Advance Shipping Notice (ASN). All you need to know


The Advanced Shipping Notice or so-called ASN is a formal and simple document from a vendor. Many sellers ask about what does ASN mean in logistics. So, it contains all the important information about retailers and in some cases - consumers. Vendors send ASN documents to the retailers to inform them about the fact that the order is heading from the manufacturer to the delivery point. No matter whether the order is sent to a distribution center, store, warehouse or a customer, it is important, as vendors have to keep an eye on the supply chain and find out whether a consumer is satisfied.

What are Advance Shipping Notices?

ASNs are documents that contain data about pending goods delivery. People often call such documents EDI 856, Outbound Ship Notice/Manifest, or DESADV. For example, advance shipping notices are necessary when a manufacturer sends goods to a retailer that plans to sell products in a brick-and-mortar store.

Advance shipping notices have several functions. First and foremost is notifying about the shipment. ASN usually tells retailers when and where their order was shipped, which products in what quantities were shipped. ASN documents for retail also include the weight of products, the number of items in one box, the number of boxes, the mode of transportation and carrier’s data.


What Do ASN Document Include?

Their contents depend on the specific requirements of trading partners, but usually, ASN include:

  • Delivery date and time.
  • Order information.
  • Location details.
  • Product details.
  • Pallet codes.
  • Carrier’s information.
  • Physical characteristics: type of packaging, etc.


These documents are sent to trading partners before the shipment itself. After successful delivery, another document - an invoice - is sent. If you cooperate with a third-party carrier or logistics company, you can ask them for ASN documents. Usually, most buyers even don’t accept any orders without advanced shipment notices.

Nearly all EDI (electronic data interchange) solutions for eCommerce include ASNs, this is an important part of nowadays logistics.


Why Sellers Need ASN Documents?

They serve several purposes:

  • First, it provides retailers with an estimated arrival time. It has barcodes, so processing such orders is much faster, they can be transferred directly to warehouses.
  • If a product is shipped to a consumer, it has all the necessary shipment data, for example, typical FedEx, USPS or UPS tracking number
  • ASN documents also can be used for finalizing getting funds from consumer’s bank account.

You see, advance shipping notices include a lot of useful information.


  • Besides being the confirmation for shipment, it is a resource of other data and details about the product. The kind of documents is extremely helpful and time-saving when unloading trucks and handling the inventory.
  • Once the shipment arrives, the EDI 856 data is used for ensuring that each item has been delivered. For doing this, you have just to scan a code. This helps to see what is shipped and whether these are items you have actually ordered.


These notices also can tell you whether your delivery is delayed.

If vendors and retailers both use EDI systems, the process will be automatic, without any emails and paper documents. So, this is more convenient than emailing all the data about orders or using fax.

Still, ASNs have a different meaning for various receivers.

Let’s look at the details of each situation where people need advances shipping notices:



ASN documents for Cross Dock

In the ‘cross dock’ model of fulfillment, shipping notices in EDI 856 ordinary include locations from where orders are shipped further to distributions centers. Barcode labels are commonly used in this model. This allows doing everything quickly, as there won’t be any picking and putaway operations.

What elements are there in cross dock ASN documents?

  • Packaging structure (i.e. SOPI/SOTI/SOTPI)
  • Mark for locations
  • GS1-128 numbers which are analogs for barcode labels.


Beneficially, cross dock ASN documents provide more visibility for planning resources in warehouses (space, equipment, and labor).

It also makes products’ movement to warehouses quicker and easier.


Advanced Shipping Notices for Stores/Warehouses

If one doesn’t need cross dock delivery and can ship orders directly to a warehouse or a store, here how this is done. By the way, direct shipping to stores and warehouses lets retailers manage the receiving process much easier. The whole process becomes automated, which is time-saving and doesn’t require many efforts from the side of a receiver.

The key elements of ASN documents for stores and warehouses are pretty much the same to the previous cross dock model:

  • Packaging structure (i.e. SOPI/SOTI/SOTPI)
  • GS1-128 numbers which are analogs for barcode labels.

They just don’t need any marks for locations, as product come to their final destination.


We can list lots of benefits of using advanced shipping notices on this point:

  • High visibility for resources planning (space, equipment, and labor in warehouses or stores of retailers).
  • Validation of how everything was packed.
  • Preparation for automating all future receiving processes.
  • Improving stores’ product flow-through.
  • Automatic capturing of GTIN codes or other numbers.
  • Faster recognition of received items, quick reordering in specific situations.


ASN Documents for Drop Shippers

In this model, advanced shipping notices are used to confirm that goods are shipped to an end consumer. Without such documents, a retailer won’t have visibility to the status of shipment and its tracking data. No labels are necessary here, as end consumers don’t need them. However, there are some crucial data included to ASNs:

  • The number of the order.
  • Carrier’s tracking number.

So, drop shippers can see whether goods are received in their EDI system. This also helps retailers communicate with the customers about the order and helps drop shippers keep an eye on payments from the customer’s side.


When Do You Need ASN Documents?

Sometimes not only retailers but individual consumers want to get advance shipping notices to know when their order is going to arrive.

These notices are not crucial, still, the benefits of using them are obvious. They help everyone to keep an eye on orders and inventory. They are time-saving and effective in terms of logistics. Such ASN documents are part of advanced shipping technologies and make the work simpler.

Don’t hesitate to use them in your business as well!