What is EDIFACT?

EDIFACT. Developed By The UN, The EDIFACT Standard Is An Internationally Agreed Message Format, Directories And Guidelines For EDI Communications.

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EDIFACT is an acronym for Electronic Data Interchange For Administration, Commerce, and Transport. It is a universal language for electronic data interchange. The purpose of EDIFACT is to streamline transactions across industries. EDIFACT aims to facilitate standardised communication of business documents across industries and geographical regions. 

Its primary objective is to streamline and accelerate trade operations by enabling companies to communicate and exchange various business documents, such as invoices and purchase orders, in Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) format. This exchange occurs seamlessly between companies and their suppliers, subcontractors, logistics partners, distributors, and other entities within their Business-to-Business (B2B) network.   

EDIFACT is widely used in Europe, with many major businesses requiring their trading partners to adhere to the EDIFACT standard for EDI. This standardised framework includes document types such as invoices, purchase orders, and delivery notes. Industry-specific variations such as EANCOM are tailored for specific sectors like retail.   

EDIFACT was designed to facilitate international trade. It ensures reliable communication and transactions if messages use the proper codes, T-sets, and syntax. These elements form globally appropriate static messages. With EDIFACT, universal understanding among all participants is achieved. Regardless of preferred hardware or software, businesses worldwide can communicate in an undeviating language. Additionally, the syntax enables file optimisation, which offers efficient data transfer. Segments and data elements vary in length, resulting in reduced data transmission overhead and reduced costs.

The EDIFACT standard ensures communication operates smoothly and continuously by establishing strict and uniform rules for the interaction between different information systems. These rules encompass both content and syntax specificationsThey promote interoperability among EDI messages exchanged between companies, thus enhancing the efficiency and reliability of trade-related transactions. 

To learn more about EDIFACT and its benefits watch our webinar here. EDIFACT Explained - TrueCommerce UK What is EDIFACT EDI: EDIFACT Explained Webinar 

An EDIFACT message is a comprehensive, organised data sequence representing a singular business transaction like an invoice or a shipping notification. Each message is formed with a UNH or message header segment and concludes with a UNT segment or message trailer. For example, an invoice message (INVOIC) captures all pertinent details about invoicing a shipment or service. 

  • Within an EDIFACT message, data elements are meticulously arranged logically. These elements are made of three components: codes, segments, and T-sets, each playing a crucial role:  
  • EDIFACT Codes: Business documents are adapted from unique internal formats, such as XML, to standardised EDI formats, such as EDIFACT. This conversion ensures accurate interpretation and comprehension by the recipient's systems. EDIFACT also aligns with stringent regulatory standards.   
  • EDIFACT Segments: Each segment is distinguished by a unique three-letter code. This code indicates its content type.  
  • EDIFACT T-sets (Transaction Sets): These are standardised collections of related data segments representing specific types of business transactions. A unique EDIFACT code identifies each T-set. 
  • Below we've listed some of the most used EDIFACT EDI messages exchanged during EDI integration.   
  • EDIFACT EDI ORDERS: EDI ORDERS, within the EDIFACT framework, are essential messages used to initiate purchase orders. It facilitates automated communication between retailers, purchasers, distributors, warehouses, and others involved in the procurement process. EDI ORDERS streamlines the procurement process, enhances accuracy, and minimises processing time by specifying detailed information about the goods or services ordered.   
  • EDIFACT EDI INVOIC: The EDIFACT EDI INVOIC message streamlines the payment process for goods or services supplied under mutually agreed conditions between the seller and the buyer. It serves as a formal request for payment, providing transparent documentation of the transaction details and terms of payment.   
  • EDIFACT EDI DESADV: The EDIFACT EDI DESADV message plays a crucial role in logistics by specifying detailed information for goods that are dispatched or ready for dispatch under predefined conditions. It ensures that the goods a supplier sends align with the purchase orders (ORDERS) placed by their distributor or retailer partners, facilitating smooth and accurate supply chain operations. Another name for a DESADV message is an Advanced Ship Notice (ASN).  
  • EDIFACT EDI CONTRL: The EDIFACT EDI CONTRL message, similar to the X12 997, is an acknowledgment sent in response to all incoming EDI messages. It confirms the successful receipt of an EDI document, assuring data exchange reliability and integrity 

The EDIFACT standard is a basis for various industry-specific and regional EDI standards being developed, published, and adopted. These derivative standards are tailored to accommodate the specific requirements and characteristics of different sectors and geographic areas

While the EDIFACT system offers robust capabilities, mastering its complexities can be time-consuming, especially for small to medium-sized enterprises managing intricate supply chains across various EDI standards. Converting between EDI formats, whether from ASNI or VDA to EDIFACT or vice versa, demands intricate handling of EDI mapping software.  

EDIFACT & TrueCommerce

At TrueCommerce, we offer adaptable EDI services, empowering businesses reliant on EDI to operate seamlessly without constant internal system reconfiguration. Bridge the gap between the complexities of EDIFACT and your business's unique requirements, confidently meeting the EDI demands of any supply chain partner. 

TrueCommerce's EDI solutions embrace EDIFACT, offering our customers the following benefits: 

  • Enhanced Interoperability: By adhering to the globally recognised EDIFACT standard, our solution ensures seamless communication and compatibility with trading partners worldwide. 
  • Streamlined Processes: Leveraging EDIFACT's standardised format simplifies data exchange, reducing errors and accelerating transaction processing times. 
  • Industry Compliance: TrueCommerce's EDI solution aligns with EDIFACT guidelines, enabling compliance with industry standards across various sectors. 
  • Cost Efficiency: Utilising EDIFACT minimises the need for customisations, ensuring efficient data transmission and reducing costs.  
  • Scalability: Our EDI solutions provide scalable options, for expanding trading partner networks and transaction volumes, to accommodate growth.

Ready to streamline your EDIFACT and EDI processes? Contact TrueCommerce today for tailored solutions that fit your business needs seamlessly.  

Key Takeaways 

  1. EDIFACT is a universal language for electronic data interchange. Business documents can be exchanged across industries and geographical areas. 
  2. EDIFACT allows for reliable, accurate and efficient transactions. 
  3. The EDIFACT standard is adaptable to various sectors and business systems. 
  4. EDIFACT reduces the need for customisation, it is a cost-effective solution for businesses big or small.