Hierarchical Levels

EDI Ship Notice/Manifest Hierarchical Levels

The concept of hierarchical levels is a key feature of the Ship Notice/Manifest. Applying a common hierarchy to levels of data allows the supplier to describe the details of a physical shipment in an electronic format. In this way, the receiver can successfully process the transaction – correctly associating the ship notice data to the physical shipment. Each level within the Ship Notice/Manifest groups to get related details about a physical shipment. Data is transmitted at the level to which it logically applies, thereby avoiding redundancy.

The six levels defined for use within retail industry implementations are:

  • SHIPMENT – Data related to a shipment moving from an origin location to a receiving location, such as Bill of Lading number, ship to, ship from, etc. There is one and only one shipment level in each transaction set.
  • UNIT LOAD – Data related to a physical shipping unit which is marked with a UCC/EAN-128 Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC-18), and, consists of transport packages marked for multiple final destinations.
  • ORDER – Data related to the supplier’s order and buyer’s original purchase order, such as purchase order number, buying location, department number, etc.
  • TARE – Data related to pallets. This may be omitted if there are no identifiable pallets.
  • PACK – Data related to the shipping cartons, racks, bags, etc., such as carton serial number. This may be omitted if there are no identifiable packs, or there is no desire to transmit pack level information.
  • ITEM – Data related to the shipped products, such as SKU identification, quantity shipped, etc.

The hierarchical structure defines the sequence or order in which the levels will appear within a Ship Notice/Manifest. There are two distinct hierarchical structures which are defined for use within retail industry implementations: Pick and Pack and Standard Carton Pack. Each structure contains the same levels, and the usage of each level is the same for both. The only difference between the two is the order in which the levels may appear within the transaction set (i.e., where the Packaging levels are positioned in relation to the Item level). A code in the beginning segment of the Ship Notice/Manifest (BSN05) indicates which structure is used.


  • 0001 Shipment, Order, Packaging, Item (Pick and Pack)
  • 0002 Shipment, Order, Item, Packaging (Standard Carton Pack)
  • 0004 Shipment, Order, Item (No Packaging Level)

The actual structure of the Ship Notice/Manifest is determined by the sender (shipper) of the transaction set. Depending on the shipper’s packing environment, one of these two structures will be more applicable to use than the other. The shipper should choose whichever structure best reflects the packing environment; however, only one data structure can be present in a single ship notice. The buyer (receiver) should be prepared to receive and process any data structure. In the event the partnership does not require a packaging level to be transmitted in the Ship Notice/Manifest, code 0004 is used in BSN05.

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