What is an advanced shipping notice?
An advanced shipping notice, or ASN, is a document that gives a consumer notice of a pending delivery. Often delivered in an electronic format (as an electronic data interchange, or EDI), the ASN is essentially a packing list that gives the consumer detailed information about their delivery. Other common names for an advance ship notice include EDI 856 and DESADV (an acronym for Despatch Advice). The document itself can also be referred to as a bill of lading or an EDI document.
In simplest terms, an ASN is one of the best ways to boost communication with your customers. But why does that matter? Right now, e-commerce is the fastest-growing area of retail — online sales are expected to reach $27.2T in 2021 — and because delivery is often the only physical touchpoint a consumer has with a brand, getting it right is essential.
In fact, 99% of consumers expect post-purchase communication from their retailers, whether that’s keeping them up to date on their delivery status or collaborating with them if a delivery exception occurs. According to our research, 73% of customers will not return after a poor delivery experience.
How does an ASN work?
The prime value of ASNs lies in the way they increase communication and purchase order visibility. That’s important for parcel shipping to individual shoppers — who’ll have a better grasp of when their delivery is arriving — but it’s also valuable for freight shipping and businesses.
In essence, the advance shipping notice can help both buying and selling organizations gain a better real-time grasp of their inventories, allowing them to optimize their open-to-buy budgets, their supply chain logistics, and the running of their distribution center. Consistent use of well-designed ASNs is a clear way businesses can boost their bottom line.
During holidays and other peak seasons, customers have high expectations when it comes to delivery dates and shipment status. For consumers, ASNs offer increased order visibility and peace of mind. For businesses, they offer the ability to proactively manage inventory and to ensure consistent, successful deliveries — all of which can dramatically boost customer satisfaction.
Because ASNs carry several important pieces of information and need to be created for each order, manually inputting that information can be a time-consuming endeavor. For that reason, businesses often leverage other technologies, such as an electronic data interface (EDI) to help automatically generate ASNs for their orders. ASNs might also be incorporated into a larger ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system or a warehouse management system.
ASN Checklist: Important elements to include in an ASN
An advanced shipping notice will typically convey several important pieces of information, including:
- Order Number
- Order Date
- Customer Name/Number
- Shipping Address
- Items Included in the Shipment
- Shipment Method
- Expected Arrival Date
- Tracking Number
Benefits and challenges of ASN
ASNs offer a number of critical shipping-related benefits for businesses.
Increases order visibility
By providing estimated delivery dates for shipments — a key functionality — ASNs provide greater order visibility for both companies and consumers while increasing schedulability. For individual consumers, the ASN also offers a tracking number that can provide real-time information on their order status.
By increasing the efficiency of sorting and shipping and cutting down on human errors, ASNs help to streamline the shipping process. They also make it easy to quickly identify and correct delivery exceptions — a critical factor to consider when 93% of consumers expect to receive notifications when their order experiences a delay.
Boosts e-commerce communication
With contemporary trends like drop shipping gaining steam in e-commerce, effective communication — between businesses and businesses and between businesses and consumers — is more important than ever. ASNs are one of the best tools for increasing the optimization of e-commerce order management.
Challenges to consider
There are a few things to keep in mind when considering implementing ASNs into your business model, including:
- Startup costs. To fully implement and get the most out of ASNs, your business will need to integrate RFIDs and barcode scanning capabilities into your supply chain. This isn’t the priciest technology out there, but it is something you should be aware of.
- Training time. Implementing ASNs will require training on the part of your staff, as well as some acclimation time to reach full efficiency and get the most out of the new system.
- Data errors. For freight shipping, errors most commonly occur when listing the number of items shipped. If an error occurs, the whole process will need to be restarted. For parcel shipping, this tends not to be a problem.
Free advanced shipping notice template
If you’re interested in diving into ASNs, check out our free Advanced Shipping Notice Template below.
Examples of useful ASNs
Below, we’ve brought together two useful ASNs that illustrate what the form can do at its best.
This ASN takes a minimalist approach, providing the customer with the option to learn more by clicking through to a dedicated tracking package, where they’ll have access to more detailed information.
While this ASN offers some of the same functionalities — the customer can click through to a dedicated tracking page for more details — many of the important data points are clearly and effectively displayed. The estimated delivery date is large and highly visible, and with a quick glance to the right, the customer can confirm they’ve shipped the product to their preferred address.
How to use ASNs to your competitive advantage
In addition to offering a host of general benefits, ASNs are ideal tools for a wide array of particular use cases, and can help with:
- Optimizing drop-shipping.
- Streamlining cross-docking.
- Accelerating direct store delivery.
Finding clever ways to leverage the power of ASNs helped BBQ Guys skewer the competition. Because its diverse orders often mean its team has to split shipments between parcel and freight, achieving cost-efficiency and true optimization is a headache. Teaming up with Logicbroker and Convey, however, helped the team to automate the process of choosing the right shipping company for each order and filing the necessary paperwork.
Similarly, UrbanStems used ASNs to optimize visibility in its supply chain. With the help of Convey Discover, its team is able to visualize shipments that are predicted to miss their estimated delivery date and address the issue proactively and efficiently — thanks to the hours saved, UrbanStems seen a cost savings of 85% when it comes to service costs.
In last mile delivery, communication is key
With last mile delivery costs trending upward and accounting for roughly 50% of all transportation costs, the cost-saving that comes with optimization and automation of last-mile delivery processes is set to become vital to business success. And it’s not just about cost-savings — there’s also the valuable time to be gained, with some brands recovering 20% of their freight speed.
Customization and communication will be the name of the game when it comes to the future of the last mile. Giving customers more flexibility in terms of delivery and drop-off times and granting them access to real-time data on their shipment status will be two major goals of businesses heading into the future. Providing a seamless post-purchase experience will come down to Delivery Experience Management, the future of the last mile.