1) Overview of Shipping or Logistics APIs in eCommerce
If you're an eCommerce business, then one of the most critical aspects of your operation is shipping. Ensuring your products get to your customers as quickly and efficiently as possible is critical to your success. That's why it's essential to use a shipping API that will make the process smooth and easy for you.
The competition has become tough. From multinationals like Amazon and eBay to small business owners, it’s no longer about the product. It’s a matter of ensuring end-to-end serviceability, including everything between seamless purchase and delivery.
According to surveys, nearly 38% of shoppers agree they would never shop with a retailer again if they faced a negative delivery experience. This tells us what an integral part shipping and delivery plays in eCommerce. In today’s tech-savvy world, the responsibility of making eCommerce shipping hassle-free lies on the shoulders of courier APIs for eCommerce.
As an online seller, not only do you need a shipping API that's reliable and affordable but one that integrates well with your eCommerce platform. We are here to discuss the nitty-gritty of shipping API, alternately known as courier API and Logistics API.
So whether you're looking for one to help you track shipments or to get real-time shipping rates from different couriers, we've got you covered. To help make things a little bit easier, we've compiled a list of the best courier APIs for ecommerce businesses.
But first, let’s delve into what a shipping API is and how it can help ecommerce businesses.
2) What Exactly are Shipping or Courier APIs?
An API (full-form Application Programming Interface) is a programming input that connects various software and systems. You can find APIs at work in nearly every App or website you use, from YouTube to weather reporting systems. APIs can be programmed to assess data, pass information between multiple systems, and perform numerous actions.
The best shipping APIs can make it easier for ecommerce businesses to manage their shipping logistics. With eCommerce courier API integrations, companies can connect with a courier provider to get real-time rates, and package tracking.
A shipping API for ecommerce directly connects an online store with a facility like FedEx or UPS through a FedEx shipping API or a UPS shipping API, respectively.
Courier API integrations enable online shoppers to create an automated and streamlined checkout and delivery process without constant manual interventions. The best shipping API establishes a smooth and hurdle-free shipping process, crucial for running a successful e-business.
3) Top 10 Best Shipping or Courier or Logistics APIs for eCommerce Business [2023 Updated List]
In our view, here’s a list of the best international shipping API for ecommerce according to our opinion. Each courier APIs listed has unique selling points that provide a seamless shopping experience for customers and retailers.
Most, if not all shipping and courier APIs provides a combination of essential shipping functions. These include: shipment tracking, rate shopping, managing multiple-carriers, creating labels, validating address, managing invoices and returns. Other elements may include creating shipping manifests, managing shipping methods etc.
Now that we’ve seen the key functions an ecommerce API performs, let’s proceed with discovering the best API integrations and their salient features:
ClickPost is the world's most popular multi-carrier shipping API integration software that helps eCommerce businesses proliferate and retain customers. It provides a wide range of courier APIs to integrate with courier partners in just 1 day quickly.
Top Features of the ClickPost Shipping API:
- ClickPost provides ecommerce businesses with a single API to manage all order manifestation and shipping operations.
- It uses push-and-pull API integrations to get real-time tracking updates and send them to customers.
- ClickPost also automatically allocates the best carrier for packages based on previous performance, package type, delivery location, and other crucial metrics.
- Its logistics API integrations enable return requests to be placed easily from a self-serve return portal, where customers can place return requests and register the reason for returning a product.
- The order creation API automatically prints shipping labels for shipments.
ShipEngine allows brands to build the necessary workflows to create a hassle-free shipping and delivery experience for their clients. The courier tracking API enables the customer to conduct cart carrier rate checks. It offers other functions like creating shipping labels, shipment tracker, and address verification.
The pricing of ShipEngine is such that you can pay as you go. For instance, you’re charged as low as 5 cents for each label, 1 cent per tracked package, 1 cent per US address verified, and 6 percent per address verified globally.
Here’s a quick look at the features ShipEngine offers:
- Shopping rates across 30+ carriers in real-time.
- Connect with preferred carriers and create shipping labels.
- Avail of specific carrier discounts.
- Validate address.
- Track shipments and parcel status using webhooks.
- Free developer account (no credit card needed)
Shippo creates unique customer experiences through branded emails and tracking pages that help enhance shipping operations. This special courier API allows retailers to manage returns, compare carrier rates to find the best option, and schedule carrier pickups.
It also offers address verification. Like other API delivery services, you can pay as you go for 5 cents plus postage costs per shipment with Shipp. However, it also presents a professional plan of $10 a month or a premier plan with customized solutions for your business.
