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Advance Ship Notice

An advance ship notice, also known as EDI 856, is a common electronic data interchange (EDI) transaction between vendors and customers. The ASN is used to notify a receiver of an upcoming delivery. 

Many retailers often require vendors to send the ASN within a defined time period before the goods arrive at their warehouse or distribution center.

What is Advance Ship Notice (ASN)?

An Advance Ship Notice (ASN) is a message sent by a vendor to a consumer that contains information about the goods to be shipped and the shipment itself.

Key Elements of an Advance Ship Notice

There are several key elements that are included on an ASN. They include the following:

How Do Businesses Use an ASN?

Once a vendor receives an order and prepares it for shipping, they have to inform the buyers about the details of the shipment. This allows the buyers to prepare for the upcoming shipment and take basic steps, such as allocating the space for the shipment in their warehouse. 

Vendors usually send an ASN with details about the inventory so that the company can later reconcile it once the shipment is received. It allows companies to streamline operations and be informed on what they are going to receive and on which date. This allows them to better prepare and reduce any delays. 

Benefits of Using the ASN

Using the ASN helps companies prepare for logistical issues well in advance and affects three major areas: flexibility in allocating goods, managing costs, and offering greater accuracy in evaluating shipments. 


The ASN includes information about the goods that are soon to arrive, which makes it easy for the company to start preparing for fulfilling orders in advance. Once they know exactly what’s going to be shipped and by when, the company can then prepare better for fulfilling outstanding orders.

This also reduces the offloading times when goods are received at the dock, and mitigates the risk of human error considerably, as goods are processed automatically instead of manually. 

Accuracy in Evaluating Shipments

Once the company receives the ASN, they can check it with the purchase order and make sure everything is aligned. If there are discrepancies between what was ordered and what’s going to be shipped, the company can contact the vendor to make changes. 

Because the shipment isn’t in transit yet, it’s much easier for the vendor to make changes early on, instead of having to send an additional shipment later on if certain products are missing. 

Cost Efficiencies

The ASN contains a list of all the barcodes that are included on the shipment and outlines the contents on each pallet. This reduces receiving costs by a significant margin, as the company doesn’t have to spend significant time or manpower checking each shipment. 

How is an ASN Formatted? 

In most cases, the ASN is presented in a raw format, which means it’s designed to be read by machines that incorporate EDI software, instead of humans. The machine takes the raw data from the ASN and then converts it into a human-readable format. Most companies use the X12 format established by the American National Standards Institute.

An important component of the Advanced Ship Notice is that it contains data in hierarchical order. Because it contains different volumes of data, the supplier must provide an accurate description for each, including the unit load, the order details, shipment details, and other details. 

More importantly, since the ASN is transmitted over EDI software, there’s no risk of any data entry errors. On top of that, using an ASN means the company doesn’t have to rely on paper-based communications as much, which helps them reduce administrative expenditure by a significant margin. 

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SoftCo’s Procure-to-Pay makes it easy for companies to introduce cost efficiencies into their end-to-end financial processes. It allows businesses to automate their entire finance process, from automating invoices to payment posting and integrates seamlessly with all popular ERP systems. 

It allows for three-way invoice matching and offers complete visibility and control over each and every element in the procurement process.