Electronic Data Interchange 101: The EDI 856 Advance Ship Notice

By Molly Goad

The EDI 856 Advance Ship Notice is a document set that tells a buyer when their stuff is out the door, and when exactly it will arrive. The ASN is prepared by a supplier and sent to retailers or other businesses ordering goods. It’s an EDI heads up. 

We all have received a shipping confirmation email or text message after ordering products. The message usually has a tracking number and the details of what was ordered. The ASN contains the same information and much, much more. Information often found on an ASN includes:

  • Order number
  • Item number and quantity
  • Carrier information
  • Transportation method
  • Date shipped, as well as date and time of arrival
  • Barcode information of all items
  • Weight of shipment
  • Number of boxes or cartons 
  • Special handling instructions
  • Configuration of the goods in a package
  • Type of package container

It’s a little document with a lot of power. It tells the receiver: “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!” (Okay, it doesn’t really say that. But it’s fun to imagine the 856 comes across with some fanfare, right?) The EDI 856 is sent electronically, and oftentimes, the receiver has shipment details before the truck rolls away from the dock.

Why is the ASN Necessary?

The advance ship notice might not seem crucial on the surface, but without ASNs flowing like water, the supply chain will clog. Here are a few ways.

Once an ASN hits the system, warehouse managers or other receivers can schedule dock time and plan accordingly. Imagine if the receiving team didn’t know when shipments were going to arrive, or if they didn’t have specific times for arrival. It would be a mess back there.

ASNs save time. Today’s receiving outfits rely on the speedy process of scanning the barcodes on shipping labels. An ASN provides a list of all of the barcoded ID numbers of the shipping units and their contents. This means receiving is quicker, thus lowering the costs associated with individuals breaking down a shipment, sorting through the cartons, and identifying the contents. The team already knows what’s in there.

Also, the ASN allows the buyers to prepare for speical requests for fragile items, refrigerated products, or other needs outside of the “norm.”

Finally, if items need to be sorted and distributed to several stores, the warehouse already knows this from the ASN. Therefore, items are grouped immediately upon arrival and sent over to another shipping dock to head back out.

Know Your Partners

Like snowflakes, no two retailers are alike, and ASN requirements often differ from brand to brand. Walmart drop-ship suppliers, for example, need to follow guidelines laid out in their online guide

Many retailers use applications to scan for missing or incorrect ASNs. Home-improvement retailer Lowe’s runs reports daily to identify missing and rejected ASNs. You can read about the process Lowe’s uses in this document. Suppliers who think they can slide under the radar and skip the ASN will likely be discovered.

Errors can result in fines or rejection of the shipment. Returning a shipment is not cheap and something no supplier wants to deal with. Making sure your EDI is set up properly and the ASNs are in compliance with every retailer you interact with from the get go will eliminate this worry.

We are well versed in the ASN requirements and have produced EDI compliance for all major retailers, and can aid you in this process. Contact us to learn more: call 844-265-3777 or email info@boldvan.com.

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