EDI 856 - Advance Ship Notice/Manifest

What is EDI 856? The EDI 856 is typically sent by a supplier to provide information about a shipment to a distributor or retailer. This includes details about what has been shipped, its size, what carrier is moving the order, when it was shipped and the estimated delivery date.

EDI Documents

EDI 856 format

The EDI 856 is a report used to communicate what’s in a shipment and how it’s packed. This report is made up of different parts that each provide various details about the shipment. Imagine the EDI 856 as a very detailed packing list that helps each company know exactly what’s being shipped and how.

Visual of the EDI 856 format

The EDI 856 is made up of many pieces:

BSN (Beginning segment for ship notice): This is like the cover page of a report. It indicates the shipment details, the unique number for the shipment and the date it was sent.
HL (Hierarchical level): This is like a table of contents and shows how the shipment is organized. It provides info on the whole shipment, each item and how the order is packed.
TD1/TD5/TD3/TD4 (Carrier details): These sections indicate how the shipment is being moved and which company is moving it.
REF (Reference identification): This is where you find extra notes, like the numbers used to buy the materials.
DTM (Date/time reference): This shows important dates and times, like when the shipment left the warehouse.
N1/N2/N3/N4 (Name and address): This provides the names and addresses of all the people and companies involved.
SN1 (Item detail): This indicates how many items are being sent.
W (Warehouse): This provides details about the location of the items stored or where the shipment is sent from.

How is EDI 856 used?

The EDI 856 is a tool for keeping track of products that are shipped from one location to another. It’s like a cheat sheet that tells you what’s inside each box, how many there are, and how they’re all packed together.

Shipment details
Get a full report on what’s inside the shipment, including a list of everything in the shipment, the quantity of each item and the order they’re packed in.
Order fulfillment
This helps the person who receives the shipment to confirm that everything they ordered is coming their way and prepares them to accept the delivery.
Inventory management
With all the details included, the person receiving the shipment can figure out where to put everything and keep their stock records up to date.
Efficient receiving
When they know exactly what’s coming and how many items are in the shipment, the buyer can prepare for shipment arrival accordingly and without any unexpected obstacles.
The notice usually has details about the company who is carrying the shipment and tracking information so the buyer can see the progress of the shipment while it’s on its way.
Discrepancy resolution
If the shipment does not match the notice, the buyer can easily spot the problem and start the remediation process.
Automated processing
Many computer systems automatically match these notices to the orders they belong to, which leads to mitigated human error and fewer mix-ups.

Does the ASN change per fulfillment model?

The ASN doesn’t really change. Whether your company ships via cross-docking, direct-to-store, or drop shipping, the ASN stays the same but helps in different ways.

Let’s see how makes different fulfillment models more efficient:

Direct-to-store or warehouse delivery

This ASN is all about getting the goods straight to the store and onto the shelves without wasting time. It helps the store sell their products faster and cuts down on the need to keep lots of additional stock in the back room.

Drop shipping

When a customer buys an item and it ships from the warehouse directly to your doorstep, that’s drop shipping. The ASN for this ensures all parties know what to expect, where the package is and how to make the delivery just right.

Cross-docking or distribution center

When products move quickly from one truck to another without stopping in a warehouse, that’s cross-docking. The ASN for this is specifically made to provide all the details before the shipment arrives, so everything goes smoothly, which is super important for this fast-moving model.

Benefits of using the EDI 856 Advance Ship Notice

All trading partners providers benefit from implementing the Advance Ship Notice. To optimize benefits, the document should be sent at the time of the physical shipment.

Retailer and distributor benefits:


Cut costs of receiving goods


Reduce the need for safety stock


Improve speed and accuracy of receiving goods


Facilitate better labor and equipment scheduling


Gain visibility into inbound shipments and make adjustments to plans to accommodate incomplete or late shipments

Supplier benefits:


Reduce order to payment cycles


Get products on store shelves faster


More easily track shipments en route


Track any missing cartons and make claims accordingly


Improve retailer relationships by reducing stock outs, errors and missed deliveries

Common issues regarding EDI 856

Barcode labels:
Issues with barcode labels, such as discrepancies between the barcode and the ASN, can occur. This often results in requiring the receiver to manually sort packages, leading to increased labor costs and potential chargebacks or penalties for suppliers.

Completeness and accuracy:
If ASN data isn’t accurate or complete, there will be delays, lost productivity and customer service shortfalls. Validating the completeness and accuracy of the ASN data is important to avoid confusion and subsequent penalties and fines.

Trading partners typically require an ASN to arrive prior to the shipment. Understanding each trading partner’s requirements for ASN delivery will help prevent chargebacks.

Automate 856 Advance Ship Notice with Full-Service EDI from SPS Commerce

Distributors can automate order fulfillment processes to save time

Managing ongoing EDI tasks can be complex and time-consuming. Full-service EDI providers like SPS Commerce deliver EDI technology and associated staffing resources responsible for customizing, optimizing and operating your EDI solution.

SPS communicates directly with your trading partners to manage connectivity, setup, requirements, updates and support efforts. SPS also takes ownership of understanding your trading partner requirements and making map changes.

SPS Fulfillment proactively monitors and optimizes your solution to prevent errors and minimize data entry.

Interested in learning more about our EDI solution?

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