UPS vs. FedEx API integration
I have recently taken on the task of integrating FedEx and UPS shipping into Omniprise’s shipping manager for rate calculations, printing shipment labels, and integrating package tracking. I researched the web for some comparisons between the two API with no success. Since Omniprise is now fully integrated into both UPS and FedEx, I will share my experiences so that other people looking for differences between the two integrations before starting the development process could use this post for a bit of guidance.
First off, you might ask why would it be worth your time and money to invest in integrating these services into your e-commerce website or software shipping package. You already have a way to log into UPS and FedEx to create labels and track shipments without any development or additional cost. Well, by integrating into shipping transportation functionality, user experience and feature set will be improved, employee efficiency increases, and the chance for mistakes and typing errors are ruled out of the equation completely.
When it comes to e-commerce websites you might not think this post will apply to you now that there are so many different customizable shopping carts and CMS's that are already fully integrated. This might be true, but what you need to know is that the only feature you can use without going through a certification process is shipping rate calculations. If you want to use some of the more advanced features like creating shipping labels you will have to be familiar with the certification process. The FedEx and UPS certification process is fairly similar to each other. However, FedEx requires a phone call to initiate the certification process where UPS can be done completely online in the development center. UPS has a nice developer website that lets you keep up with what feature sets you have access to on your account (http://www.ups.com/onlinetools). When it comes to getting certified, UPS requires a lot more information than FedEx. To be certificated for creating shipment labels you must send a zip file with 39 different files from XMLto PDF's. FedEx will just require one example to get certified. They are both very quick at responding and approving or declining your certification. Both UPS and FedEx websites are difficult to track down all the information needed to go through the certification process and generate development keys, etc.
From a programming standpoint, they both can use SOAP to communicate with their servers. They both start you off with a development URL and test credentials. With UPS you will need a username, password, shipper number, and access license number. For FedEx you will need account number, meter number, access key, and password. When it is time to go from the development servers to the production servers UPS requires a simple change to the URL to switch it over to a live environment. FedEx will require a different meter number, access key, and password. UPS also has full XML integrating for programmers that do not want to have to use Web Services (especially in a Linux environment). FedEx used to have this but they are discontinuing the service.
I hope this helps shed some light on a processes that can become very frustrating and time consuming. Once you have gone through the process a few times it gets easier and easier.
If you have any questions please feel free to comment on this blog post and I’ll get back to you.