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EDI Integrations Explained [Steps, Types and Benefits]

Iyappan Perumal
March 7, 2024 |
EDI Integrations

EDI integration is like setting up a direct line of communication between the computer systems of different organizations. It allows them to automatically exchange important messages, like purchase orders or invoices, without the need for manual steps.  

Once the integration is in place, the business systems can talk to each other using a common language agreed upon for EDI. This is much faster and more efficient than traditional methods like sending messages via email or mail, as there is no waiting or manual processing involved. 

How EDI Integrations Work: A Step-by-Step Guide

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) streamlines the way you handle paperwork, replacing paper documents with a seamless electronic exchange of business documents between companies, even if they use different internal systems.

Here’s how it can work for you:

Document Generation

  • You generate electronic documents using information from your systems, spreadsheets, or other business transactions. 
  • These documents follow standardized EDI formats known as transaction codes.

Data Translation and Integration

  • When you receive documents from partners (e.g., suppliers or retailers), the EDI solution translates or “maps” the data into a format your systems can understand.
  • With integrated EDI, data flows directly into your ERP system, eliminating manual checking or retyping.
  • Automation generates responses and triggers workflows across departments.

Regulatory Compliance

  • EDI helps you comply with regulations set by retailers and distributors.
  • It ensures that every document you send contains all necessary data in the correct format, saving significant time.

Provider and Solution Variety

  • Different EDI service providers offer various EDI networks and systems for handling the exchange of electronic documents.   
  • Types of EDI solutions include web portals, direct EDI, and fully integrated EDI.

So, there are mainly five steps involved in the EDI integration process

Step 1: The process begins as a sender exports an electronic business document from an in-house system or application. An example could be a purchase order intended for buying goods or services. 

Step 2: The exported business document undergoes a crucial transformation. It is converted from the in-house computer system into the required standard electronic format. This transformation is facilitated through data transformation mapping software or any of the various EDI translators. 

Step 3: Subsequently, the EDI business document goes through another layer of processing. EDI conversion software is employed to ensure its structural accuracy based on the agreed-upon EDI standards currently in place.

Step 4: The data from the finalized EDI document is then transmitted to middleware via a secure communication protocol such as SFTP, HTTPS, or AS2.

This EDI transmission can be integrated into the same validation software, or another application, or directly sent to the client through a secure connection over similar protocols.

Step 5: In scenarios like Direct EDI over AS2, a secure connection is established between two different businesses. This allows enterprises to connect to trading partners without incurring document fees, providing real-time communication capabilities.

The receiving party undergoes a process where it receives the file, verifies credentials, authenticates the source, and decrypts the file for ingestion into its systems. Additionally, a message disposition notice (MDN) is sent back to acknowledge the successful delivery.

Also read: EDI Integration with ERP Explained [+ Types, Benefits & Challenges]

EDI Integration Approaches: In-House vs. Outsourced

Organizations can choose from the following approaches. Also, they could go for a blended approach, utilizing both together. Find out which one would be the best choice for your business.

In-House EDI

The organization manages its EDI processes internally, handling setup, maintenance, data translation, EDI mapping, and support. 

Pros of In-House EDI

Greater Control and Agility: Complete control over the EDI system, allowing agility in managing updates, onboarding, etc.

Greater Visibility: Comprehensive view of all aspects of EDI technology, facilitating informed decision-making.

Cons of In-House EDI

Greater Responsibility: Increased responsibility for managing and ensuring the success of the EDI system.

Greater Workload: Potential need to hire additional staff, increasing workload and costs.

Reliance on Internal Expertise: Dependency on internal expertise may pose challenges in addressing new or unusual scenarios.

In-House EDI Costs Includes

  • Ongoing software licensing
  • Infrastructure/technology costs
  • Internal staffing and hiring

Outsourced EDI

An external provider manages technical aspects like system setup, maintenance, data translation, communication, and mapping, along with providing support.

Pros of Outsourced EDI

Access to Experts: EDI service providers are specialists, ensuring up-to-date knowledge and efficient problem resolution.

Management & Support: Some providers offer 24/7 support, aiding in addressing issues promptly and maintaining system uptime.

Resource Allocation: All EDI tasks are managed externally, allowing the organization to focus on core business strategy. 

Cons of Outsourced EDI

Lack of Control and Agility: Reliance on a third party can limit control, making the company dependent on the provider’s schedule.

Lack of Visibility: Reduced visibility as the organization relies on the provider for updates on EDI performance and issues.

Switching Providers: Changing EDI providers can be expensive and time-consuming.

Outsourced EDI Cost Includes

  • Service and maintenance fees
  • Usage metrics (e.g., number of documents sent)
  • Onboarding new trading partners
  • Switching providers (if unsatisfied)

Costs vary based on factors like system size, complexity, and the chosen management approach (in-house or outsourced).

Also read: Microsoft Dynamics 365 EDI Integration Explained

Types of EDI Integration

There are mainly three types of EDI integrations that offer businesses various options to streamline communication with partners, depending on their specific needs and partners’ capabilities. Here are the following:

Direct EDI Integration

Direct EDI integration, also called point-to-point EDI, involves a direct connection between your ERP system (enterprise resource planning)and your business partners using a specific protocol. This method is suitable for large corporations with many connections, but it can be complex to manage without standardized protocols.  

