How the Advance Shipping Notice supports retail operations | Transalis Blog

Major retailers are increasingly mandating that their suppliers use Advance Shipping Notice messages.

But what are Advance Shipping Notices and why are they so vital in the retail industry? This blog explains everything Supply Chain Managers should know.

Are you a Waitrose supplier?

Waitrose suppliers are now required to send Advance Shipping Notices. Schedule a meeting with one of our team to learn more.

What is an Advance Shipping Notice?

An Advance Shipping Notice, is also known as an Advance Shipment Notification or ASN.

An ASN is a message used by trading partners to advise a receiving party of a shipment. It is required to be sent by the supplier within a specific timeframe before the product arrives at the retailer’s distribution centre or store. They are increasingly part of the standard message set that many major retailers require from their suppliers.

There are several reasons why Advance Shipping Notices are used for efficient supply chain management. Here are some of the key ones:

  • Efficiency – ASNs allow for faster processing of shipments. They ensure the recipient is prepared for the incoming goods

  • Communication – ASNs maintain open communication between suppliers and customers. The buyer knows what to expect, leading to smooth operations

  • Accuracy – Correlating ASNs with the packing list, discrepancies are addressed promptly. This minimises errors and supports efficiency

Why do suppliers resist supporting ASNs?

Evidently, automating shipping communications with Advance Shipping Notice EDI messages is beneficial. So why do some suppliers resist implementing this capability?

Change is often met with resistance, for a variety of reasons. For the most part, suppliers resist ASN implementation because of the potential disruption and adaptation required. For example, not all suppliers have the existing resources to support ASNs. This is further compounded as internal teams are hesitant to comply with new processes. When teams are accustomed to manual processing, implementing new automated systems can seem daunting. As a result, investing in new technologies and systems that will disrupt existing processes becomes a barrier for many suppliers.

Therefore, both retailers and their suppliers need to forecast the ROI of introducing automated Advance Shipping Notice functionality. E.g. the potential temporary disruption vs. the improved supply chain visibility and efficiency.

The challenges and solutions for retailers

Retailers have several challenges, partly due to supplier resistance, as described. However, when approached correctly, ASN capability can be implemented across the entire trading network.

Larger retailers that have a vast network of suppliers will encounter challenges as each supplier will likely have different capabilities, systems, and processes. This can make the coordination of the project more complex. However, initial support from the solution provider will assess the requirement across the network and begin engagement with the suppliers for a more straightforward onboarding process.

A clear communications strategy is essential to further overcome some of the anticipated resistance from suppliers. This provides an opportunity for the retailer to convey the importance of implementing ASN capability and address any concerns. Educating, training, and providing ongoing support to supplier teams also overcomes some common onboarding challenges. For example, live demos and guides that walk through how to generate and interpret ASNs, troubleshoot issues, and maximize the benefits of the system.

At Transalis, we understand the necessity for frictionless deployment. We include a fully supported onboarding process to complement all our solutions. Following the stages below ensures an efficient set-up;

  • Stage 1. Recruitment: Identify the delivery team across all parties and define their roles/responsibilities

  • Stage 2. Engagement: Outline the plan to all parties to confirm the project scope, set timelines, and identify potential roadblocks

  • Stage 3. Enablement: Start onboarding following project sign-off, with multiple, simultaneous work streams

  • Stage 4. Handover: Transition from production/operational teams over to support and CX for ongoing management

ASN mandates within supermarket retail

Retailers are increasingly mandating the use of ASNs as part of the required message set for all of their suppliers. This communication has become especially important for FMCG and fresh food retailers, such as supermarkets.

Suppliers of all sizes need to be aware of this. Particularly as they engage with retailers to secure new supplier contracts.

Transalis has direct experience with these new mandated requirements, the most recent being for our clients that supply Waitrose. Below is an extract from our blog piece regarding our client Shaken Udder, after we supported them in extending the EDI message set to comply with a new Morrisons message requirement:

Our client and producer of premium fresh milkshakes, Shaken Udder, already exchanged invoices and order documents with Morrisons using a Transalis eDI™ solution.

However, Morrisons notified Shaken Udder that they needed to extend the existing EDI message set, to also include ASNs among others. Following the set deadline, the supplier would need to send an ASN via EDI when a delivery was despatched to a Fresh Distribution Centre. The ASN message also had to contain product details, such as shelf-life dates, quantity, and weight of the delivery.

Transalis supported Shaken Udder with this new requirement and ensured the new capability was live within the set deadline. We know the message requirements and formats for all the top retailers. Take a look at our Trading Network for more insight.


eDI Software

To find out more about Advance Shipping Notice and other EDI messages, schedule a call with one of our knowledgeable solution consultants. You can also contact us on 0845 123 3746 (UK callers) or +44 1978 369 343 (international callers), or via email sales@transalis.com.


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