Archive for category FileMaker Shipping

Using ShipStation makes sense for some FileMaker users

We’re all about using the best tools for the job. While we use FileMaker for most of our day-to-day development needs, we also dabble with other technologies like MySQL, MS SQL Server, Xojo and PHP. The same can be said for enabling shipping functionality for our customers. ShipStation has a workflow where Orders from multiple soures are turned into shipments during the fulfillment process. This is very similar to how NRGship is can be integrated with other FileMaker databases, but there are instances where sending order data from FileMaker to ShipStation, or pulling order data from ShipStation to FileMaker make sense.

NRG’s multi-carrier Ship Connect supports over a dozen parcel and freight carriers across the US, Canada and Australia and can be integrated to your FileMaker database so you have labels printing in about 10 minutes. In addition, Ship Connect has integrations to many of the top ecommerce providers like Shopify, Big Commerce, Magento and Amazon so you can download orders directly into NRG. For most FileMaker users, NRGship is the most cost-effective option to add shipping functionality to your database.

Where ShipStation makes sense is if you have multiple sales channels and need to manage inventory between them. For example, ShipStation could be used to download orders from Amazon, WalMart and other sources but also take in internal order data from FileMaker Pro. Building out all of the API integrations into your FileMaker system and then maintaining them is a monumental task – no in-house developer wants to be taking on that development and maintenance, nor do they want to pay an outside developer to code and fix future problems at an hourly rate. Note also that ShipStation does not allow shipping FROM FileMaker. ShipStation is simply an order manager that allows you to fulfill orders thru the ShipStation interface – whereas NRGship offers a full feature set for address validation, rating, shipping, pickup requests and tracking in FileMaker.

Send Orders to ShipStation from FileMaker Pro

We recently did a project where the customer was already using ShipStation and didn’t want to spend the monies to upgrade their FileMaker application nor integrate their FileMaker system with multiple channels due to overall cost. With our 20+ years of experience building solutions that simplify workflow, we took an alternate approach to create a simple replacement for an existing NRGship integration which would push order data to ShipStation and pull back tracking data after shipment. We started by adding a Ship button script that calls the ShipStation API with order data so it’s in queue for fulfillment. We then built additional scripts to get order status along with associated shipments so that the user can invoke a refresh on the order, otherwise a scheduled server-side process updates records so that FileMaker shows the proper order status to internal staff. One caveat was that in order to create an Order in ShipStation, we had to add additional scripts to capture ID values from ShipStation for Carriers, Services and Stores so that we could populate the correct values when creating orders.

Sample: FileMaker Scripts for ShipStation Orders

Downloading Orders to FileMaker Pro from ShipStation

Another project we did pulls order data from ShipStation for fulfillment. This customer didn’t like the actual shipping workflow in ShipStation, but did like utilizing all of the eCommerce integrations that were built-in. To start, they had bene downloading CSV order data and importing into their order system as a manual process. For this customer we built a server-side script which periodically downloads any new orders from ShipStation and creates records in their FileMaker order entry system. Orders are then shipped thru NRGship for more finite control. After shipment, we then update the ShipStation order status and provide tracking data. ShipStation then facilities updating the eCommerce system to reflect the order status with no additional development effort.

If you’re interested in hearing more about how NRG can connect your FileMaker database with services like ShipStation, please contact our sales department.

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NRGship Pro for FedEx adds additional return options

NRG Software is excited to announced that NRGship Pro for FedEx now supports two additional return label options in additon to the existing print & return option.

The first option is FedEx Call Tags. When you submit a call tag request, a FedEx driver will be dispatched to pickup the package and provide a printed label for the package. With this option your customer does not have to have access to the internet or a printer as FedEx will provide the shipping label.

The second option is an Email Return Label. With email returns, your customer will receive an email with a link where they can print a label for the package. In addition, they can take the package to a FedEx shipping location like FedEx Office or Walgreens and show a barcode in the email and the location can print out the shipping label for them.

Please contact NRG Software if you need assistance in upgrading your application or integrating return labels with FileMaker Pro.

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Updating FileMaker data with Zebra mobile devices

We were recently working on a project where we needed to verify order fulfillment and staging prior to pickup by the shipping carriers.

In most instances, we’d use FileMaker Go on an iPod Touch or iPad for mobile users, but this project required that we scan barcodes quickly for optimum performance.

As a proof of concept, we created a simple FileMaker Web Direct interface so that staff could scan boxes as they were packed, and before they were put onto a pallet. The Zebra TC20 is an Android 8.1 device that accesses Web Direct with it’s Chrome browser thru a wireless connection. The TC20 is ruggedized and features a built-in barode scanner which is perfect for use in a warehouse environment.

