Why use our Shipping API instead of coding directly to the carrier APIs?
Posted by Doug Sherman (Import), Last modified by on 01 Aug 07 04:43 PM

While it may seem that the most economical choice is to directly code yourself to the APIs provided for free by the carriers, we think we can convince you that in fact this will be a more expensive -- and substantially more troublesome -- approach, and in fact will not achieve anywhere near the same results as subscribing to our API.

  • Packaging Engine.  The APIs all require that you send them information not on your items, but on your package.  So what if there is more than one item in your cart?  To use the carrier APIs directly, you will have to do what we have spent years doing-- developing a "packaging engine" which intelligently determines based on a variety of factors how best to package the cart items into one or more packages.  This intelligence is executed differentially for each rated carrier service, for each one has its own requirements.  All you need send to our API is your item data, we do the rest.

  • Ability to offer Comparative Rates, Including UPS.  If you have explored the UPS API, you might be aware that UPS does not allow use of their API if you will be showing their rates on the same html page as any of their competitors.  So if you want to use UPS, their rates will be your only option.  AuctionInc gets around this limitation by maintaining its own "rate engine" for UPS, rather than using their API.  (As an extra benefit, this dramatically speeds up turnaround time for UPS rates.)  Maintaining and updating of our UPS rate engine requires significant effort, as you might imagine.

  • Ability to Offer FedEx Retail Rates  The FedEx API does not provide retail rates, only "daily" list rates.  Thus you will not be able to provide rates for the occassional FedEx user.  AuctionInc maintains a database of the (widely varying) surcharge percentages for the retail rates for each weight, zone and service. 

  • Maintainance of Critical Data for Accurate Rates. There is a significant amount of data across the carriers that needs to be taken into account over and beyond their APIs in order to generate accurate rates.  For USPS, for example, we maintain tables of weight and dimensional restrictions per carrier service per country.  Packages need to be "qualified" by our data for each of USPS's international services before we call their API. For FedEx, retail rates are not available thru their API; again, we maintain sufficient data locally to provide this particular rate configuration.  Each carrier has its weak areas; AuctionInc fills these gaps.

  • Maintainance of Accessorial Fees.  Accessorial fees, from the commonplace such as residential surcharge to the rarer such as hazardous materials, account for over 30% of the final shipping rate.  Most accessorial fees are simply not available thru the carrier APIs.  Again, AuctionInc maintains and updates all these fees ourselves.

  • Maintainance of all Carrier API Accounts  Other shipping solutions which utilize the carrier API typically require the end customer to apply for the necessary Carrier API keys.  AuctionInc maintains all these accounts, masking any complexities from the customer.  The customer can immediately begin receiving rates, and does not have to directly interface with the carriers.

  • Provision of a wide variety of configuration capabilities.  Drop-Ship from multiple locations?  Want to discount your domestic rates, but not your international ones?  Want to account for packaging materials?  How about adding handling at the order, package and/or item level based on a variety of factors?  Insurance?  Want to ship to some countries but not others?  AuctionInc has developed support for all these capabilities, and we are always adding more.

    Theoretically, you or your developers can program all of the above yourself, given sufficient time and effort.  After all, we did (over a number of years).  But very soon you will find, as we have, that you have a full-time job on your hands maintaining your accurate shipping rates!

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