EDI for GSA: Overview Services

How do EDI orders work

What is EDI?

In the early days of the Cold War, it became clear that the postal service was not adequate enough to supply the Allied armies in the midst of Soviet blockades. There was no standardised system to track shipments, their contents, who was delivering the cargo, or even a way to decipher the various languages. So, in the 1960s Ed Guilbert designed EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) as a standardised system of communication to facilitate the U.S. Army supply chain. 

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In the six decades since then, EDI’s instant electronic communication has benefited industries far beyond the armed forces. It has revolutionized global communication everywhere from retail to healthcare to finance, and is still widely used by the world’s biggest organisations today – among them, the U.S. Government and the General Services Administration. 

Thanks to the GSA EDI, the tedium of manual data entry and the towering piles of paper documents are a thing of the past. The fully automated electronic system allows contractors to process their business transactions with simplicity, and enables government buyers to acquire products and services from GSA-approved sources. In fact, EDI offers GSA Schedule holders a great number of advantages: 

  • It provides convenience for high-volume contractors and is available to vendors who process 100+ orders per month.
  • There’s no need to wait for the mail: EDI facilitates immediate processing of order requests and changes, as well as direct, streamlined communication between vendors and customers.
  • Transactions are processed in a standardised format for every single file.
  • Overall, the GSA EDI for business processing means lower costs, higher efficiency and fewer mistakes for all parties involved.

Catalogue updates on GSA Advantage

When a contractor wants to upload GSA catalogues to GSA Advantage, they can either do this via EDI or via the Schedule Input Program (SIP).  

  • EDI is a paid software provided as part of either a commercial off-the-shelf package, or by third parties, or through Value Added Networks. Contractors create a detailed e-catalogue with the EDI 832 catalogue/price document, which is used by the supplier and their trading partners to exchange information such as product ID number, item description, price and tax, dispatch and delivery information, and contact details. 
  • SIP is a free software provided by GSA where contractors can import their pricelist, catalogue, and information about their company. However, some contractors find the GSA SIP to be a complicated and challenging platform.

GSA Advantage Order Management

As well as multiple methods to upload GSA catalogues, contractors have different ways to manage their GSA Advantage orders: Purchase Order (PO) Portal or EDI. 

  • PO Portal is GSA’s own portal. Here, Schedule contractors can view and download GSA Advantage or eBuy orders placed by federal customers, update buyers on order status, and arrange daily email summaries of the previous day’s sales orders.

With EDI GSA, contractors can manage their order fulfilment, communicate purchase orders to distributors, receive shipping notifications, and arrange billing from clients and suppliers.

EDI documents for GSA Global Supply and GSA Advantage 

GSA Advantage’s and GSA Global Supply’s industry partners must use several fundamental EDI documents as part of their transaction process. These include: 

  1. EDI 810: an invoice document sent from  seller to buyer. It includes the price of the product or service, order number, invoice number and date, taxes, shipping details, invoice terms and so on.
  2. EDI 850: a purchase order document sent from the customer to the seller. It details the goods or services required, item identification number, order date, delivery location, requested shipping and delivery dates, as well as other key information.
  3. EDI 852: a product activity data document. This is often a weekly communication between suppliers, retailers and distributors which details inventory information such as overstock or shortfalls, suggested orders or adjustments, and sales performance or reports.
  4. EDI 855: a purchase order acknowledgment which notifies the buyer that the seller has received their order request, and lets the buyer know that the seller will fulfil their order.
  5. EDI 856: an advance ship notice typically sent from the supplier to the buyer. The document includes detailed information about the upcoming delivery – order number, contents and size of the shipment, party responsible for shipping the cargo, the ship and estimated delivery date, freight terms, and other information. The EDI 856 document is similar to the first standard manifest developed by Ed Guilbert back in the 1960s.

Order Management System with EDI integration 

As we’ve shown, using GSA EDI for business transactions processing offers so many benefits to Schedule holders, not least saving you money, and hours of hassle. At Price Reporter we offer an Order Management System (OMS) which provides EDI integration to distributors across multiple industries, including IT services, industrial equipment, office supplies and many more – and our list of EDI integrations is continually growing. 

We are here to help you expand your purchase orders, and our integration engineers will work alongside you to fit the Price Reporter OMS to your individual business needs. With well over a decade’s experience working with GSA Advantage suppliers, you can leave the EDI department to us, and focus on what’s important: running your successful business.

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