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Build flexible shipping strategies with our Shipments API improvements.

October 24, 2023 Daniel Oh

Expanding our Shipments endpoint

The backroom of ecommerce businesses often suffer the most from success. When a brand grows, so do order volumes and sizes. Concurrently, inventory grows from a single warehouse to multiple locations — whether it’s more warehouses to optimize fulfillment or more brick and mortars to service customers face-to-face. Juggling all of those things can be a nightmare for logistics managers who may be working with basic OMS tools from most commerce platforms.

In order to empower brands to continue scaling seamlessly, we’re happy to announce a key expansion to our Shipments endpoint. Now, it’s possible to create and manage shipments after orders are approved. This opens up a whole world of possibilities to create external shipment flows and processes that help merchants manage sprawling OMS needs.

Shipments CRUD and why it’s important

In case you didn’t know, CRUD stands for Create, Read, Update and Destroy. Basically, it means that our Shipments endpoint can now independently create, update, and delete shipments after orders are approved. This may seem like a small update, but in reality, it can open all sorts of possibilities for developers to create custom shipping solutions to sophisticated use cases, or create more efficient shipping and inventory strategies based on external logic.

One example is how Shipments CRUD can facilitate backorders in the event of inventory stockouts. Let’s say you’ve experienced unexpected high demand for one of your products. You want to maximize this wave and continue accepting orders for your products, even though your stock is running low. Shipments CRUD enables you to create those shipments independently to fulfill your growing queue of backorders once you’re able to replenish stock from your supplier.

Splitting shipments

One major use case for our clients is split shipments. Most commerce platforms don’t even have the capability to split shipments (usually because most commerce platforms don’t have multi-warehouse logic to begin with). Our native split shipment models allow for shipments from different stock locations, and for most merchants this would be enough. As fulfillment requirements get more complex, especially with omnichannel models, split shipments need a lot more flexibility.

For example, let’s say you have an apparel company that offers localized shipping from stores. Your inventory is distributed your network of brick and mortars along with a few distribution centers. Needless to say, you’re splitting a lot of shipments to satisfy customers.

In this example where inventory is extensively distributed and omnichannel is in play, there are a lot of factors that determine best combination of customer convenience, shipping cost, shipment size, and delivery lead time. Companies that have this level of complexity with their fulfillment needs often require their own custom models to determine the best approach to splitting shipments.

Instead of relying on your platform to build out the right inventory model for you, Shipments CRUD allows you to build your own custom logic to create and assign Shipments via lambda functions. This then allows your developers to build a split shipment system that maximizes customer satisfaction while minimizing overhead.

Making inventory models more flexible

Coupled with our Shipments endpoint expansion is some improvements to our stock transfer and stock reservation endpoints as well.

Stock transfer now has a new status — on hold — that can be assigned through a new setting on the Inventory model object. This trigger allows you to bypass stock transfers when using our inventory models, which offers more flexibility on how you want to allocate inventory (especially during peak demand periods).

Stock reservations are also fully manageable from the API, and are no longer tied to the drafting of an order. One way to leverage this is to reserve stock for certain SKUs for certain customer groups only, or to provide a buffer to ensure stocks don’t reach dangerously low levels between inventory cycles.

Building a composable OMS

This expansion of our Shipments endpoint represents our goal to build an OMS that’s both enterprise-grade and composable. Not only can we handle sophisticated fulfillment and order management requirements of scaling brands, we can also seamlessly work with existing ERP, OMS, and 3PL systems without affecting performance of the entire stack.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on our Shipments API improvements. If you want to give us feedback or join the ongoing conversation in our community, join us on Slack here!

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