Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) Implementation

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Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) Implementation

Key Findings

  • Walmart provides a single document from 2014 that outlines its EDI implementation expectations.
  • Other companies, such as Kohl's, Lowe's, and Kroger, all provide a breakdown based on the transactional document type and do not provide a single implementation document.
  • Target requires a trader to use a VAN (Value Added Network) to access its elaborate EDI trading system. The use of a VAN reduces many of the implementation steps common to connecting to an EDI system.


This research covers eight different CPG, grocery, and retail companies' EDI implementation requirements. Some companies are more forthright about the EDI implementation information whereas others keep this information behind locked user accounts or insist upon the use of a VAN (Value Added Network) in order to interact with the EDI system. The summaries below aim to provide an overview of what standards the organizations have set and what each expects of its supplier when interacting with the EDI system.

1: Walmart

  • Walmart's EDI Implementation Guide was originally published in 2011 and version 2.0 was released in 2014. The PDF guidelines provide a website link to the implementation guidelines but are restricted to those who have a Retail Link account.
  • Walmart uses the EDI formatting standards and supports ANSI X12 (American National Standards Institute), UCS (Uniform Communications Standards), VICS (Voluntary Inter-industry Commerce Standard), and EDIFACT (Electronic Data Interchange For Administration, Commerce, and Transport). Walmart requires AS2 compliance for the exchange of EDI and does not specify a requirement for translation software.
  • There are two options available for trading purchase orders and invoices: AS2 and WebEDI. A company doing less than 5,500 invoices a year can use AS2 or the free solution called WebEDI. Companies with more than 5,500 invoices are required to use AS2. Walmart prefers that companies use the fewest possible connections (third parties) and connect directly to Walmart's network in most circumstances. If a supplier requires a third party, it must be approved by Walmart first before being used.
  • Walmart requires suppliers to complete EDI testing which can last from two to six weeks. Walmart uses standardized EBCDIC and ASCII separators for the data.
  • A Global Location Number (GLN) is required to be sent in the N1 St Segment element 04 on all EDI invoices even when these invoices do not include purchase orders. Walmart provides a list of all GLNs for its stores, warehouses, and clubs from within the GEM (Global Enterprise Mailbox) system.

2: CVS

  • CVS makes its EDI documentation available on its CVS Supplier's website. The most recent documents and forms are dated January 2022.

3: Lowe's

  • Lowe's provides its EDI documentation and implementation on the LowesLink website. Similar to CVS, Lowe's provides the implementation of EDI by each type of functional group rather than in one document as Walmart does.
  • As an example, Lowe's provides a PDF guide for the 850 Purchase Order EDI transaction. The guide notes that one 850 transaction is required for each purchase order and these must be phoned or faxed to the partner (2009 is the date on the documentation and the website points to this being the most recent documentation). There are three phases at Lowe's for implementing the 850 for stock purchase orders.
  • The first phase is called "test" and is an initial test purchase order created by Lowe's EDI Coordinator which asks for two items in return. These include a functional acknowledgment and a fax of how the order was translated.
  • The second phase is known as "parallel" and involves Lowe's sending legitimate orders via EDI. The phase is aptly named as phone and fax orders will continue to be confirmed and honored concurrently so that the transactions can be verified for accuracy.
  • The third and final phase is "production." At this point, the Lowe's EDI Coordinator will cease sending phone or fax orders and all information will flow through EDI.
  • Some of Lowe's implementation guides are from 2011, rather than 2009. The 824 Application Advice outlines the implementation information for Advanced Ship Notices for all vendors.

