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EDIFACT: The universal message standard

What is EDIFACT?

EDIFACT is the abbreviation for "Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Transport". This is a global set of rules defined by the UN for the inter-company electronic data exchange between two or more business partners via EDI.

It should be noted that EDIFACT is a newer standard for EDI than ANSII X12. X12 is mainly used in America, while EDIFACT is a world-wide standard.

The goal of EDIFACT is the optimization and standardization of the data flow between business partners. By defining uniform segments and elements that describe the information in the electronic file and which are used for a wide variety of document types (such as invoices, purchase orders, delivery notes, etc.) merely by means of a differentiated arrangement, a worldwide standard was created.

However, the EDIFACT standard is very comprehensive and created for almost every business transaction and every industry, subgroups (the so-called subsets) soon emerged. The subset EANCOM was created for the retail sector, which contains the mandatory fields of the EDIFACT standard and the industry-specific optional fields. By creating so-called subsets, the messages are better handled and easier to understand.