ec-bp's Bloggers

Taking On Your Customer's Demands

Written by Ken Kinlock
Published on Wednesday, 07 March 2012

surpriseSURPRISE!!! You've been a supplier for “Big Company” for several years and you get a letter from them: you have to do begin trading with them using EDI or risk losing them as a customer. There are really only two ways you can react: (1) This is a great opportunity to really strengthen my supply chain, take out costs and become more efficient; or (2) Oh! Poor Me!

Many suppliers turn to the EDI provider recommended by their customer.  This may not be the best road to take. Don't be under the impression that you must use their preferred supplier.  Now you need to study the situation and react the best way for your business  

Questions for your customer:

  • What are my options if you already have an EDI solution in place?
  • Question any certification fees.  Chances are, you may be in a position to negotiate to have such fees waived or at least lowered. 
  • Is there a list of approved or recommended providers?
  • What sort of time frame do you have to get compliant?
  • What happens if you're not ready by the due date?
  • If you test, will you be testing with real data?
  • If you have questions, who can you contact?
  • How long before you can expect a response?
  • What are the requirements? They should supply complete EDI Conventions.

If they require a specific VAN (Value Added Network), it DOES NOT mean YOU have to use their VAN! You only need to use another VAN or go through the Internet to an ECCP (Electronic Commerce Communications Provider) that interconnects with THEIR VAN.


  • Shop around for a solution that fits YOUR needs and YOUR budget, not just the first one that comes along.  Most importantly, don't sign up for a simple, one-size-fits-all solution.  An EDI solution should be able to grow and evolve along with your business.  After all, what is appropriate now may not be appropriate in a couple of years.
  • Tie into your ERP or shop system. Get rid of manual data entry (and resulting misteaks).
  • Is now the time to look at Cloud computing? SaaS (Software as a Service) may be your answer as far as “sizing” your solution. Much easier and less expensive to upgrade your application than to throw out the old and buy a new application.

Tight budget? There may also be a simpler “WEB EDI” approach available from your customer, or you can utilize one from a third-party provider.

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