Indirect EDI Integration

Indirect EDI integration works through a third party like an EDI broker or a value-added network (VAN). Your ERP system sends messages to the broker, who then forwards them in various formats to your partners. This method simplifies communication and is helpful when partners have different formatting preferences.

Hybrid EDI Integration

a. For Partners Already on EDI

Hybrid EDI integration combines both direct and indirect methods. It allows you to exchange messages directly with some partners while using intermediaries for others, offering flexibility in integration.

b. For Non-EDI Customers

This version of hybrid integration utilizes non-EDI communication methods, such as email with attached documents like PDFs or Excel sheets, to connect with partners who are not familiar with EDI. The intermediary translates these non-EDI messages into the appropriate format for your ERP system, facilitating digital communication even with non-EDI-capable partners.

Also read: B2B EDI Integration Explained [+Top Solution for Distributors]

What Can EDI Be Integrated With

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) can work together with various systems to make business processes smoother. Here’s a simple breakdown of what EDI can integrate with:

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Systems

Integration with ERP systems (e.g., SAP, Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics) helps synchronize and automate business processes related to finance, order processing, and inventory management.

Supply Chain Management (SCM) Systems

Integration with SCM systems optimizes the flow of goods and information across the supply chain, improving visibility, and facilitating efficient logistics.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems

Linking EDI with CRM systems ensures accurate and up-to-date customer information, supporting better customer service and order management.

Warehouse Management Systems (WMS)

Integration with WMS enhances order fulfillment processes, inventory accuracy, and overall warehouse efficiency.

Transportation Management Systems (TMS)

Integrating EDI with TMS enables seamless coordination of transportation activities, reducing delays and optimizing delivery routes.

eCommerce Platforms

EDI integration with ecommerce platforms facilitates automated order processing, inventory updates, and real-time communication with online sales channels.

Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES)

Integration with MES systems improves visibility into manufacturing processes, allowing for better planning and coordination.

Financial Systems

Linking EDI with financial systems streamlines invoicing, payment processing, and financial reporting, reducing manual errors and accelerating financial transactions.

Point-of-Sale (POS) Systems

Integration with POS systems ensures accurate and timely processing of retail transactions, helping maintain inventory levels and customer satisfaction.

Custom In-House Applications

EDI can integrate with custom-built, in-house applications to meet specific business requirements and support unique workflows.

Healthcare Information Systems

In the healthcare industry, EDI can integrate with patient management systems, billing systems, and insurance platforms for efficient data exchange.

Logistics Systems

Integration with logistics and freight systems optimizes the movement of goods, provides real-time tracking, and enhances overall supply chain visibility.

Human Resources (HR) Systems

Linking EDI with HR systems aids in automating employee-related processes, such as onboarding, payroll, and benefits administration.

Government and Compliance Platforms

EDI is often integrated with government systems to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements and facilitate electronic reporting.

Cloud Services

EDI integration with cloud-based services enables scalability, flexibility, and accessibility, allowing businesses to adapt to changing needs.

EDI Software Requirements: Key Features for Evaluation

Here are the key factors to evaluate before choosing an EDI service provider:

1. Document Management

Requirement: Handle various document types, converting and securely transmitting them.

Considerations: File formats compatibility, handling multiple document uploads, data archival, recovery, version control, and predefined templates.

2. EDI Protocols and Standards

Requirement: Support industry-standard protocols (VAN, AS2, FTP/sFTP, HTTPS) and EDI standards (ASC X12, EDIFACT, Tradacoms, XML).

Considerations: Compatibility with partners’ protocols and standards, EDI compliance, and support for multiple EDI document types.

3. EDI Transaction and Community Management

Requirement: Identify trends, prevent duplicate entries, and notify of transfer failures.

Considerations: Document tracking, searching, transaction and community management features, message logs, partner onboarding, and web portal capabilities.

4. EDI Translation and Mapping

Requirement: Translate data into various formats, integrate with ERP and accounting solutions, and automate processes.

Considerations: Automated acknowledgment generation, data mapping, XML to EDI translation, validation rules, workflow automation, and support for EDI XML.

5. Integrations and Extensibility

Requirement: Integrate seamlessly with other software, enhance informational consistency, and reduce errors.

Considerations: APIs, LDAP for Active Directory access, integration with 3PL, WMS, OMS, IMS, CRM, databases, ecommerce platforms, ERP, finance, and accounting systems.

6. Platform Capabilities and Security

Requirement: Offer robust reporting, business intelligence, and secure data handling.

Considerations: Customizable reports, dashboards, data masking, encryption in transit and at-rest, compliance with FIPS 140-2, GDPR, ISO, and MIC algorithms (SHA1 and MD5).

Ensure that the selected EDI software aligns with your business functions, provides necessary features for smooth operations, and supports future scalability. Consider customer reviews and sentiments for insights into product reliability and support effectiveness.

