If you have been selling through Amazon for any length of time, you’ll already know that EDI is king. Electronic Data Interchange is most likely the tool you have been using to automate your engagement with Amazon – or other major online marketplaces. At SuperDisty we specialise in spearheading and streamlining your EDI integration for maximum efficiency and revenue. It’s what our Vendor Connect Managed Service is built to do.
However, there is a new game in town. In the last two years Amazon have introduced API (Application Programming Interface) for Vendor Central, an alternative method of communicating with their systems. It’s still in development, but Amazon are actively promoting it to vendors. We’ve reacted to need, updating our Managed Service to accommodate API integration.
But which, you may wonder, is the best option for your business? Or do you need both? In a series of future blogs, we’ll set out detailed answers to these questions. Let’s start off, though, by looking at what EDI and API mean, and a few of their broader advantages and disadvantages.
EDI has been the standard method of streamlining business system communications for decades. In short, EDI replaces time-consuming manual processes with automated solutions.
When processing orders, invoices and fulfilments via Amazon, EDI can communicate automatically and in bulk what it would take hours to achieve on a manual sale-by-sale basis.
EDI communication can handle massive amounts of data. This is necessary, as Amazon requires authentication for each individual sale. Gathering the necessary data – including the Global Localisation Number, European Article Number (EAN) and Amazon Specific Internal Number (ASIN) – is a massively labour-intensive process when performed manually. EDI can marry all of this up and transmit bundled-up data in large batches.
It is also integral to managing compliance with Amazon and avoiding shortages and chargebacks. Our Vendor Connect Managed Service takes care of future compliance issues whilst also auditing past transactions to recover the revenue lost to erroneous chargeback penalties.
API helps you achieve a lot of the same things, but in a very different way. Whereas EDI is peer-to-peer, API is cloud-based. EDI is also asynchronous – meaning a customer can make requests (price data, for example) but an additional request must be made to obtain the resulting price list. In contrast, API is synchronous and elicits a quick response to each and every communication.
For example, the weather app on your phone communicates with the Met office via API and, hey presto, you can see whether it’s going to rain tomorrow. A more pertinent example is online shopping. A web-store uses an API to communicate your card details to a security application. Once it receives confirmation that the details are correct, the sale can be processed.
As you can probably glean from these two examples, API has the advantage of real-time reporting, which overcomes EDI’s dependence on large-scale batch transfers of data. Because of this nimble real-time communication, API can provide information on the current state of an order. This is something EDI does not allow.
This all sounds great, and API does have some innovative advantages. But there are also drawbacks. Amazon’s API is not as developed as their EDI system, so the benefits of real-time communications are perhaps offset by limitation in functionality.
Bear in mind too that EDI allows the sharing of much larger batches of information than API. Both of these approaches are required at different stages of the ordering life cycle with Amazon. As such, API and EDI best work by complementing, rather than competing, with each other
In the end, it will come down to the question of what serves your business better? We’ll dive further into the pros and cons of EDI and API in future blogs. Right now, if you have questions about your choice of integration, or how SuperDisty can help you get the maximum reward from your relationship with Amazon – get in touch. SuperDisty uses EDI and API together to create the right solution for your business needs.