Shipping Manifest for Parcel Delivery
Manifests for passengers and cargo have been around for hundreds of years, for the loading and unloading of ships, planes, trains and transportation services of every kind. These lists were extremely detailed specifically because multiple parties were usually involved in shipping and transportation.
Why is the Shipping Manifest Important?
Shipping has historically been both risky and expensive. Because of this, it was generally necessary that multiple parties be involved. It started with the owners of the goods being moved, followed by the insurers, the owners of the ships or transportation companies, passengers and their baggage or home goods and extended to customs services both in the origin and destination countries. All had an interest in the delivery or non-delivery of goods and travelers in the charge of transportation companies.
How the Shipping Manifest Usage Has Evolved
Today the manifest is typically a billing list presented to the ground or air carrier listing a limited, but important amount of information to both bill the client shipping the goods and listing any additional requests or changes for supplemental services; weight, distance/zones, COD amount, declared value, insurance, dimensions, etc. and provide the necessary information to file a shipping claim for lost, stolen or damaged goods if necessary. Shipping manifests are usually associated with parcel shipping.
The Transition from Paper to the Electronic Manifest
Today’s manifests are a far cry from the early days of shipping where handwritten lists were enough to get your parcel from New York to San Francisco. For many years, the shipping manifest was a paper document listing the many data fields listed above, today the term manifest, typically refers to an electronic document transmitted via electronic data interchange (EDI), in message formats such as a UPS PLD file, and FedEx EPDI file or EDI 856 (Also called an Advanced shipping Notice or Notification) along with its companion shipping label the ASN is typically provided to retail resellers to let them know what goods are in transit prior to arrival at a distribution center or retail store.
With these changes to an electronic rather than paper manifest and the fact that carriers often have proprietary eletronic data formats, one best practices is to implement a multi-carrier shipping system such as InfoShip®/Vx that automatically manages all carrier-specific formats and updates as data formats evolve.
Increased Shipment Tracking Implications
For example, as the general need for information by all interested parties increases, there is also a growing need to track package contents – what’s inside each box – at the product SKU level. This package level detail information will continue to expand the data set transmitted from the shipper to the transportation carrier. Equally important, new technologies are continually emerging to monitor and record shipping manifest data, as well as package contents, time in transit, package handling and claims.