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Receiving best practices

At Shipwire, we provide efficient and transparent fulfillment services so that your operations run smoothly. The result, we believe, is a mutually beneficial partnership that will last for years to come. As such, we have developed receiving best practices that get your product to the available for sale stage quickly, reliably and in a very efficient manner.

By following these Receiving Best Practices, you can eliminate receiving delays at the warehouse. When a receiving adheres to these best practices, we refer to it as  Qualified and are able to provide expedited service levels. Conversely when a receiving is Unqualified, we must follow non-standard operating procedures to insure your inventory is successfully processed. Our goal is to get every product available for sale with no errors and in the least amount of time. By doing your part to insure your receivings are Qualfied, you can reduce the time it takes for us to process your inbound receiving.

Upon setting up your Shipwire account, you’ll be asked to enter product descriptions. For each product, you’ll be providing information such as name, SKU, dimensions and weight. By providing accurate descriptions of your products, you’re assuring that the Shipwire optimization algorithms and processes make every interaction with your product an efficient one. From there you’ll create an Advanced Shipping Notice (ASN) to inform us what products you’ll be sending to one of our warehouses and when it will get there so we’re ready for it. The entire receiving process flows from this Advanced Shipping Notice.

Qualified vs. Unqualified  Receivings

For a receiving to be “Qualified” it must:

  1. Arrive with Tracking and Active ASN [ info ]
  2. Arrive Properly Labeled & Packaged [ info ]
  3. Arrive with the Products Listed on the ASN [ info ]
  4. Arrive Free and Clear with Correct Importer of Record & Tax ID Information [ info ]
  5. Arrive at the Pre-Scheduled Appointment Date/Time [ info ]


Service Level Agreements

Our goal as your business partner is to bring the efficiencies of large scale logistics operations to businesses both big and small. To achieve this goal, we have designed processes that work smoothly and quickly when reasonable standards are followed. So too, we treat every product as if it were our own. That way you can be assured that we give every product and order the attention it deserves. Because of our focus on quality, we provide expedited service levels for Qualified receivings via standard operating procedures and qualitative service levels for Unqualified receivings.

The result is a standardized service that can process Unqualified receivings without impacting the quick processing times that Qualified receivings demand. In combination, we’re able to deliver outsourced fulfillment services that operate at exceptionally high performance levels and can handle the occasional problematic receiving.

Receiving type Timeline Fee


2-5 business days



2-10 business days

assessed on incremental work to receive


Below you will find everything you’ll need to insure your receivings qualify for Qualified Receiving Service Levels. We recognize there are times when there are parts of this process that are outside of your control (e.g. supplier labeling) and we provide Special Projects to help address getting your products available for sale. In some situations, a special project may be required at your expense to process a receiving (e.g. products arrive with no distinguishing labels or bar codes). If you require labeling, product kitting or other projects please realize it will take the warehouse team a little time to conduct the project during which time your products will not be available for shipping.  For more information, contact Shipwire Customer Care.

1. Tracking Requirements

For the tracking requirements to be satisfied for a received shipment, the following must be included with the Pending ASN:

Carrier Tracking Information
  1. Trackable Carrier Service is used.
  2. Carrier Tracking Number provided within 3 days or earlier of arrival.
  3. Carrier Contact Information
Pending ASN
For a receiving to be qualified, the ASN must be “Pending” at the time of arrival. For an ASN to sustain pending status, it must:
  1. Be Associated with a funded Account (current account, not past due)
  2. Be Associated with an Account funded sufficiently to satisfy any required security deposits.
  3. Not require an accepted Terms of Service addendum on file.
  4. Not have an Expected Arrival Date seven (7) business days past due.
    • Merchants can un-cancel an ASN and update it with a revised Expected Arrival Date.

2. Labeling and Packaging Requirements

For the labeling and packaging requirements to be satisfied for a received shipment, the shipment must be received with:

  1. Each individual item must be identifiable as a SKU by label or bar code.
    • For Bar Coded Items, the bar code should include the  SKU ID with no additional characters.
    • Labels should be placed on the packaging of the item, not the actual item itself.
  2. Each bulk SKU (master carton or carton) must be identifiable by label or bar code and contain:
    • SKU for the Master Carton or Carton
    • “Shipwire Distribution”
    • ASN#
    • Address of the Destination Warehouse
  3. The SKU on the label must match the Product SKU as defined in the Shipwire System.
  4. Labels should be placed in an obvious and consistent easy to find place on the outer packaging. Labels should use a good adhesive so they don’t come off easily.

When you create your ASN, we will provide you an ASN Label for your master cartons. For more information see our  label and supplier instructions FAQ.

