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What Is An Advanced Shipping Notice (ASN)? And Why Does It Matter?

Advanced Shipping Notices (ASNs) are essential documents in today’s rapidly changing world. But they’re not easy to master. Alongside the information you’d expect to be included on these documents–like shipment numbers, delivery dates, and addresses–you’ll find barcodes, tracking numbers, and even expiration dates for perishable goods. It can be a lot to wrap your head around.

January 19, 2023


If you want to take control of your supply chain, you need to master the Advanced Shipping Notice. This easy-to-understand guide will give you a comprehensive understanding of ASNs and their underlying technology.

Let’s go for it.

What Does ASN Stand For?

ASN stands for Advanced Shipping Notice. It’s a document sent by a supplier to a customer in advance of a shipment of goods. It provides detailed information about the products shipped, including product descriptions, quantities, and the expected delivery date. It helps the customer prepare for goods to arrive.

What Is an Advanced Shipping Notice?

A straightforward ASN definition:

An Advanced Shipping Notice (ASN) is a document that provides detailed information about a shipment to a recipient in advance of delivery. It typically includes information such as the shipment’s contents, the quantity, and type of items being shipped, the shipping and billing details, and the expected delivery date.

6 Key Benefits of Advanced Shipping Notices?

Here’s why leading companies rely on ASN shipping to fortify their operations.

  1. Improved Accuracy: ASNs provide detailed information about shipments and their contents, reducing the risk of error and misalignment.
  2. Enhanced Efficiency: ASNs provide advanced notice of a shipment, allowing receivers to prepare and streamline their deliveries.
  3. Increased Transparency: ASNs give both sender and receiver transparency into the status of orders and valuable insights into supply chain processes.
  4. Stronger Customer Experience: Timely ASNs help foster a positive relationship between trading partners. Discrepancies can be rectified quickly, leading to fewer disputes.
  5. Lower Costs: Fewer delays, errors, and misunderstandings reduce unnecessary expenditures. Struggling suppliers find it easier to adhere to the consistent protocols laid out in an ASN.
  6. Improved Forecasting: By providing detailed information in advance, companies can better assess their stock levels and order more accurately to avoid over- or understocking.

What is an EDI ASN?

Before getting into the nitty gritty of an EDI ASN, let’s quickly clarify what we mean by EDI.

A Quick Refresher: What is EDI?

EDI stands for Electronic Data Interchange. It’s a means of sharing information digitally between trading partners. It uses a structured digital format to automate the exchange of business documents computer-to-computer, guaranteeing compliance and safe dispatch and receipt.

EDI is automated. It removes humans from the equation, eliminating mistakes and breakdowns in communication. It requires no pens, paper, ink, stamps, or physical storage, making it the most cost-effective, not to mention efficient, way of sending documents. That’s why it’s highly likely leading companies in your industry rely on ASN EDI to operate their businesses.

6 Benefits of EDI

Here’s why EDI is such a powerful technology for exchanging documents and why (as we’ll see) Advanced Shipping Notices are usually sent using this method.

  1. Faster and More Efficient: Users can create, send, and receive multiple documents in seconds. There’s no need for slow, manual data entry.
  2. Improved Accuracy: EDI data is generated and transmitted automatically. There’s no opportunity for human error.
  3. Reduced Costs: Printing and mailing documents is expensive and unreliable. EDI is inexpensive and dependable.
  4. More Robust Security: EDI documents are encrypted, so they can’t be hacked into or intercepted.
  5. Better Visibility: Digital EDI data can be analyzed to gain insights and make improvements.
  6. Seamless Integration: EDI integrates with core back-office systems like ERP, driving cross-domain collaboration and automation.

What is an EDI Advanced Shipping Notice?

An EDI Advanced Shipping Notice (or EDI ASN) is simply an Advanced Shipping Notice sent via EDI. It communicates the contents of a shipment from one trading partner to another and is sent in advance of a shipment arriving at a trading partner’s facility.

What is EDI 856?

EDI is used in a wide range of industries and usage scenarios. Each scenario has its own “transaction set,” denoted by a 3-digit code.

EDI 856 is the transaction set used for Advanced Shipping Notices, and it includes the following critical information:

  • Shipment-Level Information: Such as Shipment Number, Shipment Date, Expected Delivery Date, Tracking Details (BOL Number, PRO Number, Tracking Number), Carrier Information, and Ship From/To Addresses.
  • Order-Level Information: Such as Purchase Order Numbers.
  • Item-Level Information: Such as Item Details, SKUs, Quantity, Item Tracking Details (serial numbers or lot numbers,) and Expiration Dates for perishable items.
  • Pack-Level Information: Such as barcodes on cartons, RFID tags, items in cartons, and cartons on pallets.

EDI 856 transactions are commonly used by the retail, manufacturing, and automotive industries in response to EDI 850, EDI 830, or EDI 862 transactions. Let’s take a quick look at these to understand how they link together.

EDI 850

EDI 850 is an electronic purchase order (PO). EDI 850 transactions can be used for single or recurring purchases and contain the same information you would find on a paper PO, including items, prices, quantities, and discounts, as well as shipping details and payment terms.

EDI 830

EDI 830 is a Planning Schedule transaction set–essentially an electronic sales forecast. Senders are typically manufacturers communicating with suppliers. The Schedule allows the supplier to plan resources and automatically fulfill orders based on a customer’s inventory levels.

EDI 862

EDI 862 is a Shipping Schedule transaction set that sets out shipping instructions and requirements. These instructions support an EDI 830 (above) for Just-in-Time (JIT) manufacturing.

In Conclusion,

Advanced Shipping Notices (ASNs) provide detailed information about a shipment to a recipient in advance of delivery. They improve accuracy, enhance efficiency, increase visibility, strengthen business relationships, and improve forecasting.

EDI Advanced Shipping Notices, which are transmitted electronically using the EDI system, offer the added benefits of automation and digital transmission. This means faster communication, improved security, reduced costs, and seamless integration with back-office systems.

Looking to optimize your operations and supply chain management with EDI ASNs? Contact us at 1 EDI Source and let one of our knowledgeable specialists guide you on how to get started.