In the video below, you can see how this streamlined interface works. The user can choose from two scanning modes – one to verify packing and the other to mark which pallet the package is on awaiting pickup. We used just a single field for barcode scanning to reduce the overall complexity.

One option we considered was using FileMaker Go on an iPod Touch or iPad. We decided not to go this route for a variety of reasons:

  • Scanning barcodes is trickier with multiple appearing on the package. We wanted to reduce the chance of false-scans using the camera on the mobile device
  • External barcode scanners on iOS can be clunky to use. With the Zebra it’s one device to manage.
  • Using the the iPod Touch or iPad would require a ruggedized case
  • There’s greater chance of loss of device with an iPod Touch or iPad with seasonal staff
  • Using a iPod Touch sled like the Linea Pro adds considerable cost and requires the use of custom plugins along with the iOS App SDK.

Another alternative to using Web Direct is building a native web app that communicates with the FileMaker backend using the Data API to update order status.

Please contact our Sales Department for further information if you’d like help creating a mobile warehouse solution.

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Let’s look at a Claris Connect flow for Shopify Shipping

One of the features Claris touts is the ability to create UPS labels thru their Claris Connect product. While appropriate for some basic use cases, their workflow for performing shipping has some serious limitations. Let’s talk about the Claris Connect flow in this graphic.

The process of creating an order in FileMaker from Shopify makes sense if you have inventory already in FileMaker and would like to make sure you have proper quantities available, or you have need to have all orders inside FileMaker. However, if you were using Shopify and were doing basic shipping, it’s likely that you would already be using intergrated shipping inside of Shopify instead of some alternate solution like Claris Connect.

The remainder of the flow shown is incorrect. In order to create a label you need to know the weight of the box and package dimensions. Most often the ecommerce system will determine shipping rates based on product weight, but it doesn’t include things like packaging and dimensions which can increase cost. If you create a label with the wrong weight you’re going to incur additional surcharges down the line, after the customer has been charged for shipping.. Next, you would not create a label and then send an alert to order processing, as you’d process an order before shipping. Lastly, Claris Connect doesn’t have the ability to update a Shopify order which is criticial to completing order fulfillment.

There are also a number of deficiencies in Claris Connect and it’s connectors, for example:

  • UPS shipping in Claris Connect supports single packages only
  • UPS shipping in Claris Connect doesn’t support alternate origins for drop and blind shipping
  • UPS shipping in Claris Connect doesn’t allows for passing of a recipient phone number (for delivery issues)
  • UPS shipping in Claris Connect doesn’t support any special services like signature required, insured value or Carbon Neutral indicators
  • UPS shipping in Claris Connect only returns published rates
  • UPS shipping in Claris Connect requires package dimensions
  • UPS shipping in Claris Connect doesn’t support international documentation
  • UPS shipping in Claris Connect doesn’t support third-party billing
  • UPS shipping in Claris Connect doesn’t support QuantumView Notifications
  • Claris Connect cannot update the order status or track number in Shopify after shipment

NRGship UPS for FileMaker is the only carrier-certified solution that provides the complete suite of UPS shipping functionality including address validation, rating, shipping, tracking and pickup requests from FileMaker Pro with compatability with hardware your shipping department has like thermal printers and digital scales. We also offer solutions for FedEx, USPS and multi-carrier.

This is how we’d envision the correct flow with shipping from Shopify using FileMaker Pro:

  • FileMaker Pro connects to Shopify via API and downloads new orders [fmEcommerce Link (Shopify Edition) is a great option if you don’t want to code your own]
  • Orders are created in your FileMaker System
  • Pick slips are printed or displayed on an iPad for new orders
  • Picked orders are packaged
  • Shipping labels are created using NRGship integrated to the order system
  • After shipment, order status and tracking is updated in the order system and Shopify via API

NRG Software has performed numerous integrations with Shopify and other ecommerce solutions specific to workflow. NRGship itself has built-in Shopify integration so that you can seamlessly download orders into NRGship and perform order fulfillment. Please contact us if you’d like to discuss seamless order fulfillment from FileMaker Pro.

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NRGship is Compatible with FileMaker Pro v19.3

NRG Software is excited to announced that current builds of all NRGship solutions are compatible with the Claris FileMaker Pro v19.3 release that has been optimized for Apple silicon computers. Internal testing has not uncovered any issues. As with any upgrade, we suggest customers test their integration before upgrading production systems. Customers using NRG Ship Connect should email sales@nrgsoft.com for upgrade information.

More information on upgrading NRGship for FileMaker can be found here.

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