November 24th, 2021

Surprise, surprise! The EDI 855 document type is yet another ANSI X12 transaction set—and quite a common one at that. The most important thing to know is that the extended transaction set name is EDI 855 Purchase Order Acknowledgement.  

The name pretty much says it all, but we’ll give you the rundown anyway. 

EDI 855 Purchase Order Acknowledgment: An Overview

In a typical business scenario that requires the use of the X12—the most commonly used EDI standard in North America—a supplier receives an EDI 850 Purchase Order (PO) from one of their customers and then acknowledges, or confirms receipt, of that PO by sending an EDI 855 PO Acknowledgment in response. 

In an ideal situation, a supplier can confirm receipt of their customer’s PO, fill the order, and then proceed with sending an EDI 856 Ship Notice/Manifest in response. When this happens, it means that the supplier has accepted the PO with no changes and, therefore, is able to ship the order in full. 

Exceptional Circumstances for the EDI 855

We all know that the ordering and fulfillment process isn’t always as smooth as we want it to be, and the EDI 855 transaction takes that into account. In other words, acceptance isn’t the only possible acknowledgment option. The EDI 855 document type takes this a step further by giving suppliers the option to inform their customers (via the electronic message) whether or not their purchase order has been accepted, rejected, or accepted with changes. So if the supplier can’t accept the PO as is, an EDI 855 rejection code will be included in the message. 

If the supplier rejects the original purchase order and includes the rejection code in the EDI 855, the buyer responds to this with an EDI 860 Purchase Order Change Request – Buyer Initiated. The buyer can use this X12 transaction set to confirm the revised PO as proposed by the supplier or cancel it altogether. Alternatively, the buyer may also use the EDI 860 to request a modification to their initial PO, for example, if they accidentally marked the wrong quantity. This also prompts the supplier to respond with an EDI 855 PO Acknowledgment. 

There’s also another situation in which a supplier may send an EDI 855 without first receiving an EDI 850 PO from their customer. This happens in the case that the supplier has an agreement with their customer to fulfill certain order(s) on a recurring basis (e.g., once per month). In this case, the EDI 855 serves the same purpose and may also be rejected if the order cannot be fulfilled. 

Check out our glossary for more helpful definitions.