What is a shipping API?
Application program interfaces or APIs are bridges that allow different web applications to interact with each other. The two well-recognised APIs include – Representational State Transfer or REST and Simple Object Access Protocol or SOAP. The former is preferred as it is compatible with all data formats, i.e XML, HTML, TXT, and JSON.
Shipping APIs allow your business to seamlessly facilitate data flow into your existing eCommerce tech stack making sure you can ship your orders easily.
The multiple places with which you can incorporate your shipping API include:
- Warehouse management system (WMS)
- Ecommerce website
- Order management system (OMS)
How is it different from shipping software?
Shipping software and a shipping API are different though both their core functions include tracking and creating labels for shipment. Shipping API does not have an interface past its login portal while a shipping software has an in-built AI. A shipping software is also more suited for SMBs and a shipping API is apt for large enterprise businesses as it is better suited for bulk processes.
Why do you need it for your eCommerce business?
A recent survey found that 68% of online shoppers have said that fast shipping would increase the likelihood of them placing an order. While shipping APIs can help big companies in a more cost-effective way, their efficiency is beyond the size of the eCommerce company.
- Real-time shipment tracking – A shipment tracking API is an underrated tool. It lets your customer know their parcel at every step of its journey.
- Label creation – Some shipping APIs provide you with the best rate shipping and the best carriers before you can print labels in bulk. One of the most common issues that happen in the absence of a shipping API is that one might pay twice for multiple labels. A shipping API makes sure you don’t have to go through this.
- Address generation and validation – Shipping APIs also take care of generating and validating addresses. As a result, there are fewer chances of failed deliveries.
- A better CX – WIth everything clubbed together in a single application, the flow from shopping to shipping is relatively easier for the end customer. The overall customer experience is improved.
- Cost saving – Some APIs can be very cost-effective as they generally save you money when it comes to global carriers like FedEx and UPS. Thinking of getting the lowest cost shipping? They can help you with that.
What are some shipping APIs for 3PLs?
In the world of 3PLs, global names are the ones making the most buzz. These include:
- Amazon – Amazon loves automation and it is only natural that their API focuses more on automating the payment processes.
- FedEx – FedEx’s API can help you track orders, help in returns and generate labels. If you want a step more, it would also help you build reports.
- UPS – UPS’s API can monitor the entire shipment process, has barcode readings and generates more economical routes for transportation.
What kind of API does your business need this holiday season? A Label Gen API and a Shipping tracking API
With the holiday season coming up, the most important shipping APIs right now is the label gen API and the shipment tracking API. Although a shipping API could have label generation, tracking, as well as other services, clubbed together, if they do not have a universal tracking API service or an API for label gen, you would be missing out.
Shipment tracking API – Shipment tracking APIs help track shipments globally using a tracking API number. The tracking ID code is then used by a business API tracking system to track packages globally.
Shipment tracking can be included in your system in the following ways –
- Directly – This provides direct integration with each carrier in the database.
- Selected – This provides integration with data aggregators and tech providers
- Multiple – This provides integration with shipment providers that connect with more than one carrier.
Label Gen API – A label Gen API lets you find the best rate shipping from the most affordable yet reliable shipping carriers. The predictive AI helps here and ultimately provides a great way of generating labels in bulk. ShippingChimp provides a cost-effective way to generate labels and print labels.
How to choose the correct shipping API?
Look for these when making the decision:
- Documentation – The first thing you need to make sure of when getting a shipping API is if there is proper documentation available. The workings are fairly technical in nature and if you as the founder are not able to have full clarity, then you will have to leave everything up to your developers in case of no documentation.
- Carrier count – There has to be a large number of carriers in your API providers database for you to leverage the most out of a shipping API. More carriers will give you the option to choose, compare and get the most economical way to ship. It would also be helpful if they have domestic as well as international carriers because let’s face it, your brand is going to go places.
- Speed – Your customers will not realise that an API process is taking place when they are placing an order, tracking their parcel or returning it. But they would when the system will lag owing to the increased number of API calls per hour. This should be thoroughly discussed with the provider and should be checked in their Shipping API kit.
- Rate Limits – Generally an increase in a few hundred thousand orders don’t affect an API call but when it is much more and reaches an unimaginable number, then your provider might limit the number of API calls to your brand. There is, of course, a need to check these before signing the deal.
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