Being able to anticipate what’s coming over the horizon is essential in today’s business environment. This is what makes the advance shipping notice (ASN) so important for today’s modern logistics operations. Also known as an EDI 856, an outboard shipping notice, or a manifest, this relatively simple document plays a critical role in keeping shipments moving throughout the world and enabling retailers to plan more effectively.   

What is an ASN in shipping, and what makes it such a crucial component? Read on to learn more.  

What the ASN Is and What It Does 

What is EDI 856, also known as the ASN? In short, it is an advance notice given to a retailer or buyer announcing that an order has been shipped and is on its way to its destination. Most consumers today are familiar with the basic concept. The ASN is sent to the recipient through an electronic data interchange and uploaded to a warehouse management system.   

Among the details included in an ASN are:  

  • Expected delivery date and time 
  • Dispatch date  
  • Order reference number 
  • Location information 
  • Courier details 
  • Tracking number  
  • Pallet codes 
  • Product details  
  • Shipment contents 

Although there is no standardized format for these documents, most ASNs should include most if not all of these details. 

Why an ASN Matters so Much 

Today’s logistics move at lightning speed, and businesses need to be able to plan effectively if they want to keep up with the marketplace. Not only does an ASN make it easier to load and unload cargo faster and with a reduced chance for error, but it also helps keep inventory from piling and can ensure higher-priority items are expedited.

Retailers that practice just-in-time inventory management methods benefit from these early warnings because they can keep track of what they order and when they can expect it to arrive. They also make it easier to be notified of any delays. In addition to these qualities, the fact that they can be shared over the Internet means they can streamline data entry.  

WSI can provide you with a wide range of innovative solutions — including ASN capabilities — for businesses that want to outsource fulfillment and other 3PL services. To learn more about what we can do for you, get in touch today. 

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