EDI vs APIs: How APIs (and EDI) Are Critical for Improved Freight Network Visibility & Optimization

EDI vs API Improving Freight Network Visibility & Optimization

Supply chain visibility is a top priority for companies around the globe. And in the pursuit of more visibility, the topic of EDI vs API crops up often. Electronic data interchange (EDI) is an older technology. And an application programming interface (API) uses newer connect 10 points to seamlessly pull data together. Choosing between the two technologies is rarely the best-case scenario. Yet improved freight network visibility and optimization are absolute must-haves for the modern industry.

Michael Lindner of Supply Chain Digital reports, “A truly connected end-to-end supply chain has the aim to reach 100% visibility in real-time which creates an integrated view across the enterprise, including, suppliers, retailers, manufacturers, outsource partners, and customers. This then allows companies to easily see any inbound problems and fire up tailored solutions where needed.” Freight managers need to know a few things about why both EDI and APIs are critical for improved freight network visibility.

Why It’s Never a Definite Choice in EDI vs API

Significant challenges reside within disparate supply chain processes. An inability to work across multiple systems and trouble tracking numerous login credentials will inevitably lead to extra work and lost efficiency. There are many moving parts of the supply chain tech stack, such as the WMS, ERP systems, WES, WCS, LMS, and more. Regardless of their primary purposes in execution, they share a common goal—enabling better proactive supply chain management. And for that reason, partnering with a digital freight matching provider can help improve overall performance.

Digital Freight Matching and TMS Combine to Form Automation

It’s easy to assume that APIs are the go-to way to connect the supply chain. But according to Supply & Demand Chain Executive, an estimated 90% of the global supply chain relies on legacy EDI models. EDI technology has been around since the 1970s. Until all companies effectively make the switch. There is only one choice. Supply chain leaders need to leverage both EDI and API and stop discussing whether EDI vs API is best for immediate and meaningful supply chain improvements.

How EDI compares to API

EDI is slower than API connectivity. But speed is relative. Even the slower EDI technologies still transmit data instantaneously. The distinction lies in the technology using EDI. For example, if EDI is connecting an outdated TMS, shared data will inevitably be outdated.

On the other hand, EDI vs API becomes more problematic when expanding the supply chain tech stack. APIs are easier to integrate with existing and new systems. And they form an essential role in leveraging automated logistics capabilities.

How to Evaluate Which Technology Is Right for Your Company

In the debate over EDI vs API, it is vital to take a holistic view. To make the best-informed decision, supply chain managers should follow these steps:
  • Assess the current state of connectivity within the supply chain.

  • Find out if partnering carriers and LSPs have created additional APIs that work with your existing software.
  • Evaluate the costs of using APIs and their implementation versus the ongoing costs of EDI.

  • Unify the supply chain systems tech stack with APIs to integrate resources.

  • Be sure to include all supply chain management resources in that unification, including the TMS, the warehouse management system, the yard management system and more.

  • Connect analytics within the supply chain to learn more about opportunities for improvement to use APIs and maximize their potential.

Choose a TMS That Leverages Multiple Connection Technologies to Achieve True Optimization

Supply chain visibility extends across all forms of connectivity. It is the goal of modern supply chain management. In a sense, APIs are essential to the future of freight management and improvements. But it is crucial not to overlook the value of connecting via EDI when necessary. That is a distinction that not many TMS solutions can claim. Fortunately, the MercuryGate platform can.

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