Shipping Labels

The Definitive Guide

The Importance of Shipping Labels & ASN in B2B Commerce

Learn more about GS1 128 and SSCC Labels

In this in-depth guide you’ll learn:

  • What is a shipping label?
  • Importance of shipping label
  • Introduction to GS1 128 shipping label
  • The significance of SSCC label
  • Understanding ASN
  • How Commport Cloud EDI Solutions Can Help You Generate GS1 128 Labels?

Let’s dive right in!


Shipping labels play a pivotal role in the logistics ecosystem, serving as a crucial link between senders and recipients. In this detailed guide, we’ll explore the intricacies of what a shipping label is and why it holds immense importance in the world of shipping and commerce.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the importance of shipping labels and explore two widely used label standards:

GS1 128 and SSCC labels.

Also, we will learn the importance of ASN (Advance ship notice).

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Introduction to Shipping Label

Here are a few of the topics we will review in this chapter:

- What is a shipping label?
- Why shipping labels are important?
- Benefits of shipping label

Let’s dive right in!


What is a shipping label?

Shipping labels are more than just stickers on packages. These identifiers contain vital information about the shipment, including origin, destination, tracking details, and package contents. A well-crafted shipping label ensures the smooth flow of goods from one point to another, fostering efficient logistics operations.

Why are shipping labels important?

The significance of shipping labels goes beyond mere identification. Explore the multifaceted reasons behind the pivotal role these labels play in the shipping industry and global commerce.

1. Ensuring Accuracy and Efficiency

Shipping labels serve as the first point of contact between a package and the logistics network. Accurate and well-structured labels streamline the sorting process, minimizing errors and ensuring timely deliveries.

2. Enhancing Package Security

In an era where package theft is a concern, shipping labels contribute to security. With features like barcodes and tracking numbers, both senders and recipients can monitor the package’s journey, reducing the risk of loss or theft.

3. Facilitating Global Trade

For businesses engaging in international commerce, shipping labels are indispensable. They provide the necessary information for customs clearance, contributing to the smooth flow of goods across borders

4. Link to Advanced Ship Notice and the 3-Way Match

The shipping label can be the direct link to accompanying documentation such as the advanced ship notice and manifest. Combined, the shipping label and ASN provide the second component to the three-way match program wherein businesses work to match purchase orders with receiving records and invoices.

Guide to Shipping Labels - Commport Communications

Chapter 2

GS1 128 Label: The Standard for Shipping Labels

In this chapter, we will talk about 

1. What is the GS1 128 label

2. Key elements of GS1 128 label

3. Creating GS1 128 label

4. Benefits of GS1 128 label

5. Common challenges with GS1 128 label

Let's get started!

What is the GS1 128 Shipping Label?

GS1 128 shipping labels enable carton visibility throughout the supply chain. A GS1 128 shipping label is commonly broken down into various pre-defined zones. Each zone normally contains either text or barcode information. The bottom zone is commonly used to host the SSCC 18 barcode, which is normally tied to an EDI document referencing all the container contents.

Suppliers to the retail industry are subjected to specific zone requirements for each of their trading partners. In addition to utilizing the SSCC 18 barcode, many retailers use a Store (or Destination) barcode in a zone. By the GS1 General Specifications, all the barcodes on this label should be GS1 128 symbols.

An Application Identifier is used to specify the data format and purpose for each zone. Different companies will define their expectations for the information provided in each zone. GS1 128 not only encodes the data but provides a method of defining the meaning of the data by defining a list of “Application Identifiers” (AI’s).

The GS1 128 label is a widely adopted standard for shipping labels. It provides a comprehensive set of information encoded in a barcode format, allowing for efficient scanning and processing by carriers.

Sample GS1 128 Shipping Label - Commport Communications

Key elements of a GS1 128 label

1. Shipping Information

The GS1 128 label includes essential details such as the shipper’s name and address, the recipient’s name and address, and the shipping date. This information ensures proper identification and routing of the package.

2. Purchase Order Number

The purchase order number is a crucial identifier used to link the shipment to the corresponding order. It helps in tracking and reconciling shipments, providing transparency throughout the supply chain.

3. Product Information

The GS1 128 label encodes product-specific details, including the item’s GTIN (Global Trade Item Number), the quantity shipped, and other relevant attributes. This information enables accurate inventory management and ensures the right products are delivered to the intended recipients.

4. SSCC Barcode

The GS1 128 label also incorporates the Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC), a unique identifier assigned to each shipping container. The SSCC facilitates the tracking and tracing of packages throughout their journey, allowing for efficient logistics management, and provides the link to the EDI ASN.

