How APIs contribute to logistics innovation

APIs are being used by every industry imaginable to help accelerate growth and improve user experience. In this latest guest blog post, we hear from the team at Easyship about how APIs are contributing to innovation in logistics. 

With global eCommerce showing strong growth year over year and consumer preferences shifting to cheaper and faster shipping, eCommerce sellers are pressured to have logistics operations that will deliver.

Tackling logistics is no easy feat – the industry is complex, the pricing is unclear, and unlike cryptocurrencies or Instagram marketing, it’s not a buzzworthy topic that everyone has an opinion on.

To make things worse, the logistics industry is viewed as being old-school and slow to embrace technology.

At Easyship, we work hard to change this perception. We depend heavily on courier APIs to provide sellers transparency into a complex industry that’s notoriously known for charging hidden fees.

We also offer an open API so developers can:

  • Help eCommerce stores add worldwide shipping options to their website with ease
  • Add end-to-end shipping functionality to warehouses, ERPs, and platforms

While developing our API and integrating with numerous courier APIs to provide over 100+ shipping solutions, we’ve noticed the following innovations within the logistics industry:

APIs have standardised communications throughout the entire supply chain

Couriers, warehouses, sellers, and platforms like ours are using APIs to communicate and send information. This means everyone has to adapt to the ecosystem in terms of formats and information requirements. APIs handle this better than EDI.

EDI, or Electronic Data Interchange, exchanges information and business documents between businesses, but at a slower rate than APIs. This is not ideal for us, especially when APIs are quick enough to allow for real-time communication. In the few EDI integrations our company has done, we’ve noticed it is a more involved and manual process compared to an API integration.

APIs allow greater access to useful information from our couriers

We aim to be transparent with our customers, and APIs help us do this. The information we get from courier APIs allows us to run comparisons, show the historical performance on our platform, and more. They also help us better understand the couriers we work with and the industry overall.

The industry insight we gain when accessing courier APIs proves to be valuable to us. Being able to pass this information to the seller so they can find the best logistics solution with ease is what keeps us on top of the competition.

APIs allow us to create customisable shipping solutions

In the past, it was difficult for small businesses to negotiate discounted rates with couriers because they couldn’t guarantee the volumes needed to qualify as a bulk shipper.

Additionally, those who were concerned about express courier costs were left with postal solutions that, while cheap, left much to be desired service-wise.

Thanks to APIs, we are able to provide hybrid, multi-leg solutions to fit the needs of these businesses. Our hybrid solutions combine two different couriers who handle different parts of the delivery process.

For example, if a shipment needed to go from Atlanta to Hong Kong, the postal service would handle the pickup from the sender and deliver it to the express courier’s hub in the midwest. From there, the shipment will be processed and sent out via express courier to Hong Kong, the final destination.

APIs help minimise shipping label errors

We know- it’s 2018, and failed deliveries are still happening because of incorrect addresses on shipping labels.

Courier APIs offer address validation and return feedback about the quality of information provided, ensuring that labels are generated correctly the first time. This effectively reduces delays, miscommunications, and failed deliveries, resulting in less logistical headaches and happier customers.

APIs: Advancing old-school industries at light speed

In addition to making the supply chain more efficient for everyone involved, APIs have also made it easier for tech companies like us to quickly expand to other markets.

Adding major new courier services to our platform doesn’t take as long as you’d think. This is because large courier APIs are used regionally (or globally, which is even better), so once we are set up in the new country and get the necessary credentials to access the API, we can start testing immediately and generate shipping labels within minutes.

Clearly, APIs are a catalyst for bringing this 200 year old industry up to speed in the 21st century.

By providing direct access to much needed courier information, communication between everyone in the supply chain is greatly improved.

The playing field is leveled for small businesses. With our all-in-one shipping tool, they can quickly automate their logistics and get access to value for money solutions, once only available to big businesses.

Lastly, shipping labels and other documentation are generated with less errors, paving the way for smoother deliveries and happier customers.

Michelle Mondonedo is a content marketer at Easyship, the all-in-one shipping tool that helps eCommerce sellers ship worldwide in minutes.