Mobile Advance Shipping Notice (ASN) Receiving

One of the most common EDI transactions used in retail is the Advance Shipping Notice (EDI 856).  This notice is sent by the store’s vendor to inform the retailer that a shipment is being delivered and allows the retailer to plan for the delivery of the items in the shipment.

While the ASN alerts the store that the items are being delivered and will be arriving shortly, it is not adequate to update the store’s inventory or the accounting system.  These systems require that someone verifies that the items in the shipment have actually been physically received by the store or distribution center.

In the past, the only way to track the receipt of the shipment was a manual process.  The store manager would receive a print out from the order management system of the expected shipments.  Then once the shipment arrived, someone at the store would locate the printed report, match the PO to the shipping documents, receive the shipment, check that the merchandise matched the order and verify that it was not damaged.  Finally, they manually created a paper receiving report that was sent to headquarters, and ultimately keyed in to the order management system.  This paper based manual process is extremely time consuming and error prone.

However, with a properly designed mobile ASN receiving application, the entire processing of ASN shipments can be fully automated.  As the order management system receives an ASN message from the vendor, a copy is forwarded to the mobile inventory management system.  Then when the shipment is  received, the person at the store uses a mobile terminal to find the ASN and receive the shipment.

The mobile application then scans each carton, or even every item in the shipment, to verify that the correct items have been received.  In addition, the application can track damaged items and rejected shipments.  Once the shipment has been received, a message is then automatically sent to the order management system, where it is audited optionally sends a Receiving Advice message (EDI 861) to inform the vendor that the shipment was received.  All of this with a simple to use mobile appilcation.

The mobile ASN receiving application is a cricital component of any perpetual inventory system and is typically used to track all shipments within the retailer, including shipments from the distribution center and store-to-store transfers.

Motorola Joins the Android Revolution

In a recent development, Motorola is making a major investment in supporting Android on mid-range Motorola phones.  In the high end handhelds they are still supporting Windows Mobile/CE, but in the mid-range they are adopting Android.

This will finally bring a real application environment to the average phone and people will no longer have to make the decision to invest hundreds of dollars in a Blackberry or Windows Mobile Phone.  Now they will have a mobile platform with a complete set of mobile capabilities.

The other advantage that Motorola has in this market is that their legacy in barcode scanning through their Symbol acquisition.  We can now realistically have barcode scanning in a mid-range handheld which will open a whole new world of applications such as ShopSavvy.  In the past Symbol has made attempts to bring scanning to the mobile phone, but with very limited success.

Of course the next question will be with the higher end terminals.  With all of the capabilities that are coming with the Android platform, what will happen to the high-end terminals.

Is my SmartPhone my new computer? YES!

Information Week 10/06/08

Information Week 10/06/08

Guest post from Todd Berner

Information Week put together a very interesting article as it proposes the idea that your smartphone or mobile computer is your next computer.  I think the answer is a resounding yes!

If the last 15 years in IT have taught us anything, it is that our appetite for access to information and communication is almost endless.  We want and need it immediately…right at the very moment it is generated, collected, or required for action.  It should not be separated from the task at hand no matter how trivial the task might be.

Current “smartphone” demand is focused primarily on communication (voice-driven cell phones with Windows Mobile, Blackberry, and I-Phone).  Email, texting, and mobile web access have vastly increased the means by which we communicate as well as the locations and times in which it is available.

The next challenge comes from adding meaningful information to the smartphone… enterprise applications and tools that are built not only to fit within the limits of the smaller technology (CPU, batteries, small screens, etc.), but the work flow that corresponds to the application function and the business rules established by the company.

Should be fun!

Here is the link to the article.

Zebra EM 220 Ultra Mobile BlueTooth Printer

Zebra EM 220

Zebra EM 220

Zebra has just released the Zebra EM 220, a cool new Ultra Mobile BlueTooth Printer.  This printer is 4.99” x 3.13″ x 1.72” and weighs only .52 lbs (with battery).  To understand how small the EM 220 is, compare it to Zebra’s popular QL 220 Plus.  The EM 220 is roughly a third the size and half the weight of the QL 220 (3.57″ x 7.15″ x 2.96″, 1.04 lbs.).

It’s also amazing how much functionality they have squeezed in to this mobile printer.  It includes USB communications making it very easy to interface with, and also includes a BlueTooth and magnetic stripe option.

Of course the small size does have it costs.  The main limitation with the EM 220 is the smaller roll diameter which reduces the number of labels on each roll of label stock.  While in some high volume printing scenarios the smaller spool size will be a problem, in most field service cases, the smaller spool is not a concern and the smaller size and lighter weight will be greatly appreciated.

Overall this looks like a great little mobile printer that will be especially good for out of the office mobile applications with limited printing requirements.  This is typically the case in DSD or field service applications where the printing is limited to leaving a customer receipt.

Related Links:

Getting Barcode Information from GEPIR

GS1 Global GEPIR

GS1 Global GEPIR

There has always been a mystery about the information contained in the barcodes we see every day.  Actually there is a lot of information contained in the barcodes that is useful if we could only find the information. In the past this was difficult, but now the GS1 is providing public access to much of this information with the Global Electronic Party Information Register (GEPIR).

The GEPIR service contains basic information on over 1,000,000 companies, provided by the GS1 Member Organizations in over 100 countries.  This provides a  global database of company, location, and item information for GS1 barcodes around the world.

This free service provides a simple way to answer the following questions:

  • Who made the product with an EAN or UPC barcode?  Get company information from a GTIN (EAN/UPC)
  • Where was this carton shipped from?  Get carton and other shipping container information with the SSCC barcodes.
  • What is a company’s GLN number?  Look up a company by GLN number, or search by name

All this and more is provided by GEPIR. Related Links: