Ordering Best Practice

Last updated  12th May 2022


BIC Ordering Best Practice (OBP) Working Group

BIC’s purpose is to make the supply chain more efficient by developing, maintaining and enhancing best practice. This is the foundation on which to deliver further efficiencies, develop resilience and equip the next generation of supply chain professional with the knowledge and expertise required to get the right book to the right place at the right time.

The Ordering Best Practice Project was launched in April 2021 to capture and promote best practice for the B2B ordering of printed books in the physical supply chain. After all, ordering is at the heart of the supply chain. Where would we be if there were no books on shelves in physical stores or in retailers’ warehouses? 

The project brief is available here.

The latest monthly project update is available here.

The project group is made up of BIC member volunteers from across the industry led by Stephen Long, an independent consultant with over 30 years’ experience in the book industry. The project reflects the diverse nature of the BIC membership and their roles in ordering and order related processes.

Since its inception, the project has focused on addressing a range of issues highlighted in BIC’s Supply Chain Map Project, Technical Implementation Clinics and Physical Supply Chain Committee meetings. The issues have been force ranked and key deliverables from the project will be made available on this web page.

Please contact Stephen Long, BIC Project Consultant, at supplychain@stephenjlong.info for more information.

Trading Platform Capabilities Directory

We have created a quick reference guide for booksellers to the most popular ordering platforms available in the UK and Ireland. The purpose of the guide is to show booksellers the range of services and functionality available to help expedite order related processes in a more efficient manner.

The information has been provided to BIC by the respective ordering platforms. It is a factual snapshot of the tools and functionality that each provides. BIC recognises that other service providers are available. Inclusion in this document does not proffer any particular status. For further information on the platforms, please contact the service providers directly. 

View the Trading Platform Capabilities Directory here.

Frequently Asked Questions.

Distributors’ customer service teams say that questions about price & availability, discounts, print on demand titles and order status are very common. Booksellers agree.

Here are two FAQ documents. The first includes answers to the most common questions on P&A, discounts, print on demand titles and order status.

View the first set of FAQs here.

The second focuses on supply issues, calculating VAT, order management, returns, sales embargoes and publication dates.  

View the second set of FAQs here.

Order and Acknowledgement Style Guide.

Efficient order and acknowledgement routines make for proactive order management. BIC encourages booksellers to place orders electronically for speed and accuracy, while recognising that ‘electronic’ doesn’t have to mean ‘complicated’.

This guide shows how a simple order upload process can potentially deliver additional value. Knowing if and when every order line will be fulfilled by way of order acknowledgments underpins good customer service.

Code List 54 captures order acknowledgement codes and can be used in conjunction with the Order and Acknowledgement Style Guide. 

View the Order and Acknowledgement Style Guide here.

View Code List 54 here.

Invoice Style Guide

Books in boxes don’t make sales. The receipting of books needs to be well-organised so that stock is merchandised and made available for sale as soon as possible after the consignment arrives at the retailer. It is important that the supplier transmits an electronic delivery note and invoice when the stock consignment is despatched.

There may be occasions when supplying an electronic invoice or delivery note is just not possible. BIC has provided guidelines and templates to ensure that manual receipts are handled efficiently by ensuring all the critical information that the retailer needs is included on invoice or delivery note paperwork.

View the Invoice Style Guide here.

The Value of Advanced Shipping Notices (ASNs)

Supply chains are stretched and bookshop resources are limited. One of the best ways in which publishers and distributors can help booksellers and wholesalers receipt stock quickly is to ensure that all consignments are accompanied by an ‘advanced shipping notice’. There’s more information on ASNs here and look out for future updates on managing goods-in processes.

View the 'Value of Advanced Shipping Notices' here.


Many book supply chain professionals have spent years in the industry. It is assumed that common terms, acronyms and abbreviations will be readily understood. That isn’t always the case. Terms can mean different things to different people. Some abbreviations have more than one meaning. 

A well-oiled supply chain is based on accuracy, efficiency and responsiveness. BIC has compiled a list of supply chain and order related terms to raise the profile of the transactions, processes, standards and concepts that keep our industry moving. We would like to thank individual contributors as well as organisations such as EDItEUR for their suggestions. 

View the Glossary here.