The EDI 846 — Inventory Inquiry/Advice Document

What is the EDI 846?

The EDI 846 Inventory Inquiry/Advice document is critical for compliance, especially if you’re drop shipping direct-to-consumer. But the EDI 846 is a document that you’re probably not going to love, largely because it’s an update many retailers require suppliers to send at least once a day. It is used most often in drop ship scenarios.

That said, when it’s handled well, the EDI 846 benefits both parties. Retailers get a clear and accurate understanding of the inventory that’s available while suppliers can avoid damaging important relationships. Trading partners don’t like surprises — a clear, accurate picture of inventory levels keeps everyone on the same page.

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What information is in the EDI 846?

Let’s start with the basics and go over some of the most important information in this document. In an EDI 846, you will provide:

  • Product Item Identifiers (UPC/EAN/GTIN)
  • Inventory dates
  • Identifying numbers

Depending on the retailer, you may also need to include information such as out-of-stock items, dates when those items will be restocked, amounts at specific distribution centers, a vendor number, or item descriptions.

How often will you need to send an EDI 846?


Requirements will vary among different retailers but if you drop ship direct-to-consumer for a trading partner, you should expect to send an EDI 846 once a day. In fact, some retailers will expect you to send the EDI 846 multiple times each day.

Why is the EDI 846 transmitted so often?

Fair question.

Let’s say you have a product that’s featured on the website of one of your trading partners. They’ll want to update the inventory amounts in real time or very close to that. While it can seem to make your life more complicated, they have good reasons for this practice.

For starters, retailers don’t want to disappoint customers. If a shopper tries to purchase an item but finds out it’s unavailable, frustration ensues. If it happens too often, many customers will decide to take their business elsewhere. Today’s consumers are demanding and impatient — waiting for a product because it’s not currently available typically means they will quickly look for it from another merchant.

If they know that inventory is low, however, retailers may be able to turn that into advantage.  To stoke demand, they can feature an item on their web site with copy that says, “Only three left!” By noting that just a few are remaining in stock, a sense of urgency is created — and that can lead to purchases. There’s nothing like the fear of missing out to prompt immediate action and create a sale.

How can you make the EDI 846 easier?

The EDI 846 can definitely cause some anxiety — usually needs to be done every day or even more often than that. And it needs to be accurate since it can be critical to maintaining a good relationship with a retailer.

The good news is that you can make it easier. How?  Make it something you don’t have to do yourself. In other words, automate the EDI 846.

Our automated approach to the EDI 846 pulls the data from Item Carton Maintenance. Adjustments can be easily made to when the EDI 846 goes out, and you determine which trading partners receive it.

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Even though you may never really love the EDI 846, you can turn it into a competitive advantage. If you’re sending the inventory feed consistently, without errors, you’re enhancing your relationship with the retailer who requires it. Less drama translates into more orders and more long-term commitments.

Take the pain out of the EDI 846.

The main issue with the EDI 846 Inventory Inquiry/Advice is that it consumes so much time and demands the attention of many people at your company. When done manually, it is also likely to have errors — the information may not be correct or it isn’t sent in a timely fashion.

With automation, you can be confident the EDI 846 will be sent to the retailer at the appropriate time and that it will be free of the kind of mistakes that create costly chargebacks. It becomes another part of EDI that you handle easily.

To make your own life simpler and your company more efficient, talk to us about automating the EDI 846 with your trading partners.