Today’s customers demand multiple delivery options, fast shipping, and real-time updates. But how can your business stay ahead of competitors with the logistics and shipping software you don’t have? Easy — use shipping and logistics API to integrate the advanced logistics tools you lack and connect to shipping networks.

In this guide, you’ll learn about logistics and shipping APIs: their meaning, role, and differences. Next, we’ll describe what you should factor in to find the optimal API for your needs.

Also, we will share efficient practices for logistics and shipping API integration and recommend monitoring tools. Finally, we’ll introduce the best API solutions for various logistics categories.


What Is a Shipping API (Logistics API)?

An Application Programming Interface (API) is a rule-based protocol that allows software components to communicate. In other words, APIs allow you to integrate services into your software and securely exchange data across platforms.

The increase in demand for real-time analytics and digital transformation is what drives the growth of global API adoption. The API market is expected to rise from $5.42 billion in 2024 to $34.17 billion in 2032. Transportation and logistics APIs represent a sizeable segment of this market.

Statistics for the shipping and logistics API market (among others)

Shipping APIs provide access to shipment-based functionalities, like rate calculation, label printing, bill of lading generation, and delivery tracking. Logistics API focuses on broader functions, such as inventory listing, transportation management, and order processing.

Companies integrate shipping and logistics APIs to get real-time quotes, manage shipments, and track deliveries. However, these are not the only reasons.


Benefits of Logistics API Integration

With APIs for shipment and logistics, you unlock a variety of advantages that can impact your revenue.

  • APIs enable integration of logistics services. Businesses can access carrier networks and third-party logistics (3PL) providers by integrating their APIs into their platforms.
  • They reduce operational costs. By incorporating supply chain management services, companies automate repetitive tasks, such as manual data entry, label generation, quote comparison, and delivery optimization.
  • API integration improves transparency. Advanced software allows tracking shipments in real time, monitoring inventory levels, and managing orders.
  • Logistics APIs enable scalability. APIs can help expand your product range, geographic reach, and delivery options without overhauling your backend systems.
  • Fewer risks of legislation errors. Many tools come with built-in features for generating labels and shipment documentation, which minimize the risk of mistakes.

You should carefully choose your APIs, as they differ in functionality, pricing, and reliability.


How to Choose the API for Logistics

Scheme showing how shipping API works

The right transportation and shipping system can elevate your operations, but a random API might not fit your needs. To make selection easier, we grouped the key aspects you should consider.

  • Essential features. Identify the core functionalities that add value to your business. You can create a checklist of required features and use it as a reference to compare APIs from different vendors.
  • Transportation fees. Many factors impact the costs of APIs. In addition to direct factors (travel distance, shipment dimensions and weight, transportation mode, etc.), you will face indirect ones, like heightened demand or capacity shortage.
  • Integration expenses. Estimate the initial setup costs and recurring fees of using APIs. Some providers charge a one-time or a monthly fee, while others bill per number of transactions. You should also look for hidden costs for enhanced customer services, premium features, or exceeded usage limits.
  • Data security and privacy. Ensure the API uses robust authentication mechanisms, granular access controls, and encrypted data transmission. You should verify that the provider’s data handling policies comply with data protection regulations in your industry, such as GDPR, CCPA, or PCI DSS.
  • Guaranteed reliability. Check whether the API offers a reliable uptime (usually, it should be around 99.8%) or can handle your transaction volumes at peak periods. Review the provider’s Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for the expected performance levels and recourse methods in case they are not met.
  • Scalability limits. Analyze whether the API can support your business demands and projected growth. Also, consider the potential consequences of switching to a different provider to assess the risks of vendor lock-in.
  • API documentation and support. Prioritize APIs with comprehensive guides and troubleshooting tips. Check if the provider offers multiple support channels, such as email, live chat, and dedicated managers.

Read the reviews from other businesses that used the APIs you’re considering. In any case, we highly recommend signing up for a trial period to test your preferred tool.


Best Practices for Integrating Logistics and Shipping APIs

When integrating third-party shipping and logistics APIs, you may run into several challenges: incompatible formats, a lack of expertise with the tools, or poor performance. You can deal with most of these problems by following the practices below.

Identify your business goals

You should clearly define the objectives of the API integration. Maybe you want to outsource the last-mile delivery or enhance the operational efficiency of your supply chain management software. Map API capabilities to your business processes to identify and prioritize those that contribute most to your goals.

Review API documentation

Thoroughly review the API documentation provided by the vendor to learn about the endpoints, data formats, authentication methods, and transaction limits. Make sure your development and operations teams are aware of the challenges.

Learn from your competitors

Research companies that used logistics APIs to streamline their logistic operations. Their experience and case studies usually warn about potential pitfalls. Our software development company can identify the open APIs used by your competitors and integrate them into your platform.

Prepare an integration plan

A well-structured plan outlines the technical stack and the development effort required to adopt the APIs into your workflow. You should also identify the success criteria for the integration based on functionality, reliability, performance, and security.

Train your employees

It is always a smart idea to get proactive and run hands-on workshops to prepare your logistics and shipping staff for the arrival of new features. We strongly recommend organizing the training and providing learning materials ahead of time.

