EDI translation software or an EDI translator refers to software that converts data from enterprise-specific and irregular formats into standardized and organized structures that are compliant with EDI standards.

With EDI translation software, custom in-house documents may be converted into EDI standardized documents that are then sent to another business partner. The receiving business can then convert the EDI standard into formats that are compatible with their custom enterprise-specific solutions.

An EDI Translator can either be purchased from a third-party EDI VAN provider or they may be custom developed in house.

There are different varieties of EDI translators that may be purchased from vendors out there or if not business owners can get a developer to design a suitable one for their business. EDI translators are available for AS400, Windows, Unix, Mac OS, and many other operating systems.

NOTE: A value-added network typically referred to as VAN refers to a private network provider that companies may hire to provide EDI translation software among other network and communication services.

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What to Look for in an EDI Messaging System

Different EDI systems have their own advantages and disadvantages and each business should get one that is suitable for their own needs. However, the following are some of the most important things to look for when incorporating an EDI Translation Software system.

  1. Scalability – A good system should be highly scalable and should grow alongside the company. It would not make sense to get a system intended for a large corporation when the business is a small to medium enterprise. However, if the company is growing really fast, it would make sense to install a system with scalable capacity so as to avoid the daunting changeover process when the company outgrows the software.
  2. Compatibility – Ideally, a business needs to derive data from the electronic format and then translate it into a standard EDI format. A good EDI system will have the ability to exchange data into standard formats that are common with other organizations that the business transacts with.
  3. Security – Many methods of information exchange such as email, fax and mail can have security vulnerabilities or could be intercepted, lost or misplaced. The best translation software should be well designed to ensure that proprietary data will not get into the wrong hands.
  4. Affordability – A good EDI translator is affordable rather than cheap. There are many cheap offerings out there but they require a lot of technical understanding to operate. Good EDI translator software needs to be affordable but should be easy to deploy so that anyone can use it without necessarily becoming an EDI expert.
  5. Automation of the EDI Translator – The translator software needs to be easy to automate given that there are many steps in EDI messaging that are time-intensive and monotonous. The software needs to allow for the automation of processes.
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How EDI Transactions Carried Out

The procedure for carrying out EDI translation transactions are very similar to manual processes and includes three basic steps:

  1. Preparation of the Documents to be sent

The first step is the collection and organization of data to be sent. For instance, rather than printing a paper copy of the purchase order, the system will create an electronic file from which you will build an EDI document. Some of the methods and sources of data generation include:

  • Data entry by manual means on computers
  • Application software that comes with inbuilt interfaces for EDI files
  • Export of PC based data from databases or spreadsheets
  • Modification of existing applications that can then generate the output files automatically and make them ready for conversion into the appropriate EDI standard formats
  • Making data fields from reformatted electronic reports
  1. Translation of the documents into EDI Standard

The next step is to input the electronic data into the translation software which will convert it into the standard formats using the appropriate data and segmentation elements.

EDI translator software may be purchased and then managed in-house though the company would need to have specialized expertise to define the mapping of internal data. Companies can find EDI translation software that will be fit for just about any budget or computing environment. These range from PC based systems that can process a few hundred transactions every week to large complicated and specialized systems that translate thousands of transactions every day.

Alternatively, a business may use the services of an EDI VAN provider. In such an instance, the company will send the data to the provider who then handles all translation processes to and from the EDI standard formats and to their business partners on their behalf.

  1. Connecting and Transmitting Documents to Business Partners

Once the documents have been translated into the appropriate formats for EDI, they will be ready for transmission to business partners. There are several ways to connect to business partners that include:

  • Direct connection through secure internet protocols such as AS2, JSON, ebXML or any other secure internet protocol
  • Connection through a third party EDI VAN provider by way of in-house communication protocols that are then routed to the provider, who will then transmit the documentation to the business partner through their preferred communications protocol.
  • A combination of direct and third-party solutions depending on the volume of transactions or the protocols of the business partner.
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Benefits of Using EDI Translation Software

When it comes to eCommerce, we now have EDI for Amazon sellers and EDI for Walmart suppliers that make it possible for stakeholders to have easy and timely access to vital information that makes it possible to operate at optimum efficiency.

Since Amazon and Walmart do business with thousands of business partners every day, it is critical to have a way of processing thousands of documents. This is where EDI comes in as it ensures that custom documentation and data from partners are compliant with standard in house formats used by enterprise eCommerce solutions such as Walmart EDI or Amazon EDI.

Some of the documentation that may be transmitted via EDI translators include invoices, inventory advice/inquiry, ship manifests/notices, purchase order acknowledgments, product quantities, product numbers, and shipping addresses among many others.

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EDI in Ecommerce

When it comes to eCommerce, we now have EDI for Amazon sellers and EDI for Walmart suppliers that make it possible for stakeholders to have easy and timely access to vital information that makes it possible to operate at optimum efficiency.

Since Amazon and Walmart do business with thousands of business partners every day, it is critical to have a way of processing thousands of documents. This is where EDI comes in as it ensures that custom documentation and data from partners are compliant with standard in house formats used by enterprise eCommerce solutions such as Walmart EDI or Amazon EDI.

Some of the documentation that may be transmitted via EDI translators include invoices, inventory advice/inquiry, ship manifests/notices, purchase order acknowledgments, product quantities, product numbers, and shipping addresses among many others.

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EDI as it Applies to Transportation

Transportation EDI has become a critical component for carriers, vendors, shippers, suppliers, and brokers. Some businesses have to deal with millions of transactions and EDI makes it possible to exchange remittances, bills of lading, invoices, shipping manifests, and shipping statuses. The major advantage of EDI translation software is that it eliminates human error and reduces costs related to manual input.

Some Common EDI Messaging Codes in Transportation Include but are not limited to:

  • 204Carrier Load Tender – Used by 3PLs or shippers to present offers for shipment to full truckload motor carriers
  • 214Shipment Status Message – Provides shipment statuses including shipment description, shipper information, proof of delivery, consignee information, dates, and current shipment location
  • 210 – Freight Invoice – Electronic invoice that comes with details of the shipment
  • 212 – Delivery Manifest – makes it possible for carriers to offer information to consignees with details on the contents of the trailer
  • 211 – Bill of Lading – States the contents of the shipment, shipment date, consignee, reference numbers, and the shipper.
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