What is Advanced Shipping Notice (ASN) in Shipping?

by | Mar 28, 2023 | Distributors, Order Fulfillment, Suppliers

Retailers and distributors are looking for real-time updates on the status of their orders. Why? They want to:

  • Maximize open-to-buy budgets
  • Remove the need to carry safety stock
  • Improve order and supply chain visibility
  • Manage inventory without compromising customer satisfaction 

If buying organizations have confidence that orders are filled and are on the way as promised, they have the order visibility and supply chain insights needed. Order visibility requires several documents shared between vendors and retailers, often via EDI, but none is more important than the advance ship notice, or ASN.

What does the ASN help solve?

The ASN answers to the following questions for buying organizations:

  • What order(s) shipped?
  • What items are being shipped and how many?
  • When will the order(s) arrive?
  • Does the shipment contain the complete order?
  • Is the shipment packaged with barcodes for easy receiving?
  • What is the FedEx, UPS or USPS tracking number? (drop-ship orders)

The ASN is full of important information for the retailer, distributor, and, in some instances, for a consumer. The vendor sends an ASN to the buyer to let them know that the order placed is now en route to the requested delivery point. The ASN can be used to a buyer’s advantage for order and inventory visibility, whether it is shipped to a customer, store or distribution center. It also tightens the supply chain, advances efficiency and satisfies consumer expectations. An ASN is also referred to as an Outbound Ship Notice / Manifest, DESADV or EDI 856.

What added benefits does the ASN provide?

Provides order visibility

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 quick 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 (drop-ship orders), it likely offers shipment information, such as a tracking number for FedEx, UPS or USPS. This document can be used to finalize the collection of the funds from the consumer’s credit card.

Confirms the final order

The ASN is more than just a confirmation of “your shipment is on its way,” it is the final confirmation of the order fulfillment. Using this data, buyers can adjust their open-to-buy budgets with confidence and update inventory systems to reflect the items in inbound orders.

ASNs can also move quickly through receiving. 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 shipping notice is used to quickly check the goods and accept the delivery. The process is as simple as scanning items as they come off the truck, confirming that everything is where it should be.

Communicates eCommerce order details

The ASN has helped many of our retail and distributor clients with eCommerce order management, especially drop shipping. The shipping and tracking info for the package is sent via ASN to the retailer. The retailer or distributor shares this data with their customer to track the delivery status of their package.

The ASN is also imperative during the holiday shopping rush. Customers are flooding eCommerce sites and emptying the shelves in brick-and-mortar stores. They need to be sure their gifts will be delivered before the holiday. With the rise of online shopping, order visibility has never been more important. It offers the retailer or distributor the data needed to proactively manage their inventory and have confidence about when and how their orders will arrive. These insights impact open-to-buy budgets, customer satisfaction and can reduce inventories, all boosting a retailer’s bottom line.

If you would like more info about the processes and collaboration needed for improved order and supply chain visibility, click here.

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Scott Bolduc


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