New to EDI and been tasked with finding a provider?  It can be quite a daunting task with a steep learning curve.   Don’t worry though, by the time you’ve read this article, you’ll be up to speed with everything you need to know to make a definite decision when comparing EDI providers.

Feel free to download our handy infographic, giving you a high-level overview of EDI terminology.

EDI Network

When you’re connecting to your trading partners, there are 2 main routes.  Using a Value Added Network (VAN) or a direct connection often referred to as AS2.

Value Added Network (VAN)

You can think of a VAN like a private members club.  There’s a fee to join and you can only connect to people if you’ve been invited.  There are 2 major VANs to connect to, the Trading Grid Messaging Service (TGMS) or Liason.

This is an important consideration when comparing EDI providers.  You need to choose a provider that has access to the same network as your trading partner, otherwise, you’ll end up footing the bill for the “Interconnect” between the networks.

EDI documents are sent in a fire and forget fashion, so you don;t get a confirmation of delivery unless this has been expressly requested at the time of setup.

Most UK retailers use TGMS for their VAN provider, whereas Liason is more popular in the USA.

There is also an ongoing fee for using these types of network.  XEDI have a very clear pricing policy, giving a generous allowance on the basic package and allowing you to buy additional datapacks if you’re going to go over that month.



AS2 is a direct secure connection to your partner over the internet.  It requires special software to make the connection and doesn’t incur any ongoing fees for sending and receiving EDI documents.

AS2 connections are generally faster to get set up initially and give your provider a receipt every time a document is sent or received, so you immediately know if it’s got to its destination or not.

Not all trading partners support AS2, but there is a growing trend towards this method of delivering EDI documents.

The XEDI platform natively supports AS2 so you don’t need to pay for any additional software or licencing fees.

EDI Document Formats

Now we know how EDI document files are delivered, let’s take a closer look at the format of these files.


TRADACOMS was developed several decades ago by the Article Numbering Association (ANA) now known as GS1, the people who assign your products barcode numbers.  This format has stuck for the majority of UK retailers, so you need to make sure your provider is able to decode or “translate” this type of EDI document.


EDIFACT/EANCOM was devised to supersede TRADACOMS.  Again, GS1 was at the helm of this new format and it was largely adopted across European retailers.  If you are trading across Europe, then your EDI provider needs to be able to translate these types of document too.


ANSI X12 is the primary format used across northern America and Canada.  If you are currently, or planning to move into these territories, your EDI provider will also need to be able to translate these documents.

XEDI supports all types of TRADACOMS, EDIFACT/EANCOMand ANSI X12 documents and translates them automatically. You can then simply view the document in the online portal in the same way you would a fax or pdf.

EDI Mailbox

Your EDI mailbox is like an email inbox.  You get a unique mailbox number sometimes referred to as an ANA number or GLN number.  Uniquely, XEDI is able to assign an EDI mailbox number to you as soon as you sign up, meaning you can complete your supplier registration forms without delay.

Software vs Cloud


Traditional EDI software would be installed on a PC at the office, manned by a trained EDI operative or even an EDI department, as is still the case in many manufacturing companies and large retailers.

As you can imagine, this is expensive to implement and maintenance contacts keep ongoing costs at a premium.  If you need to bring on new partners, the costs of connecting and mapping the EDI documents are high and time frames can run into weeks or even months.


A cloud provider such as XEDI addresses all of these issues by allowing customers to bring on new partners immediately at a low cost.

Because we work with all leading manufacturers and retailers already, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel when mapping EDI documents.  In fact, the system is so sophisticated, it can automatically configure itself to any trading partner, even if this is the first time you’ve connected to them.


EDI is at the heart of all your business document transactions.  Integrating EDI into your ERP and accounts packages cuts down on errors from rekeying data, and increases productivity and automation.  XEDI is specifically designed to seamlessly integrate into all major ERP and accounts packages and the list of supported integrations keeps growing.


XEDI connects to every partner on every network.  The system integrates into to every major ERP and accounts package. You can get setup and given your EDI mailbox details immediately and as a cloud provider, we are able to give you access to EDI at the lowest possible cost.

Efficient Integration Made Simple: Instant Access for Your Supply Chain