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Why do small businesses need EDI?

Small businesses can benefit greatly from Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) implementation, but they may also face unique challenges in the process. This article discusses the importance of EDI to small businesses and some common EDI implementation issues that they tend to face.

22 Mar 2023 by Thanura Jayathissa

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is the computer-to-computer exchange of standardized business documents between companies. EDI has been around for decades and is widely used in a variety of industries such as manufacturing, finance, logistics, and healthcare. While EDI was once predominantly used by large corporations, small businesses are now realizing the benefits it can provide, and EDI is proving to be a mandatory business requirement at present as it streamlines business processes by automating the exchange of documents between trading partners. In this article, we’ll take a glance at how EDI can help small businesses grow and some challenges they may encounter when implementing an EDI.

How does EDI help small businesses?

Increased Efficiency and Productivity

Many of the manual processes involved in exchanging business documents, such as data entry and document processing, can be automated using EDI. This can lead to small business teams focusing less on tasks like data entry and more on what your company requires to grow and succeed. As a result, the organization will no longer be required to pay employees for hours of data entry work, which is critical because a single employee often has multiple roles in smaller business teams.

Increased Accuracy

The automation of tasks such as data entry will improve the precision of information exchanged between companies while reducing the need for manual reconciliation.

Increased Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty

By automating the processing of business documents, small businesses can improve their response times and strengthen their business partnerships. EDI can assist small businesses in responding to trading partner requests and inquiries more quickly, even during peak periods and holidays, without risking their reputation for dependability.

Increased Security

Because EDI involves the exchange of sensitive data between groups, security is a major concern for EDI transactions. Some security measures used to ensure secure EDI transactions are discussed below.

  • Encryption: Encrypting EDI data guarantees that only authorized groups have access to the data.
  • Using secure communication channels: When sharing documents, EDI systems use a variety of secure communication channels such as AS2 and SFTP. Using these channels can aid in the prevention of data obstruction.
  • Implementing access control: This ensures that only authorized individuals can access and modify EDI data.
  • Monitoring and auditing EDI transactions: Regular audits can assist in spotting and fixing any security flaws in the system.

Small businesses can ensure secure EDI transactions by implementing these measures.

Competitive Advantage and Increased Growth

Implementing EDI in your small business facilitates scalability and helps to avoid growing pains in the process of scaling. This will also improve business opportunities when attracting new trading partners and allow your company to better compete with larger organizations by supporting new trading document types when doing business with the newly added trading parties.

Cost Savings

Implementing EDI can save a variety of costs associated with paper documents such as printing, storing, and mailing. This also reduces the labor costs associated with manual processes such as data entry.

Challenges In the Small Business EDI implementation

Scaling your EDI system

When you add new trading partners to your business, the reality is that each trading partner has their own custom-tailored EDI transaction set definitions. An EDI purchase order, for example, differs from one trading partner to the next. As the company expands by adding new trading partners, supporting the diverse transaction sets and rules can be difficult.

Integration Complexity

Implementation of EDI can be a complex process that requires technical expertise in different data formats, communication channels, mapping requirements, etc. The mapping part will be a very challenging one when the retailer’s business rules are to be mapped according to different standards for each retailer. Most of the elements in the EDI documents are common for most retailers, but each retailer may add some unique and specific segments based on business requirements.

Ensuring Data Security

The EDI system involves the exchange of valuable and sensitive business data. So any kind of security flaws in the system can result in massive losses such as financial setbacks, legal obligations, and reputation damage. So ensuring the necessary data security techniques can be a challenge.

Bad Data

Bad data is the result of invalid data entries, such as duplicate orders, price variations, and other purchase-related issues. Bad data has been a major issue affecting B2B business transactions, and as the amount of data continues to grow, the problems will only get worse.


The cost of EDI implementation can be significant because it requires investments in both software and hardware, and many small businesses are unable to bear the initial cost. But at present small businesses has the option of using pay-as-you-go SaaS options like the EDI Generator.


EDI provides a wide range of benefits to small businesses, and as a result, small businesses are implementing EDI as a way to transform their business to the next level, where they will be able to compete with the market’s large companies. As technology advances, EDI will become an even more important tool for small businesses. While the EDI implementation process can be complicated, our highly qualified and experienced team will ensure a smooth EDI implementation and will be there for you every step of the way as you scale. Investing in an EDI system, such as EDI Generator, would thus be a significant step in the journey to becoming one of the market’s large companies.

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