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August 26, 2021 | 16:08

Shipment tracking illustration

Even the complex data can be easy to operate if managed properly. Logistics companies understand it since the market dynamics require them to handle large amounts of information. Shipping API integration is a must-have for shipping companies that want to integrate data from external servers and provide it to the customers in a user-friendly dashboard. 

You may ask: why do I need to integrate the shipping API into my system? First of all, to give your customers peace of mind and provide them with all the necessary tracking and shipment information about their orders. Shipment tracking also gives you full control over your delivery process and helps mitigate risks, save costs, and avoid unexpected delays. 

In this blog post, you’ll learn about all the aspects of shipping APIs and EDIs, the most famous shipment platforms and tech providers, and their main features for your system.

What is shipment tracking, and how it works

Parcel tracking illustration

Imagine that you have just ordered several parcels from different countries and can’t wait for them to arrive. Every day you check your phone for the message that your parcels have been delivered. Days come and go, and you start feeling anxious. You don’t know where your parcel is. But don’t worry, there is the other way out. 

What if you could track the route of your package, its delivery status, and estimated delivery date in real-time? 

According to statistics, more than three-quarters (83%) of shoppers expect regular communication about their orders. That’s what shipment tracking is all about. It usually consists of 4 main stages:

  • Barcode generation
  • Everything starts with a barcode generation attached to the product right after it gets to the courier company. The barcode is a unique ID signature that contains information about the parcel as the content of the package, destination, name of the seller and buyer, and address.

  • Scanning process
  • After that, the barcode is scanned, so the courier service can receive all the data to track and monitor its delivery status.

  • Tracking
  • With the help of a shipment tracking system, logistics companies can track the status of packages in real-time and assign to them different tracking statuses such as “info received,” “driver’s Pick-up,” “shipment departed,” “in transit,” etc. The shipping staff uses special devices to scan the number on the parcels, so the tracking status is automatically updated.

  • Delivery
  • The last step of the shipment tracking system is product delivery. The tracking system also automatically updates and informs the logistics service that the delivery is successful.

    What is the Shipping API?

    Shipping API – simplified illustration

    As we have already mentioned, the barcode is scanned at each route stage to determine the package delivery status. This data is stored in the carrier’s tracking system. To retrieve it, you need a data exchange method. And shipping API is one of them.

    With the help of Shipping API, you can integrate UPS shipping functionality into your website or enterprise system without the need for expensive hardware or software. Shipping API gives you access to an international network of carriers in just one single integration, so you can easily ship, track and fulfill customers’ orders from one system.

    The key functions of shipping API are:

  • Creation of the shipping label
  • Validation of the address
  • Multi-Carrier support
  • Shipment tracking
  • Think of the shipping API as the bridge that connects businesses with shippers and customers. You don’t have to integrate with individual carriers, but install a shipping API once and access the full carrier network.

    With a shipping API, your business will gain full control over all checkout processes and the opportunity to insert shipping and delivery directly into your business model.

    What is EDI delivery?

    EDI stands for Electronic Data Interchange and means a computer-to-computer exchange of business documents. EDI contains different types of “messages” which are designed to substitute other forms of data transfer. 

    In contrast to API, EDI creates a connection between two EDI systems when API allows different systems to communicate. Here’s how the EDI process looks like:

    How does EDI work

    EDI documents go through the receiver’s computer’s internal system (e.g., the Order Management System), and processing begins immediately without having people involved. That’s why computer-to-computer EDI replaces postal mail, fax, and email. The EDI in shipping industries generates the required documents, processes them, and arranges them in the necessary order. 

    For example, your company needs to deliver goods from the warehouse to the showroom. EDI shipping system will scan the QR code and provide all the necessary information such as the date of shipping, address of the showroom, finances, invoices, and billings. Then, these reports are sent to the necessary departments without human involvement.

    But what’s the difference between API and EDI? First of all,  APIs transmit data in milliseconds when EDIs run data transmissions over timers. EDI integration is also more complex and may take several months, whereas integration with API takes around a few weeks. EDI is an outdated technology from the 1970s where daily occurrences may take between 30 to 120 minutes, leading to more missed pickups. 

    However, EDI still has its benefits, such as robust security and privacy settings, accessibility, and ease of use. While APIs are a more innovative and growingly popular option, EDI remains a long-time industry standard for data exchange because of its robust security and reliability.

