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About the Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC)


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The GS1 System defines a method of serializing cartons so that the contents can be traced to a specific line item (or items) on a specific customer purchase order (CPO). The standard format for serializing cartons and shipping containers is an 18-digit number which is known as the Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC). The SSCC is a unique number assigned to each carton as it is shipped. Because it is unique, it can be used as a reference number tying the contents of a specific carton to information about the shipment including the purchase order(s) it should be applied to, carrier, date of shipment, and so on.

The SSCC label contains two bar codes. The bar code on top identifies the destination postal code for the carton. This bar code is scanned at distribution centers to automatically route it to the proper loading dock. The bar code on the bottom of the label is an SSCC in the GS1-128 format. The bar code is scanned at various points in the supply chain, including the ultimate destination, to track the precise location of a particular carton. The SSCC is different for each carton and shipping container, regardless of its contents. The SSCC is especially useful for tracking cartons containing custom quantities of mixed products. The SSCC is normally not printed until the customer and destination for that particular carton is known. Generally, this means printing after the picking and packing process, but before the shipping process.

The SSCC is used in conjunction with ASN transactions. If the ASN arrives ahead of the shipment, scanning only the SSCC on the cartons allows the recipient to determine:

  • the contents of the carton,
  • who it came from,
  • the line item(s) from a specific purchase order that the contents should be applied to.

If the physical shipment arrives before the ASN, then scanning the carton serial numbers will not inform the recipient about its contents or other shipping information. In this case, the carton serial numbers can be scanned and stored in a pending file waiting for the ASN. When the ASN arrives, the carton serial numbers can be matched and processed for payment.