EDI enables international trade


Trading with partners around the world is simply one of the many elements of the modern supply process. Companies have expanded their reach, opening up exciting new opportunities in the international market. Smooth transfers across borders, however, require secure information transmission. According to the Swazi Observer, electronic data interchange (EDI) can help speed important functions such as securing customs approval for shipments.

Speed across borders

No matter the country, chances are it has an EDI system in place at its customs department. The Swazi Observer noted that 19 countries have recently developed EDI capabilities, including seven nations in Africa. The source explained that the addition of such systems has proved immensely popular with trading companies because EDI can help expedite even the most complex trade procedures.

The Swazi Observer used its home country of Swaziland, which is surrounded by South Africa on all sides, as a specific example of EDI agility gains. Traders moving shipments into the country need to declare their shipments twice, once to enter South Africa and again to continue into Swaziland. When clearance was performed exclusively in paper, the process was long and arduous.

EDI can help companies by alleviating difficult requirements on both the firm's shipping department and officials at the customs office, according to the news provider. The source listed a large number of agencies tasked with approving shipments at national borders, including safety inspectors, health departments and banks. All types of organizations can establish EDI connections, meaning that companies that adopt the capabilities can likely move through entire long transactions without resorting to paper documents.

Paperless edge

CFO magazine recently gave a small business example illustrating the advantages of paperless transactions. The source spoke to  Nic Roestel, proprietor of a family-run plumbing company in Washington. Though the company is small and self-contained, it still faces a number of regulatory and reporting challenges with every job performed. Roestel told the source that a recent job required 200 individual invoices.

According to CFO, the plumbers solved their paperwork crisis by adopting an EDI system specifically aimed at small companies. By removing the need to fill out paperwork with every billing procedure, the firm shaved hours off each job's completion time. No matter the size of the company or whether its ambitions are local work or international trade, cutting back each function's required man-hours is a widely-held goal.