Exploring alternatives to your standard EDI VAN

Start saving money by utilizing VAN alternatives for your EDI system and connecting directly to your trading partner. Learn how flexibility can help you cut costs and watch as your investments start to pay for themselves on day one. Let’s take a closer look.

So… what is a VAN

Many companies offering an EDI integration solution for Sage 100 and Sage 100cloud also provide Value Added Network (VAN) services. These services can be thought of as an online postal service delivering “letters” to various “mailboxes”. When your trading partner places a letter (perhaps an order) in their VAN mailbox, the VAN moves that letter to your VAN mailbox where you can pick it up. Likewise, when you place a “letter” (perhaps an invoice) into your VAN mailbox, the VAN moves that letter to your trading partner’s mailbox so the trading partner can pick it up. The VAN makes those orders and invoices available for each trading partner to pick up from their “mailbox”.

Delivery goes back and forth for each round of orders and invoices, charging you fees that continue indefinitely based on data size, transaction count, document count, or some other measure of VAN usage. Each type of fee creates a different billing situation and determines how much money you end up spending on VAN services. It comes with a price tag, but VANs provide a way for your system and your trading partner’s system to communicate through a single connection point.

The hidden truth

What many people don’t know is that their trading partners may offer free methods of exchanging electronic orders and other documents. But if an EDI integration supplier’s business model is based on offering VAN services, they may not include the code needed in their integration solutions to utilize these free methods, or they may charge on-going data fees for using them. This in turn gives the customer no choice but to use paid communications services, even when the trading partner offers a free communications method. However, with VAN alternatives like AS2 and FTP, there are no communications fees. So there is only one question left to answer: how?

How AS2 and FTP work and why they’re fee free

AS2 and FTP utilize a direct connection to your trading partner so you don’t have to rely on a VAN to deliver or receive documents. They aren’t services, but rather an extension of your EDI software, allowing you to add this feature to your system with one up-front payment (for AS2) or completely free (with FTP) instead of fees that continue indefinitely and end up costing you much more in the long run; in some cases the up-front AS2 investment is returned by cost savings in only a month or two.

But what if my trading partner doesn’t accept AS2 or FTP?

If your EDI integration is built to accommodate AS2, FTP,  or VAN connectivity independently for each of your trading partners this won’t be a problem. You’ll be ready to start saving money using free options with partners who offer them and still do business with those who don’t.

See how much you could save by utilizing these features, check out our free Savings Analysis for EDI.

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