Convenience and speed are two factors of a customer-first policy. As soon as you get them in order – you get more loyal clients and grow your presence in the market.
Global delivery and logistics providers like DHL, FedEx, UPS, USPS, and others have free, integrated solutions (except for Amazon, which we’ll cover later) to help online stores automate the shipping process domestically and internationally. Basically, connection requires exchanging the following data:
- Name, address, and business hours of drop-off locations and post offices
- Zip code catalog
- Tracking updates and status of delivery
- Proof of delivery
- Pickup scheduling and canceling
- Rating of shipping services
- Signature tracking
- Time in transit
- Price calculator
- Shipping labels
- Shipping order manifest information
Delivery services for eCommerce
DHL: main logistics provider across the boardDHL has a dedicated DHL eCommerce solution that falls into three basic directories: cross border delivery covering 220 countries; domestic delivery with various delivery and payment options, update alerts, and green delivery solutions; and fulfillment services – an end-to-end logistics service that fully manages your eCommerce shipments. All eCommerce services can be accessed by contacting DHL directly. All types of services have the following integration options:
WebDHL suggests two web interfaces – for the Americas region and for the Asia Pacific region, both with the registration requirement. An additional option is a Fulfillment Portal, which provides fulfillment and delivery solutions within the global DHL network. Managing your shipments on the web doesn’t require any IT skills or resources to have this functionality: Besides filling in your orders, you receive advanced analytics and reporting tools, label generation, returns management, tracking, and more.
APIsAn application programming interface or API is your access point to a provider’s functionality. DHL, like many big organizations, offers an opportunity to use their features on your system with minimum coding. Having both Sandbox and Production environments, DHL APIs enable your usage of Fulfillment, Global Shipping Label, and Shipping Order Manifest services to integrate into your internal software. Here, API Guidelines will cover broader information on technical standards being used and recommendations to follow. After contacting DHL, you will receive an access token that will enable you to follow the API Authentication instructions to set up a data interchange.
EDIElectronic data interchange or EDI is a document exchange method that uses a standardized format. Basically, at the end of each business day, you upload your shipping documents created in a specific format on a secure FTP server. We’ve talked about this and other connectivity methods in transportation in a separate article. DHL eCommerce processes this data, prepares the shipping label according to established standards, and sets the pick-up time. Read about technical requirements in EDI documentation or ask DHL directly for integration consultation.
Third-party solutionsDHL also offers plugins and extensions for the growing list of OMS, WMS, TMS, ERP, or marketplaces, including Shopify, WooCommerce, Best Manifesting, and more. Access the whole list at the link above.
FedEx: top overnight shipping service providerA FedEx Business account offers a variety of international shipping services with discounts and exclusive offers for your eCommerce business: regular FedEx Ground delivery, SameDay and Express Saver shipping, and many more services, available in 220 countries. All of them are provided via your preferred integration type:
Web and desktopThe FedEx Ship Manager package of solutions has a few integration types for your needs:
FedEx Ship Manager at fedex.com is an online tool for easily and quickly preparing labels, arranging courier pickups, automating notifications, managing cancellations, and tracking.
FedEx Ship Manager Lite is small-business solution with limited functionality that doesn’t require registration.
FedEx Ship Manager Software is software for medium to large businesses with full shipment capabilities and an integration assistant.
FedEx Ship Manager Server is fully integrated software that runs on your server and gives high customization opportunities based on your hardware and resources. Targeted to businesses with large volumes of shipments.
APIsFedEx Web Services white-label solution allows you to integrate shipment management functionality into your workflow. Hosted on FedEx servers, Web Services customize it on your eCommerce website. Web Services include features for shipping rates, transit times, shipping labels, tracking status, and processing returns. This option requires technical development and support from your side.
Third-party solutionsThe FedEx Compatible program offers a registry of third-party solutions that FedEx recognizes as exceptional. Ranging from point-of-sales systems to warehouse management solutions (of course, integrated with FedEx), this list of partners helps to find the best-fit tools for your business needs.