How does the GS1-128 relate to EDI?

The GS1-128 label seamlessly integrates with the Advance Shipment Notice (ASN) document, playing a pivotal role in automated Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) systems.

Here’s a breakdown of how these barcode labels support the ASN, optimizing efficiency throughout the shipment process:

1. Label Application by the Shipper

The shipper affixes the GS1-128 barcode label to each carton or pallet within the shipment.

2. Send the ASN via EDI

The shipper sends the ASN document via EDI in advance of the appointment time.

3. Receiving Process at the Dock

Upon arrival at the receiving dock, the receiver scans the GS1 128 label on each carton or pallet.

4. Quick Retrieval of ASN Information

The act of scanning triggers an automated process wherein the receiver swiftly retrieves the information embedded in the Advance Shipment Notice (ASN).

5. Efficient Shipment Understanding

Without the need to physically open any boxes, the receiver gains a comprehensive understanding of the shipment contents, including details provided in the ASN.

6. Streamlined Routing and Inventory Addition

Armed with the ASN information obtained from scanning, the receiver can efficiently route the shipment to its designated location. Furthermore, the automated system facilitates the seamless addition of the received items to the inventory.

This integrated approach ensures that the entire process, from labeling at the shipping end to receiving at the dock, is expedited and error-free. The use of GS1-128 labels, in conjunction with the ASN, exemplifies the efficiency gains achievable through the marriage of standardized barcode technology and automated EDI systems in the realm of modern supply chain management.

Creating GS1 128 Labels with EDI

Generating GS1 128 labels using EDI involves following specific guidelines and utilizing compatible software systems.

Here’s a step-by-step process to create GS1 128 labels:

1. Data Mapping

Data Mapping: Map the relevant data fields from your internal systems to the corresponding elements required for GS1 128 labels. This ensures that the necessary information is accurately presented on the label and made available for EDI. Oftentimes templates are established within the barcoding system to support each partner’s requirements.

2. Label Generation

As a part of your shipping system the shipment is created and the details are made available to the barcoding system, which generates the SSCC bar code and GS1 128 shipping label based on the trading partner templates. These labels can be printed directly onto shipping containers or applied as adhesive labels.

3. EDI Transmission

Use an EDI software solution or service provider to transmit the shipment data in the required format to your trading partners. The EDI message should include all the necessary details about the shipment including information from the GS1 128 labels that were generated.

4. Label Placement

Ensure that the GS1 128 labels are affixed to the packages in a visible and easily scannable location. Following carrier guidelines for label placement helps optimize the scanning and processing of packages.

Commport Cloud EDI solutions can easily generate these GS1 128 labels when a supplier generates EDI 856 (ASN) right within the interface itself.

Benefits of Using a GS1 128 Label

1. Global Compatibility

GS1-128 adheres to a global standard, ensuring uniformity and compatibility across industries and geographies. This standardization facilitates seamless communication and collaboration between different stakeholders in the supply chain.

2. Diverse Data Representation

GS1-128 accommodates a wide range of data types, from simple product identification to complex information like batch numbers and expiration dates. This flexibility empowers businesses to encode diverse data on a single label, streamlining information retrieval and processing.

3. End-to-End Traceability

One of the primary advantages of GS1-128 is its incorporation of the Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC). This unique identifier enables end-to-end traceability, allowing organizations to track a product from manufacturing to distribution and retail.

4. Real-Time Visibility

GS1-128 barcode labels, when integrated with modern tracking systems, provide real-time visibility into the movement of goods. This transparency enhances decision-making processes, reduces the risk of errors, and bolsters overall supply chain efficiency.

5. Efficient Warehouse Operations

The GS1-128 label includes application identifiers that convey essential information, such as item numbers and quantities. This streamlines inventory management by enabling accurate tracking and efficient organization of products within warehouses.

6. Meeting Industry Regulations

GS1-128 barcode labels play a crucial role in ensuring compliance with industry and regulatory standards. Many sectors, including healthcare and retail, mandate the use of GS1 standards for product identification and traceability.

7. Minimized Manual Errors

The automated nature of GS1-128 barcode labels significantly reduces the risk of manual errors associated with data entry. This leads to increased accuracy in information transmission and processing throughout the supply chain.

8. Reduction in Operational Costs

By enhancing efficiency, minimizing errors, and streamlining processes, GS1-128 barcode labels contribute to cost savings. Businesses can optimize their operations, reduce the need for manual interventions, and enhance overall productivity.

Common Challenges With the GS1 128 Barcode Label

Despite its widespread adoption, the GS1-128 barcode label system presents challenges, especially when navigating the unique requirements imposed by individual retailers. Any deviation from these specifications can result in costly chargebacks, making meticulous compliance crucial.

