A crucial component of an e-commerce solution is the electronic fulfillment and shipping management process of the website shopping cart system.
Two Common E-Commerce Shipping Options:
- Fixed rate e-commerece shipping
- Third party API e-commerce shipping integration
Fixed Rate E-Commerce Shipping
Whether this is a feasible option or not depends upon a few e-commerce shipping variables such as:
- Can the product be packaged and mailed through a standard third party shipping option (i.e., USPS Priority mail packages)?
- Is the product shipping dimensions the same for all products (height, width, depth, weight, etc.)?
- Is the shipper the same for all products?
- Are there any shipping restrictions?
- What kind of shipping volume is anticipated?
- What kind of shipping labeling process would you like created or supported?
- Do you intend to markup shipping? If so, is it at a fixed rate or an increase based upon percentage in cost?
- Are you going to provide real-time order tracking and order confirmation to your customers?
The easiest and most basic e-commerce fixed rate shipping solution is to offer one, fixed, flat rate shipping option to your website customers. This assumes your cost/mark up is a fixed rate and the website customer's complete order (no partial or multiple orders) can be sent in one shipment package or box (with no special conditions) and electronic order tracking is not required.
Additional business logic can be included in fixed rate e-commerce shipping conditions as needed.
Third party API e-commerce shipping integration
"API" is a common website programming acronym for Application Programming Interface (API) is a set of declarations of the functions (or procedures) that an operating system, library or service provides to support requests made by computer programs. Some well-known API's that you may have previously seen (or used) in other websites is Google Maps and/or PayPal online payment processing for handling purchases on electronic shopping cart websites.
From an e-commerce shipping perspective, most of the large third party shipping providers such as FedEx, UPS, DHL, etc. provide this shipping API to website programmers to customize and integrate with e-commerce shopping cart websites to become the third party shipping solution.
A third party shipping provider benefits from providing you with an API coding for their services because it allows them to sell more of their services without having to provide a custom solution each time and allow for them to take on more customers (i.e., you).
Usually the cost to integrate a third party API shipping solution is more than the basic flat rate shipping, but the final investment is based entirely upon the scope and complexity of your e-commerce shipping requirements for either shipping option.
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