Whether it is USPS, UPS, FedEx, or DHL - all carriers offer an API (Application
Programming Interface) to seamlessly integrate real-time shipping options in to
your eCommerce store. We have implemented this for several of our eCommerce clients
over the years. The process of adding real-time shipping tools to your eCommerce
Website is fairly simple. Here is the process.
How it Works
1. You must register for an account with your desired shipping provider. This gives
you access to the shipping tools.
2. We then add the real-time shipping tool to your store checkout using the account
credentials that you created in step #1.
3. Items inside the store database must be assigned weights. If the inventory is
extremely large then things can be put in place to do this without having to manually
update each item. Just keep in mind that such a process may not be as accurate as
each item having a weight.
4. Then an order occurs, weight is calculated based on the items in the cart. Normally
by the time we get to this step in the checkout we have the customer's zip code.
We simply send the weight, your sending zip code, and the customers receiving zip
code to the API (seamlessly, without interruption) and the API returns a list of
services available along with the costs of each.
5. The user can select the service that they want from either a drop down menu or
radio button list.
Things to Keep in Mind
While the real-time shipping tools are very accurate they are not 100% accurate,
you must remember that the weight sent to the API is that of the raw items. It does
not include the box or packaging. Therefore; we sometimes want to make an adjustment
to the cost of shipping. Depending on your situation, this can be done in one of
As with anything we build, this can be added as an administrative feature so you
can always change the weight or price padding.
- Pad the weight. Add a pound or two to the order weight.
- Pad the price. Add a dollar or two to the prices that come back from the API
You can offer shipping options for multiple carriers if you desire. You are not
restricted to just one.