  1. The packing list should list how many boxes, cartons and containers are arriving with the contents of each.
  2. The packing list should match the contents of the ASN.
  3. A Master Carton should not arrive with mixed skus inside. If mixing is necessary, one Master Carton should not have a mixture of more than 10 skus because it will delay the receiving time and possibly incur hourly receiving costs depending on complexity. Additionally, any carton of 2 or more mixed skus should follow best practice #1 in the “Packaging” guideline and include a specific packing list for that specific master carton.

3. Products Listed on the ASN

For the product listing requirements to be satisfied for a received shipment, the shipment must:

  1. Contain the products listed on the ASN.
  2. Contain Acceptable Products: For a complete list of excluded products please see our  Acceptable Use Policy.
  3. Contain quantities of each SKU equivalent to the quantities on the ASN (10% variance allowed).
  4. Contain products that are clean, organized, boxed and/or stacked.
  5. Contain unmixed inventory (only one SKU per box).
  6. Have matching Dimensions and Weights with the SKU values in the Shipwire System.
  7. Be received from the same carrier at the same time (otherwise multiple ASNs are required)

4. Importer of Record & Tax ID

If you are importing inventory into the U.S., Canada or the U.K. you will need to clear customs and pay taxes and duties on your inventory.  The received shipment must arrive free and clear of customs, duties and taxes.  For the documentation requirements to be satisfied for a received shipment, the following must be associated with the ASN:

Importer of Record (only required for importing)
  1. Shipwire is not listed as the Merchant of Record or Importer of Record or Owner of Record.
  2. Merchant is listed.
Tax ID (AKA Employer Identification Number)
  1. For importing into the US, a United States Federal Tax ID is required by Customs.
    • A merchant can obtain a Tax ID by Incorporating or
    • Register for a Tax ID online,  by calling 215-516-6999 or sending in a completed Form SS to the  Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Please make sure you have a tax ID for the local jurisdiction that you are importing into. Shipwire can help you establish a Tax ID. Here are some guides to help you. If you have questions please contact sales or support.

Importers, your inventory must arrive at the warehouse free of customs, tax and duties charges. If Shipwire is asked to pay for any CTD fees at the point of receiving, these charges plus Shipwire fees will be passed through and paid by you before your inventory is ready for shipment. Shipwire reserves the right to reject shipments that request CTD payments of Shipwire.

For more information please see  Sending Us Merchandise.

5. Appointment Date/Time

For ASNs containing  8 or more pallets (512 cubic feet), the receiving must be scheduled in advance:

Call (888) 744-7947 with the following information:
  1. ASN#
  2. Name of Destination Warehouse (City)
  3. Carrier Name
  4. Carrier Contact Information (name, phone number)
  5. Number of Palettes or Floor Loaded indication

Shipwire will schedule the delivery window and call back the carrier with the delivery date/time. Our standard service level agreement for delivery appointments is 1-2 business days after receiving a scheduling request. For ASNs with less than 8 pallets no appointment is required.


Shipping Service Levels

For a list of shipping service levels after receiving is complete please see Shipping from Shipwire

Our holiday and warehouse schedule can help you plan for holiday shipping.

Please also review outbound freight shipment and International shipping (crossing a border with a parcel).

Receiving, Payment and Billing

Payments and Billing. Understand the impact of sending merchandise.

Shipwire charges storage fees for products when they arrive at the warehouse. Once the inventory arrives at the dock and receiving is initiated storage fees will begin. If your receiving is unqualified or there is a special project attached to a receiving that delays a receiving you are still responsible for storage fees while the the products are being configured for storage.

Receiving fees and deposits

At Shipwire, we aspire to simplify the fees charged for our services and align the timing of charging these fees with your revenue model. As such, we do not charge receiving fees for putting away product because this is not when you’re making money. Instead we incur the costs involved in receiving your inventory until the products ship (when you are making money). Included in the handling fees for each item shipped are the receiving costs we incurred back when the products were originally received. This is just one example of the many ways Shipwire is changing the industry to make it less costly and confusing.

We want you to feel comfortable that your inventory is set up correctly, cost-effectively and optimized for maximum performance. As such, Shipwire recommends merchants do all of their planning and packaging design before sending us merchandise.

Nonstandard receiving fees

While most receivings will not incur any fees, two types of receivings require additional labor and equipment to process:

  1. Floor Loaded Containers – a method of loading containers where goods are loaded directly on the floor rather than using pallets or other containers. Floor loading tends to be more labor intensive, but provides the greatest opportunity for utilizing the full cube of the truck, trailer, or container.
  2. Unqualified Receivings – receivings that meet Shipwire’s Qualified Receiving Guidelines are able to be processed quickly and efficiently. However, when receivings fall outside of these guidelines they require additional processing to be received accurately.

