Overview of API Integration (Courier/Shipping) for eCommerce Business
An API (application programming interface) is a programming code that acts as a library of information for a particular platform. Using API Integration, two platforms can share required information and data resources to automate certain tasks, like the collection of data, the transfer of data between both platforms, analysis of information, and sending messages. API integrations enable a wide variety of platforms to function, from social media websites to weather apps.
Courier companies also make use of API integrations to streamline shipping solutions for e-commerce businesses. Courier API integrations help courier companies perform a myriad of functions from order creation and waybill generation to order tracking and customer notifications. They work to optimise efficiency and maximise fulfilment using strategic programming codes.
What is a Shipping API?
API stands for Application Programming Interface. Shipping API is a pre-programmed set of instructions that integrates the shipping functionalities into their ecommerce stores and business systems to facilitate the order creation and manifestation process. They create an interface and facilitate interaction between two or more applications.
In the case of Shipping API, it creates an interface between an ecommerce platform and the carrier system to automate the manual entry and request process. With the set of instructions from a shipping API, the ecommerce platform can eliminate the need for manual intervention in the order manifestation process. Most courier companies provide these API Integration services to make it easier for their customers and clients to access their services regularly.
A shipping API collects the user data from the account or entered on the checkout page. The API then uses this data to trigger order creation requests with the carrier. Once the request is approved according to your parameters, the API will send the customer the AWB number. This will also trigger the order fulfillment process.
How do you integrate Shipping APIs with an ecommerce platform?
There are multiple methods to integrate a shipping API with an ecommerce platform. The most suitable technique or the quickest method will depend on the type of API the carrier uses. You integrate with carrier shipping APIs with the help of one of the following methods:
1) API Integration Documentation
Documentation guides the user/developer regarding the integration process with every API. The Logistics Sector do not use a standardized method for the creation of their APIs. Therefore, this documentation becomes extremely important to guide the users and allow for easier integrations.
2) Customized Integration
If you are a large enterprise, you will require customizations in the order manifestation and delivery process. Most carriers only offer standardized APIs that do not enable this. Therefore, one of the ideal ways to integrate a shipping API according to your need is to create a customized integration. The drawback of this method is that it will require technical expertise and can be lengthy and tedious.
3) API Management Platforms/Connector Applications
These platforms have been created to manage the API Integration. Such platforms enable you to reduce the technical hassle through a pre-coded set of instructions or contain the required information and library to allow a hassle-free integration process. They have a user interface for your backend that can be used by non-tech people so that your technical team can focus on your product.
4) Shipping Management Platforms
One of the most ideal ways to integrate Shipping APIs with your ecommerce platform is to use a shipping management platform like ClickPost. If you are an ecommerce company that aims to go national or global, you cannot rely on the courier services of one carrier. Integrating multiple APIs into your ecommerce system is also not ideal. That is why the shipping platform allows you to integrate with multiple carriers through a single API integration process. Furthermore, we have developed our APIs to improve your platform's customer experience.
Top 7 Key Benefits of Courier API Integration for eCommerce Business & Shipping
These are the main 7 advantages of courier API integration for eCommerce shipping companies in India.
1) Simplify the delivery process
Courier API integrations automate numerous different processes in the delivery process. This makes certain tasks like order manifestation, picking and packing orders, sending order tracking updates, and collecting proof of delivery more convenient for ecommerce businesses.
This simplifies the delivery process a lot and makes processing and fulfilling orders a quick job that requires minimal effort from ecommerce businesses. It also helps customers to easily navigate the e-commerce platform to purchase their orders and keep up with their deliveries.
2) Secured Shipping
Shipping order is a long process that comes with numerous complexities and various possible complications. Vehicular issues, road blockages, and customs issues can result in delays, stuck shipments, or even damaged orders.
Courier or Shipping API integrations allow e-commerce businesses to keep track of their orders in transit and respond to issues accordingly. Since the order manifestation process is automated from the data added by the customers, it reduces the risk of manual errors by a considerable factor.
3) Real-time tracking
Different types of eCommerce shipping API help to track the orders as they are being transported. Push and Pull Courier API integrations enable shipping partners to send tracking updates and enable e-commerce companies to receive these tracking updates.
