Royal Mail Launches E-Commerce Shipping and Tracking Platform
E-retailers – as well as online shoppers – will welcome Royal Mail’s announcement of a new Shipping and Tracking application programming interface (API). The new service will enable UK e-retailers to connect more simply and efficiently with Royal Mail shipping services, including international shipping. As a result, e-retailers and other Royal Mail business customers will now be able to easily track the progress of consignments, retrieve the tracking history of items sent previously and customise their shipping reports.
Growth of E-Retail
The online retail industry is a booming sector with £91 billion spent last year by British shoppers, a growth rate of 16% over 2012. Analysts estimate that online sales will top £100 billion in 2014, due in part to the rise of mobile devices and so-called ‘m-retail’. Sales via mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets accounted for 27% of all online sales during December 2013, twice as much as the year before. With e-retail now accounting for one-fifth of the total retail market, it’s even more important for businesses to synchronise their own shipping and tracking systems with those of leading dispatch services.
“Seamless” Shipping and Tracking
Royal Mail’s new API interface uses a common technical language to connect the company’s own systems with the order processing systems used by retailers. According to Royal Mail, this will enable “seamless” shipping and tracking by improving the integration between the company and retailers’ IT systems. Nick Landon, managing director of Royal Mail Parcels, said:
“The new API provides the potential for improved parcels management as well as enabling e-retailers to connect their systems to Royal Mail software much quicker than previously.”
The new Shipping and Tracking API system is just one of a range of online shipping tools introduced by Royal Mail. The company is investing considerable resources to enable it to compete in the expanding UK e-commerce market. In recent years, Royal Mail has faced stiff competition in the UK parcels sector from a number of new shipping and dispatch companies. The company has also been affected by e-commerce leader Amazon’s decision to set up its own delivery capabilities and increase the minimum order required for free delivery.
In an effort to boost its share of the Parcels market, Royal Mail has introduced a number of new initiatives. This includes accepting goods from retailers on Sundays and providing new Sunday delivery options via Parcelforce, the company’s express parcels division. Royal Mail anticipates that its new API system will provide e-retailers with further assurance about the speed and efficiency of its shipping and tracking services, and more reason to choose the company over its competitors.
The API system will be made available to customers at no extra cost, together with full IT support. Those using the new system will have access to all of Royal Mail’s UK and international parcels services, in addition to being able to check the progress of shipments, track status and track history. Business customers that prefer not to use the new API integration can still use the Despatch Manager Online system. This is currently used mostly by smaller businesses as well as those shipping high volumes, as the system allows for batch downloads for multiple parcels.