How to Benefit From Logistics APIs

Logistics APIs

When a technological innovation happens, logistics companies typically race to be the first to integrate it into their daily operations.

With a growing focus on increasing E2E visibility throughout the supply chain, logistics APIs platforms are the next big race. Couple that with an expansion of e-commerce solutions featuring omnichannel marketing, and you've got a winner.

An Application Programming Interface, or API for short, can improve transparency while simultaneously optimizing basic supply chain functions. 

In this blog post, we’ll dive into the facts about logistics APIs as we clarify how they differ from EDIs. As a bonus, we will be giving you a few strategies to help you integrate an API solution into your shipping process. 


What are Logistics APIs?

The modern supply chain depends on the efficient flow of data throughout multiple checkpoints and out to several users.

An API is a technology that allows two different systems to connect.

For example, let’s say that you’re using a TMS to locate, rate, and schedule carrier movements. But you are also using an order management solution to process e-commerce transactions, set up shipping, and send notifications to the customer. 

When sending information to your customers or partners in this way, the entire process can seem to be a bit all over the place.

However, building these systems on an API platform allows for better organization and streamlining. Essentially, it allows your software to connect to a client or partner server. It's similar to a digital handshake between programs.

For logistics companies, powering your order processing and transportation management solutions with this new technology adds a ton of flexibility. More specifically, it helps to achieve that elusive end-to-end supply chain visibility that everybody in logistics is talking about these days.


What are the Benefits of API Integration? 

For a busy fulfillment center, the integration of logistics APIs allows connectivity and instant access of every system needed to process, package, ship, track, and deliver orders to customers.

An API-powered network improves your ability to find the most accurate shipping rates. This allows your customers the ability to choose the best option for them and their specific budget or needs. It's essentially the beginning of the white glove or last-mile logistics process, putting the power of e-commerce deliveries directly in the hand of the consumer. 

For transportation management, a fulfillment center can connect their order management solutions to the TMS. Additionally, the networks can communicate together, relaying updates on the movement of the order throughout the processing, packaging, shipping, and ultimately delivery. 

Through API, customers can receive up to the minute updates on the status of their shipments. Better yet, they can get an expected delivery window, and the flexibility to update shipping information if their schedule changes.

For example, this technology allows the customer to update the location of the delivery, to a different address, before the package is put on the truck for white glove delivery. This not only helps the customer, but it helps the carrier with optimizing their delivery routes, experience fewer missed deliveries, which ultimately saves the shipper money. It also helps to improve visibility, as the status and location of online orders are easier to track, by multiple parties. 


How to Optimize Your API Integration

Now we’ll dive into the nitty-gritty of this article – how to make the most of your APIs. The main mistake many logistics companies make with any technology upgrade is biting off more than they can chew. For fulfillment centers, this usually means using API solutions that are greater than they currently need. This results in more training, additional expenses, and more opportunity for mistakes, disruption in service, and ultimately – upset customers. 

To avoid this all-too-common problem, following a plan of gradual API integration is typically best. A slow, concise implementation is a way to ensure a smooth transition and reduced mistakes.  

Too many API developers tend to recommend building your TMS or OMS with every bell and whistle for two reasons – mainly to charge you more money, and two – to ensure you require continual training and updates to maintain the systems. By working with a 3PL that understands what you really need, you’ll get the most out of your API. 

If you’re looking to enhance your technology solutions with API integration, contact the experts at Redwood Logistics – first.