Sneak peek at the features:
- Real-time rate comparison between different carriers with parcel transit time.
- Create parcels and automatically generate labels.
- Discounts for UPS, DHL, USPS, and more.
- Return and pickup scheduling facility.
- Create and validate new addresses.
- Package tracking and shipping notification emails.
- Declare customs, invoice charges and calculate taxes for cross-border shipping.
EasyPost is a modern international courier service that offers retailers more control and flexibility over their shipping functionality with a stock of customizable APIs. It has APIs for services like shipment tracking status, address verification, international shipping etc.
EasyPost provides shipping insurance and charges 1% of the assured value with a minimum of $1. Its pricing mechanism is paying as you go for 1 percent per package.
Some of the best API features EasyPost offers are:
- Shipping, tracking, and verification of shipping addresses for DHL, USPS, FedEx, UPS, and more.
- Multi-carrier access and discounts for leading carriers.
- Data-backed optimization for every shipment.
- Label creation and printing.
- Shipping insurance.
- Outstanding uptime guarantee (99.99%)
- Custom declaration and carbon-offset.
FedEx is known for its overnight shipping services, an efficient system that can track packages and provide real-time location updates for ecommerce stores. The FedEx Shipping API provides necessary information to integrate a third-party application into its platform.
FedEx offers courier tracking APIs for integrating its different functions like FedEx Express, FedEx Ground, and FedEx Freight into any eCommerce business, retail website, or order management system. The APIs are available at an affordable price.
Here is a list of top FedEx Shipping APIs:
- FedEx has Open Ship API and Parcel Request API that creates shipments and manages courier pickups.
- It has APIs for address validation and detecting nearest pickup and drop-off locations
- It has Freight LTL API for creating, managing and processing LTL shipments.
- FedEx’s Global Trade API handles regulatory documents required in international shipping.
- FedEx has build logistics APIs for shipping rates, delivery dates and transit time between shipping zones and service type.
- It has APIs for tracking and generating shipping labels.
DHL is an international courier and expresses mail service based in Germany. It is a powerful shipping API. The DHL API is well documented and easy to integrate with every brand’s website and mobile applications to save time. The best part about DHL APIs is that they are offered for free.
Here’s a quick look at the unique features DHL ecommerce logistics APIs offer:
- Label creation.
- Real-time tracking and tracking status.
- Location finder to find all the DHL service points where users can send and receive packages.
- Calculate government taxes and fees for cross-border shipping.
- Validate addresses before dispatch and sort out supply chain issues.
Uship is an online market where shippers can connect with customers. With the help of its developer API, businesses can integrate this feature into any third-party’s website. It is easy to use because this international logistics API is well-documented. Uship saves you money because it offers its courier API integrations for free.
Here’s a quick look at Uship’s features:
- Get shipping estimates based on merchandise instantly.
- Integrate shipping price through an easy and low-cost shipping option.
- Automate pickup, delivery, and billing.
- Range of API features available for global shipping to various countries.
Starting in 2013, Flexport provides a robust, end-to-end platform for modern logistics. It is a full-service air and ocean freight progress and provides all the necessary facilities.
The Flexport logistics tracking API is well-documented, easy to understand, and free of cost. It lets you interact seamlessly with Flexport’s freight data by allowing JSON-based information exchange. It also provides excellent support for developers and users.
Here are some of Flexpoxrt's APIs:
- Webhooks APIs for estimated transit and arrival times and invoices.
- Parcel tracking API that integrates with 4PLs.
- Calculate carbon emissions hourly.
- Track and sort containers, list container legs and shipment route legs.
- List purchase orders and retrieve purchased items.
3.9) Easyship Shipping API
Easyship is a modern, cutting-edge, and custom-made shipping solution. It has an easy yet powerful shipping software API that can be integrated with tracking, managing, and labeling features. Easyship is easy to integrate, has clear documentation, and is free of cost.
Sneak peek into Easyship’s features:-
- Multi-carrier platform offering pre-negotiated discounted shipping rates.
- Seamless connections with leading selling channels.
- Access to Auto-generation of labels and low price.
- Track finances through cloud-based shipping software.
- Create time-slots and schedule carrier pickups.
3.10) USPS Logistics API
USPS stands for United States Postal Services, which was founded in 1971. The company is managed by the US government and is responsible for providing postal services all over the country.