4: Kohl's

  • Kohl's provides a PDF file for the implementation of EDI specifications. The file is from 2018 and mentions specifically that it will not be updated to accommodate future functionality that Kohl's might utilize. In order to access this functionality, the Dsco EDI website is provided.
  • The Dsco EDI specification is currently available in two versions. The 4010 is sufficient for most trading partners whereas those needing additional information on the 850 Purchase Order will need to use the 5010 850 version.
  • Both SFTP and AS2 are offered by Dsco. Kohl's supports 846 Inventory Advice, 850 Purchase Order, and 856 Advance Ship Notice and Invoice transactions.
  • Kohl's does not require a 997 return for each transaction but still encourages it as a best practice.
  • Pages 10 through 22 outline the mandatory data points for Dsco and additional mandatory elements for Khol's. These charts are color-coded for easy reference.

5: Kroger

  • Kroger's EDI requirements and guidelines are available on the company's EDI portal. Similar to Lowe's and CVS, Kroger breaks down the EDI implementation into the documents involved and also provides examples of some documents.
  • Kroger starts all new setups with EDI version 5010. The company uses UCS and ANSI X12 EDI Standards and sends a functional acknowledgment for all inbound transactions.
  • Kroger EDI business standards require that all traders test and set up EDI invoicing 60 days prior to their first purchase order.
  • The company relies on DUNS numbers for processing invoices and issuing payments. Kroger requires the Bill-To DUNS number to match the division responsible for payment. In order to ease the process, Kroger provides several spreadsheets with the required information such as this one for the 880/810 invoices. The sheet was last updated in December 2019.

6: Target

  • Target's EDI requirements are not made available publicly. Target does, however, provide a list of standards for all suppliers. Third-party websites were used to pull together a summary of EDI implementation information for Target.
  • Target requires a trader to use a VAN (Value Added Network) to access its elaborate EDI trading system. The use of a VAN reduces many of the implementation steps common to connecting to an EDI system.
  • For compliance with Target's EDI, the following documents are required:
    • 810 Invoice
    • 846 Inventory Inquiry/Advice/Content
    • 850 Purchase Order
    • 855 Purchase Order Acknowledgment
    • 856 Shipment Notice/Manifest
    • 860 Purchase Order Change Request Buyer Initiated
    • 864 Text Message
  • At times, Target also uses AS2 communications to exchange EDI documents. It requires vendors to use ANSI X12, EDIFACT, UCS, and other standards. In addition to AS2, Target supports FTP EDI protocols.

7: Dollar General

  • Dollar General does not typically make their EDI information publicly available, requiring a user ID and password for access. A domestic vendor guide published by the company does include EDI guidelines.
  • Dollar General expects all core vendors to "utilize EDI for the receipt of purchase orders within 30 days of" the first shipment or they face the possibility of being replaced as a vendor.
  • The company requires trading partners to use direct AS2 connectivity or a VAN that is capable of direct AS2 communications.
  • Dollar General requires tests on data transmissions until it feels that transmissions are successful. In addition to this, the company requires the utilization of Function Acknowledgments (FA-997) within 24 hours of the originating purchase order or the company may institute penalties.
  • All purchase orders must be transmitted using the UNIT measure equaling one sellable item for order quantities. No quantities should be submitted as CASE quantities.
  • The company requires the following documents:
    • 850 purchase order
    • 810 invoice
    • Corresponding 997 acknowledgment

8: Best Buy

Research Strategy

This research covers the EDI requirements and implementation guidelines of eight different CPG, retail, and grocery organizations. Many of these companies keep the actual EDI implementation documents and instructions blocked behind their supplier or partner portal logins. Some, such as Meijer and Home Depot, are very vague. Even so, we have utilized the company's vendor and supplier websites, corporate pages, and EDI documentation in order to assemble a brief summary of the implementation requirements to utilize the various EDI systems.

Under Kroger's EDI guidelines and requirements, there is a total of 22 different programs, each with its own overview, implementation instructions, and standards. We have provided a brief summary of some of the implementation standards from these files, including unique points that aren't in other EDI implementation guidelines. The same holds true for companies such as Lowe's, Kohl's, and others that did not use a single document (such as Walmart) for its EDI implementation standards and guidelines.

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