Effective use of courier API integrations can enable customers to be given real-time tracking updates so they maintain the same level of excitement throughout the delivery process. This also enables ecommerce businesses to better monitor their shipping partners' performances. In addition to this, ecommerce platforms can share these live updates with their customers through their branded tracking page.
4) Reduce Errors in data collection
Data analytics is an important part of eCommerce logistics. This is what enables any eCommerce business to determine the various problem areas and issues that need to be addressed in the delivery mechanism. Courier API integrations work efficiently to process and send all kinds of information about orders across all shipping partners.
Based on this information, data can be compiled regarding the number of stuck shipments, delayed deliveries, NDRs, returns, etc., and the causes for all. Proper use of Courier API integrations not only enables the transfer of information and use of more metrics in data collection but also ensures the accuracy of the data collected. This can help to significantly reduce overall logistics costs and improve your delivery performance with actionable insights.
5) Lower shipping costs
There are many different ways Courier API integrations can help reduce shipping costs. For starters, automating tasks that previously had to be done manually cuts down time wasted and resources expended. Another way costs are lowered is through issue-redressal as mentioned in the previous section. Collecting and analysing shipping data in a more thorough and streamlined manner can help cut down the number of potential losses and RTOs.
Courier API integrations can also be implemented with pre-negotiated shipping rates. The higher your volume of monthly shipments, the greater your leverage for negotiating low rates. In some cases, you may also be able to use shipping integrations tied with multiple logistics partners, further adding to the discounts offered. This helps you to stabilise the overall profitability of your business.
6) Reduce administrative redundancies
Courier API integrations work effectively in nearly every area of delivery and order fulfilment, and this very much includes administrative work as well. Certain functions like inventory management, order manifestation, collecting customer feedback, managing accounts, etc., are all things that can be improved and simplified with the help of API integrations. Shipping API integrations and tracking offer two major advantages when it comes to administrative tasks for an eCommerce business.
Firstly, integrations can help reduce the amount of time and energy expended on manually processing order information and communicating it to shipping partners. Secondly, automating administrative processes ensures that no tasks are repeated and information is processed in the most efficient way possible. The chances of errors being made while completing administrative tasks also reduce.
7) Increase overall efficiency
Every benefit mentioned on this list is a small example of how Courier API integrations help to improve the efficiency of shipping & delivery services. Numerous other benefits didn’t make it to this top 7 list, each of which works to optimise solutions. Courier APIs can be programmed & implemented to address specific problem areas and enhance mechanisms.
They are constantly being upgraded to make certain difficult tasks easier, whether on a large scale or a minute one. Every business that makes use of API integrations will be consistently updating its integrations as shipping companies make improvements to different APIs. This ensures that efficiency is a constant goal, continuously being worked towards.
The ecommerce industry is a cyclic repository of faith. Every online shopper has to put their faith in e-commerce businesses when placing an order. Every e-commerce company has to put their faith in its respective courier partners when it comes to shipping those orders.
Courier partners put their faith in Courier API integrations to ensure they can deliver on their assurances and maximise order fulfilment so no customer and no eCommerce business feel like their faith has been misplaced.
Courier API integrations ensure transparency can be maintained across all levels when orders are being processed and delivered. Each delivery milestone can be tracked in real-time using API integrations. Defects and difficulties in the existing delivery mechanism can be identified and upgraded.
Recurring problems can be addressed to make them a thing of the past. When it comes to using API integrations, there is no limit to the possibilities. They are revolutionising the way courier services are provided and paving the way to 100% order fulfilment.
1) How long does it take to complete the Shipping API Integration process?
The integration time depends on the language the API was written in. Typically, an HTML API can be integrated within an hour, while XML APIs take about 20 hours. However, since the shipping APIs are more complex, it will take longer to integrate and stabilize your process. ClickPost allows you to go live with new carriers within 24 hours once you integrate.
2) What are the types of Shipping APIs?
APIs can be classified into four types based on their integration method and access. They are Open, Partner, Internal, and Composite. While choosing a shipping API, make sure you are coding or integrating with an API type that suits your platform's needs and can carry out your process automatically.