Also read: 6 Best EDI Integration Tools [+Top Choice for Distributors]

Benefits of EDI Integration

  • Faster Transactions: Integration enables real-time exchange of information between trading partners, leading to faster order fulfillment, payment processing, and overall transaction cycles.
  • Streamlined Processes: EDI integrations automate manual tasks such as order processing, invoicing, and document handling, leading to increased efficiency and reduced processing times.
  • Cost Savings: With streamlined processes and reduced manual intervention, EDI integration helps lower operational costs associated with paper-based transactions, such as printing, mailing, and data entry.
  • Improved Accuracy: By eliminating manual data entry and the associated human errors, EDI integrations ensure that information is transferred accurately between systems, maintaining high data quality and reducing the risk of errors and discrepancies. 
  • Enhanced Visibility: By providing real-time access to transaction data, EDI integrations offer improved visibility into supply chain activities, inventory levels, and order statuses, enabling better decision-making and proactive management.
  • Increased Customer Satisfaction: Faster order processing, accurate invoicing, and improved communication with trading partners result in enhanced customer service and loyalty. 
  • Scalability and Flexibility: Integrated EDI systems are scalable and adaptable to accommodate business growth and changing market demands, providing flexibility to meet evolving business needs.
  • Competitive Advantage: By leveraging EDI integrations, businesses can differentiate themselves by offering faster, more efficient, and error-free transactions compared to competitors still relying on manual processes.

Best EDI Integration Tool for Distributors – DCKAP Integrator

DCKAP Integrator is a cloud-based integration platform that plays a crucial role in enhancing the seamless integration of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) by offering several valuable advantages. 

One notable feature of DCKAP Integrator is its ability to facilitate both EDI and API integration, making it highly versatile. Even for custom applications that lack APIs, DCKAP Integrator is proficient in executing EDI integration, showcasing its adaptability and usefulness. 

Here are a few more benefits that you can get with DCKAP Integrator

Enhanced Data Accuracy

DCKAP Integrator automates the transmission of EDI data to your trading partners and seamlessly integrates it into your ERP system.

By eliminating the need for manual data entry, which is prone to errors, DCKAP Integrator ensures data accuracy. This automation helps maintain compliance with EDI standards and reduces costly mistakes.

Accelerated Business Cycles

DCKAP Integrator allows your enterprise to streamline processes and significantly reduce processing times. This integration can lead to a remarkable reduction in the order-to-shipment business cycle, potentially by as much as 50-60%.

The ability to exchange EDI transactions in minutes instead of days results in faster time-to-completion for critical business activities.

Improved Trading Partner Visibility

Effective implementation of DCKAP Integrator empowers your business to focus more on core operations. With accurate and automated data readily accessible within your ERP system, you gain valuable insights into how your EDI partners are impacting your overall business.

This enhanced visibility enables better decision-making and more informed strategies for managing your trading relationships.

Checkout the flexible pricing plans here. For further information, feel free to get in touch!


What is EDI?

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is a method used by businesses to exchange business documents electronically in a standardized format, replacing traditional paper-based documents. EDI Integration facilitates electronic communication of business messages that enhance the efficiency of business operations.  

What is an EDI Integration?

An EDI Integration Project involves incorporating Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) into your business processes. It aims to seamlessly connect EDI with your existing systems to automate data exchange and improve operational efficiency.

How do EDI Workflows benefit businesses?

EDI Workflows automate the handling of documents like purchase orders and invoices. This reduces processing time, minimizes errors, and provides a structured framework for managing the exchange of information with trading partners.

What file formats are used in EDI?

Common EDI file formats include X12, EDIFACT, and XML. X12 is prevalent in North America, while EDIFACT is widely used internationally. XML is versatile and used for various data exchange purposes.

What features should I look for in an ideal EDI Platform?

An ideal solution should offer robust data security, easy integration with existing systems, flexible customization options, and support for industry standard formats. Additionally, user-friendly interfaces and reliable customer support are essential considerations.  

Can any business use EDI, or is it only for large organizations? 

EDI is suitable for businesses of all sizes. While larger companies often use it extensively, smaller businesses can also benefit. There are EDI solutions tailored for different scales, making it adaptable to the needs of various companies.

What are some popular EDI integration software?

Some of the popular integration software are DCKAP Integrator, MuleSoft, Cleo Integration Cloud.

Iyappan Perumal

As the Head of Product for DCKAP Integrator, an ERP Integration Platform for distributors - Iyappan leads the product vision, strategy, and execution for delivering scalable, secure, and user-friendly integration solutions for small to mid-size distributors. With over a decade of experience in building eCommerce stores prior to kick-starting his product journey, he knows the ins & outs of scaling & managing the storefronts. Out of curiosity, he started figuring out solutions to streamline the front-end and back-end operations that help distributors run an effective & profitable distribution business. And ended up launching Cloras (now DCKAP Integrator) in 2017. Today, hundreds of distributors across different verticals use DCKAP Integrator to connect & automate their backend operations. He loves documenting his observations and learnings, while staying up-to-date with the goings on of the industry.

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