Sites that use Shipwire for fulfillment and logistics need to ensure they are aware of how Shipwire works, and what WPeC provides in terms of integration. For example, generally speaking, the Shipwire API does not allow you to simply import products from WPeC into Shipwire. The workflow is generally reversed, it is expected that you would upload products once into Shipwire, have that inventory reflected on your site and then, generally, not change product lines. If you were to add or remove products from your catalog, that’s a manual process with Shipwire, not an API-driven one.
Once the product catalogs match (and by match, SKUs must be entered into WPeC and be identical to the SKUs used in Shipwire), it’s important that weight and dimensions be entered for each product, regardless of shipping rate used. Also important to note that the API request sent to Shipwire is based on the checkout form’s unique_names – for example, we don’t currently have a unique_name for Address2, so you’ll want to make sure the address field stays a textarea, so customers can enter multiple lines for addresses. Also, for example, the billingemail is used for the shipping email address, as WPeC doesn’t currently provide a shippingemail unique_name. Because Shipwire depends on all of these fields, we highly recommend they all be required. Lastly, if variations are used, it must be ensured that the SKUs are unique.
WPeC currently provides integration with all 4 Shipwire APIs – Inventory Updates, Tracking Updates, Shipping Rates and Order Fulfillment.
When a user hits ‘Update Tracking and Inventory’ in the Settings > Store > Shipping area, the stock count for each product in Shipwire is sync’d automatically with the inventory available in the Shipwire warehouses. If inventory started out at the right level for each product, has been properly decremented with each order, the site admin has increased inventory when new inventory has arrived, there haven’t been returns, backorders, etc., this shouldn’t make a drastic difference. But, because of all of those possibilities, this API is a great one to have integrated to ensure that inventory levels for the website reflect the warehouse realities.
The tracking updates are triggered at the same time as the inventory updates. Our integration communicates to the Shipwire server, checks the status of each available order that has not yet been checked, and updates the order status in the Sales Log area of WPeC. If a Tracking ID is available, it is entered into the Tracking field and the Tracking Email is automatically sent to the customer. Automatic customer service FTW. Action hooks within the plugin to allow other behavior to occur here – plugins could take advantage of this to update merchant notes, order statuses, etc. We may or may not do these things in core in the future, but the ability is there. For both tracking and inventory updates, we may also integrate running them via WP_Cron in the future, depending on demand.
This is the bread and butter of Shipwire. We hook directly into the checkout process so that, upon successful checkout, Shipwire is sent the details of the order and begins the fulfillment process automatically, in real-time. The entire API interaction is completely automated and transparent, there is no end of day batching to do or anything besides sit back and make lots of money.
It is highly, highly, highly recommended that users utilize Shipwire’s shipping rates if they are planning on utilizing Shipwire. We recommend this so highly, in fact, that if Shipwire is enabled, we literally put the shipping method at the top priority, enable it and disable other rates. You can re-enable them if you like, but doing so eliminates any free support we might offer, and the universe may literally implode upon itself. That last part isn’t quite true – but we cannot guarantee a rock-solid integration with Shipwire if you are not using their shipping rates. An in-depth explanation of all of the awesome sauce that are the Shipwire Shipping Rates can be found on their website. Seriously, if you’re a Shipwire user – there is literally no reason to use any other rates.