1. Varied Retailer Requirements

Every retailer establishes distinct GS1-128 label specifications, creating a complex landscape of varied requirements. Managing these diverse demands can be challenging for businesses.

2. Potential for Costly Chargebacks

The stringent adherence to retailer-specific GS1-128 label standards is paramount. Deviations may trigger chargebacks, impacting financial stability and eroding profits.

3. Complex Retail Compliance Management:

Staying abreast of ever-evolving retail requirements can be a cumbersome task. The dynamic nature of these standards demands constant vigilance to ensure ongoing compliance.

How a Full-Service EDI Provider like Commport Can Help in Generating GS1 128 Labels

Depending on the EDI solution in use, an EDI provider, such as Commport Communications, is a good place to start for managing label requirements. The use of web portal systems like Cloud EDI from Commport enables users to create their GS1 128 labels alongside the creation of the EDI Advanced Ship Notice. For these users Commport specializes in managing label requirements on behalf of its users, ensuring compliance with the various retailer specifications.

Need Help? Download: EDI Buyers Guide

Unlock the full potential of your supply chain with our comprehensive EDI Buyer's Guide — your first step towards seamless, efficient, and error-free transactions

Chapter 3

The Significance of SSCC Barcode in Shipping

In this chapter, we will answer the following questions:

- What is SSCC label?
- Significance of SSCC label?
- SSCC barcode print details?

Let’s begin!

What is SSCC Barcode?

The Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC) is a critical component of shipping labels. It uniquely identifies each shipping container or handling unit, allowing for efficient tracking and management.

GS1 SSCC Label - Sample - Commport Communications

The Significance of SSCC Barcode

1. Traceability

SSCC labels enable end-to-end traceability of packages, making it easier to locate and track shipments at various stages of the shipping process. This visibility reduces the risk of lost or misplaced packages.

2. Warehouse Management

SSCC labels play a crucial role in warehouse operations, facilitating inventory management and improving picking, packing, and shipping processes. By scanning SSCC labels, warehouse staff can efficiently track and manage stock levels.

3. Efficient Cross-Docking

Cross-docking, the process of transferring goods directly from incoming shipments to outbound vehicles, requires precise identification and sorting of packages. SSCC labels simplify this process by providing accurate shipment information, ensuring seamless transfer, and minimizing handling time.

4. Returns and Reverse Logistics

When handling returns or managing reverse logistics, SSCC labels help in identifying and processing packages efficiently. By scanning the SSCC label, businesses can quickly route returns to the appropriate location and update inventory records accordingly.

5. SSCC Labels
  • Automates receiving
  • Enable the receiving system to find the ASN
  • Matches the item details from the ASN with the License Plate
  • UNIQUE barcode
GS1 - SSCC Label - Barcode - Explanation - Commport Communications

SSCC Barcode Details

  1. Application Identifier (AI)

The AI “00” indicates the SSCC-18 data structure will follow.

  1. Extension Digit

The Extension Digit has no defined logic and is used to increase the capacity of the Serial Reference

  1. GS1 Company Prefix

GS1 Company Prefixes are 7-10 digits. Serial Reference Numbers are 6-9 digits.

  1. Serial Reference

The Serial Reference number is assigned by the holder of the GS1 Company Prefix to uniquely identify a shipping container (logistic unit). A Serial Reference cannot be reused for a minimum of 12 months. The combined length of the GS1 Company Prefix and Serial Reference is always 16 digits.

  1. Check Digit

Calculated using the Modulo 10 algorithm. Use a free Check Digit Calculator offered by Bar Code Graphics.

SSCC Barcode Print Details
  • The barcode height must be 1.25 inches.
  • Print human-readable numbers above the barcode.
  • The barcode must meet the quality standards specified in ANSI X3.182-Bar Code Print Quality Guideline.
  • To ensure a 100% first-time rate on all barcodes, test the symbols periodically as print quality can change over time.
  • Precede SSCC-18 code with the application identifier “00”.
  • Enclose the Application Identifier (AI) in parentheses.
  • Mark for Barcode (Final Destination Code)
  • The barcode height should be 1.25”.

Generating SSCC Barcode & Transmitting Information with EDI

To incorporate SSCC labels into your EDI shipping process, follow these steps:

1. SSCC Assignment

Assign a unique SSCC for each shipping container or handling unit within your warehouse or distribution center. This can be done manually or through automated systems.

