Code 21: Concealed Shortages

3 min read

What is Deduction Code 21?

Code 21s are for concealed shortages. Concealed shortages are defined in three ways: Inner Ctn. Shortages / Inner Pallet Shortages / Part Supplier Pack. In any case, the shortage was not visible when the facility first received the shipment. The shortage was not found until the vendor pack was broken or the shipment arrived at the store.

Code 21s can be difficult to fight because the POD will often be signed in full based on the quantity of vendor packs.

How to Prevent Valid Code 21s

Item Setup and Invoicing

  • Submit only one Invoice per PO when possible

  • Confirm your item setups

    • Vendor pack quantities

    • Warehouse pack quantities

  • Transmit invoices with Walmart item numbers

  • Match your invoice to the PO and don't make adjustments on the invoice that don't match PO

    • match units of measurement on the Invoice to the units on the PO

    • If you don't agree with the quantity ordered, do not short ship. Rather, coordinate with Replenishment Manager or the buyer to request an updated purchase order.

  • Confirm that fulfillment information is correctly flowing to the warehouse (check your EDI)

Packaging and Labeling


  • Identify PO number and Facility number on labels

  • Be sure labels are clearly applied, not damaged or obfuscated

  • Use color-coding/imagery to differentiate between products

  • Use slip sheets between POs if palletizing freight

  • Use color-coding/imagery to differentiate between orders

    • It is best to avoid co-mingling inventory for different Purchase Orders. Walmart expects one PO shipment per pallet or per box unless you have an agreement with the RM stating otherwise. If you do include multiple POs in a shipment you must clearly separate them, though it is still not recommended as this is one of the most common reasons for invalid shortage claims.

Can Code 21s be Disputed?

Code 21s can be disputed, but are often more difficult to win than standard code 22 or 24 shortages. If you can prove that the shipment was in full then it is worth filing a claim in the Accounts Payable Disputes Portal (APDP) in Retail Link.

How to Dispute Invalid Code 21s

Supporting Documentation:

  • Proof of Delivery showing items received (prepaid) or BOL showing items shipped in full (collect). Be sure the PO# is clearly listed on the POD.

  • Invoice (EDI 810) showing correct quantities invoiced

  • Purchase Order (EDI 850) showing requested quantities (optional)

1-click disputes. Just like that. Get started.

Related Resources

Written by The SupplyPike Team

About The SupplyPike Team

SupplyPike builds software to help retail suppliers fight deductions, meet compliance standards, and dig down to root cause issues in their supply chain.

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