BOLD VAN Marketing
August 27, 2023
5 min read
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Companies of all sizes, across all industries, save money by automating their document exchanges processes. Whether sending purchase orders, invoices, or load tenders – you and your trading partners need a fast, secure method for exchanging data.Electronic data interchange (EDI) has been the go-to method for decades, but more recently, Applicability Statement 2 (AS2) has grown in popularity. Naturally, this leads business owners to question which one is right for them.The short answer is you will probably need to use both, but first, let's look at what sets the two apart.The primary differences between EDI and AS2 are that AS2 is only used on a network with the TCP/IP protocol, and AS2 requires the sending and receiving computers to be connected to the internet to send data.Let's take a closer look at the two processes.


A value-added network (VAN), often referred to as an EDI network, is an intermediary for exchanging business documents electronically. When you send a document to your trading partner, your VAN securely stores the document and makes it available for your trading partner to receive.Each trading partner can decide which protocol to use, meaning they can send the document in a format that works with their in-house business software. The VAN then translates the document to a universal format. During this process, the VAN encrypts the data and authenticates the credentials of both the sender and receiver to ensure security and reliability.For example, here is how a purchase order is sent with EDI:

  1. Your purchase system creates a purchase order
  2. The purchase order is translated from its original format into a standard EDI format via EDI software
  3. The purchase order is sent to your trading partner's “mailbox” through your VAN
  4. Your trading partner's EDI software connects to the VAN, translates the EDI document into their preferred format for a purchase order, and prepares it for processing in their order management system

The process is quick, reliable, and secure. That's why EDI has stood the test of time for business communications.


The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) created AS2 for the purpose of having a highly-secure communication method that's exclusively used over the internet with the HTTP protocol.Since the internet presents a variety of security risks, AS2 uses public and private encryption keys to verify the authenticity of each trading partner, as well as to prevent data theft. Modern AS2 software is cloud-based, and secure data centers store data with security monitoring.The sender and receiver must both use AS2 and stay connected to the internet 24/7 to exchange business data successfully.For example, here is how a purchase order is sent with AS2:

  1. Your purchase system creates a purchase order
  2. The purchase order is translated from its original format into the AS2 format by your AS2 software
  3. The purchase order is encrypted, digitally signed, and delivered over the internet by your AS2 software
  4. Your trading partner's AS2 software receives the document, verifies your credentials, authenticates the source, decrypts the file for use in their in-house software and then sends you an acknowledgment of receipt

The process is somewhat similar, except both parties must remain connected to the internet for a successful transaction.


Quite frankly, you don't always get to choose. Doing business with major industry players often requires you to play by their rules.For example, companies like Amazon, Costco, and Walmart have strict EDI compliance requirements for their trading partners. As your business expands and you add more trading partners, you will most likely need to use EDI, AS2, and several other methods for communications.Rather than building all of these separate systems in-house, or contracting multiple companies, most businesses today prefer to outsource all of their data exchange to a single all-in-one EDI VAN provider.With BOLD VAN, you can manage ALL electronic data exchange (EDI, AS2, FTP, and various protocols) from a simple web-based dashboard. In fact, all you need is an internet connection, and you can access our web portal, BOLD Manager, from any device – anywhere in the world.Plus, companies that switch to BOLD VAN save up to 80% on their monthly EDI costs thanks to our exclusive Trading Partner Pricing.Contact us today to learn more!

BOLD VAN Marketing
Content Manager

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