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Why You Should Consider AS2

Electronic exchange of B2B commerce documents will help to eliminate errors, minimize processing time, and provide better visibility into your business processes. AS2 (Applicability Statement 2) is one of the most popular protocols for exchanging B2B e-commerce documents because it enables companies to leverage the Internet for secure electronic data interchange (EDI) with their business partners, potentially lowering cost of online transactions.

Here are 3 reasons why AS2 is worth considering:

  1. Comply with customer requirements.  Let’s admit it, when trading with a channel-master, we will do whatever it takes to win and keep the business.  If a key customer requires that your firm uses AS2 in order to continue doing business, then you will  do it.  The good news here is that there are many AS2 software and/or service options that enable you to comply with AS2 requirements relatively quickly and easily at reasonable cost.
  2. Lower EDI Network service provider costs. The same EDI documents, that you transmit through an EDI Network service provider can be transferred over the Internet using a secure business-grade AS2 protocol, at potentially lower cost.
  3. Benefit from near real-time processing. When an AS2 document is sent, it’s received instantly at the other end; it’s a synchronous transmission. And, when the receiving side has systems ready to immediately act on that document, the result is near-real-time commerce. For example, if you are a vendor who receives orders via AS2 and your systems can process them throughout the day as they arrive rather than waiting for a daily batch receipt, you can then fill and ship those orders more quickly. You can provide better customer service and potentially increase the amount of business you get from that customer.

However, this approach only works if both partners are using AS2 – so you may need to convince some of your partners to switch to or add AS2. Furthermore, the management of a partner community that numbers in the hundreds or thousands will require a huge investment and 24×7 support for issues that will certainly arise.

Walmart is the best known example of a large-scale AS2 network. In 2002, they made AS2 communications a requirement for all their business partners and everyone complied – in the US at least.  But, most companies don’t have the same level of infrastructure investment or clout with their business partners.  Instead, many companies choose a hybrid approach – they do direct AS2 over the Internet with their highest-volume trading partners (and save on the transaction fees) while they rely on their EDI Network service provider to support the rest of the community.

Also, it’s important to take into account that AS2 requires specialized software, technical expertise and certificate administration, which leads to higher processing overhead. Some of these costs can be offset by working with a service provider. You can offload most of the management hassle of running an AS2 solution—and can also reduce your operating costs.

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