My Supplier Said to Me: We Don’t Do EDI

Man yelling into phone about EDI

On the first (work) day of Christmas, my supplier said to me: ‘um, well… we don’t really do EDI.’ This, of course, is not the first time you’ve heard this, and it won’t be the last.

Whether you’re dealing with a new supplier or a new mandate, ‘we can’t do that’ are four words that you never want to hear as a supply chain manager or procurement specialist.

At this point you have three options: go with another supplier, do it the hard way, or find out why that supplier is not compliant and what you can do to help them. The reality is that most will opt for the second option and manage the transaction by sending PDF documents over email hoping that it doesn’t cause delays in delivery or significant quality issues and lack of process enforcement.

This is all too common. Even if a supplier does EDI, there is still the possibility that they don’t have mapping configured to allow you to send and receive the exact documents that you need to exchange with them.

This does not have to be just the cost of doing business. You might be forced into managing the current transaction without the benefits of EDI, but it should also be a goal to resolve the problem that is harming your business’s performance so that you never run into this issue again with this supplier.

The good news is that electronic B2B commerce might be easier than you think. Traditional EDI is complex and expensive, but there are countless different technologies that you can employ to resolve the issue you’re facing. Of course, you have to evaluate them your specific needs, but you do have options to deal with the problem.

Consider these options: you can provide an EDI subscription for your supplier, you could also provide your own corporate supplier portal which will support your custom document formats but will have to be developed as a custom solution, or you can engage your non-EDI suppliers through a web-based supplier portal and let the portal provider do the development and maintenance.

Our recommendation is the last one. It’s a low cost, high benefit, fast turn-around option. We designed for this exact scenario.

Next time you hear the words ‘we can’t do electronic trading’ from your supplier, don’t stress. Just pause, take a breath, and put together a plan to resolve the issue resulting in a much better B2B commerce relationship.

Check out this free SBM Resource: 9 SBM Pain Points You Don't Have to Live With

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