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AS2, which stands for Applicability Statement 2, is a messaging protocol introduced in 2002 to enable business-to-business data to be sent directly and securely from one location to another electronically.

AS2 differs from EDI because it uses TCP/IP — the basic communication language of the internet — rather than a Value Added Network (VAN), and the receiving machine must be connected to the internet at the time the message is sent. Like EDI, AS2 can handle all file formats and is perfectly suited to the transferal of orders and invoices.

AS2 is peer to peer and as such, avoids using Value Added Networks which can often have a charge associated for the traffic that passes through them. 
AS2 delivers a greater degree of security by creating an ‘envelope’ for EDI data, allowing it to be sent securely over the Internet – using digital certificates, signatures and encryption.

An AS2 connection requires two locations to be configured to send and receive messages to and from each other — and if one of these locations is not available, the message can be missed. The technical competency required to set up and maintain an AS2 connection can be too great for many companies, with constant connectivity needed to ensure no messages are missed. Many companies therefore choose to outsource their requirements to a specialist EDI provider who can ensure 24/7 connectivity. Outsourcing also means that companies do not need to invest in dedicated hardware and software.

An MDN (Message Disposition Notification) is an electronic return receipt which a trading partner can request during an AS2 interchange and is a method of acknowledgement that is sent to the sender to confirm the message has been transmitted completely. This is seen by many as an additional benefit of AS2 as it provides non-repudiation.

In the UK, many companies use AS2 in a wide range of sectors including insurance and healthcare, however it was the retail and CPG sector that first embraced its use. UK retailers including Asda, ALDI, LIDL, Ocado and Co-op require their suppliers to send AS2 EDI messages. 

The TrueCommerce Solution

TrueCommerce provides a range of EDI solutions to meet the requirements of small, emerging, mid-market and enterprise businesses. With over 120,000 trading partner connections in our network, we can seamlessly connect you to all customers, suppliers and 3PL’s. Whether you’ve been asked to trade via AS2 by your customers or you’re looking to roll out an electronic trading initiative to your suppliers, TrueCommerce can help. To find the right solution for your requirements, click here


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