    “Within the last decade or so, APIs and EDIs have made a tremendous leap forward due to their open-source nature and have advanced and gained popularity. They serve as the gold standard of communication for the purpose of integration between different systems such as ERP and SaaS,” writes Yashar Shahabi, Forbes columnist.

    Common delivery API examples

    Parcel tracking API illustration

    Now, let’s list the most popular delivery API for the shipping industry. We will dwell more on its features and specifics later, but first, take a look at the available options on the market.

    FedEx Corporation is an American courier and delivery company that provides overnight shipping service and pioneering a system for tracking packages and giving real-time updates on package location.

    UPS was founded in 1907 and now it is one of the world’s largest shipping and delivery companies.

    Formed in 1971, the United States Postal Service (USPS) provides mailing services in the United States. It is managed by the executive branch of the US government.

    German-based DHL is an international courier, parcel, and express mail service.

    Founded in 2012, EasyPost removes the technical complexities of logistics so that companies can focus more on their business processes.

    Shippo is a multi-carrier shipping company particularly focused on shipping for eCommerce.

    Gooten’s software enables shipment with over $1 million in revenue throughout 110 countries to over 40,000 customers.

    Easyship provides tailor-made shipping solutions for eCommerce that are constantly updated.

    Flexport is a full-service air and ocean freight forwarder, providing a robust platform and end-to-end service for modern logistics teams. Real-time tracking, structured data, shipment-specific communication, and a dedicated team of experts make running your supply chain through Flexport simple, reliable, and accurate.

    Shipment API Integration benefits

    Before digging into the details of shipment API integration, let’s look at its benefits for your business. For instance, with shipment API, you can:

  • Compare shipping rates for a given package across all carriers
  • Cut operating costs with APIs discounts
  • Improve your customer experience and control the checkout process
  • Check and validate addresses to prevent fees and delays for packages shipped to nonexistent or incorrect addresses
  • Integrate real-time tracking and free your customers of anxiety about the delivery status
  • Automatically pass information between different parts of your business and customers
  • Streamline your internal processes by automating routine tasks and focusing on the core needs of your business
  • Shipment platforms and tech providers

    Now, let’s dig deeper into the features and benefits of popular shipment platforms and tech providers.

    Shippo: ground shipping of containers and parcels

    Shippo offers multiple integrations with parcel carriers

    Shippo is a shipping software provider with various out-of-the-box integrations with parcel carriers. With the help of Shippo, you can integrate shipping with multiple carriers through APIs and web applications. With Shippo, you can compare carrier rates, generate labels, validate addresses, provide branded tracking pages, and send notification emails to customers.

    With Shippo, you can:

  • Create labels for your packages
  • Compare carrier rates
  • Access the best discounts for USPS, DHL, UPS
  • Upload CSV and generate labels from existing order files
  • Personalize your labels and customer notifications
  • Schedule a carrier pickup with the USPS or DHL Express
  • Connect e-commerce and website platforms
  • Shippo’s API standardizes carrier processes and streamlines the complexities of shipping and you don’t have to worry about individual carrier requirements or shipping complexities. By integrating API in logistics, you get:

  • Unified carrier functionality
  • A RESTful and Reliable API
  • A comprehensive, simple integration
  • Global carrier coverage
  • Integration with client libraries in cURL, Ruby, Python, PHP, NodeJS, Java, and C#
  • AfterShip: support of over half a thousand carriers

    AfterShip promises the best tracking experience

    AfterShip offers a package tracking API integration for e-commerce that tracks shipments and handles returns. AfterShip gives you everything you need for the best tracking experience, such as shipment visibility, analytics, delivery date prediction, on-time performance, and order lookup widget.

    With AfterShip, you can:

  • Get insightful tracking data in one place to resolve delivery incidents faster
  • Have a branded tracking page to increase brand awareness
  • Engage customers with shipment notifications
  • Gain insights from the detailed analytics and improve the delivery experience
  • Add order look-up widget on your website without having coding skills
  • With AfterShip shipping API monitor integration, you can easily manage tracking from the admin portal, store the tracking data through API and webhook, and customize the post-purchase services yourself.