Royal Mail: next-day delivery throughout the nationUK Royal Mail Business provides a range of solutions for different shipment volumes and technical capabilities. The eCommerce services are only available in the United Kingdom.
WebOnline solutions from Royal Mail have three choices for eCommerce, depending on your business scale:
Click & Drop Up to 20 parcels per week - a business gets access to guest checkout, order tracking, uploading online orders direct from marketplaces, and a variety of drop off points – postboxes, Royal Mail Delivery Office/Customer Service Points and Post Office branches.
Click & Drop Over 20 parcels per week - besides discounts on parcel services, you can scale up the business account to 18 workstations, and automate almost any process: label printing, order upload, shipping rules for groups of items. You can also integrate with OBA for billing process acceleration and connect marketplaces and eCommerce seller accounts for order processing.
Royal Mail Pro Shipping - a web-based option for those eCommerce business owners who face larger scale delivery issues. The solution is mostly focused on enhancement, acceleration, and enlargement of all shipping-related processes, such as data and report processing, label generation, adding multiple locations, and other day-to-day automation processes.
APIsRoyal Mail APIs accelerate the whole range of shipment services together or apart.
Delivery Office Finder API, integrating with eCommerce business systems, helps find the address of delivery offices for any UK postcode and provides current data on opening times, car parking, and disabled facilities. The API supports the REST format.
API Shipping includes updating shipment details, shipment cancellation and proper billing, assigning CN23 documentation for international shipments, downloading a variety of label formats for different parcel types, and many more. Its standards include SOAP and REST.
Local Collect API offers an opportunity to set up flexible parcel pickups for customers. Additionally, it provides access for customers to over 10,000 UK post network offices. The APIs are available in REST and SOAP.
Tracking API is a critical option that tracks the status of up to five shipments and checks the tracking history of shipments. Additionally, it offers proof of delivery (without signature) and can be built in into the eCommerce system.
Bespoke shippingThe Bespoke Shipping service helps create an end-to-end shipping solution for your eCommerce needs. Available through a Royal Mail Business Account, this shipping integrates your internal ordering and warehousing systems with their shipping solution. This means, for example, creating your custom labels in accordance with Royal Mail standards. Bespoke Shipping provides integration via the end-to-end development. Contact Royal Mail for specifications and documentation.
This program offers a list of selected companies with diverse solutions for small and large businesses. Besides shipping management, they provide a large variety of other services, such as direct order processing, label printing, picking, packing, and delivery. Along with that, the toolkit has warehouse management, tracking, reporting, and billing. View the list of providers at the above link.
UPS: multinational parcel delivery on all frontsUPS connects your order entry system with their shipping system to pick, pack, and ship orders faster. All services, including tracking, billing, logistics, and fulfillment can be introduced in different volume via the following integrations in 220 countries worldwide.
WebUPS Marketplace Shipping helps process orders from one store or multiple marketplaces. It integrates with Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Walmart, Yahoo Shopping and more, and processes your orders via UPS – billing, returns, the availability of UPS Access Point network, and many more.
APIsUPS Developer Kit APIs. For tech savvy eCommerce business owners, UPS has a list of APIs with functions, such as parcel tracking, shipping, rating, pickup, delivery, document processing, and many more. The Developer Resource Center provides all information required for API integration.
Third-party solutionsUPS Ready. Just like many providers we’ve already discussed, UPS has a list of third-party applications that have UPS technology integrated. Among the eCommerce options are Amazon, eBay, PayPal, Shopify, SAP Anywhere, and more. Check whether your provider has UPS functionality in this list.
USPS: US postal/parcel service providerUSPS Shipping for Business is a combination of tools that connects your eCommerce business to the largest delivery network in the US. It includes a postage calculator, free delivery services, and discounts on postage volume and weight. The services are only available in the US. There are different tools to manage your USPS delivery.
