Build vs. Buy a USPS Shipping Integration (and Other Carrier Integrations)

So, you’re building an e-commerce store or platform, and you’re dreaming of traffic, transactions and a revenue line trending upward. But first you need to make some decisions, including what to do about a USPS shipping integration (and other carrier integrations).

You have 2 basic options:

1. Build: You can use the United States Postal Service’s API to create your own integration, and you can add other integrations for FedEx, UPS, DHL and regional/international carriers as needed. This is a good option if you have a deep in-house team. In many cases, teams of three developers or more work full-time on a single integration.

2. Buy: You can find a multi-carrier shipping API that offers connections to your preferred carriers.

Build vs. buy is a common debate in the e-commerce space. At first glance, it seems each option has its own pros and cons. But a closer look reveals that buying carrier integrations delivers enormous value, allowing your business to grow, thrive and scale while you focus on strategy rather than shipping.

Here’s a look at 6 reasons why buying your integrations is superior to building them on your own.

1. Normalize Various Integrations

Shipping carriers are not tech companies. Organizations like the USPS have made valiant efforts to create APIs, but building APIs is not their specialty. Many of today’s shipping carrier APIs are built on 20-year-old technology, and the ones that are new still don’t represent today’s best practices for API development.

Here’s the good news, though: You don’t have to use the unwieldy, aging APIs provided by today’s leading carriers.

Instead, when you choose to integrate with ShipEngine, our platform normalizes the integrations to your preferred shipping carriers. Rather than investing time and energy into learning about UPS or DHL’s special nomenclature, you get a simple, modern solution in the form of our REST API.

Integrate once with ShipEngine and immediately gain access to 30-plus carrier integrations that never need updating.

2. Gain Long-Term Stability

Imagine for a moment that you have built integrations with multiple carriers. The initial integrations are only a starting point. Over time, those carriers are going to make updates and changes to their APIs, and your team will need to make responsive updates to keep the integrations working properly.

Making those integration updates can be time-consuming and difficult. Even catching wind of new updates can be a challenge. Large carriers like UPS and FedEx may include news of API updates in e-newsletters or other messages, and product managers from various carriers may proactively reach out to their largest customers about significant changes. Still, it’s easy for updates to pass by without notice.

When you integrate using ShipEngine, never again do you need to worry about updates to carrier APIs. Our team makes the updates, which you automatically get through your API connection. When you put API updates on cruise control, you’re free to focus on what matters most — your company, your products and your customers.

3. Prepare for Future Growth

Some startup e-commerce companies use their early burst of creativity, motivation and energy to build their own integrations. After all, many are using a single carrier, and creating that initial integration is relatively manageable (when compared to integrating with multiple carriers).

But what about the future? E-commerce companies are looking to grow, and it’s likely they will want or need additional carrier integrations in the future. If and when that time for growth arrives, buying your carrier integrations through a third-party allows you to scale at an accelerated pace.

As an added bonus, you can channel that initial burst of creativity, motivation and energy toward something else.

4. Focus on What Matters Most — Growing Your Business

One benefit to buying integrations ties together all the others: You get to focus on what matters most. You may have the in-house resources needed to labor over carrier integrations, but you and your team have better things to do. When you integrate with ShipEngine, you automatically gain access to 30-plus carriers, and you never have to labor to become a shipping expert.

Shipping is an important but secondary focus in running your e-commerce business. Let us worry about shipping so that your primary focus can remain on strategy and scaling for long-term success.

5. Protect Against Rate Increases

Using just one carrier keeps things nice and simple. As noted above, many e-commerce companies use the USPS only. They have carefully created a single carrier integration with their platforms, and that integration is getting the job done.

But what if the USPS significantly increases its rates? It happens. The USPS has steadily increased rates for more than a century, and the pace of rate hikes has accelerated in the past 20 years (just check out the chart below).

And what if you introduce a new product that is subject to different USPS rates? You may have access to better rates or faster delivery through a different carrier … if only you had an existing integration with the cheaper, faster carrier.

In either scenario, companies with only USPS integrations will have to pay those higher rates until they are able to create new integrations with UPS, FedEx, DHL or other carriers. But, when you integrate with the USPS using ShipEngine, you also enjoy access to 30-plus other carrier integrations. If the USPS raises rates or if you need to switch carriers for another reason, the integrations are already built and ready to go. Within ShipEngine’s dashboard, switching carriers is as simple as a setting change.

6. White Label to Your Own Customers/Users

Do you operate an e-commerce platform? Buying integrations from a third-party like ShipEngine allows you to white label a built-in shipping solution. Surface ShipEngine’s carrier integrations to your own customers, and use ShipEngine’s APIs to manage your customers’ carrier accounts, preferences, billing data and other information.

ShipEngine does all the work. You can even pass along the cost of integrating with ShipEngine to your own customers in whatever form you deem appropriate.

Why Buy From ShipEngine?

Where should you buy your carrier integrations? At ShipEngine, our API is designed to solve shipping for online brands, e-commerce platforms, and third-party logistics companies. When you choose ShipEngine as your API, you get:

  • Immediate access to 30-plus carrier integrations
  • Simple, competitive pricing
  • An experienced team that’s always here to answer your questions

Are you ready to solve shipping? Get a free API key so that you can integrate once with ShipEngine — and never have to worry about or manage your carrier integrations ever again.

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