EDI 856: Advantages of the Advanced Shipping Notice

by | Apr 14, 2017 | Distributors, Retailers, Suppliers

The Advanced Shipping Notice (ASN) is a very common EDI transaction. An ASN is an electronic notification of a pending delivery, similar to a packing list. The vendor sends an ASN to the retailer to let them know that the order placed is now en route from the supplier to the requested delivery point. Whether the shipment is being sent to a customer, a store, distribution center or a warehouse, the ASN is a vital document that can be used to a retailer’s advantage for order and inventory visibility, tightening of the supply chain, advancing efficiency and satisfying consumer expectations.

What are advance ship notices?

An ASN is a document that provides detailed information about a pending delivery of goods. An ASN is also referred to as an Outbound Ship Notice / Manifest, DESADV or EDI 856. One example of when an ASN would be sent is when a supplier sends a shipment of product to a retailer that will be sold in a brick-and-mortar store. The primary purpose of the ASN is to provide tracking and packing information.

Functions of advance ship notices

The ASN serves multiple purposes. When the order is being sent to a warehouse, distribution center or a store, it gives an estimated shipment arrival time. Once the shipment arrives at the store, DC or warehouse, it allows for receiving of the shipment through barcode scanning, resulting in quicker unloading and sorting. It can be used to help prepare for flow-through or store allocation from the receiving dock to the shipping dock and out to the store or customer. When the item is being shipped directly to a consumer, it typically offers shipment information, such as a tracking number for FedEx, UPS or USPS. Last but not least, it can be used to finalize the collection of the funds from the consumer’s credit card. That’s a lot of info and functions wrapped up into one document.

ASNs can be particularly helpful when it comes to unloading trucks and managing inventory. Before the shipment is sent, suppliers can place bar codes on all their boxes, crates, and cases, and include that information with the ASN. When the shipment arrives, the data from the EDI 856 can be used to ensure delivery of each piece. The process is as simple as scanning items as they come off the truck, confirming that everything is where it should be.

Retailers that practice just-in-time inventory need the ASN to do that properly. You order just as many products as you need, just when you need them. An ASN can help you know when you’re getting the shipment of items, or if your product has been delayed.

If a retailer and a vendor are both on electronic data interchange (EDI) systems, this transmission of information can all happen automatically, and without any faxing, emailing or manually entering orders into the system. Without the ASN, the retailer might not know whether the vendor is going to ship the right quantity or when it will arrive. Without an EDI system, even with an ASN the right people may not be getting the right shipment information at the right time, or human error may cause the data to be manually input incorrectly.

How SPS Commerce can help

Advanced shipping notices are clearly much more than a simple message saying a shipment is on its way. They’re one of the fundamental EDI documents for providing order visibility, streamlining the supply chain and gaining efficiency. Most importantly, the ASN is vital for retailers and suppliers to track the shipment of goods in order to satisfy the expectations of today’s consumer.

SPS Commerce offers a cloud-based EDI solution, Fulfilment, that will make processing your EDI 856 document more efficient than ever before. Learn more about our Fulfilment product or find out how we can help you with ASN and much more. Contact an EDI expert at SPS Commerce today.

Scott Bolduc