Web and desktopClick-N-Ship. Best suitable for eCommerce businesses with up to 50 packages per month, this free online account allows you to print labels, schedule pickups, and order free boxes. You can also set up tracking updates, notifications, and more.
Click-N-Ship Business Pro. This downloadable software will suit small- and medium-sized businesses with at least 50 monthly parcels or a combined weight of 50 lbs. The Business Pro option features smooth database integration, along with tracking and reporting tools. The solution also gives access to such modes of delivery as First-Class Package Service, Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express, and Parcel Select Non-presort. Initiating with Click-N-Ship Business Pro requires registering on their Business Customer Gateway, creating a payment account, and downloading the free software.
APIsAPIs. This API portal gives access to a wide range of shipping solutions, such as address, tracking and delivery information, price calculator, printing a shipping label, package pickup, service standards and commitments, and holding for pickup. Read FAQ and documentation at the above link. Once registered, Web Tools users get free access to all API instruments. Additional permission is required for more secure tools, such as creating a shipping label (contact customer care to obtain it).
Third-Party Tools. For now, USPS provides four third-party tools to serve beyond basic delivery needs. These include the full range of shipping label management, direct integration into top eCommerce stores, order management, and downloading tracking information into eCommerce stores. Along with that, they provide address verification, postage printing, package tracking, and automatization of the whole delivery process.
Canada Post: the Crown postal operatorCanada Post not only offers integrated delivery solutions, it also enables Canadian eCommerce merchants to run and scale a business. It provides services for checkout, delivery, returns, pickup, and tracking. Both of the following solutions are highly customizable.
APIsAPIs. An eCommerce business can integrate any API into its website, choosing among the available solutions. The API toolkit includes options for tracking, rating, contract and non-contract shipping, and returning. They also allow you to find an office and deliver to it, offering pick-up availability. Besides that, the Canada Post web services can be easily integrated into eCommerce stores and suggest APIs with useful service information about delivery options.
Third-party solutionsIntegrated technologies. You can also access Canada Post services through your existing platform. Canada Post teams up with third-party solution providers that match basic and additional eCommerce needs. These include top eCommerce platforms such as Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce, and others, shipping software solutions, marketplaces, and many more.
Amazon: end-to-end eCommerce providerAs Amazon already handles orders made on your Amazon store, we wanted to describe two additional options: fulfillment (available for Amazon participants) and multi-channel fulfillment when you have a few sales channels, which works regardless of Amazon presence. They both have per-unit and storage fees. Providing eCommerce logistics services for Australia and the US, here’s what Amazon offers.
Fulfillment by Amazon. This solution provides ground-up eCommerce services, which cover storing your orders in Amazon's fulfillment centers and having Amazon pick, pack, ship, and handle customer service on those products. You need to set up an account, add products to the Amazon catalog either manually or using a provided API for your inventory management software, prepare products for shipping using Amazon’s packing supplies, and ship them to an Amazon facility. Also, your products will automatically become eligible for Prime shipping.
Multi-channel fulfillment. The service gives access to Amazon’s fulfillment network to integrate suitable shipping options into different eCommerce channels. Here, you send your product to Amazon’s fulfillment centers directly from a supplier, and then, they are distributed via different places: Amazon, your own website, other marketplaces, and so on. All returns are also handled by Amazon. Integration with eCommerce providers such as Shopify and Magento are available. You can also connect other websites to Amazon via API to synchronize inventory. Here’s all the documentation.
The biggest challenge for last-mile delivery is the number of stops an order should make to reach a buyer. People get their parcels later than promised and businesses have high logistics expenses – Capgemini calculated that last-mile services account for 41 percent of all supply chain costs. Before we automate the door-to-door process with drones or parcel robots, we can optimize using integration solutions from the services with the largest coverage in both urban and rural areas.