The USPS Shipping API allows easy access to shipping information and services for the customer. Though it is free of cost, the API is not easy to configure, for it has limited resources and is not recommended for newbies. For seasoned retailers in the United States, it is one of the best shipping APIs.
USPS offers an extensive range of features:
- Shipping price calculator to check domestic and international shipping rates for the sender.
- Track shipments.
- Schedule package pickup by carriers in case of returns.
- Address validation.
Here is a bonus shipping API service provider for more curious readers.
Compared to the other tracking APIs, Gooten is a recently founded in 2012. But despite that, it has grown rapidly and enables shipment through 110 countries to 40,000 customers. The Gooten API is easy to integrate, and has excellent community support and documentation. It is a paid service that’s offered at affordable rates.
Gooten offers a variety of APIs to solve different shipping-related functions:
- Price estimate API.
- Address validation API.
- Shipping options API.
- Track and trace shipments at every order milestone.
4) How to Choose the Best Courier Shipping, or Logistics APIs for Your Online Business?
After looking at so many API providers, it may seem a little overwhelming to decide which one is the best to use for your business. However, there’s no need to worry. Check the below-mentioned list of important considerations you must keep in mind while picking an API.
The network of carriers that an API offers are good ways to measure its success. The more carriers, the better it is since it shows larger dependability, scalability, and probability for the businesses to scale up. One must look for a shipping API provider that connects the brand with more than one carrier and offers domestic and international carriers.
An API should take less than 0.5 seconds to process since any time lag beyond that is noticeable to customers. You should know that when several hundred calls coincide, a bit of a lag is only natural. Thus, picking an API that is quick to process is essential.
Certain APIs limit the number of calls a business can make, often by the minute or the hour. If the limit is reached during the given time frame, the business owner may receive a message of error. Quite obviously, this can turn into a nuisance as your business grows.
What’s important to realize is that the number of calls a company makes to the API isn’t related to the number of orders they receive. A single call can update hundreds of shipments. Hence, the ideal shipping API would not put such a strict limit on the number of API calls.
Sandbox is a tool that developers use to test their APIs in a trial environment. The purpose is to check if the connection is functional. This tool is usually complimentary. However, there is an added advantage if the sandbox offers a staged carrier account where samples, labels, and rates can be created without reaching live accounts.
Price is an important factor to consider when selecting the best API for eCommerce shipping. The pricing should justify the number of benefits it will provide to you. Always compare the price point of several different APIs and weigh their pros and cons before finalizing a single one.
5) What are the Key Functions Performed by Shipping APIs
Shipping APIs solve two broad purposes – seamless delivery for the customer and auto-tracked process completion for the business. The functionality of a shipment tracking API differs from one service provider to another.
For instance, one provider could offer only domestic shipping, another only international shipping, whereas yet another both. Essentially, shipping APIs perform four key functions to ensure smooth product delivery to the end customer.
5.1) Label creation
Label generation is the most basic and primary function of a shipping API. Once a purchase is made, and the product is prepared for dispatch, the API transfers all delivery-related information to the carrier. After that, the API auto-generated a label and sent to the carrier, who returns it with a URL used to download and print it.
5.2) Address verification
When the customer enters their shipping address while placing an order, a request is sent to the API by the online store to verify this address and find any possible issues that could arise during delivery. In case of errors, they are instantly returned to the website by the API, which displays an alert to the shopper.
This is typically the case if the address is invalid/incomplete. This helps prevent issues of failed delivery and reprinting shipping labels due to address correction. Further, this step helps avoid wasted logistic fees that the business would incur in case of incorrect shipping documents.
5.3) Multi-carrier facility
For any eCommerce business, the best strategy is to offer a multiple-carrier facility so that customers can have multiple delivery options. Each postal carrier has its unique selling point.
For instance, FedEx is known for its time-sensitive deliveries, whereas UPS is known globally and can deliver without re-routing the package unecessarily. Through such diverse options, the customer can get an idea of the real-time prices and estimated delivery dates, after which they can choose the best option.
5.4) Shipment tracking
An eCommerce business needs to provide as much information as possible about the shipment to the customer. The company should be transparent about the delivery information.
Frequently communicating with customers and providing them with the most recent information makes them value the business more. Most high-quality shipping APIs come equipped with order tracking integrated into their website, text messages, emails, and apps.
6) What are the Most Common Shipping APIs Used in the eCommerce Industry?
