About EDI Integrations

DropStream supports EDI integrations. However, it is important to note that there are significant differences between EDI Integrations and the standard eCommerce Integrations. This article gives a background on EDI and how DropStream automates EDI integrations.

EDI Background. EDI ("Electronic Data Interchange") is a legacy logistics communication system that has been in use for over 50 years. It is used primarily by logistics, distribution, manufacturing and retail companies, and was the first standardized way to get orders from brick-and-mortar retail stores to the warehouses that shipped the goods. It became an entrenched standard in the retail commerce industry that remains today, as many large retailers have enough market power to set their preferred EDI requirements for their vendors (the merchants/brands). Meeting the Retailer EDI requirements is a major component of automating retail order fulfillment. For a full background on EDI, see here and this EDI 101 article.

EDI Value-Added Networks (EDI VANs).  EDI VANs (aka EDI Providers) specialize in coordinating EDI workflows with retail networks. The most common EDI VANs that work with fulfillment are CommerceHub, DSCO, SPS Commerce and TrueCommerce, all of which are supported by DropStream. There are many other EDI VANS that DropStream does not support.

Manual Fulfillment of EDI Orders. Most large retailers offer a web portal where the merchant can log-in and manually download orders and upload shipment and tracking information. The web portals are usually free to use for the merchant. In addition to the retailer web portals, SPS and CommerceHub offer Master Web Portals that can be used to give the merchant access to the orders from all of their retailers in one place. These web portals are typically inexpensive.

Automated Fulfillment of EDI Orders. DropStream provides automated EDI integrations. However, unlike typical ecommerce integrations that can be added in the DropStream User Interface without assistance, EDI integrations require involvement from the EDI VAN and DropStream to complete setup and testing. DropStream needs to work with the EDI VAN to confirm the EDI requirements, validate the documents, and run test scenarios. This process includes working group email chains and typically takes 4-6 weeks to complete. Please email the DropStream Support Team if you would like to setup an EDI integration.

Receiving EDI Requirements. A key part of the EDI setup is receiving retailer specific test orders. At this stage, the working group will need to review the test orders, and confirm the warehouse is able to meet retailer specific requirements. In some cases, the warehouse or WMS will need to make changes to be able to accept and transmit required fields that were not previously supported. It is at this stage when any setup costs from DropStream are determined. 

Costs of Automating EDI. There are setup costs involved with setting up an automated EDI integration. To support automated EDI, the EDI VANs charge per-document fees and setup fees. As described above, DropStream may also charge setup fees to complete the setup. Given the upfront costs involved, it is recommended that you verify with your merchant that they have enough sales volume to support the endeavor.

Merchant Questions. To begin the process, gather some information from your merchant:

- Are you working with an EDI VAN like SPS or CH?

- If yes, who is your contact there?

- How many retailers are you selling through?

- Which retailers?

- How many orders do you average per month?

Next Steps. Send an email to support@getdropstream.com letting us know you are interested in setting up an EDI integration. We will work with you to get started.

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