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What is EDI vs API & How Are They Used In eCommerce

Oct 2, 2023 | Technology

Success in ecommerce and logistics depends on the rapid and accurate exchange of data. Two terms that often come up in this context are EDI and API. But what exactly are they? How do they differ? And why are they so crucial for modern businesses? Let’s find out more about EDI vs API and how they’re used in ecommerce and logistics.

How McKenna Leverages EDI & API Solutions for Businesses

The Rich History of EDI

EDI, or Electronic Data Interchange, isn’t new in the tech world. It’s been the linchpin of business-to-business communication for several decades. EDI is a method that facilitates companies to exchange standard business documents electronically, eliminating the need for paper-based communication. 

Its inception can be traced back to the early days of computerized data exchange. Back then, it was celebrated as a groundbreaking method that promised to expedite business processes and minimize errors. Over the years, EDI has proven its worth by enhancing efficiency in sectors like retail, manufacturing, and logistics.

The Evolution: How EDI Paved the Way for API

As the digital landscape evolved, so did the demand for more dynamic, real-time data exchange methods. This is where API or Application Programming Interface entered the scene. 

Unlike EDI, which can be likened to sending a letter through traditional mail, API is more like having an instantaneous chat. It facilitates different software applications to “talk” to each other in real time. As businesses yearned for immediate data exchange and enhanced connectivity, the need to transition from EDI-centric operations to API-driven processes became increasingly evident.

Diving Deeper: EDI vs API

EDI is fundamentally about exchanging predetermined business documents in specific formats and standards. It’s similar to sending a templated letter to a business partner. It’s structured, standardized, and has served as the primary method for many businesses for a long time.

Conversely, API is all about real-time communication between software applications. It offers more flexibility than EDI, enabling instantaneous data exchange in many different formats. Imagine having a chat where you can pose questions and receive immediate responses; that’s API.

The Role of EDI vs API in eCommerce and Logistics

In the ecommerce universe, where speed and precision are a must, both EDI and API play pivotal roles. 

EDI has been invaluable in areas like order processing, invoicing, and shipping documentation. By ensuring all stakeholders in the supply chain are synchronized, it minimizes errors and streamlines operations.

API, with its real-time benefits, has transformed facets like inventory management, order tracking, and customer service. For instance, when a customer places an order online, APIs ensure that inventory levels are updated instantly across all platforms, preventing overselling or stockouts. This level of integration is indispensable for businesses to remain competitive in the fast-paced world of ecommerce.

How to Implement API Effectively

  • Assess Your Needs: Before you start integrating API into your processes, think about your objectives. Are you aiming for real-time inventory updates, accelerated order processing, or enhanced customer service?
  • Select the Right API Protocols: APIs come in various flavours. Depending on your requirements, you might gravitate towards REST, SOAP, or GraphQL.
  • Security is Paramount: In an era where data breaches run rampant, ensure that any API you integrate is fortified with robust security measures.
  • Rigorous Testing: Before full-scale deployment, subject the API integrations to rigorous testing to ensure seamless functionality and compatibility with existing operations.

The Multifaceted Benefits of API in eCommerce and Logistics

  • Instantaneous Data Access: APIs grant immediate access to data, empowering businesses to make informed decisions on the fly.
  • Elevated Customer Experience: With APIs, customers are privy to real-time updates on their orders, translating to heightened satisfaction levels.
  • Scalability: APIs facilitate the seamless integration of new tools and technologies, ensuring businesses can scale operations without hiccups.
  • Cost Efficiency: By automating a host of processes, APIs can lead to substantial cost savings over time.

The McKenna Logistics Advantage: Why Partner with Us?

McKenna Logistics isn’t just another 3PL provider. We’re pioneers in leveraging API in the logistics domain. By allying with us, businesses can:


Which is superior, API or EDI?

Both have their unique strengths. However, given the dynamic nature of today’s ecommerce landscape, API, with its real-time responsiveness, often has the edge.

Is API truly faster than EDI?

Absolutely! API facilitates live communication, making it significantly faster than the batch-oriented nature of EDI.

Has EDI become obsolete?

Far from it! While EDI is a more traditional method, numerous businesses continue to rely on it for specific operations. However, the trend is unmistakably shifting towards API, given its real-time capabilities.

What’s the successor to EDI?

While API is often viewed as the evolutionary successor to EDI, it’s not “replacing” it per se. Many enterprises, like McKenna, employ a hybrid approach, leveraging both based on distinct needs.

Now that you know the difference between EDI vs API, leverage the benefits of both with McKenna Logistics!

Whether you’re a titan in the ecommerce domain or a new startup, grasping the intricacies of EDI vs. API is imperative. And if you’re hoping to harness the best of both worlds, consider a partnership with experienced 3PL providers like McKenna Logistics. 

We’re committed to helping you navigate the competitive world of ecommerce and logistics, ensuring your business remains ahead of the curve and the competition. Reach out to us at (905) 274-1234 or and let’s discuss your needs!

Get a Tailored 3PL Solution Now

Importing to Canada?

We serve all of Canada and we understand the unique Canadian logistics market

Looking for a Better 3PL?

Discover McKenna’s commitment to accuracy and timeliness

Ready to Grow Your Business?

If you’re getting started with mass retailers, we can help