Advance Ship Notice (ASN)

EDI Document 856

graphic showing raw EDI data for EDI 997, EDI 850, and EDI 852 transactions

What is a ‘shipping notification’ or ‘advance ship notice’ (ASN)?

An advance ship notice, often abbreviated to ASN, is an electronic notification of a pending delivery, similar to a packing list. In the EDIFACT EDI standard, this document is technically known as the shipping notification document ‘DESADV,’ however in Australia is to commonly known under it’s ANSI X12 name of ‘advance ship notice’ or – more commonly – the ASN. The ASN is a common EDI transaction, and delivers significant benefit to companies operating warehouses or distribution centres with large volumes of incoming goods.

The primary purpose of the ASN is to provide tracking and packing information. The ASN will contain the contents that have been shipped, and the configuration in which they are packaged.

The key data elements included in an ASN are:

  • Purchase order number
  • Ship notice number
  • Location where the product is be shipped to
  • Ship from/supplier
  • Ship and/or delivery date
  • Product/service identifiers such as UPC/EAN/GTIN with their respective quantities
  • How the products have been packaged, number per container, etc

Additional data that may also be included in the ASN:

  • Carrier reference/tracking numbers and service levels
  • Vendor number
  • Freight terms
  • Additional item identifiers such as buyer item number and vendor part number
  • Item description

Benefits of using an ASN

There are benefits to both the purchaser and the supplier when implementing electronic trading of the ASN, with many of these benefits dependent on how automated and integrated the transaction is for both parties. Typically, the larger the operation, the more beneficial the ASN will be. To optimise benefits, the document should be sent at the time of the physical shipment – and must arrive at the destination prior to the physical goods. Some of the benefits include:

  • Provides visibility to when an order has been shipped and what was included in the shipment
  • Increased accuracy of shipments.
  • Allows cross referencing for purchase orders against shipments.
  • Increases the speed of fulfillment and allows the retailer to have lower safety stock needs.

The ASN for cross dock

In the cross dock fulfilment model, the ASN will contain the end/mark for locations for the orders being shipped to a distribution centre. The cross dock model commonly utilises bar code labels (such as SSCC labels) to assist with receiving reconciliation and allows for product to flow through, removing the put-away and picking operations.

Key data elements for cross dock ASN:

  • Packaging structure (ie SOTPI/SOTI/SOPI; SOTPI is short for ‘Shipment, Order, Tare, Package, Item’)
  • GS1-128 numbers to correspond to physical bar code labels
  • Mark for locations the goods are to be redistributed to

Additional benefits for using the ASN for cross dock:

  • Provides visibility for planning warehouse resources (labour, equipment and space)
  • Facilitates and expedites the movement of product through the warehouse through the use of the ASN data and GS1-128

The ASN for direct to store/warehouse delivery

The direct to store/warehouse ASN allows retailers to better manage and automate their store/warehouse receiving processes. With the use of the ASN data along with GS1-128 labels, it assists with product reconciliation and facilitates automated receiving.

Key data elements for direct store/warehouse:

  • Packaging structure (i.e. SOTPI/SOTI/SOPI)
  • GS1-128 serialised shipping container codes to correspond to physical bar code labels

Additional benefits:

  • Provides visibility for planning warehouse resources (labour, equipment and space) when shipping to the retailer location (MOVE TO DC/CROSSOCK)
  • Validation of how the cartons were packed
  • Prepare for future automated receiving at the stores and DC
  • Improve product flow-through to the store floor
  • Enables automatic capture of the GTIN and batch/lot numbers of each case for track and trace (also used to support FDA
  • Allows for advance order allocation (DC/warehouse shipments)
  • Allows for faster recognition of item(s) not shipped to allow for quicker reorder
  • Traceability for HACCP and new Australian food labelling law compliance


The ASN for drop ship

The ASN is used in the drop ship model is used to confirm items shipped to the end consumer. Without the ASN, the retailer has no visibility to the shipping status and tracking information of the customer order. Labels are commonly excluded here as the end consumer does not need a GS1 label; however the packing slip is a standard requirement to provide consumers a list of products shipped and the carrier carton label is also sometimes utilised. Both the packing slip and carrier carton label are also sometimes branded.

Key data elements for drop ship:

  • Customer order number
  • Small package carrier tracking number

Additional benefits:

  • Creates the ‘Goods Received’ indication in the EDI-integrated ERP system
  • Facilitates the communication to the end customer that the product has been shipped
  • Receipt of the ship notice data can trigger collection of payment from the retailer’s customer

Want to learn more about specific EDI files?

Here’s a long list of EDI transactions commonly used in retail.

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