Advanced Shipping Notices and Optimized Supply Chains

The global shipping industry is currently going through a massive labor shortage as companies are struggling to recruit and retain workers. At the same time, wage inflation and rising fuel prices are forcing shipping and logistics providers to tighten their belts.

In some ways, it’s a perfect storm.

To stay safe, smart shipping companies are looking for ways to streamline workflows in order to save time and reduce manual back-end labor. To this end, one workflow that many companies are now digitizing is advanced shipping notice (ASN) delivery. 

Keep reading to learn more about how digital ASNs work and how they can lead to faster shipments, improved communication, and stronger profits.

What Are ASNs?

An ASN is an official notification that a shipping party sends to a customer before delivering an item to its destination. Most companies send ASNs through an electronic data interchange (EDI), which is a framework for transmitting electronic documents. The name for this type of transaction is an EDI 856.

Most large retailers now require shipping partners to send an ASN before shipping products for delivery. An ASN should inform the recipient about the specific details of the upcoming delivery. More specifically, it should include a description of the shipment, the quantity, and the expected arrival time, among other things.

This is a great example of how digital transformation is revolutionizing the shipping industry. Companies are using ASNs to disrupt outdated and inefficient supply chain management methods and transmit information faster and more efficiently. With the help of a reliable ASN system, you can reduce manual labor and process information faster.

The Role ASNs Play in Supply Chain Visibility 

When it comes to supply chain visibility, ASNs help shipping partners understand what’s coming through their facility and when they can expect to receive it.

With greater supply chain visibility, supply chain partners can plan more efficiently and prevent unexpected issues from negatively impacting operations. This gives the receiving party a better understanding of how much room they’ll need to reserve. It can also let them know how many staff members they’ll need and the potential risks or special accommodations they have to be aware of. 

For example, an ASN can inform the supply chain partner if the shipment contains hazardous materials. It can also let them know if mission-critical accommodations are necessary—such as heating, refrigeration, or extra security.

By increasing supply chain visibility and communication, you can improve trust and customer relations. This results in a faster, healthier, and more profitable supply chain.

The Benefits of an Optimized ASN

How does an optimized ASN function benefit supply chains? Let’s count the ways.

1. It’s Fully Digital

While some companies still use fax machines to transmit ASNs, the majority are now doing so using email and SMS. Digital ASN delivery is generally much safer, as long as you’re using a secure portal with encryption. You can also request read receipts and automate record keeping for further benefit. 

2. It Includes Advanced Tracking 

The underlying platform should correlate with a tracking system for better reporting accuracy. For example, a supplier may put barcodes and RFIDs on their packaging and funnel data into a central ASN. This allows for document scanning on arrival—resulting in fewer errors. 

3. There’s Load-Based Reporting 

Most ASNs pull data based on the purchase order instead of the actual load. When this happens, deliveries may come in at half capacity. This can lead to overstaffing and having to redeploy personnel. 

As such, the ASN should always reflect the current load of the incoming delivery. This allows for better resource allocation and more accurate scheduling.

4. There’s Strong Security 

An optimized ASN system should be very secure—especially when you’re conducting business internationally. Look for a platform that’s built with enterprise-grade security and includes robust access and authentication controls to prevent data loss and fraud.

5. It’s User-Friendly

At the end of the day, an ASN system should save your team time. It shouldn’t require a steep learning curve or have a complicated interface. Instead, your team should be able to start using it to process orders immediately.

For the best results, look for a platform that has a user-friendly interface and design. By investing in high-quality software that’s easy to use, you can increase user buy-in and minimize pushback from employees.

How does ASN Help Optimize the Supply Chain?

Using a digital ASN can positively affect your entire supply chain. Here are some of the ways that it can help.

Improve Communication

Customers expect to receive updates over smartphones and tablets. By digitizing your ASN delivery, you can ensure that orders always make it through to the customer. This can reduce errors and confusion and make it easier to exchange information and process orders.

Reduce Shipping Delays 

Shipping moves very quickly, and it’s easy to miss important orders. By digitizing ASN and automating data processing, shipping teams can operate with greater autonomy and make fewer errors. This can lead to faster shipments with fewer delays, creating a healthier and more optimal supply chain.

Settle Disputes

Disputes are bound to arise in shipping. For example, you may send an order through to the customer but the receiving party could either miss it or overbook. When this happens, it helps to have a digital record of the ASN on file. This can be particularly beneficial when you’re negotiating payments or damages. With an ASN, you can quickly settle disputes with shipping partners and move on with business.

Improve Customer Satisfaction

Shipping is competitive, so it’s important to maintain strong customer relations. By digitizing ASN delivery, you can provide a better customer experience and make it easier to process and track orders. This can go a long way in building trust and generating repeat business. 

Key Supporting Tools for ASN 

There are a variety of ways to enhance ASN delivery and get more out of the experience. Here are a few key supporting tools.

Mobile Devices

ASN works best when everyone’s fully connected with a smartphone or tablet. This way, team members can receive updates from any location.

RFID Scanners 

RFID scanners can serve as a great supporting component for ASN. By scanning packages and linking them to your ASN system, you can streamline order deliveries and reduce unloading times. This is much faster and easier than dealing with paper and spreadsheet-based reporting systems—especially for teams that have staffing shortages and tight deadlines. 

Custom ASN Forms

ASN delivery can vary from company to company. Organizations tend to have their own rules and regulations for transmitting data.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to use a system that’ll allow you to create custom ASN forms from a central location. By customizing your workflows, you can provide better customer service and have more control over form creation and distribution.

How Vector Can Help With ASN Delivery

At the end of the day, ASN can help you move products faster and more efficiently. This, in turn, leads to happier customers, fewer complaints, and healthier profits.

Vector offers cutting-edge software that you can use to create custom forms and workflows. With the help of Vector, you can quickly create documents and export them to shipping providers from a central location.

Vector’s software is easy to use and easy to deploy. It also supports e-signatures, barcode scanning, and auto-calculations for added flexibility and convenience. Plus, the software easily integrates with third-party document storage systems and shipping software—giving you an even bigger bang for your buck.

To see the power of Vector with your own eyes, request a free trial today.

This post was written by Justin Reynolds. Justin is a freelance writer who enjoys telling stories about how technology, science, and creativity can help workers be more productive. In his spare time, he likes seeing or playing live music, hiking, and traveling.

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