Tis the Season for eCommerce

Each year, more and more of our holiday purchases are done on-line, kicking off on Black Friday and continuing through the last guaranteed ground shipping day for Christmas, around the 20th. Right now, we are smack in the middle of the purchasing frenzy. And most people never know how much the whole system depends on EDI. Here is a peek at what goes on behind the scenes to get that Hatchinals Egg to your favorite kid:

  1. 832 – Catalog: Before you even see that item online, the suppliers have posted to electronic catalogs with descriptions, pictures, pricing, etc.
  2. 846 – Inventory Inquiry/Advice: On a regular basis the supplier sends the on-line retailer their on-hand inventory. This is how the website knows “there are only three left” or that the product is on back order.
  3. 850 – Purchase Order: You put the item in your cart, filled out tall the address and payment information and pressed BUY! The retailer sends out a purchase order to drop ship your item to you, with all the item and shipping information.
  4. 855 – Purchase Order Acknowledgement: Once the supplier receives the PO, then they check inventory and confirm their ability to fill the order.
  5. 856 – Advanced Shipping Notice: The supplier fills your order, picks a shipping company, generates a shipping order and sends all that tracking information to the retailer to share with you. (BTW, then there are APIs from companies like FedEx, UPS and USPS which allow your package to be tracked all the way to delivery from the information provided by the 856!)
  6. 810 – Invoice: The supplier sends the retailer an invoice for your product, including shipping costs to be paid.
  7. 820 – Remittance Advice: Finally, the retailer pays the supplier and sends a message indicating the amount and how it was paid. This document can even be sent to the bank to initiate the funds transfer!

At least 7 EDI documents are used to process one on-line item purchase. And this happens millions and millions of times every day!

Pretty cool for something most people have never heard of. Happy Holidays to the unsung heroes of eCommerce!

So this season, when you are surfing the web from Amazon to Best Buy to Target to Zulily, remember all those people keeping the EDI backbone running so all your friends and family receive great holiday gifts.



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