    Easyship: free API to track the shipment with 250+ couriers in five areas

    Easyship shipping software offerings aim at growing businesses

    Easyship provides you with the cheapest shipping rates, integration with leading international couriers, and the ability to compare shipping quotes, generate labels, schedule pickups, and monitor finances through an intuitive cloud-based shipping software.

    Their main features include:

  • Shipping management tool where you can create orders and manage shipments
  • Customization of your shipping preferences
  • Generation of labels and shipping docs
  • Real-time shipping rates plugin to recommend the cheapest, fastest, and best value options at the checkout
  • Universal shipping tracker
  • EasyPost: SOAP XML tracking APIs for 100+ carriers

    EasyPost highlights its comprehensive shipping offering

    EasyPost helps you solve complex shipping logistics problems with a single integration, streamline, automate, and gain end-to-end control of their shipping process with the suite of flexible RESTful API solutions. 

    EasyPost main API features include:

  • Multi-carrier access where you can compare rates and purchase labels across USPS, UPS, FedEx, DHL, etc
  • Track packages and receive real-time shipment updates through custom branded tracking pages and webhook notifications
  • Approve the deliverability by confirming the accuracy of domestic and international addresses
  • Get shipping insurance and protect your packages against damage, loss, or theft across all carriers, service levels, and countries
  • SeaRates: shipping rate search engine with API for container tracking

    SeaRates allow comparing various freight rates

    SeaRates is the largest tariff search engine globally for international shipping that compares all available cargo delivery options. With SeaRates, you can instantly compare ocean and trucking freight quotes from the most popular logistics providers.

    SeaRates main API features include:

  • Real-time freight calculator
  • Container tracking
  • Route planner
  • Load calculator
  • Visual module with map
  • Ship schedules
  • Global cargo carriers and their shipment tracking solutions

    Global cargo carriers also provide you with tracking solutions to manage your shipping online. Let’s look at how the industry giants manage theirs:

    Maersk: shipping solutions from the largest container ship and supply vessel operator

    Maersk suggests tapping the growth potential of logistics

    Maersk is an integrated container logistics service that allows you to manage your shipping online. It includes The Maersk Shipment app (with such features as booking, shipment management, quote requests, scheduling, tracking) and Maersk’s Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) suite for managing your shipments from your own system.

    Bring: shipments to and from the Nordics

    Bring stresses its flexible delivery solutions

    Bring offers international freight forwarding, air freight, sea freight, intermodal rail transport, and mail services. The Tracking API makes the integration of shipment details from their tracking site into your system easier. You can track your orders based on a tracking number, shipment number, or reference. Bring APIs can also choose shipping methods on checkout, generate reports, and book a shipment.

    CMA CGM: global carrier with EDI and API integrations

    CMA CGM is a shipping company founded in France with over 500 vessels. It provides both EDI and API connections.

    Their EDI connection enables partners to track containers and other shipping information, including scheduling, booking confirmation, bill of landing, etc.

    There is no information about API connection on their website. That’s why you have to contact CMA CGM directly.

    CMA CGM site has a simple search form

    What to look for when choosing a shipping API

    Before contacting a company that provides shipping API,  keep in mind the following:

  • Make sure you choose a shipment tracking solution that integrates with your other systems and supports tracking out-of-the-box
  • Make sure the shipment tracking software you choose uses state-of-the-art data security measures
  • Ensure that the tracking system also provides such features as temperature, humidity, even shock tracking. It can also indicate the local temperature so allowances can be made for extreme heat or cold
  • A shipment tracking software solution should be scalable and ready to grow with your business. Ensure that your shipping solution supports unlimited users, and your data can grow without limits
  • Pay attention to the UI/UX of the shipment tracking system, as it should be easy and convenient to use for all the employees
  • Integrate shipping APIs into your delivery system with AMCONSOFT

    To make your shipping and delivery processes smooth, you need to integrate your system with shipping API. It will help maximize efficiency, strengthen supply chains and allow shippers to provide the best possible customer service and listen to customers’ needs.

    Amconsoft custom supply chain software development services include the development of the software to manage the shipping process holistically that tracks sales, orders, inventory, and fulfillment. 

    Our team is glad to enable process improvement and partnerships with the current customers and distributors. Contact us for a free consultation and learn how to grow your shipping and delivery business.

    Views: 667

    Written by:

    Filonenko Vyacheslav

    I've been leading a tech department specializing in eLearning applications and Business Intelligence for 10 years

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