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Do You Know Your Customer’s EDI Guidelines?

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Photo appears courtesy of Brianna Lehman.

As a person who has worked in the EDI area for many years, I have learned that it is not an easy task to always stay current and on top of all of your customer requirements. Not only are your customers always enhancing their internal processes, but your organization may be doing the same. This has a direct effect on EDI trading partners and how they communicate EDI transactions, ticketing ramifications, and shipping requirements. There are also customer GS1-128/UCC-128/Carton Label requirements to follow, down to the size of the font used for the printed information, the format of where to put certain information, and bar coding specifications. If you don’t keep up with these changes, you will see a great number of compliance chargebacks. This can get quite expensive really fast and can end up with you having to pay for the orders placed to your company due to the issues. No net gain there.

As an EDI coordinator, you should aim for reaching out to your trading partner community each month to review their specifications and note any changes. We found that this really could become a full-time job just to review everyone’s requirements and let alone handle the everyday issues that might crop up. Depending on the number of trading partners you do business with, it can get overwhelming and compounded by the fact that you know that if one trading partner has an approaching deadline there may be others with deadlines in the same timeframe or pretty close to it. I have also seen this type of monitoring be delegated to the customer service representatives that handle each customer account. Regardless of whose responsibility it is, it’s better to be proactive than reactive to changes.

There are a couple of suggestions to help in this process. One suggestion is to ensure all of your trading partners have current company contact information to reach you in the event of changes as they may generate mass emails notifying their trading partners of changes in the future.  We have seen many clients have a dedicated email address for all things EDI so that is one way to keep all communications in one place.  You may also see that your customers/vendors employ third parties to handle all of their testing and label compliance to offload the massive volume of onboarding to minimize the issues as trading partners work to become compliant. These third parties may handle the mass emails as well. One thing to note is that you may be required to pay testing fees and label review fees prior to implementing your customer’s compliance changes.  This is becoming more and more common.

Another suggestion is to do your research as there are EDI companies out there that will do the monitoring of retailers’ requirements and will give you a heads up of any changes as well. There will probably be subscription fees for this service, but this may be well worth it if you don’t have the staff to handle it.  So it is very important to always know your customer’s EDI Guidelines and shipping requirements as it can end up saving your organization money and increasing your bottom line.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks as we will have a follow-up blog on prioritizing tasks to keep up with your customer’s guidelines.

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