Like the internet this predecessor to electronic commerce is a standards-based system, independent of the type of computer hardware and software employed. It facilitates computer-to-computer exchange of electronic documents, such as purchase orders, advance shipment notices, and invoices. It reduces or eliminates human intervention or human-readable documents, be they paper or electronic. Firms using EDI are globally interconnected through a computer network, independent of the internet. Attempts are underway to integrate the two networks, EDI and eCommerce. EDI eliminates manual re-keying of data, cuts order processing costs, increases data accuracy, improves cycle time, and makes just-in-time deliveries possible. EDI has been suitable only for large North American and European corporations and banks.

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