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Advanced shipping notices: Definition and management guide

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When customers place online orders, they expect brands to inform them about the shipment; it’s no different when businesses place an order with one of their suppliers.

When an incoming shipment of inventory is on its way, businesses need access to relevant information on how it needs to be handled when it arrives at their warehouse. 

But if an order is shipped with no prior notice, your team may not be prepared to handle this latest shipment. This increases the time it takes to receive inventory and get it unpacked, scanned into inventory, and stored in the correct picking zone. In turn, this can cause serious delays in fulfilling customer orders.

How is the above scenario avoided? Through advanced shipping notices (ASNs).

We’re going to break down what an advanced shipping notice is, how it works, and how the Whiplash platform makes managing ship notices a breeze.

What is an advanced shipping notice (ASN)?

An advanced shipping notice (ASN) also known as advanced shipping notifications or simply as ship notices, is a physical or electronic document sent by a supplier or manufacturer to the business receiving a shipment.

An advance ship notice provides the recipient with detailed information on upcoming deliveries. This includes item details, the exact quantity of merchandise, delivery dates, and any other information needed to allow for sufficient planning to receive the order.

The purpose of advanced shipping notices is to ensure that a business’s inventory systems are synced correctly and are otherwise ready when a shipment arrives. A ship notice can be sent using a variety of formats such as via the traditional EDI system (Electronic Data Interchange), extensible markup language (XML), or via a warehouse management system (WMS).

What does an advanced shipping notice contain?

The contents of an ASN will vary depending on the retail and distributor clients and the physical characteristics of the items being shipped i.e. perishable items or hazmat deliveries. Most advanced shipment notices will contain the following:

  • Shipment identifier (purchase order number, shipment number)
  • Date of dispatch
  • SKU details and quantities
  • Product specifications
  • Estimated delivery date and time
  • Pallet codes
  • Carrier information
  • Packaging and labeling details

Why should brands receive advanced shipping notices?

Identify inventory mistakes before they happen

Checking that advanced shipping notices provide the same information as the initial order form helps to prevent errors within the physical shipment, which can be costly and slow to fix – especially if a shipment is coming from an overseas supplier. By reviewing an ASN as soon as it’s sent, brands can pick up on any discrepancies in the incoming inventory and take steps to rectify them.

Better relationships with suppliers

Because advanced shipping notices facilitate proactive communication, suppliers can demonstrate their commitment to transparency and open communication. Sharing detailed information about shipments helps to establish a sense of reliability which positively impacts the business relationship. As suppliers get to know a brand’s expectations and preferences regarding shipments and reporting, the supply chain will become more streamlined over time.

Ensure that warehouses are prepared for the receiving process

Receiving an advance shipping notice ensures that businesses know exactly what inventory they are getting so they can plan an appropriate receiving strategy. This includes:

  • How much labor is needed to unpack and inspect the merchandise.
  • Whether any specialized equipment is needed.
  • Where/how goods will be stored within the warehouse or fulfillment center.
  • Whether any inventory needs to be diverted to fulfill outstanding customer orders.

Having this important information to hand ahead of delivery helps to eliminate human error and inefficiencies during the receiving process, ensuring that goods can be unloaded, inspected, and ready for picking and packing as quickly and accurately as possible.

Improve inventory management accuracy

Proactive advanced shipping notices make it easier for brands to keep their inventory records up to date and to align their inventory levels with their demand forecasts. Having exact inventory counts at your disposal for incoming inventory reduces unnecessary stockouts and wait times for order fulfillment, increasing customer satisfaction and supply chain efficiency.

Moreover, better inventory management also opens up opportunities to increase sales, such as offering pre-orders for popular products. This keeps inventory moving during busy periods such as peak season and frees up valuable storage space for seasonal inventory.

Streamline shipping notices with Ryder E-commerce

Ryder E-commerce’s Whiplash platform makes handling advanced shipping notices easy for our customers and warehouse teams. This real-time proprietary technology system enables brands to keep track of every advanced shipping notification, giving unparalleled control and flexibility over every shipment.

Every time you are expecting an incoming order of inventory, a Ship Notice needs to be created to alert your warehouse team to prepare for receiving and processing. Single or multiple Ship Notices can be uploaded via CSV, or created manually.

With Whiplash Ship Notices, you can:

  • View estimated delivery times and item quantities at a glance via one intuitive interface.
  • Easily filter notices by order status such as In Transit, Arrived, Processing, and Completed.
  • Edit Ship Notices right up until the shipment arrives, helping to avoid costly inventory errors.
  • Have your team add notes to Ship Notices to notify you about damage, missing items, or inaccurate labels in real time.
  • Configure inventory to appear in your online store before shipments are received, enabling advanced strategies like pre-ordering for your customers.

Advanced shipping notices are a vital part of the shipping process for brands and retailers. They protect against human error and ensure that warehouse staff are prepared to handle incoming inventory. This ensures that outstanding orders can be fulfilled quickly and valuable dollars can be saved in inventory receiving costs. By choosing the right technology solution to support inventory management, you can ensure that your team is always ready to respond to the latest inventory updates.

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