What is advance shipping notice?

image shows iPad at farm with "in transit" being sent to a laptop in a grocery store

As consumers, we have gotten accustomed to knowing exactly when our online orders ship and when they are expected to arrive at our doorstep. This is possible due to advance shipping notice (ASN). 

ASNs are usually sent through an electronic format, also referred to as electronic data information (EDI) 856 or “shipped notice.” These notices provide the customer with extensive detail about their order before it arrives at its destination. ASNs can include detailed information such as order product descriptions, delivery date, country of origin, physical description, type of packaging, transportation/logistics information, and a tracking number. It is essentially the seller’s way of sending an automatic message to the buyer that the product has left their doors and is en route

An ASN can come with any type package. Its contents varying from ordering computer parts, a new subscription service, books, or other goods. ASNs are also used in the produce industry to notify buyers of perishable produce or other dry goods that their order has left the farm or warehouse and is being shipped to its final destination.

Before the advancement of modernized communication tools, people needed to use a bill of lading to describe the contents of an order. This document travelled with the shipment to its final destination as a proof of delivery of the goods ordered. New technology now enables humans to communicate more efficiently, specifically through digital and electronic methods. This led to the creation of ASNs, a modern logistics tool that can benefit almost every supply chain. It was so revolutionary because it notified the customer that an order had been shipped before the items arrived at their destination

 

How does ASN work?

Once a supplier receives a purchase order from a vendor, production starts on fulfilling that order. After the order has been processed and shipped, the supplier notifies the buyer through an ASN that their goods are en route. These notifications are usually sent through an electronic format (EDI 856, XML, or flat file) and frequently integrate into many enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems or Warehouse Management Systems (WMS). It is vital that the ASN arrive to the buyer or delivery point before the product gets delivered. ASNs are by definition advanced shipping notices, so they offer limited added value if they arrive after the shipment has been delivered. While the ASN is used to plan ahead and prepare for the incoming order, they are then also used to receive the order once it arrives by verifying the actual shipment matches the ASN amounts. Once this is confirmed, the seller can create an invoice. 

Image shows multiple small images to show how package is sent

What documentation is included in ASN?

The information supplied by ASNs will have differences depending on trading partner requirements. Some partners need more detailed information, especially when sending packages internationally. On a basic level, an ASN will include: 

  • Specific contents of the shipment
  • Quantities of products shipped
  • Date of shipment 
  • Purchase order (PO) associated with the shipped products
  • Logistics or carrier information

With added technology, ASNs can also include traceability data. With traceability capabilities, suppliers can send ASNs with additional information contained in a barcode, such as: 

  • Tracking number, including Pallet ID 
  • Location the product came from, including item number and lot number
  • Product harvest date and/or pick date

What are the benefits of ASNs?

There are many benefits of ASNs, one of the reasons they are practically ubiquitous in supply chain operations. Some businesses have gotten to a point where they refuse an order unless an ASN has been sent before the arrival date of the shipment 

Managing inventory and warehouse planning can be quite complicated. Receiving ASN information allows buyers to better understand incoming inventory, accurately plan stock allocation, streamline the receiving process, make educated procurement decisions, and reduce stress. For example, you order 500 cases of blueberries to supply your 5 fruit stores. Your supplier receives this order but is only able to ship 400 cases of blueberries. With an ASN, you are able to plan ahead and order an extra 100 cases of blueberries from another vendor before the shipment has even arrived at your doors

The information in an ASN lets buyers know the date that their products are expected to arrive, which allows them to better manage inventory. For example, a buyer knows that 400 cases of blueberries are expected to arrive next week, they can prepare in advance for this incoming inventory in their store needs.

With added traceability capabilities, ASNs allow you to not only see the basic information that allows you to do better inventory and warehouse planning, but also includes more granular information such as when the blueberries were harvested, which specific lot the blueberries came from, and which warehouses the blueberries travelled to before reaching your store. Knowing this traceability information in the ASN allows buyers to accurately plan which blueberries need to hit the shelf first. 

Traceability data attached to a barcode also allows buyers to easily receive the products being shipped. Instead of needing to manually look at each individual case in a truck to confirm the order details, the receiver can scan a barcode which automatically displays the contents and other relevant traceability data.

Finally, traceability information gives the buyer added security in the event of a recall. With immediate information on specific farms and lot IDs, buyers can protect their customers before they receive the affected product.. For this reason, many large buyers now require this traceability information

 

How to implement ASN with order management and traceability

iTradeNetwork makes sending and receiving ASN information easy and efficient. With iTrade's Order Management System (OMS), there is no need to manually add or edit product details. Once you've uploaded your catalog into the system, you will be able to automatically receive purchase orders and send ASNs. After you receive a purchase order in our system, you simply fulfill that order, update logistics details and shipping method, then change the purchase order status to "in transit." This automatically sends an electronic ASN with all of the pertinent information to the customer. The buyer receives this as a notification in their OMS portal.

In addition, with iTrade’s added traceability solution, the granularity in detail gets even better. Scan your Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI)-compliant labels and automatically upload all your traceability information to the purchase order and ASN. This allows your customers to know not just which products are coming but when they were harvested, which warehouses they enter, and any other necessary data. Receiving these shipments is easy and automatic with the scanning of the barcode.

Learn more about how you can streamline your order management process, boost sales, and get trusted traceability data for your business with iTrade and ASNs.

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