An established business tool across the food industry, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is gaining traction across the wider spectrum of wholesale companies. Here, we look at some of the reasons why.

Increase speed
Using EDI to speed document transfer will lead to dramatic decreases in the time taken to process transactions. Sending a message anywhere in the world is no longer a matter of days, but of seconds, or at worst, minutes – typical data speed for transactions being over 1000 characters per second. Orders can be placed instantly – no need to worry about a partner stocking out while your courier delivers the paperwork.

Create flexibility
This speeding up of the cycle obviously has major implications for a business’ ability to respond to changes in demand, in the market, or to problems with other suppliers or purchasers. Reducing business cycle times in any industry generates the opportunity to get more done and create a greater competitive edge.

Empower reporting
Increased speed also means that data is immediately available for use in internal applications – supporting complex reporting on the real time situation across the business. Constantly up to date sales and purchase figures, for example, empower accurate decision making around the capital available to invest in extra stock or new propositions. Bad decisions threaten the business, and continually having the right numbers is a big step towards stopping it from happening.

Improve accuracy
As electronic data has usually been derived directly from a database, you can also be confident that it has been subject to prior validation. The electronic documents are also transferred with the same accuracy, and effectively the same speed, regardless of size. Should anything happen during the transfer of a particularly large file, re-transmission procedures can be evoked quickly and easily.

Make it hard to make mistakes
In simple terms, this means that it’s very difficult for anyone to end up with the wrong information. The automated transfer of electronic data supports you to massively reducing the risk of human error. There’s no longer any need to copy data from one hard copy document to another, or to key data into a business application screen. With these processes removed from your work systems, employees are no longer able to create errors leading to delays or returns.

In part 4, we look further into the dramatic effect EDI can have on operational insight.