|Best way to automate tracking numbers with orders into the backend|
Say I ship out 30 packages a day, I want to somehow automate the process of typing the tracking number into my ecommerce application so when customers want to lookup their tracking # online they can.
Is it possible to do this? (using USPS or UPS).
Or can UPS/USPS provide an excel sheet of matching Order#'s and their tracking numbers?
UPS - If you are using their worldship software, you can export the tracking numbers. It has been several years since I've used this software, but I did have it automated so it read the addresses from a file that I prepared for it and exported tracking numbers.
USPS - If you are using the preprinted delivery confirmation stickers (or something you are getting from the post office website), the number is just encoded in the barcode. If you get enough volume, USPS will assign you a block of numbers and have you electronically file them (you also get a file containing the status of the packages) - this is what I do, so I'm not familiar with other possible methods.
Both UPS and USPS have an api you can use to do this but it is a lot of work. However, it could be worth it for you if you consider going more step - you can use the API to generate labels directly in your ecommerce application. No need to manually generate labels - the address, weight and package info from your ecommerce app is used to generate the labels. The tracking number is saved in your ecommerce app.
Depending on the popularity of your ecommerce app, their may be a UPS/USPS api plug in available.
This is definately possible. There are shopping carts available that have integrated with the major shipping carriers. From within their ecommerce applications, you can create the shipping labels and order tracking information is automatically recorded during that process. If you are looking at the USPS API, note that the label created does not include postage. If you want to create the label with postage and record the tracking numbers, look for an application that has integrated with Endicia's Web Services.
We have a similar volume: about 30 packages a day.
As I mentined in another thread, the Ups worldship software (to be installed under your main local server) offers the autoimport function: a daemon listening to a certain directory. If you write an xml file with a specific syntax into this directory, the barcode and some other sheets of paper are automatically being spit out (by any printer installed in your local network), and an .out file containing the tracking numbers is written into the same directory, which you can reiport into your database.
I wrote a little php interface for both these (write and read) tasks and added it to my self-written order software. If your internal software allows to attach such code snippets, I might send you the code if you sticky me. If you are already running one of those standard card systems, you might be better off with what agile described, but if you enjoy to write such applications yourself:
The xml syntax is not more complicated than a routine to generate a google sitemap (as long as you don't need it for exports; that would complicate things a bit), and I found the ups support hotline very friendly and helpful. I received a couple of sample files via mail-support and with these it was quite easy to write that code.
I use UPS WorldShip with keyed-import. You type in the order number and it queries against a database that has the ship to name, address, and package details. Once the shipping label is printed, the WorldShip software can export the details such as shipping method, tracking number, shipping cost, etc. My software automatically updates each order with the tracking number and sends it to the web server where customers can view their tracking number and order status.
You can code whatever you want or pay for software that does what you want. You have to decide if you want to spend your time coding or running a business.
Just export your data from USPS/UPS in CSV, make sure you have some order reference information in there.
Have a module created for your ecommerce app that you upload that CSV file and it automatically matches the tracking to the correct order and appends/emails it .
An easy <100$ eLance/Rent a code job.
I tackled this issue about 3 years ago and (at that time at least) the one thing I couldn't get out of the WorldShip software was the scheduled delivery date. What I ended up doing was simply putting the order number in the Reference 1 field of each shipment. Next, I set the default Quantum View Notify to send the emails to a generic email address that was piped to a php script that parsed all of the information out of the email, add it to the order database, and send an email to the customer. I also use the same technique to forward Exception notices to the customer and the delivery information if the shipment wasn't signed for - You'd be amazed how many people thank us for this as they didn't realize the package was on the porch, in the bushes... whatever.
We ship close to 1000 packages a month and this system has been working flawlessly for 3+ years now. Everyone seems to e happy as we NEVER get emails looking for shipping/tracking information.