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Advanced Shipping Notices: A Guide for eCommerce Businesses

vijay

Vijay Kumar

Senior Specialist - Marketing @ Shiprocket

August 10, 2023

7 min read

eCommerce is a brand-new way of online shopping that has overturned traditional business. The one thing which has helped eCommerce become such a popular option is its seamless shipping facilities. It is the benchmark to differentiate successful online retailers. As businesses strive to meet customer demands for prompt deliveries and efficient supply chains, a specialised new logistics standard helps achieve it – Advanced Shipping Notices (ASNs). In this comprehensive guide, let us explore the working of ASNs and why it helps businesses to create a great eCommerce experience for buyers.  

Advanced Shipping Notices (ASNs): What Is It? 

Logistics services have evolved extensively as providers and carriers have automated most processes with data-driven technology processes. Much of the paper trail needed to complete the logistics stages in traditional logistics is now by digitised tokens or receipts. One such important electronic trail to identify the movement of goods on a logistics cycle is Advanced Shipping Notices (ASNs). It is a pivotal component of modern supply chain practices.

An ASN is an electronic notification from a supplier to the next recipient in the logistics line-up, informing them about an upcoming shipment they are dispatching. Hence, the recipient is notified much before the physical delivery of the shipment. Thus, recipients have the time to prepare for the delivery of the consignment and plan for its storage. Therefore, the ASN bridges the transit of goods between the supplier’s warehouse and the recipient’s loading dock. It also gives time to prepare for deliveries, thus streamlining the process and ensuring a smoother flow of goods.

Components of an ASN

An ASN is an important notification which carries detailed information about an order that is to be dispatched. All the supply chain details in an ASN are as follows:

  • Shipping Details: The first information field in an ASN is about the shipment itself. It has the shipment’s unique tracking number, the carrier’s details, and the likely delivery date. Hence, this becomes an essential notification for the recipients to track the progress of their shipment in real-time and align their operations accordingly.
  • Product Information: ASNs include a full list of the products in the shipment. It comprises a breakdown of the product trail – the SKU (Stock Keeping Unit), the product description, quantity, and unit of measure. This granular level of detail helps maintain accurate inventory records and optimise stock levels.
  • Packaging Information – ASN also includes details of the type of packaging used for every product on the list. The dimensions and weight of the package give recipients the information needed to allocate space optimally and streamline the unloading process.
  • Handling Unit Information – ASN includes more detailed information about the handling units in which the products are packed, like the number of pallets or cartons leading to efficient handling and unloading of the shipment upon delivery.
  • Transportation Details – ASNs also provide the carrier’s name, shipping method, and routing details, allowing recipients to plan their resource availability and optimise their logistics operations.

Thus, ASNs are crucial enablers of the logistics industry as they provide recipients with the information needed to prepare for delivery.

Differentiating ASN from EDI 856

In addition to ASN (Advance Ship Notice), there’s another important term in logistics called EDI 856, which stands for Electronic Data Interchange 856. EDI simply means that it’s a document in an electronic format. So, an ASN is actually an EDI document with code 856 used for keeping records.

When an ASN is sent to the recipient through the Electronic Data Interchange, it carries the code ‘EDI 856’ to identify its format.

To put it simply, the EDI 856 document, also known as the Advance Ship Notice (ASN), provides specific information about the contents of a shipment. This way, the recipient knows how to handle the shipment when it arrives at their location. The details in the EDI 856 will vary depending on the order, but it will contain the following important information about the shipment:

  • Purchase Order (PO) Number
  • Shipment Number
  • Shipping Date
  • Expected Delivery Date and Time
  • Origin and Destination Information (Including Addresses)
  • Item Details and Quantity
  • Physical Characteristics (Type of Packaging Used, etc.)
  • Pallet Codes
  • Shipment Tracking Details (Tracking Number, Bill of Lading (BOL) Number, etc.)
  • Packaging Details
  • Carrier Details
  • UCC 128/GS1 Numbers

Benefits of Advanced Shipping Notices

Ever since the logistics industry adopted the EDI format and issued ASNs, there has been a transformative impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of logistics and shipping businesses. Here are some of the ways by which eCommerce businesses can benefit from ASNs –  

  • Visibility: ASNs enhance visibility as they show real-time changes in shipment progress. Thus visibility helps in managing and minimising delays and updating customers with accurate information transparently.
  • Better Inventory Handling: ASNs are extremely critical in the age of automated and semi-automated inventory management. As ASN provides detailed product information prior to delivery,  businesses can update their inventory systems in real-time, maintain leaner inventories and reduce carrying costs.
  • Error-free, Accurate Orders: ASNs help recipients to cross-check incoming shipments against their purchase orders accurately. Businesses receive the right quantities and minimise discrepancies and errors, enhancing customer experience.
  • Receiving Orders is Eased: ASNs have the information for a business to be knowledgeable about managing orders and can allocate appropriate resources for various processes like unloading and storage.  
  • Quick Resolution: ASNs guide businesses to address potential issues proactively. It is a   proactive approach to minimise delays, enhance customer satisfaction, and reduce the overall cost of returns and claims.

Procedure to Raise an ASN

ASNs can be created or raised by an eCommerce business by following these steps:  

  • Preparation: Using the EDI software, suppliers compile all relevant shipment information, product details, packaging, and transportation data.  
  • Issuing the ASN: Once the ASN is fully prepared, the supplier sends it electronically to the recipient or customer. It is received by the recipient immediately, fast-tracking the logistics process at every stage. 
  • Receiving the Shipment: Based on the ASN information, recipients prepare to download the shipment and enable their infrastructure and resources. 
  • Verifying the Shipment: As the shipment docks at the recipient’s loading bay, the verification process begins. The contents of the shipment are evaluated by cross-referencing with ASN for order accuracy and customer satisfaction.
  • Processing and Updating Inventory: With verification complete, the recipient proceeds to update their inventory system. This essential step ensures that inventory records are up-to-date, accurately reflecting the received goods. As a result, businesses can fulfill future orders with confidence, knowing their inventory levels are accurate.

Conclusion

While eCommerce has turned around businesses from brick-and-mortar transactional phase to online buying and digital payment, one of its key processes, shipping and logistics services too, has undergone technology-driven changes. Advanced Shipping Notices have revolutionised the logistics industry, providing advanced notification of shipments and enabling businesses to plan, prepare, and streamline their operations. From improved visibility to proactive issue resolution, ASNs and EDI have changed shipping experiences forever! 

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

How are ASNs generated and sent?

ASNs are generated electronically by suppliers using EDI software or other electronic systems. Once prepared, the ASN is sent electronically to the recipient or customer.

Are ASNs mandatory for all shipments? 

By default, not all shipments may come with an ASN. You can always request one from your supplier.  

Can the Advanced Shipping Notice be changed after it is issued?

ASN changes can be made if there are concerns by communicating directly with the supplier. 

  

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