2. Label Generation

Utilize EDI-compatible software or systems to generate SSCC labels based on the assigned codes. These labels should include the SSCC barcode, as well as any additional information required by carriers or trading partners.

3. Label Application

Affix the SSCC labels to the corresponding shipping containers or handling units. Ensure that the labels are securely attached and easily scannable for efficient processing by carriers and warehouse personnel.

4. EDI Transmission

Include the SSCC information in your EDI messages, ensuring that it is accurately transmitted to your trading partners. This allows for seamless tracking and visibility throughout the supply chain.

Generate GS1 128 Shipping Labels on the Go with Commport Cloud EDI Solutions.

Easy Integration With Any Trading Partner!

Chapter 4

What is ASN?

We will also explore,

- Levels in ASN
- Top 5 levels
- Breakdown and example of each level

What is ASN?

What is ASN? - Commport Communications


ASN (Advance ship notice) is also known as EDI 856 or Ship notice.

The purpose of the ASN is to notify the trading partner that a shipment has been processed and to communicate the contents of the shipment.
• Time and Date
• Routing
• Carrier Details
• Tracking information
• Product information
• Quantities, Expiry Details
• Bar code label details

Levels in ASN – Shipment

Levels in ASN – Shipment

5 most common levels
  • Shipment
  • Order
  • Tare (Pallet)
  • Pack (Carton)
  • Item

Referred by letters SOPI, SOTI, and SOI

Contains Information about the Entire Shipment
  • Total Number of Pieces
  • Total Weight
  • Carrier
  • Tracking Information – Manifest Numbers, Bill of Lading Numbers
  • Date and Time
Information about the Purchase Order
  • PO Number
  • PO Date
  • Buyer/Store
Information about Pallets (Tare)
  • Pallet Label Bar Code Number
Information about Packages
  • Package or Carton Label Bar Code Number
Information about Items aka Products
  • Item Numbers
  • Quantities and Case Quantities (Inner Pack)
  • Unit of Measure
  • Lot Numbers
  • Expiry Date Information

Relationship between the levels in an ASN

1. One or more items can be placed in a package

One or more items can be placed in a package

2. One or More Packages can be placed on a Pallet

One or More Packages can be placed on a Pallet

3. One or More Pallets can be a part of a purchase order

One or More Pallets can be a part of a purchase order

4. One or More Purchase Orders can be on a Shipment

One or More Purchase Orders can be on a Shipment


Chapter 5

How Commport Cloud EDI Solution Can Help You Generate GS1 128 Labels?

Cloud EDI is suitable for all business types and you start exchanging EDI documents with very little investment.

All you need is just a web browser and internet connection to start exchanging your EDI transactions with your business partners.

It also comes with built on label creation tool after creating the ASN.

Let’s dive right into this chapter!

Commport’s Cloud EDI Solution has built-in label solutions that allow you to easily create fully compliant GS1 128 labels for your trading partners.

With the Commport built-in shipping label generation you can,

Sample GS1 128 Shipping Label - Commport Communications
  • Comply with your trading partner GS1 128 label requirements
  • Automate shipping label creation
  • Add an onboard new trading partner easily. The system scales as your business grows.
  • Work with Commport to create shipping labels that are compliant with your trading partner’s requirements.
  • Keep track of all your shipping labels in one centralized location. Stored securely using efficient authentication protocols.

Advantages of Commport EDI & Built-In Shipping Label Creation

Commport manages all label requirements and is an easy and cost-effective solution to create compliant shipping labels.

Commport Shipping Labels
Other Solutions

Create a full complaint shipping label that meets your trading partner’s requirements

Fully automate the shipping label creation using inbuilt tools

Never worry about creating maps or specs

No extra cost to create shipping labels*

Require manual work every time you add a new trading partner

Manually create labels for each purchase order

Whenever you have a new label requirement, you need to fill in all the information manually

Expensive and prices change significantly as you create more custom labels


Shipping labels, particularly the GS1 128 labels and SSCC bar codes, play a vital role in ensuring efficient and accurate logistics operations. By leveraging EDI technology, businesses can automate label generation, reduce errors, and enhance visibility throughout the supply chain.

Implementing GS1 128 and SSCC labels enables seamless communication with trading partners and facilitates effective tracking, inventory management, and overall customer satisfaction. Embrace the power of EDI and shipping labels and experience improved efficiency and reliability in your shipping processes.

The use of EDI and shipping labels has become increasingly prevalent in both B2B and B2C commerce industries, where efficient order fulfillment and accurate tracking are essential.

By integrating EDI data with their internal systems, businesses can automate the generation of shipping labels, ensuring timely and error-free deliveries to customers.


Get Started with Commport Today