Improve your 3PL Integration with these 5 Transactions

by Jodi Abrams

When you think 3PL (Third Party Logistics), you probably think shipments and receipts and their corresponding EDI transactions. ANSI X.12 943/944 pair for inbound receipts, and the 940/945 or 856 pair for outgoing shipments.

This is the bare minimum to get product in and out of your 3PL warehouse. However, there are many other transactions to consider adding to your 3PL repertoire that can greatly increase your data accuracy and reduce your manual intervention.

Let's take a look at some of them:

Goods Movement (947)

While the above mentioned transactions will handle inventory going in and out of the warehouse, what about inventory that’s currently in the warehouse? There are many movements within a warehouse that might be communicated manually to you right now. These can instead be automated using the 947.

Some of these include:

- Moving stock to blocked or QA
- Removing stock due to damages
- Adjusting results due to cycle counting
- Removing stock from QA hold

By utilizing these automated movements to push information back into your ERP system you can reduce the manual touches and increase the real time visibility of your inventory.

Inventory Report (846)

Have you ever sent a 940 to your 3PL asking them to ship inventory just for them to tell you they don’t have any to ship? When inventory levels get out of sync between your ERP and the 3PL it can take a lot of effort to track down the problems. By utilizing the EDI 846 daily, you can receive a snapshot of their inventory, which can be compared against your own to frequently identify differences and issues early, allowing for easy and quick resolution.

This comparison of their inventory to yours can be automated, and during off hours, so that you are always looking at a stable snapshot of the system. Recognizing discrepancies early will allow for better identification of the root cause and dramatically decreasing the duration that the inventory is out of sync. This in turn will lead to better delivery date reliability for your end customer.

Material Master (832/888)

Depending on your business requirements, you might be providing your 3PL with many details about new products that you have. Things such as dimensions, weights, UPC codes, storage information etc. If this is a manual process for you now, consider automating that process with the 832 or 888 EDI transaction. By setting your system up to automatically send new relevant products to your 3PL via EDI with the pertinent information, you can save the manual work on your side to build the list, and their side to maintain the details in their system.

Customer Master (101)

If you have customers that have specific requirements regarding the shipping of their products that you aren’t able to send on the 940 when you send shipment details to your 3PL, the 101 might be of benefit to you. Any information that might be manually conveyed to your 3PL regarding your customers can be send automatically from SAP via EDI over to the 3PL. Specific shipping and handling details, contact information can all be candidates to include on this transaction.

Transport Status Message (214)

If you need updated information about the status of shipments, perhaps so that customer service can inform your end customer, or to be able to show details status for online ordering, the 214 can be a real workhorse for you. Its robust nature allows it to be used several times throughout the shipping process. You can work with your 3PL to get a 214 when product is picked, packed, shipped, received at the end customer and anything in between that your 3PL can accommodate.

Many of these statuses can flow into SAP to allow your team the ability to have real-time information about the status of any shipment and help identify issues or late shipments early on in the process.

In summary

Consider going beyond the top four 3PL EDI transactions with one or more of the ones mentioned above. They aren’t all fit for every situation, but maybe one or two will be of interest to you. If you want to explore further how these transactions might help improve your supply chain efficiencies, please reach out to us at and we can arrange a discussion.

About the author: Jodi Abrams

Jodi is an expert in SAP and eCommerce integration, and is Vice President of Applications for CONTAX.