viewpoint By Scott Bolduc
Grocery Embraces The ASN
T he year 2009 may become known as the year when the Advance
Ship Notice (ASN) ﬁnally took off in retail. After many years of
discussion and sporadic use by a handful of North American retailers,
• ASNs with shipping information only;
• ASNs with shipping labels for shipments to distribution centers;
• ASNs with shipping labels for DSD shipments.
EDI providers are experiencing a 40 percent increase in retailers and
grocers embracing the ASN this year. It leaves many asking, “Why now?” Process Makes Perfect
The answer isn’t simply the economy. The growing adoption of the ASN Smart grocers know that rolling out the ASN takes support, planning
is being fueled by the readiness of trading partners’ internal systems or and a long-term focus. For most the process includes the following
third-party services that can more easily support ASN data need. phases:
One of the most complex and lengthy EDI documents, the ASN is Plan: This step identiﬁes the phases of the program including which
sent from the factory, sourcing company or supplier to the retailer or supplier group to focus on ﬁrst, second, etc. Grocers must also decide if
grocer when the order departs from their dock. It provides advance they wish to rollout and support the program using internal resources
knowledge of the speciﬁcs of the shipment en route, including or use a third-party.
quantities shipped by item number, detailed information on how Commit: Any plan will be unsuccessful without the commitment of
items are packaged, and corresponding barcodes needed for efﬁcient senior management, especially those in the merchandising group who
receiving processes. have the relationships with vendors.
Retailers, especially those in grocery or that have a grocery product Promote/Educate: The plan needs to be promoted internally and
mix, have been patiently waiting for the day when they could improve externally. All parties need to be educated on the beneﬁts to their role,
their visibility to inbound shipments and reap new efﬁciencies in their their business, and ultimately their bottom line. Buyers must be well
receiving processes. The time is now. educated on the program to appropriately respond to vendor questions
For the most part grocery has lagged behind retailers with non- or resistance to the program.
food supply chains in adopting the ASN due to the unique makeup of Implement: Each phase should involve a formal kick-off of the
their supply chains. Namely, grocery retailers work primarily through program where executives from the grocery retailer communicate
distributors, must incorporate perishables, and operate using two order directly with its vendors. This dialogue should be balanced to show
types that have