In addition to API integration, Techstack can build custom software. Read about our cargo auction solution for a logistics company to learn more.

Post-integration, organizations should set up monitoring tools to maintain API performance and security.


Logistics and Shipping API Monitoring Solutions

Regular monitoring lets you detect critical errors, security vulnerabilities, and performance issues. Monitoring tools are a must-have to ensure your system functions as expected.

Performance and uptime

These tools allow you to monitor the performance of your APIs at the network level, granting detailed breakdowns for each service.

Tools:

Security and incident response

IT teams should use tools that track indicators of potential security threats, such as unauthorized access attempts, data breaches, and vulnerabilities.

Tools:

Logging and analytics

Comprehensive logging means keeping detailed records of API calls, responses, and errors.

Tools:

Automated alerts

Alerting systems immediately notify the team about performance deviations, suspicious activities, spikes in error rates, or violations of SLA requirements.

Tools:

It’s important to implement API management policies that include monitoring frequencies. APIs that power critical systems might need real-time monitoring to catch issues instantly. Less vital APIs for logistics, such as tools for returns management and receipts generation, can be monitored less frequently.


The Best Shipping APIs and Logistics APIs

Logistics companies provide APIs that can level up your business. Some of these are API suites that connect you to parcel couriers and 3PL logistics companies. Others upgrade your platform with advanced tools for routing, rate comparison, tracking, and other tasks.

Scheme of Google's logistics API for last-mile delivery

The following table rounds up different types of APIs and their key features.

Parcel Couriers

APIs can connect businesses to large international logistics companies with their extensive global logistics networks and advanced management features.

APIs (API Suites)

Key Features

  • Address validation to ensure accurate delivery.
  • Package pickup requests.
  • Label generation.
  • Shipment tracking in real-time.
  • Order status updates.
  • Electronic documentation management.
  • Dangerous goods verification for compliance.
  • Delivery option comparison.
  • Transit time calculation.
  • Location finders for pickup and drop-off points.
  • Duty and tax calculation.
  • Shipping cost estimation with a shipping calculator.
  • Invoice details generation.
  • Service standards and commitments review.
  • International shipment documentation generation.

Supply Chain Management

Supply chain management APIs provide access to software that coordinates the product's entire lifecycle, from material sourcing to product delivery.

APIs (API Suites)

Key Features

  • Warehouse ordering for supplies.
  • Inventory management.
  • Transportation logistics oversight.
  • E-commerce event and promotion management.
  • Inbound shipment management.
  • Advance shipment notice generation.
  • Notice status tracking.
  • Product returns management.

Shipping Aggregator

Shipping aggregator APIs help companies compare rates and delivery options from multiple carriers.

APIs (API Suites)

Key Features

  • Rate requests and multi-carrier shipping.
  • Shipping label generation.
  • Shipping order management.
  • Rate comparison.
  • Shipment tracking.
  • Label creation for packages.
  • Package insurance.
  • Pickup scheduling.
  • Duty and tax calculation.
  • Load planning efficiency.
  • Route optimization.

Order Management and Fulfillment

APIs for order fulfillment can handle the entire process of receiving, processing, and delivering customer orders.

APIs (API Suites)

Amazon fulfillment

Key Features

  • nbound shipment creation.
  • Shipping rate calculation.
  • Shipping label generation.
  • Inbound shipment status monitoring.
  • Outbound shipment request management.
  • Multichannel fulfillment order submission.
  • Pickup location and packing recommendations.

Freight Forwarding

APIs for freight forwarding connect businesses to forwarders that organize logistics by partnering with multiple carriers.

APIs (API Suites)

Key Features

  • Shipping rate requests.
  • Shipment booking submission to freight forwarders.
  • Shipment status updates.
  • Shipping label generation

Trucking and freight carriers

Different types of delivery can be streamlined with APIs (trucking, ocean, rail, and air cargo APIs).

Trucking:

Ocean container carriers:

Air freight carriers:

Rail freight carriers:

Key Features

  • Shipping quote calculations.
  • Bill of lading generation.
  • Route, schedule, and operational details for voyages.
  • Shipment status updates.
  • Real-time container availability checks.
  • Temperature-controlled and hazardous materials cargo handling.
  • Bulk shipment management.

Last Mile Delivery

Last-mile delivery APIs connect you to software that streamlines the final step in the shipping process or 3PL couriers.

APIs (API Suites)

Key Features

  • Shipping rate estimation.
  • Shipment creation.
  • Returns management.
  • Tracking information receipt.
  • Pickup requests.
  • Shipping label generation.
  • Documentation retrieval.

Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list. Rather, we wanted to give you a general idea of the services and features you could expect. But if the off-the-shelf solutions don't meet your criteria, you may need to develop your own shipping API.


Streamline Product Delivery with Custom Logistics APIs

Whether you want the tools to manage the entire supply chain of your products or outsource the shipment, APIs can help you achieve that with minimal effort. However, integration might still require development, refactoring of existing systems, and ongoing support.

We recommend partnering with an experienced transportation software development company. Techstack provides integration and custom development services that can help you optimize your operations and stay ahead of the competitors. Contact us to learn more about our offerings or to schedule a call.