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.
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.
While our primary development efforts at NRG revolve around shipping and carrier APIs, we often assist other Claris developers with projects related to other APIs. With our knowledge of XML and JSON creation and parsing, we can often provide assistance to jumpstart web service integrations and save you considerable time and effort. Contact our sales department for more information on our development services.
We recently did a projet where a customer was implementing NRGship for Endicial Label Server to replace label generation thru ShipStation. The customer wanted to maintain their existing multi-channel order downloads in ShipStation for the time being, but wanted more finite control over label generation from FileMaker which we were able to quickly add to their solution. Their existing workflow consisted of manually downloading orders (TXT) from ShipStation and importing into their FileMaker ERP each day. The ShipStation order download only provided limited data. In order to update tracking information in ShipStation, we needed the order’s internal ID which was not provided in the download. By implementing ShipStation APIs to search for orders, we were able to get the internal ID, and afterwards utilize that ID to update the order and add the appropriate tracking information. We later added code to download orders directly from ShipStation to remove the manual process.
We responded to a post on FaceBook where a member of the FileMaker community was looking to access their appointment data from the web based Accuity Scheduling system from their FileMaker database. We created a simple database using Insert from URL that would query appointment data and then add or update records in the FileMaker table based on the query result. In addition, another function was created to download client data from Accuity so that it could be used as a Source of Truth for customer information.
Veryfi Invoice Data
We helped another developer who was looking to utlilize the Veryfi API to extract data from PDF invoices. We built scripts which would encode and upload a PDF document from a container field, and then parse out the invoice and line item data from the JSON into FileMaker records.
This is a common question we get from other FileMaker developers. Recently we were contacted by a customer who wanted help integrating their mailing database with NRGship FedEx for FileMaker. This customer had a fairly simple use case – on a weekly or monthly basis they are sending out printed materials to one of a few hundred locations. Each shipment could be one or more boxes of a varied weight via FedEx Ground. They’d also like to see shipment history and tracking for previous shipments. In under two hours we were able to modify their database so they could perform the following functions:
- Add a shipment with one or more more packages to a CRM record
- Capture weight off a USB-connected scale
- Select pre-defined box sizes or enter dimensions manually
- Print shipping labels to a networked Zebra printer
- Allow users with certain permisions to void or delete shipments
- Show a history of shipments with links to track at FedEx.com
- Produce FedEx Ground End Of Day reports
- Validate delivery addresses on data entry screens (and batch validate existing addresses)
All of this development was done using standard FileMaker scripting with no need to understand XML, JSON, Web Services or CURL. NRG solutions are available for all current versions of FileMaker Pro and can be used on the desktop, thru FileMaker Go or with Web Direct.
NRGship FedEx for FileMaker is a Certified FedEx Compatible solution.
During the holiday shipping season we often hear from NRGship customers who are being featured on television or on lists for must-have products. So I started to think about a blog posting listing our rock-star customers and their products but decided to highlight our first customer, Cliff Stoll from Acme Klein Bottles. Cliff is a TED-talker and may be best known as the guy who brought down a KGB hacker in the 80’s. He’s been shipping Klein Bottles with NRGship since 2004 and still uses one of the first versions:
The UPS shipper just keeps right on workin’ … nary a hiccup. Solid software that has worked everyday since 2004. Across Filemaker upgrades, through UPS revisions, across operating system changes. WELL DONE!
During the holidays, I may ship 30 to 50 packages in a day. NRGSoft lets me do this through a simple Filemaker interface … transparently printing out a UPS shipping label from my customer’s name & address. Reliable, invisible, problem free. This is the way software should behave!
For seven plus years, your software has allowed me to keep a lean, customized back-office database, a system that has made thousands of happy mathematicians.
While we wish all of our customers could be featured in the media during the holidays, they are all rock-stars in their own way.
We just wanted to share this email we received from AOV, Inc. – a Boulder, CO based company who provides high quality screen printing, embroidery, and promotional products.
We just shipped 24 boxes in one transaction (UPS normally limits this to 20 boxes when you do it online).
Outside of the annoying 10 seconds it took to spool the labels, hit our Purchasing table, link the purchase to the inventory record and the job and capture the tracking number… it worked flawlessly. I was comforted by the fact that this would have probably taken 15 minutes if I had done it the “old fashioned” way.