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Choosing between Shipping Softwares: Data Elements

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The purpose of integration between platforms is to allow data to flow optimally between the platforms. Here are the main types of data—and associated data elements—that need to flow between the shipping platform and other components of the ecosystem:

The most important integration between the selling platform and the shipping platform involves the movement of order data; order data consists of:

  • Unique Order Number
  • Customer shipping address(es)
  • Customer delivery service level requested
  • Financial aspects of each order, including order total cost, item cost, discounts applied, shipping paid
  • The unique SKU and description of each product included in the order, including color, size
  • The warehouse or bin location of each product
  • Status of each order (e.g., awaiting payment, awaiting fulfilment, awaiting shipment, partially shipped)
  • The weight of each product in the order, if your shipping system will determine carrier and/or calculate shipping cost based on this (versus the actual package weight obtained as part of the packing process)
  • Customer messages
    • Gift
    • Special delivery instructions
    • Product-related
    • Internal notes made in selling platform

Order data is commonly transferred from the selling platform to the shipping platform in one of three ways:

  • Direct integration: via an application programming interface (API) call or a custom integration, the order data is automatically transferred, in real time or batch, from the selling platform to the shipping platform
  • File upload: the selling platform outputs a batch of order data periodically (e.g., at the end of each day) to a file, typically a CSV file, which is then manually uploaded into the shipping platform
  • Manual entry: a user copies the data for each order from the selling platform user interface and pastes it into the shipping platform user interface
  • Customer data: many shipping solutions will allow a CSV upload of an existing customer address database and then real time additions as new customers are included in downloaded orders

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