Because non-standard processes require additional labor and management oversight, Shipwire may require additional time to process your receiving and charge a standard hourly fee of $40 per hour, charged in 15-minute increments, for this time.

Floor-loaded containers
While floor loaded containers can be a more cost-effective way to get containers to Shipwire, unloading the contents requires additional labor:

  • For a 20ft container, 2 to 6 hours.
  • For a 40ft container, 5 to 12 hours.

The number of SKUs in the receiving, and the weight of product will be the big drivers in influencing the time it takes to receive. The fees incurred will be billed after the receiving order is complete and Shipwire will breakout any such charges by specific receiving order.

Floor loaded container vs. Palletized load container

Palletized containers will not incur these fees as long as the pallets are configured in a way that they can easily be extracted with a forklift. Pallets that are not properly braced or require restacking before they can be removed will require additional non-standard receiving time.

Please also note that US Customs and the US FDA have specific requirements around the type of pallet used. Generally speaking, Hardwood or Plastic pallets will not have any customs issues. Softwood pallets need to have been fumigated and your customs broker will need a certificate attesting to that fact. Please contact Customer Care or your customs broker before shipping if you have any questions.


Unqualified receivings

Unqualified receivings may incur additional charges as they require additional labor or equipment to complete. The following are common problems encountered with unqualified receivings:

  • Unlabeled product
  • Product and cartons not labeled in compliance with Shipwire’s Labeling Guidelines
  • Mixed master cartons that require additional sorting/segregation
  • Damaged cartons/product
  • Unexpected delivery in warehouse
  • Unscheduled delivery for receiving orders larger than 8 pallets
  • Significant unit or SKU count variances between what was reported in ASN, and what is received
  • Palletized containers that cannot be handled with forklift
  • Oversized product that is not palletized

Unqualified receiving fees can usually be avoided by following standard receiving guidelines outlined at the top of this document. For additional information about deposits and fees please see our Terms of Service and payments and billing.


Because we incur the cost of receiving until the products ship, we may charge a security deposit for merchants storing a large number of items:

  • We charge merchants storing more than 500 items a security deposit. Upon exceeding 500 items in inventory, a deposit will be required.
  • By storing your products in Master Packs (e.g. more than one product nested inside a container defined with its own SKU), you can avoid being charged a security deposit.
  • Upon “breaking” a master pack, the individual products inside (i.e. eaches) will become available (i.e. good) inventory. If breaking a master pack sets the number of items stored above the 500 item threshold, a deposit will be required.
  • After “breaking a master pack,” its contents cannot be re-packed into a master pack unless a fee based project is commissioned.

If you have any questions please review the article Shipping in bulk or contact Customer Care.

Moving inventory

From time to time you may find it necessary to move a portion of your inventory from one Shipwire warehouse to another. Moving Inventory from one warehouse is done by shipping inventory out of one warehouse and scheduling an ASN for the inbound inventory into the new warehouse. When you ship your product your account will be charged the per Item fee for each item shipped. Shipwire recommends that you review proper receiving of inventory as a “lot” or “bulk receiving” to keep outbound shipping fees to a minimum. Kitting and bulk inventory management.

B2B, bulk inventory receiving, master cartons and “lots”

When you are storing inventory in the warehouse, store it in the largest configuration (“lot”) possible and only have Shipwire break down the inventory when you are ready to ship it.


  • You are sending 5000 board games to Shipwire in Los Angeles. You expect to sell all the items through your web store to individual buyers. You can work with your supplier and have them sent as individual items or in boxes of 50.
  • If you told Shipwire to receive the board games as individual items (1 SKU for 1 Board game in your account), Shipwire would ask for a deposit for 5000 items being received and you would only be able to ship individual items out.
  • If you sent us 100 boxes of 50, Shipwire would not require a deposit as we are only receiving 100 items (in this case a box of 50 board games is 1 item). You would describe to products in your account: 1 box of 50; 1 individual board game. Reciving this way has many benefits:
    • If you sold an individual item, Shipwire can receive a box of 50 into 50 individual products so you can send to individual buyers
    • If you found a US distributor that needed 200 board games you would send them 4 items (4 boxes of 50) rather than 200 individual shipments.
    • If there was an error in the product and you needed to ship the board games back to the manufacturer, it would be 100 items shipped rather than 5000.
  • Planning to store in lots can save you a lot of money and increase your business flexibility.

For more information on lots, receiving and master cartons:


More information

Below is a review of common questions and points of distinction to help you qualify your inbound receivings and avoid hassles and delays. Please do review our terms and Acceptable Use Policy in full as this the list below is not a 100% complete list of the impact of receiving.

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