What is EDI?
An Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is a computer-to-computer exchange of business documents using an industry-standard electronic format. Specifically, EDI automates the transfer of documents between business partners, with the direct benefit of reducing costs and errors, increasing speed, and improving transparency and partnership between firms.
In a relationship between retailers and suppliers, typical buying documents are exchanged. The most common of these documents are:
- Purchase orders
- Purchase order acknowledgments
- Invoices and advanced ship notices (ASNs)
ASN & SSCC Labels
An Advance Shipping Notice, or ASN, is an important and frequently used EDI transaction among suppliers, distributors, manufacturers, and retailers. It notifies the receiving party of a shipment and describes the contents of the shipment. The document is sent preceding a shipment arrival – a “heads up, it’s on the way.”
Electronic ASNs are valuable because they instantaneously inform the receiving warehouse of the expected arrival of ordered inventory items, conveying details such as SKU, quantity, denomination, etc. Rapid transmission of business documents enables you to easily communicate with outside entities through existing connections, which translates to faster onboarding and substantial cost savings on procedural training.
EDI standards allow for the unique identification of each unit shipped via a unique barcode called a Standard Serialized Container Code (SSCC). It is a very specifically formatted 18-digit barcode, which must be embedded in a label that is unique to each customer (there are over 500 different formats). SSCC labels can be utilized on any combination of trade items packaged together for storage and/or transport purposes, such as a case, pallet or parcel.
When an order is posted, ShipHawk automatically generates a unique SSCC code, prints it on a label that is unique to each customer, and directs the ERP to that specific SSCC barcode and the carton content related to it. This offers a distinct advantage over paper processing methods with respect to time savings: less manual data entry means fewer opportunities for processing errors or mis-ships, and the resulting heightened accuracy reduces shipping times. The SSCC is thus a crucial key for traceability since it uniquely identifies each distributed unit and its content throughout the shipping process.
By providing an alternative to or replacing information flows that heavily rely on human contact and paper documents, EDI technology helps companies save considerable time and money. The costs associated with sorting, distributing, organizing, and searching for paper documents are decreased even when paper documents are kept on file alongside EDI interchange, such as printed shipping manifests.
Using EDI, a business can profit from electronic data storage and manipulation without incurring the expense of manual entry. Because EDI eliminates the need to rekey documents on the destination side, it also offers the chance to reduce or eliminate human data entry mistakes which could lead to shipping and billing errors.
An added benefit of EDI is the speed at which a trading partner receives and incorporates the information into their system, which greatly reduces cycle times.
How ShipHawk Works with EDI
ShipHawk customers are able to make shipments in ShipHawk using the most common data fields required by an EDI provider, which are the following:
- ShipHawk Shipping Method
- Shipment ID
- Carrier Service
- Carrier Name
- Shipping Cost (at time of label generation; aka billed or accrued shipping cost)
- SSCC Code
- Carton SSCC
- Pallet SSCC
- Package ID
- Shipper Email
- Tracking Number / PRO #
- ShipHawk Reference Field(s)
ShipHawk customers are able to retrieve the above fields via an API call (GET) or a webhook, which can then be sent to the EDI provider. The ERP serves as the conduit for data between the two services. ShipHawk writes shipment data to ERP item fulfillment records, which are then synchronized to your organization’s EDI provider.
You may be hesitant to implement EDI in your business because of the perception that it is a unique data format, which would entail extensive revamping of existing operational workflows. However, EDI is simply a system for exchanging business documents between companies. By using agreed-upon technical standards to streamline transactions, organizations can integrate data from documents into their internal systems without having to make special arrangements. This leads to increases in efficiency that enable you to pick, pack, and process orders more accurately and more quickly, getting your products shipped to customers without delay. To learn how ShipHawk has helped other organizations save time and money by implementing EDI, click here.
To learn more about how ShipHawk can help your organization save time and money by implementing EDI, contact us today, contact us today.