EDI vs eCommerce: Which Path to Success Should Your B2B Business Take?

EDI vs eCommerce: Which Path to Success Should Your B2B Business Take?
17 min read

In today’s digital age, electronic communication has become essential to businesses’ operations, allowing them to conduct transactions more efficiently and effectively.

In the B2B sector, electronic communication is essential for managing complex supply chains and streamlining business processes. Two of the most popular electronic communication methods are:

1) eCommerce

2) Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

EDI and eCommerce offer significant benefits for B2B businesses, but which path should businesses take to succeed?

In this article, we will explore the differences between EDI and eCommerce, highlight their respective advantages and disadvantages, and provide insights to help B2B businesses determine which path to take for success.

Understanding B2B ECommerce

B2B eCommerce has emerged as a game-changer for businesses looking to streamline their operations and increase sales. B2B eCommerce is rapidly growing, and it’s also making a significant impact on businesses. B2B eCommerce involves using web-based platforms to facilitate online business transactions, allowing them to buy and sell goods and services quickly and efficiently.

Advantages Of B2B E-Commerce Over Traditional Sales Method

EDI vs eCommerce: Which Path to Success Should Your B2B Business Take?

Some of the best B2B eCommerce platforms offer several advantages over traditional sales methods.


With B2B eCommerce solutions, businesses can place orders and manage their accounts from anywhere, eliminating the need for physical visits to suppliers or distributors.


Another advantage of B2B eCommerce is automating processes, such as order processing and inventory management. By integrating their eCommerce platform with their ERP system, businesses can reduce manual errors and increase operational efficiency.

Product Catalogs

With B2B eCommerce, businesses can create custom catalogs that showcase their products, pricing, and availability, making it easier for customers to find what they need and place orders.

Self-Service Portals

These portals allow customers to manage their accounts, view order history, track shipments, and access other important information without manual intervention. This improves the customer experience and reduces administrative overheads for businesses.

Advanced Analytics And Reporting Capabilities

It allows businesses to track key performance metrics such as sales, revenue, and customer engagement. This can provide valuable insights into the business’s performance and help them make data-driven decisions to improve operations and increase sales.

B2B eCommerce has revolutionized the way businesses conduct transactions, offering a convenient, efficient, and cost-effective way to buy and sell goods and services.

With the right eCommerce platform and strategy, businesses can leverage the benefits of B2B eCommerce to increase sales, improve customer satisfaction, and drive growth.


What Is EDI?

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is a system for exchanging business documents electronically between businesses in a standard format.

EDI originated in the 1960s when companies began to explore ways to automate manual processes and reduce administrative overheads. EDI has since evolved to become a widely adopted standard for B2B transactions.

The EDI process typically involves the following steps:

Document Creation: The business creates a document, such as a purchase order or invoice, in its internal system.

Document Translation: The document is translated into the agreed-upon format using EDI software.

Document Transmission: The document is sent to the trading partner using a secure communication channel, such as AS2 or FTP.

Document Receipt: The trading partner receives the document and uses EDI software to translate it back into a format their internal system can read.

Document Processing: The trading partner processes the document and may send a response document back to the business.

How Many Types Of EDI Are There?

These are the following types of Electronic Data Interchange:

  • Direct EDI/Point-to-point
  • EDI via VAN
  • EDI via AS2 
  • Web EDI 
  • Mobile EDI

Differences Between EDI And Traditional Business Communication Methods

EDI vs eCommerce: Which Path to Success Should Your B2B Business Take?

Format Of The Data Being Exchanged

With traditional methods such as phone calls, fax, or email, the data is usually in a human-readable format and requires manual intervention. In contrast, with EDI, the data is in a machine-readable format that can be easily integrated with backend systems for automatic processing.

Accuracy And Efficiency

Manual errors can occur during data entry with traditional methods, leading to delays and increased administrative overheads. With EDI, data is transmitted electronically, eliminating the need for manual intervention and reducing the likelihood of errors.

Benefits Of Using EDI In B2B Transactions

Increased Speed And Efficiency

With EDI, businesses can transmit and process documents in real-time, allowing them to respond quickly to changing market conditions and customer demands.

Accuracy And Reliability

By eliminating manual intervention, EDI reduces the likelihood of errors and ensures that data is transmitted accurately and reliably, improving the overall quality of the transaction.

Cost Effective

EDI can also save costs by reducing administrative overheads and simplifying business processes. By automating manual processes such as order processing and invoicing, businesses can reduce the need for manual labor, leading to cost savings and increased efficiency.

By leveraging the power of EDI, businesses can improve their bottom line and drive growth in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

EDI Vs. ECommerce

EDI vs eCommerce: Which Path to Success Should Your B2B Business Take?

Here are some of the important pointers to compare EDI vs. eCommerce:


EDI uses a structured electronic format, while eCommerce can use a variety of formats, such as HTML, XML, and JSON.


