The ship notice/manifest is sometimes referred to as the advance ship notice or the 856 EDI document. The original term 'advance ship notice' was a bit of a misnomer as it implied that the document was sent in advance of the shipment, this is not a recommended procedure. The ship notice/manifest should be transmitted at the same time as the physical shipment and it details all of the items being shipped by product id (UPC code) and their corresponding carton and/or pallet.
The ship notice/manifest is in use by most major retailers. For retailers with distribution centers, the document is received at the DC, typically while the physical shipment is still in route. The ship notice gives the retailer advance warning so that they can schedule the receipt at the distribution center and also so that they are alerted to any shortages in the shipment. Once the shipment arrives, the ship notice is then a tool for automatically checking in the cartons by scanning the attached UCC-128 label. This verifies the receipt of the cartons and provides information of any cartons lost in shipping.
The ship notice will often contain store information as well (if the retailer transmitted it on the original purchase order) and from this information, the DC's use automated systems to route the carton to the correct truck for delivery to the store.