The electronic data interchange value-added network (EDI VAN) is primarily a service provider network that connects all supply chain participants—such as buyers, sellers, logistic providers, banks and suppliers—so they can exchange digital data and documents. This allows them to automate many of their key business processes, streamline supply chain operations, reduce overall spend and improve business efficiency.
However, the secure exchange of business information is no longer the only reason to adopt a digitally enabled supply chain. As supply chains have become increasingly digitized, they have also moved from a “cost of business” to a core strategic function for many organizations.
More than ever, boardrooms worldwide are discussing the topic of ethical business and sustainability. Modern EDI VAN inherently supports ethically and environmentally sustainable practices by reducing paper-based processes. And some EDI VAN providers have been innovating to further enhance the ways in which using an EDI VAN also promotes fair business practices:
- Data quality reduces process inefficiencies—By virtually eliminating human error, EDI improves order accuracy so there are fewer reorders and returns that must be processed. Fewer returns and reorders mean fewer shipments in transit.
- Large customers demand sustainability—Poor ethical and sustainability practices can have a negative impact on brand reputation and share price. Sustainability is rapidly becoming a cost of business for companies of every size as they look to function within a large manufacturer’s or retailer’s supply chain. The modern EDI VAN can provide proof that a supplier is meeting the standards set by its vendor—and their customers.
- Less paper means a smaller carbon footprint—An obvious environmental benefit that EDI promotes is a reduction in paper, ink and other damaging printer consumables. By removing the need to mail business documents, organizations have less demand for postal and logistics services, too.
- Business directories help to easily identify and onboard the right partners—Many modern EDI VANs boast directories of businesses that can be quickly and easily connected to. Now, some have further enhanced these trading partner directories with additional business performance information, as well as ethical and sustainability ratings. This makes it easier to choose to do business with those who play fair and have adopted ethical business practices.
By encouraging fair play and more ethical business practices by making it easier to do business with other reputable companies, you can use modern EDI VAN technology to drive ethical operations and sustainability through all levels of your organization’s supply chains. For you and all players within a supply chain, the adoption of a modern EDI VAN is an excellent step toward developing business practices that are both ethical and sustainable.