in data entry can be costly and time-consuming to rectify. EDI minimizes these errors by automating data exchange, leading to more reliable and error-free transactions.

6. Enhanced Data Security

EDI systems often incorporate security measures, including encryption and authentication, to protect the confidentiality and integrity of the data being exchanged. This is particularly crucial when dealing with sensitive information like financial data or healthcare records.

7. Compliance and Regulation

In some industries, compliance with specific regulations and standards is mandatory. EDI can help businesses meet these requirements by ensuring that data is exchanged in a standardized and compliant manner.

8. Global Reach

EDI enables businesses to engage in international trade more efficiently. It allows organizations from different countries to exchange data seamlessly, overcoming language barriers and regional differences in business practices.

9. Supply Chain Integration

In supply chain management, EDI plays a pivotal role. It enables suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to coordinate their activities seamlessly, ensuring the timely delivery of products and efficient inventory management.

10. Cost Savings

While there is an initial investment in setting up EDI systems, businesses often realize significant long-term cost savings. These savings come from reduced labor costs associated with manual data entry, decreased error correction expenses, and streamlined business processes.

Who uses Electronic Data Interchange?


The adoption of EDI has seen rapid growth in the last several years. Sectors such as Manufacturing, Healthcare, Pharmaceutical, Utility & Construction and Foodservice have fully embraced and encouraged the use of EDI within their own supplier networks.

Supply Chain (Retail, Manufacturing, Automotive)

  • Purchasing
  • Order fulfillment
  • Shipping confirmations
  • International orders
  • Parts order fulfillments


  • Exchanging patient health information
  • Health insurance processing
  • Prescription information exchanges


  • Scheduling shipments
  • Tracking goods


  • Generating invoices
  • Providing audit trails


  • Flight information exchanges
  • Passenger name records (PNRs)
  • International compliance and standardization

How EDI Works?


Step 1: Document Creation:

The process begins within an organization when a business document needs to be generated. This document could be a purchase order, invoice, shipping notice, or any other transactional document. It is created in the organization's internal system or application.

Step 2: Data Standardization

Before the document can be sent via EDI, it needs to be converted into a standardized format. Common EDI standards include ANSI X12, EDIFACT, and more. Each standard specifies how data should be structured, what elements are required, and how they should be formatted.

Step 3: EDI Translation

EDI translation software, often referred to as an EDI translator or mapper, plays a crucial role. This software translates the organization's internal document format into the chosen EDI format. It maps the data fields from the internal document to the corresponding fields in the EDI standard.

Step 4: Data Enrichment (Optional)

In some cases, organizations may need to enrich the data with additional information. For example, adding product codes, pricing, or shipping details. This can be done as part of the translation process.

Step 5: Transmission

Once the document is in the EDI format, it is ready for transmission. The organization uses secure communication protocols to send the EDI document to its trading partner. Common transmission methods include FTP (File Transfer Protocol), AS2 (Applicability Statement 2), SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol), or VAN (value added network).

Step 6: Reception

The trading partner's EDI system receives the transmitted document. It may pass through several layers of security and validation checks to ensure the integrity and authenticity of the received data.

Step 7: EDI Translation (Receiver's Side)

Just like on the sender's side, the receiver's EDI system uses EDI translation software to convert the incoming EDI document into a format that can be understood by their internal systems. This translation process essentially reverses the mapping done during document creation.

Step 8: Data Integration

The translated document is integrated into the receiving organization's internal systems. For example, if it's a purchase order, it may be integrated into their order processing system. This integration could trigger various actions, such as order fulfillment, inventory management, or invoice generation.

Step 9: Acknowledgment

The receiving organization may send an acknowledgment, such as an EDI 997 Functional Acknowledgment, to the sender to confirm the successful receipt and processing of the document. This acknowledgment provides assurance that the transaction was completed without errors.

Step10: Business Process Integration

The data from the EDI document is now seamlessly integrated into the normal course of business operations, automating processes and reducing the need for manual intervention.

Commport EDI Statistics


Commport resolves
of its service cases in less than 24 hrs.
The Commport network boasts
Documents are received by Commport and sent out in
Commport translates/transmits documents for more than
users annually.

Commport EDI Solutions

Integrated EDI Solution

Integrated EDI
Tool that integrates your internal business systems such as accounting and ERP software.

Internet EDI

Internet EDI
Empowers you to begin exchanging EDI with your trading partners today… all you need is an internet connection!

Commport Service Bureau

Commport Service Bureau
Commport is qualified to manage all aspects of your EDI relationships for you (trading partners/retail partners).

Frequently Asked Questions