When you begin exchanging EDI documents with a retailer, many are going to demand testing before trading begins. Unless you enjoyed final exams during high school, chances are it’s not going to be a process you’ll enjoy. But EDI testing is something you need to do well. And quickly.
First, you might be wondering why testing is necessary in the first place. If a retailer wants your products, why not just get started? Well, the fact is that your trading partners want transactions to be seamless. Before any retailer begins to offer your brand, it’s important for them to be confident that orders will arrive on time, at the right location, and exactly as requested. In today’s competitive retail environment, your trading partners demand seamless, error-free transactions. Testing is just that—a test to make sure you can, well, deliver the goods.
Big news! A major retailer reached out and wants to carry your product. They have thousands of stores and you can’t wait to get your brand in front of all those new customers. But before that happens, you need to complete their EDI testing.
To put it in the starkest terms possible, you should view testing as a barrier between both getting your products on shelves and getting paid. In other words, completing it quickly and efficiently is good business. You don’t want the process to drag on forever, and you don’t want to have the kind of mistakes that will damage a retail relationship before you even get the ball rolling.
If you’re working with eZCom, we’re going to make it a whole lot easier. For starters, we’ve been through it before with hundreds of different retailers—nothing surprises us.
We already handle the EDI needs of our clients with hundreds of retailers, including all the major chains. That means we have all the documents mapped according to the requirements of each trading partner. Completing testing is easy for a company like ours that has a proven track record of success.
In the world of EDI, there are two main types of testing—general document testing and label testing. Some retailers will also deploy something they call parallel testing—you’ll be utilizing paper invoices and exchanging EDI documents before you successfully complete the process and switch 100% to EDI-only.
Whatever the type, all testing has challenges. And getting it done well is essential.
When it comes to general testing, retailers will try different scenarios—a canceled order, a shipment split between a distribution center and a store, a return, a drop ship item with a packing slip that meets their standards. In other words, they’re trying to figure out if your operation can handle whatever they might throw at it. Since we have years of experience, we have worked our way through all the scenarios already. It’s a bit like having the questions to the exam in advance except it doesn’t count as cheating. It’s simply a benefit of our years of experience.
Some retailers will also use the services of an outside provider to specifically test labels.
Sometimes, yes. Many retailers who already work with eZCom allow companies that use us for EDI to skip the testing process. They know we’ll make sure our clients meet the compliance requirements and often recommend us.
That said, being able to bypass the testing process shouldn’t be the primary factor when you’re choosing an EDI provider. You want to develop a long-term relationship that makes EDI easy so choose the company that gives you the most confidence. If they’re good, they’ll have no trouble handling the testing component.
Absolutely not. Despite what some Third-Party testers might tell you, there is no obligation to the use the same company for testing and EDI.
To repeat, you do not have to use the Third-Party testing provider for EDI services. When retailers use a Third-Party for EDI testing, you are not obligated to use that provider once you have completed it.
Generally, it takes about one day to a week to complete EDI testing. Of course, that’s assuming the process goes well. It is, after all, a test. And you’ll do well if you’re working with an EDI provider that has the experience you need to manage it.
The reality is that EDI testing is simply part of doing business with major retailers. If you have a new trading partner or you are launching a new product, you will inevitably face it. Don’t make it harder than it needs to be—choose the right EDI provider and you can be confident you’ll earn a passing grade.