Since Shipping APIs can be programmed to perform a wide variety of functions, there can be an endless number of courier API integrations deployed by shipping companies. Integrating these different shipping APIs is necessary for most larger ecommerce businesses looking to streamline their delivery processes.
However, every ecommerce company can benefit from the use of basic shipping APIs. Here are the different functions simplified by shipping API integrations that every ecommerce business should be familiar with.
6.1) Order Manifestation and AWB Generation
Order manifestation is how the order is readied for delivery at the origin warehouse. Each step is pushed forward and automated using individually programmed API integrations. The first step is creating the order on the shipping partners' platform by inserting all requisite order and customer details. After this, another API works to generate an AWB or an airway bill.
The corresponding AWB number will be a unique identification code for the order. Next, the order information is used to print a shipping label for the order, after which it is dispatched for delivery. Shipping APIs play a significant role in order fulfillment's pick and pack stage.
6.2) Sending Tracking Updates
Tracking may be one of the most important steps in the delivery process as it can impact both ecommerce businesses and their customers. Different logistics API integrations can get tracking information and order status updates from the shipping partner.
An API can automatically push those tracking and order status updates to the customer. These updates inform the customer of the whereabouts of their order at every given time or order milestone. It also ensures they are aware of any delays in deliveries and do not face any anxiety regarding the status of their orders.
6.3) Displaying EDD
Unlike the tracking API, this API is functional long before the order is picked up and in transit.
Once the customer provides information on their delivery location or destination pin code, the EDD API calculates the most probable delivery date based on the delivery location and data on previous similar deliveries. This EDD is then displayed on the order description page so the customer can determine when the order will be delivered and make the purchase accordingly.
6.4) Managing Cancellations
Cancellations are an all too common part of any high-functioning enterprise. Customers may get anxious waiting for an order (especially if there are delays) or have changed their minds. Either way, a cancellation doesn’t have to mean any heavy loss for your company. But that largely depends on ensuring that the canceled order safely makes its way back to the origin warehouse.
This is where the cancellation API comes into play. It processes the canceled order on the shipping partners' platform and pushes the manifestation process forward again, printing a shipping label for its reverse journey. This enables you to track the order’s return progress and ensure it reaches the warehouse in proper condition, ready to be restocked and resold, minimizing your loss on the canceled order.
7) How Does Multi-Carrier Integration Software Help?
Multi-carrier eCommerce shipping software and platforms, like ClickPost and MetaPack, are order management platforms. However, they handle API integration and optimize tech-based shipping solutions for eCommerce businesses tied up with multiple shipping partners.
Growth is the inevitable goal of every ecommerce business, and as order volumes increase, it becomes increasingly difficult to maximize order fulfillment with a single shipping partner. But with multiple shipping partners on your bandwagon, managing orders, tracking them, and ensuring they are fulfilled regularly becomes a herculean task.
Multi-carrier platforms not only give ecommerce businesses a single-page view of all their orders and respective order statuses but also handle integration. That means the integration of all shipping APIs, followed by maintenance and upgrading of the same, is handled by the platform with minimal effort and investment required from your business.
8) Final Conclusion
Technology has long since been deemed the key to a pathway of efficiency for numerous industries, and the logistics industry is no exception. Shipping API integrations can make a massive difference in helping your enterprise set itself apart from the competition. With the help of a multi-carrier platform you get the best version of each shipping solution and API funcationalities.
The alternative to integrating with shipping solutions would be creating an in-house infrastructure to handle end-to-end logistics or API integrations. Both of these can put an immense strain on the profitability of your ecommerce business.
With Shipping API integrations and shipping intelligence platforms, you can ensure your customers enjoy their post-purchase experience and brand loyalty remains at optimally high levels.
FAQs About Shipping/Courier/Logistics APIs
1) How Do eCommerce Shipping APIs Work?
They act as data repositories and send communications and instructions to other connected APIs. Shipping APIs work by optimizing the functionality of the entire supply and delivery chain. Functions that previously had to be done manually can be automated through shipping APIs to speed up the process. They ensure easy management of orders, minimize losses, and maximize order fulfillment.
2) What is an international shipping API?
An international shipping API can help you ship packages globally through a single API without any hassle. ClickPost provides multi-carrier API integration with FedEx, UPS, USPS, DHL, and hundreds of other eCommerce shipping partners.
3) Are Shipping tracking API and shipping API integrations the same?
Shipping API integrations are sometimes called Shipping tracking API because of the automated order/shipment tracking features. A shipping tracking API is like any other shipping API that streamlines the order processing and delivery process.