EDI is a secure method of data exchange, as it uses encryption and other security measures to protect sensitive business information. 

eCommerce also uses encryption and other security measures to protect customer data.


EDI requires significant hardware, software, and personnel investment to set up and maintain the system. 

eCommerce is generally less expensive to set up and maintain, as it requires only a website and a payment gateway.


EDI requires a standardized format for data exchange, which can be limiting for businesses that need to customize their processes.

eCommerce can be easily customized to meet the specific needs of each business.


EDI is typically integrated with a company’s backend systems, such as inventory management and accounting.

eCommerce can also be integrated with these systems but can also function as a standalone system.

Real-Time Transactions

eCommerce allows for real-time transactions, which means that businesses can receive payments and fulfill orders immediately. EDI may involve delays in processing and fulfillment.


EDI is limited to businesses that have the resources to implement and maintain the technology.

On the other hand, eCommerce can be easily accessed by businesses of all sizes, regardless of their technological capabilities.

User-Friendly Interface

eCommerce provides a user-friendly interface that allows customers to browse products, make purchases, and track their orders easily.

EDI, on the other hand, requires specialized knowledge to use effectively.

Global Reach

eCommerce allows businesses to reach customers worldwide, whereas EDI is typically limited to trading partners within a specific industry or geographic region.

As a B2B business owner, deciding between B2B eCommerce and EDI can be challenging. However, both technologies have their benefits, and choosing the right path for your business will depend on the factors mentioned above.

Choosing The Right Path For Your Business

There are multiple things to consider before you opt for a solution for your B2B company to succeed in this competitive market where everyone is waiting for you to make a slight mistake.

Questions To Ask Before Making A Decision

  1. What are your business goals?
  2. What are the specific challenges you are facing?
  3. What are your customers’ preferences?
  4. What is your budget?

Tips For Transitioning From Traditional Sales Methods To B2B ECommerce Or EDI

  1. Identify your business needs and goals before selecting a platform.
  2. Invest in training to ensure that employees are familiar with the new technology.
  3. Test the platform before making a full transition.
  4. Partner with a reputable provider who can provide ongoing support and assistance.

Best Practices For B2B ECommerce

EDI vs eCommerce: Which Path to Success Should Your B2B Business Take?

As B2B eCommerce continues to grow, businesses need to optimize their platforms for success. Here are some best practices to keep in mind when developing and managing your B2B eCommerce site.

Streamline The Ordering Process

  1. Make sure the ordering process on your B2B eCommerce site is easy and intuitive for customers. 
  2. Simplify the checkout process, allowing customers to complete orders quickly and efficiently. 
  3. Add features like saved payment information and shipping addresses to facilitate future orders.

Optimize Your Site For Search Engines

  1. Make sure your B2B eCommerce site is optimized for search engines. 
  2. Use relevant keywords and meta tags to help search engines understand the content on your site. 
  3. Create a content marketing strategy for B2B businesses to help drive traffic to your site and boost your search engine rankings.

Use Customer Data To Personalize The Experience

Use data on past purchases to recommend products they may be interested in and provide customized pricing and discounts based on their ordering history.

This will help you build stronger relationships with your customers and keep them coming back.

Implement Robust Security Measures

It’s crucial to ensure the security of your B2B eCommerce site. Use encryption technology to protect sensitive customer information and prevent unauthorized access.

Implement two-factor authentication for all user accounts and regularly review your security protocols to ensure they are up to date.

Provide Detailed Product Information

Provide detailed product information on your B2B eCommerce site to help customers make informed purchasing decisions.

Include product specifications, images, and videos to give customers a clear understanding of what they are buying. This will help reduce the likelihood of returns and improve overall customer satisfaction.

Offer Excellent Customer Service

Make sure your B2B eCommerce site provides excellent customer service. Respond quickly to customer inquiries and provide support throughout the ordering process.

Consider offering live chat or phone support to help customers get their needed assistance.

By following these best practices, businesses can optimize their B2B eCommerce platforms for success. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to improve an existing site, these strategies can help drive traffic, increase sales, and build stronger customer relationships.

Best Practices For EDI

EDI vs eCommerce: Which Path to Success Should Your B2B Business Take?

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) has recently become crucial to many B2B transactions. It simplifies the communication process between businesses and helps them to save time and reduce errors.

However, successful implementation of EDI requires careful planning and execution.

Therefore, this section will discuss some best practices for EDI to ensure its successful implementation and maintenance.

Plan Ahead For Successful Implementation

  1. Businesses should thoroughly analyze their current processes and identify areas that can be improved through EDI. 
  2. They should also evaluate their IT infrastructure and ensure that it can support EDI. 
  3. It is crucial to establish clear objectives and goals for EDI implementation and develop a roadmap to achieve them.

Ensure Accuracy And Security Of EDI Transactions

Errors can lead to delays, additional costs, and damaged business relationships. To ensure accuracy, businesses should establish standards for data formatting and communication protocols.

