These are golden times for e-commerce entrepreneurs. Online shopping has become an integral part of consumer buying behavior. With the holidays approaching, Christmas shopping is done more than ever in the virtual shopping street. Growing or adding e-commerce strategies is therefore a (very) important trend for half (51%) of companies, according to recent research. To realize growth, automating business processes is crucial. This saves companies higher value time better spent, for example, on discovering trends or marketing new products. Those who want to automate cannot ignore EDI and API. Discussions about whether it is better to use one or the other are flawed, however, as both technologies have their own strengths and complement each other well. A golden duo for golden times. In this blog, I will tell you how you can make room for growth of your business with the use of EDI and API.

Reliable and secure data transfer

EDI, which stands for electronic data interchange, is a protocol for electronic data exchange. It was first introduced in the 1970s. Nobody could have imagined then that it would still be of service fifty years later. EDI has proven its value in many industries. The number and letter sequences are a great mystery to people, but company software systems can communicate effortlessly with each other thanks to EDI. Without human intervention, customer orders are processed, or shipping information is shared. EDI is robust, reliable, and is used at its full potential when implemented for the secure transfer of data.

Lightning-fast communication between applications

An API (application programming interface) is a software interface that allows two applications to communicate with each other. An API can be looked at as a kind of waiter, who passes the information from one application to another. For example, when customers want to order products through an e-commerce platform, it is important that the web shop knows whether or not a product is in stock and, if so, the quantity or inventory on hand. This information is communicated to the web shop via an API, so that no products are sold that are no longer available. The strength of API lies in speed. It is important to have real-time data about stocks and delivery times in order to achieve the best customer experience.

Exploiting opportunities

It is not a question of whether you opt for EDI or API. Rather, companies should ask themselves how they can do justice to both technologies. It all starts with mapping out the business processes to make it easy to discover which steps in the information flow can be automated. Even if a company has already automated extensively, it's worth taking a closer look. There is a good chance that additional opportunities for optimization exist elsewhere in the organization. Next, dive a little deeper into the functionality of EDI and API. Are you already using the full potential of these technologies? Or are there still opportunities? Have a meeting with the IT department. They look at technologies from a different perspective and may see other opportunities for optimization. Is there noone within the organization with sufficient knowledge of EDI or API? Then knock on the door of your EDI partner to explore the possibilities for your company.

Time for growth

EDI and API can take a lot of time-consuming, administrative work off your hands, especially if you are still processing orders manually. Think about what you can do with the time you save thanks to automation. You no longer have to check whether an item is in stock or what the delivery time is. Processing orders is also automatic, just like sending invoices. And you? You suddenly have plenty of time to optimize your business, sell new products or tap into new markets. Ultimately, that is what you as an entrepreneur prefer to do—and ensuring you do full justice to EDI and API can help.

Written by Fred van der Heide

Vice President, Product Strategy at Descartes