September 29, 2015
Posted by Aaron Freeman

Shipping API: An Overview

Shipping today is fragmented and opaque, and unfortunately most shipping API’s perpetuate that experience.

  • Shipping API’s typically return quotes rather than rates, which introduces risk into pricing.
  • Many don’t consider packing costs in their quote returns, making the landed cost non-transparent.
  • Most shipping API’s don’t aggregate multiple modes, thus limiting service and cost options.
  • They lack visibility into shipment status. Without updates between pickup and delivery, sellers and their customers are left in the dark

ShipHawk’s API gives you control over a process that has long been risky and uncertain. For ShipHawk, the “shipping API” is the gateway to our entire platform, which includes fully landed rates, booking, automatic dispatch, status tracking, and shipping document generation.

Fully Landed Rates

At the core of any shipping API is it’s rating. ShipHawk rates are designed to accurately reflect the actual cost of shipping.

  • We compare shipping rates from over 200 carriers. If you have carriers that you prefer, you can filter your rate response to only include those carriers.
  • Our carrier network includes multiple shipping modes, from parcel and LTL to home delivery and blanket wrap. If you have products that you only want to ship a specific mode, you can filter out all other modes from returning.
  • We will return rates based on what you have negotiated with a specific carrier.
  • We utilize our packaging optimization algorithm to add an estimated packing cost to each rate. Charging the end-customer for packing is your decision. You’re given the option to filter out this cost.

Booking the Shipment

  • At the moment an order is processed, a shipment can be automatically created in our system. Should you wish to review the order prior to booking, you can also set up a manual booking process.
  • Specify whether or not you wish to opt to self pack certain items. If you decide to self pack your items, we’ll remove our estimated packing cost from your rate.

Automatic Dispatch to Carriers

After a shipment is booked, a pickup needs to be scheduled between the carrier and the shipper. Our shipping API allows shipping managers to dispatch shipments automatically without having to call in or email.

  • Through a simple request, you can automatically dispatch a shipment to the appropriate carrier.
  • To confirm your dispatch request was successful, you have access to the following: sent at, confirmed at, and confirmation number.

Status Tracking

Provide shipping managers and customers with real-time tracking updates for all shipments.

  • For shipments managed by ShipHawk, access our shipment statuses to update the customer with milestone events.
  • You also have access to carrier level tracking updates for more granular event information.

Shipping Document Generation

Easily manage a shipments paper trail by storing and having access to all shipment related documentation.

  • Print and store shipment labels, waybills, bill of ladings, and commercial invoices.
  • Through the cart-to-customer process, customers and shipping managers may need to add notes to a shipment. Easily add, receive, and store these notes to document a shipments full history.
  • At any point, upload relevant documentation to a shipment. This could include images of the items being shipped or shipment specific instructions.

Concerning implementation, we use standard RESTful http methods (GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE). You pass in JSON and we’ll take care of interfacing with legacy carrier EDI and SOAP/XML. If you’re using Magento, our plugin makes integration even simpler.By passing in just a few parameters, you can leverage the ShipHawk API to reduce overhead and ship with confidence.

Learn more about our shipping API today or stay tuned for the rest of the ShipHawk Shipping API blog series! We’ll be diving into the details of each component on our blog over the next few weeks.

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