They should also implement security measures such as encryption, authentication, and access control to protect EDI transactions from unauthorized access.

Maintain EDI Systems Regularly

Maintaining EDI systems regularly is essential to ensure their smooth functioning. Therefore, businesses should monitor EDI transactions and promptly identify and resolve any errors or issues.

They should also perform regular backups of EDI data and maintain up-to-date EDI software and hardware.

Train Employees

Employee training is essential for successful EDI implementation. Businesses should train employees on EDI standards, communication protocols, and data formatting.

They should also provide training on EDI software and hardware and how to troubleshoot common issues.

In addition to these best practices, businesses can also benefit from working with a reliable EDI services provider. These providers offer comprehensive EDI solutions, including software, hardware, and support services.

In addition, they can help businesses with EDI implementation, maintenance, and troubleshooting and provide guidance on EDI best practices.

Successful EDI implementation requires careful planning and execution. Businesses should evaluate their processes, IT infrastructure, and objectives and establish clear goals and a roadmap.

By following these best practices, businesses can ensure EDI’s successful implementation and maintenance and reap its many benefits.

Why Are EDI-Focused Businesses Adding B2B E-Commerce To Their Sales And Distribution Strategies?

Businesses are always looking for new and innovative ways to stay ahead of the competition. For example, electronic data interchange (EDI) has been a popular method for businesses to exchange electronic documents for years.

However, with the rise of e-commerce, many EDI-focused businesses are now adding B2B e-commerce to their sales and distribution strategies.

But why are they doing this? The answer is simple – to stay competitive in a rapidly evolving market. B2B e-commerce offers businesses the opportunity to streamline their sales and distribution processes, improve customer service, and increase revenue.

With B2B e-commerce, businesses can offer their customers a self-service platform to browse and purchase products at their convenience. This improves the customer experience and frees up the sales team to focus on other revenue-generating activities.

In addition, B2B e-commerce can integrate with EDI systems to provide businesses with a comprehensive sales and distribution solution. By combining the benefits of EDI and e-commerce, businesses can automate their supply chain processes, reduce errors, and improve order accuracy.

In summary, the addition of marketing strategies for B2B e-commerce to sales & distribution strategies is a smart move for EDI-focused businesses looking to stay ahead of the curve. With its ability to streamline processes, improve customer service, and increase revenue, it’s no wonder that more and more businesses are adopting this approach.

Real-World Examples Of B2B Businesses That Have Successfully Implemented EDI Or ECommerce

It’s no surprise that B2B businesses are taking advantage of eCommerce to simplify their operations and improve their bottom line. But what about those who have implemented EDI?

Well, we have real-world examples of B2B eCommerce businesses that have successfully implemented eCommerce and how it has exceeded their expectations.

Amazon Business

One of the shining examples is Amazon Business, which uses eCommerce to connect businesses with millions of products in their online marketplace.

This has helped them grow their B2B sales by leaps and bounds and become a major player in the B2B eCommerce world.


Another great example is Grainger, a distributor of industrial supplies. By implementing an eCommerce platform, they were able to streamline their ordering process, reducing the time it takes to place an order from hours to minutes.

This has helped them improve customer satisfaction and increase their revenue.

How ECommerce Exceeded Expectations?

Well, when it comes to B2B businesses, eCommerce is the clear winner. While EDI has been a standard for decades, it’s an outdated system that lacks the flexibility and scalability of eCommerce.

With eCommerce, businesses can easily customize their online storefront, offer personalized experiences to their customers, and even integrate their eCommerce platform with other systems like CRMs and ERPs.

With real-world examples like Amazon Business and Grainger, it’s clear that eCommerce can exceed expectations and help businesses grow.

So if you’re a B2B business still using EDI, it’s time to make the switch to eCommerce and take your business to the next level.


Both B2B eCommerce and EDI have their own unique features, benefits, and drawbacks that businesses should carefully consider before making a decision.

For example, B2B eCommerce offers the advantages of increased customer reach, streamlined ordering processes, and enhanced customer experiences. On the other hand, EDI offers the benefits of greater efficiency, accuracy, and security in business transactions.

IN 2020, the total worth of transactions conducted through various B2B digital sales channels, including e-procurement, electronic data interchange (EDI), and other channels and e-commerce sites, rose to $9.92 trillion. This marks a 9.6% increase from the previous year’s figure of $9.06 trillion.

Ultimately, the decision on which path to success a B2B business should take depends on various factors such as business size, industry, budget, and specific needs.

Businesses need to ask the right questions, consider the pros and cons of each option, and carefully plan and implement their chosen solution to achieve maximum success.

Regardless of which path is chosen, businesses should continue to optimize their operations and stay up-to-date with the latest technology and best practices to remain competitive.

In addition, it is important for businesses to take the next steps in implementing B2B eCommerce or EDI and to seek out the necessary resources and support to ensure a successful transition.

Originally Published At - EDI vs eCommerce: Which Path to Success Should Your B2B Business Take?

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