Advanced Shipping Notice and EDI 856 Guide

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Surprises can be fun — but not when it comes to shipping

Customers want to know exactly when to expect their shipment, so they can be prepared to receive it. This is especially true for B2B customers, as larger shipments require much more planning. The more information you can give them about their shipment, the better. 

An advanced shipping notice is one common way that merchants keep their customers informed about their shipments, so that both parties can streamline their supply chain management and planning. 

In this article, we’ll cover what an advanced shipping notice is, how it benefits your business, and how ShipBob can help your ecommerce business become EDI compliant.  

What is an advanced shipping notice (ASN)?

An advanced shipping notice (or ASN) is an EDI document that’s sent from the shipper (usually the merchant) to the recipient containing detailed information about an incoming shipment. 

This includes details such as the content of the shipment, the number of items included in the shipment, the physical characteristics, and the weight of the shipment. 

This information is intended to help the recipient prepare the receiving process

Advanced shipping notice vs EDI 856

“EDI 856” is another name for an advanced shipping notice. The notice is sent to the recipient through electronic data interchange (or EDI), and therefore has an EDI document code.

What does an advanced shipping notice include?

The specific contents in an advance shipping notice may vary depending on each party’s requirements and the needs of the transaction. 

However, most ASNs contain the following key details:

  • Order number
  • Shipment number 
  • Shipping date
  • Expected delivery date and time
  • Ship from and to information (including addresses)
  • Item details and quantity
  • Physical characteristics (type of packaging used, etc.)
  • Pallet codes
  • Shipment tracking details (tracking number, BOL number, etc.)
  • Packaging details 
  • Carrier information
  • UCC 128/GS1 numbers

ASN benefits

Advanced shipping notices are helpful for both buyers and sellers. Here are some of the key benefits of EDI 856 transactions.

Increases supply chain visibility

Customers want to know what’s happening with their orders — both for peace of mind and for planning purposes.

By keeping buyers informed about upcoming deliveries, advanced shipment notices create more visibility in the supply chain and enable customers to plan their labor and inventory needs more accurately. 

Increases inventory and order accuracy

Advanced shipping notices provide details that can help customers track their incoming inventory, and improve inventory accuracy

An ASN gives the buyer a clear idea of when they’ll be receiving inventory replenishments, and which items are or aren’t included in the shipment.

This helps them get a better picture of their inventory status, so they can manage their inventory levels accordingly and make more informed decisions about restocking, forecasting, and inventory allocation

Additionally, once the customer receives the shipment, they can compare what they’ve received against the details of the ASN to look for any discrepancies. This makes it much easier to spot any mistakes, and helps keep inventory system records accurate and up-to-date. 

Improves order management and accuracy

Because ASNs are sent using EDI, information isn’t entered manually. Instead, key data is pulled directly from the order and its related shipping documents, minimizing the risk of human error and improving order accuracy.

Sending an advanced shipping notice also creates an electronic paper trail for your shipments. As such, it can help you to better prevent or sort out any discrepancies or miscommunications between you and your trading partner over orders in the future.  

ASN procedure

Typically, the seller sends an advanced shipping notification to the buyer as soon as the order is ready for shipment. The ASN gets verified through a Receiving Open Interface, and subsequently changes in-transit inventory levels.

The ASN contains all the essential information about the shipment — such as how many items and cartons are included, how they’re packed, and how much they weigh — which the buyer can use to set aside necessary space in their warehouse and coordinate receiving. 

Once the shipment arrives at its destination, the buyer compares the physical goods against the ASN to check for any discrepancies.

How to become EDI compliant with ShipBob

EDI transactions and communications can get confusing. For merchants new to B2B, or looking to simplify omnichannel fulfillment, ShipBob can help.

ShipBob’s B2B fulfillment suite for retail distribution and dropshipping makes it easier to maintain EDI compliance, and exchange data quickly and accurately with your trading partners. 

ShipBob is EDI compliant with dozens of major retailers — including Target, Macy’s, Nordstrom, and more — enabling ShipBob to fulfill and ship your wholesale and dropshipping orders with speed and ease.

Data from each purchase order is also automatically pulled into the ShipBob dashboard, where you can manage and monitor all your orders (including DTC channels).  

Altogether, ShipBob’s automations and omnifulfillment solutions allows for faster order processing and fulfillment, with streamlined and fully-compliant EDI communications. With ShipBob as a partner, you can fulfill any kind of order more quickly, accurately, and reliably. 

“Selling on marketplaces is challenging enough, and ShipBob’s ability to service both D2C and B2B has enabled us to build more consistent procedures and practices across our different sales channels. Along with Chewy, we’re also fulfilling orders through Amazon, as they are the two biggest online pet sales channels in the US.

We utilize ShipBob’s EDI solution that is connected to our 3rd party EDI platform SPS Commerce for our Chewy orders, and when we don’t ship directly to Amazon, we rely on ShipBob’s direct integration with Amazon for FBA orders. We’re even exploring additional channels that ShipBob supports, such as

Being an omnichannel brand is critical for us, so we can reach more pet lovers from more places. We’re glad that ShipBob helps us keep up with demand from all the places we reach our customers.”

Stephanie Lee, COO at PetLab 

Advanced shipping notice FAQs

Below are answers to the top questions about advanced shipping notices.

Who issues the ASN?

The advanced shipping notice is issued by the shipper, which is typically the seller or supplier who is sending the goods to the buyer.

How do I get an advanced shipping notice?

If you’re the shipper, you can get an advanced shipping notice by generating it with EDI-compliant fulfillment software. If you’re the buyer, you receive an advanced shipping notice from the seller who is sending you your shipment.

How can ShipBob help with ASN?

ShipBob provides an EDI-compliant fulfillment solution that allows you to automatically collect relevant order and shipment data that can be used to generate an advanced shipping notice.

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Written By:

Rachel is a Content Marketing Specialist at ShipBob, where she writes blog articles, eGuides, and other resources to help small business owners master their logistics.

Read all posts written by Rachel Hand