Advanced shipping notice (ASN)

When it comes to incoming shipments, the more details you can get, the better. An advanced shipping notice (ASN) keeps a recipient in the know about an impending delivery and its contents. Commonly used by suppliers, retailers, distributors, and manufacturers, ASNs create transparency, answer questions, and provide key information to all parties in a shipping transaction.

What is an advanced shipping notice (ASN)?

An Advanced Shipping Notice (ASN), sometimes referred to as an Advanced Shipment Notification, Advanced Shipping Notification, or As Shipped Notice, is a document that tells the recipient about the goods that are being shipped to them. ASNs are required in wholesale shipping so the customer—typically a retailer or other business—can prepare their warehouse to receive the shipment. These notices are typically transmitted via electronic data interchange (EDI)

While the bill of lading and product details will be included with the shipment itself, warehouses and receiving facilities use ASNs to verify that shipments contain the right products and quantities, as well as to properly route and store the goods once received. 

Along with detailed information about upcoming deliveries, an ASN often provides an expected delivery timeframe or tracking information. It gives the customer details about when items will be shipped, which items are included, the number of items in the package, the weight and size or other physical details, and information about the packaging of the shipment.

In some cases, the ASN can include even more details, such as product descriptions, the country of origin, shipper and logistics details, and other key information.


What is EDI 856?

An advanced shipping notice is also known as EDI 856. Electronic data interchange is used to transmit information between B2B suppliers and customers over secure computer-to-computer connections.

EDI 856 is one of the most widely used EDI transactions shared between buyers and sellers. These documents follow an X12 format set by ANSI, the American National Standards Unit, which regulates the formats of EDI notices and transactions in the United States.

EDI 856 is also known as the DESADV for businesses using an alternate EDI standard, EDIFACT. EDI 856 and DESADV are other names for an advanced shipping notice.


How does an ASN work?

An ASN works like any other type of order shipment notification, but it provides more information for B2B customers. This additional information is important in commercial shipping to plan for receiving, storage, and redirection. 

When a wholesale order is ready to be shipped, the supplier informs the buyer through an ASN that the items will soon be en route. Most of the time, ASNs are sent as an EDI 856 file, but they can also be sent via XML or flat file. These file formats are designed for seamless sharing across software systems without manual data input or uploads.

The ASN provides information about quantities, weights, and other details that the recipient can verify against their own order as well as information about the number of boxes, pallets, and other items that are part of the delivery. Many large retail or warehouse recipients mandate that they must receive the ASN in a fixed period in advance of the shipment's arrival.


What are the elements of an ASN?

There are multiple expected elements of an ASN, many of which are required by retailers. These elements are also standardized by the ANSI regulations for what to include in an EDI 856. 

An ASN will include the following information:

  • Shipment number
  • Shipping date
  • Expected delivery date
  • “Ship from” and “ship to” addresses and contact information
  • Purchase order number
  • Item details and quantities
  • Shipment tracking information
  • Item tracking details, such as shipment tracking numbers
  • Product details, like serial numbers or SKUs
  • Packaging details, such as where items can be found: on which pallet, in which carton, etc.
  • Barcode information

Why are ASNs important?

ASNs are important because they provide several opportunities for both sellers and recipients to pinpoint potential errors and verify the accuracy of any given shipment. By checking and verifying the ASN, the recipient can alert the shipper of any discrepancies. 

At the warehouse level, the ASN provides the information needed to prepare for inventory receiving and manage freight scheduling and available dock space. It’s also used to update and verify inventory as well as to create receipts for the items received. 

In essence, the ASN provides key opportunities to discover human error on both sides of a transaction and rectify any issues before costs pile up. ASNs may reduce receiving costs by up to 40%, as recipients do not need to break down each carton to identify its components and can more efficiently offload inventory through optimal staffing, freight truck scheduling, and managing dock availability.

ASNs help to locate shipments if there is a delivery or carrier problem and assist buyers in preparing to properly receive a shipment. This is one reason why many large customers require ASN information far in advance of the items' arrival. Because ASNs are automated, information is delivered quickly and efficiently without the need for human intervention.


What are the benefits of using ASNs?

Advanced shipping notices have advantages for both sides of any shipment transaction, beyond the obvious cost savings and ease of communication. 

Improved transparency on the supply chain

ASNs provide detailed information about where goods are in the supply chain, whether it’s arriving at the seller’s fulfillment center or being shipped to a wholesale customer. When automated through EDI, this information is more likely to be delivered accurately and on time.

Increased accuracy of inventory

ASNs allow buyers to understand which items they will be receiving, and at what time. They can use ASNs to manage and track their current inventory and plan for future orders, especially if they use Just-In-Time inventory planning. 

Customers can also use ASN data to check for inaccuracies, avoiding spiraling costs due to human error and inventory mistakes.

Improved order management

The information in an ASN is not compiled manually. It's pulled from shipping documents and barcodes and instantly transmitted to the buyer. This significantly cuts down on the potential for human error and serious shipping mistakes. ASN shipping also provides clear documentation on both sides of the transaction, reducing the risk of miscommunication.



People also ask...

What does ASN stand for?

How do I create an ASN?

Who is responsible for sending the ASN?

Not exactly what you were looking for?

Airhouse’s EDI integration makes ASN creation easy

Advanced shipping notices can significantly improve your experience as a buyer and seller of goods, cutting costs and improving efficiency. Our EDI integration makes it easy for you to ship wholesale to your B2B customers. Schedule a call with our fulfillment experts to discover how Airhouse can streamline your wholesale orders and reduce your fulfillment costs.

Explore more resources from Airhouse

Airhouse Blog

Find tips, tricks, and advice for building scalable operations at your modern ecommerce company.

Customer Stories

Companies like yours are automating their operations with Airhouse, so they can focus on scaling their brand.


Airhouse makes it easy to hit the ground running with native cart and shipping carrier integrations.