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Streamline Your Delivery Orders Using EDI or API

Streamline Your Delivery Orders Using EDI or API

Why Companies With High-Volume Order Input Should Use EDI or API


Technology has greatly impacted and evolved the courier service industry. Couriers rely heavily on being data-driven and adapting to technology to improve the customer experience. 

Providing customers with real-time updates on the status of their deliveries and allowing them to communicate directly with their courier is a set minimum standard now. Additionally, technology has enabled companies to optimize their route planning, improving efficiency and cost savings. 

In recent years, there’s been a shift with a significant increase in requests for EDI and API integration capabilities. This has become an ordering and tracking alternative to decrease operational disruptions and maximize personnel time. So we’re here to tell you about what those acronyms even mean, the setup required, and the benefits of these features.

What is EDI

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is a standard format for exchanging information between businesses electronically. EDI enables organizations to quickly and securely transmit data between trading partners.

What is an API

An Application Programming Interface (API) is a set of protocols specifying how software components should interact. Developers can use it as a way to access web-based and cloud-based applications and create an application that interacts with the system in a predefined way. 

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What Is The Difference?

The big difference is that EDI is an electronic exchange between two systems that are set up to read each other (computer-to-computer) on the same partner network.   An API is typically cloud-based and can connect any two systems, whether they are a part of that partner network or not (cloud-to-computer). 

Why Are Both Effective Alternatives?

  • Continue using your system. No more submitting information into your portal and having to do it again in another portal to place the delivery. 

  • Decreases the potential for missed information, especially in the medical and AOG industry. For example, when reentering that information into another portal, special instructions like temperature requirements, part numbers, flight times or airway bill numbers could be lost in translation. 

  • Uninterrupted Service/Operational Efficiency. Suppose there are errors in the order submitted. In that case, the courier would have to call your operations team for clarification, causing disruptions. But even worse, this could cause a misdelivery if the error isn’t caught.

  • Reduce costs and increase efficiency since all documents can be securely shared and processed in real time. 

  • Reduce errors and improve accuracy since the data is checked for accuracy before sending. 

  • Easily track and monitor shipments. The enhanced visibility helps improve customer service. 

Do You Need Outside Help or an IT Department to Configure and API or EDI?

It depends on how complex the configuration is. Generally speaking, an IT Department or the software developer should help with the initial configuration, as they have the technical expertise and resources to manage the process. However, it may be optional if the configuration is relatively straightforward and you are familiar with the process. It's important to consider your organization's size, the integration's complexity, and the budget available when making the decision. 

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Which Is Better For Your Delivery Operations?

Both EDI and APIs each have their own strengths and weaknesses. 

Generally speaking, EDI is great for those with order management software that is already compatible with their courier provider's software, and for those who need to send large batches of data. It has minimal setup and data mapping and typically has a quick turnaround. You can contact your software provider if they are compatible with your courier's systems. 

On the other hand, APIs are a great option for companies that need to facilitate real-time communication and data transfer. APIs allow for companies that don’t have compatible software to be mapped to the courier’s system via the web. The turnaround is quick but typically longer than EDI if there’s not already a template and the developer needs to create a new one to match your data mapping needs. It’s efficient by leveraging existing code and data from other applications to create applications. APIs allow for integrating multiple systems, enabling automated data collection and analysis, tracking and tracing shipments, and accessing real-time shipping information. 

You should also consider the web-based nature of APIs and the potential for security breaches and connectivity issues. Understanding your and your courier provider's IT security backup procedures is important.

Ultimately, the best choice will depend on the specific goals and needs of your company.

EDI and API Can Be As Easy As ABC and 123

Don't be intimidated by the tech jargon.  EDI and APIs have been around and in use for decades.  System connections via EDI and APIs can be efficient, cost-effective ways to improve your business processes.  Both offer great solutions to improve your shipping operation’s efficiency and accuracy. 

Excel Courier provides our clients with both options and works diligently with our software developers and our clients to set them up for either integration. It benefits both parties, and we understand the importance and the impact they will have in this industry moving forward. Contact us today to learn more about streamlining your transportation data and business processes with Excel Courier!

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