Manual for suppliers: 5 essential steps for implementing EDI


When you want to deliver your goods tolarge e-shops and chains, many customers will require you to exchange business documents via EDI. At least for orders, delivery notes and invoices. The implementation of EDI consists of 5 steps, which we will guide you through in the article.

1. Find out what the customer’s requirements for EDI communication are

The requirements of customers differ, for example, in the type of messages you will exchange together. The vast majority require the basic trio of EDI messages:

However, some customers may require additional EDI messages, for example stock overview (message INVRPT) or confirmation of receipt of goods (message RECADV).

Furthermore, different customers require data in different forms on the documents. This is so that their ERP system processes them correctly in accordance with internal processes – for example, they may want different units (pieces, pallets, etc.) or different order of items.

You must also mark each document with the GLN code of the establishment to which you are sending it. For example, you typically mark invoices with the code of the headquarters and delivery notes with the code of the warehouse or store to which you ship.

Therefore, at the beginning of cooperation, you need to find out from the customer:

  • the types of EDI messages you will exchange,
  • formal requirements for EDI messages
  • and overview of GLN codes of the customer's collection points.

It is in the customer's interest that they should supply you with this information themselves and that you do not have to actively find it out from them. Most customers will create asupplier website for this purpose where you can find this information. Alternatively, they will send you an e-mail or documentation with precise instructions at the beginning of the cooperation.

The EDI provider will help you later with setting up the EDI messages to meet the customer's conditions.

2. Choose the right EDI solution and provider

Depending on how many documents you expect to exchange per month, decide whether you want full EDI integration with your ERP system (if you have one) or use so-called web EDI  for web browsers. If you are unsure, the EDI provider will direct you.

  • The first option is used by companies that communicate with a large number of business partners via EDI and exchange dozens or more documents with them per month. The provider integrates EDI into your information system, so you work with it in an environment you are familiar with.
  • Web EDI is mainly used by small companies that exchange units or lower dozens of documents with customers per month. It is also suitable for companies that do not use enterprise (ERP) systems. You log in to web EDI via an internet browser and receive and create documents directly in it.

Cloud EDI is offered by many providers from the Czech Republic and abroad. We recommend inquiring several and comparing the offers. The customer themselves can also recommend an EDI provider based on their experience.

As a supplier, make sure above all:

  • that the EDI provider can connect you with the required customer,
  • which other potential customers they can connect you with,
  • what the price of the solution is
  • and that it is a stable company that has connected similar suppliers like you to EDI in the past.

3. Ensure a stable internet connection

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it is a step that some suppliers underestimate. EDI requires stable and reliable internet access to run. In the event of anoutage, the exchange of documents stops and not all customers offer analternative route for similar cases.

4. Get company and item identifications

In EDI communication, the uniform standards of the independent global organization GS1 are used to identify subjects and goods. Subjects are identified by so-called GLN codes (global localization numbers) and goods by GTIN codes (global product identification numbers, also known as EAN codes).

Therefore, when connecting EDI, registeron the GS1 Czech Republic website. After paying the entrance fee and choosing a tariff according to your needs, you will receive a GLN and a set of GTIN codes that you can assign to operations and goods.

You will get a primary GLN for your company, which is linked to the registration number and usually indicates the registered office of the company. If you have other operations such as warehouses or stores, create a secondary GLN for them in the assigned codebook. GLN codes are crucial for EDI communication, as they are used to identify subjects in all EDI messages.

GTIN (EAN) codes are used to identify goods in EDI communication. You must mark each item you sell with a unique code. This also applies to the same product, which differs in color or size, for example.

5. Implement EDI solution

The provider will guide you through the implementation of EDI. They will help with the implementation of the solution in your company, set up communication with the customer and test with you the receipt, sending and correctness of the required EDI messages. However, expect that the provider will also require your involvement. Especially when fully integrating EDI into the ERP system, coordination ofsteps with your company's IT department is necessary.

If everything is in order, let the customer know that you are ready to exchange documents via EDI.

Some customers at this stage require their own test mode, during which you exchange documents in addition to EDI also by e-mail or paper. As soon as both parties are convinced that the exchange of documents is taking place correctly, you will switch to the normal mode, where you exchange purely EDI messages.

We will help you with deployment of EDI

If you are interested in consulting the individual steps or if you are interested in more details about EDI implementation, contact us. As digitization partners, we have helped more than 3,000 companies in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and elsewhere in Europe with the electronic exchange of documents.

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