Over the last decade, a growing number of businesses have switched from managing orders, invoices and other documents manually to using EDI, or electronic data interchange, to save time, increase accuracy and improve efficiency.

However, despite the massive growth in the usage of EDI services, a variety of barriers have prevented small and medium-sized businesses from switching over to EDI at the same rate as larger companies.

One of these is the cost of EDI implementation. Although EDI can produce significant savings over the long term — as well as improved business growth and efficiency — there have always been significant costs associated with implementing EDI.

For large and established companies, the cost of developing an internal EDI system is relatively small in its full context. However, for small and mid-sized companies, the idea of developing an EDI system can feel like a significant cost without an obvious, immediate benefit.

The growth of cloud-based EDI software, however, is changing the world of small business EDI at a rapid pace.

Cloud EDI software allows small and medium-sized businesses to overcome many of the costs of conventional EDI implementation. Instead of demanding multiple types of software and expert staff, cloud EDI software simplifies EDI into a single user friendly platform.

One recent cloud EDI platform is XEDI, an EDI platform aimed at eliminating many of the costs that are typically required for EDI implementation. XEDI is cloud based and boasts integrations with widely used systems such as SAP, NetSuite, RedPrairie, Epicor and Xero.

The idea behind services like XEDI is to overcome the traditional risks and barriers associated with switching to EDI, ranging from the internal change required with a traditional EDI system to the cost and difficulty of providing formal training.

At the launch of XEDI, company founder Graeme Howard explained his vision for EDI and its adoption by a wider range of businesses:

“My vision is to bring EDI to the masses. Manually processing orders and invoices is repetitive and inefficient. This new platform allows businesses to work fluently in partnership together and create strong relationships.”

Instead of the large implementation costs that are standard with internal EDI systems, cloud EDI systems provide the same functionality and benefits for a monthly fee, making it easier for small and mid-sized businesses without large cash reserves to successfully begin using EDI.

They’re also significantly easier to use, with sleek user interfaces designed to deliver the same level of power as internal EDI systems without the often confusing, overwhelming range of tools and options.

EDI is one of the fastest-growing B2B technologies, accounting for as much as 85% of the total number of business transactions conducted annually.

Just like user-focused, cloud-based apps have revolutionised everything from maps to storage, cloud-based EDI software has the potential to bring EDI to a range of businesses that currently still do things the “old fashioned” way.

In doing so, it could potentially produce measurable improvements in everything from profits to productivity, accuracy, paper waste and decision making.