GS1 UK standardises electronic messaging format to improve delivery efficiency

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GS1 UK, the not-for-profit supply chain standards and solutions organisation, is launching new guidelines from the eCom Standards and Implementation Group (eSIG), which will make it easier and cheaper for retailers and their suppliers to deploy Advanced Shipping Notifications (ASNs).

The guidelines will help drive cost and complexity out of the supply chain and enable faster and more accurate deliveries, GS1 UK said.

The eSIG members, who include, Sainsbury, Tesco, Waitrose, Heineken, PepsiCo, Nestle and Unilever, have worked in partnership with GS1 UK to standardise the format of the ASN message – an electronic message that provides accurate information about the goods despatched by suppliers before they arrive at a premises. Several standards and message versions with retailer specific requirements have been used within the industry, which causes undue complications within the supply chain. By ensuring the same GS1 standards are used, retailers can reduce the complexity for their suppliers, as well as cutting the cost and time it takes to implement electronic messages.

Understanding which goods and how many are about to arrive, resolving delivery errors and reconciliation of payments takes a long time, can be costly and often requires significant human intervention and resources, which disrupts the flow and availability of goods throughout the supply chain. The new industry guidelines for ASNs align requirements across the supply chain, making it easier for retailers to receive products and increasing the efficiency of the receiving process through selective checking, said GS1 UK.

“We have joined forces to make it easier and cheaper for suppliers to start to use Advanced Shipping Notifications (ASNs) for mutual benefit. As leading retailers, we have worked in partnership with a number of suppliers assisted by the supply chain standards body GS1 UK to standardise the format of the ASN message,” said Jim Dickson, inbound and flowthrough ops development manager for UK & ROI at Tesco Stores and co-chair of eSIG.

Simon Tompsett, systems architect at Waitrose, said: “Standardisation should substantially reduce the initial effort required from any supplier wanting to adopt this efficient means of electronic communication and thereby provide the opportunity for efficiency savings which are to be welcomed in the current economic climate.”

Retailers will be able to plan for any delivery shortfalls through ASNs, thanks to accurate and timely information of expected goods before delivery. It can also make payment processes more efficient for both retailer and supplier through direct matching with invoices and a reduction in queries, said GS1 UK.

“We have worked closely with the leading retailers to create guidelines to standardise the use of Advanced Shipping Notifications,” said Phil Bach, UK distribution manager, Kraft.

“This will enable us to benefit from a more efficient supply chain with reduced costs. The removal of paper, decrease in manual delivery checks, fewer invoicing queries and priority access to distribution centres will result in less errors and smoother and faster deliveries. Having a single ASN message standard, developed with GS1 UK, will enable our businesses to focus on the core business practice without worrying about different standards and versions being used in different operations.”