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Check Call: Electronic data interchanges not so standard

When EDI doesn’t work as planned

Check Call the Show. News and Analysis for 3PLs and Freight Brokers.

On this week’s episode of Check Call, James Coombes, co-founder at, joins host Mary O’Connell to dive into a world that exists with electronic data interchanges, application programming interfaces and AI in harmony. 


“EDI exists so that several participants in the supply chain can communicate at a base level. There are a lot of things that exist today that make EDI a little bit more difficult. It’s brittle, expensive to set up and gets complicated, and I think that’s why EDI has struggled and not really fulfilled its promise.” 

“You have power issues like, who is going to own that standard? Who is going to enforce that standard? When you’re in a market as fragmented as the supply chain is, it’s always going to be difficult to set something like EDI up and be successful.”

“Ocean bookings and booking confirmations are sent via EDI, but what you get back isn’t. All of that communication with carriers could and should be better. It’s clearly in the interest of good business. Imagine all the different forms of communication coming to you, and it’s about time for that to get more streamlined and work via exception.”

“Working by exception helps make it easier for customers to do their day jobs. We can all add so much more value as people. There is a comfort in data and data entry, but how freight forwarders best serve customers is by being consultants and helping make their supply chain more resilient.”

“Freight forwarders don’t have control over what is coming in, so you have to deal with everything. They live in their TMS and their inbox and we think there could and should be a better way with technology. Allow technology to help sort and triage so they can be more efficient on what to handle next.”  

Got any pain points or things you wish were better in the supply chain and the world of transportation? Contact O’Connell to be on a future episode of Check Call.

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Mary O'Connell

Former pricing analyst, supply chain planner, and broker/dispatcher turned creator of the newsletter and podcast Check Call. Which gives insights into the world around 3PLs and Freight brokers. She will talk your ear off about anything and everything if you let her. Expertise in operations, LTL pricing and procurement, flatbed operations, dry van, tracking and tracing, reality tv shows and how to turn a stranger into your new best friend.