Category "eCommerce Shipping Systems"

eCommerce shipping service called Shipstation

Where I work as a CSR, we sell stuff online, and we had been using an old Windows program to print shipping labels for the packages, where we had to copy/paste the shipping address to the label program, then copy/paste the tracking and input to the website.

The business owners found a service online that supposedly “integrates” with the eCommerce website, and it looked great, so we tried it out. We have been using it for the better part of a year so far.

The way it works is: it “updates” the orders into their system, then has on their website all the order info, where it integrates shipping methods and their payments with our orders, tracking info, and sends label information to printers. It can even do packing lists/invoices too, and sends the tracking information to our website, marks the order complete, and sends the customer a tracking email. It verifies shipping addresses against the shippers’ databases, including the US Postal Service too.

It works most of the time. But sometimes it doesn’t work so well. There are a few things that they seemingly refuse to fix, saying it can’t be done.

 1-For shipments to Puerto Rico, Guam and Armed Forces, which are sent via Priority Mail, they assumed you needed to print the international type of label, they won't even give the OPTION to print a regular Priority Mail label. They did fix it for Puerto Rico after a few months, which is not even part of another country (it is a territory of the US), but Guam and Armed Forces Priority Mail we still have to do using our old method.

 2-When verifying addresses, it seems the code compares line 1 of the address to line 1 of the comparison database, line 2 compared to line 2, etc...The problem with this is that you get a LOT of unverified addresses when sometimes the apartment, suite, unit, lot etc number is on the 2nd line in our address but on the first line in the comparison database, and vice versa. Having written code myself, I know it is very easy to concatenate the 2 fields together and THEN compare. This would save a lot of extra work having to go check on the unverified addresses, as it happens daily with several addresses! I have complained about it often, but it still has not been changed.

 3-If there is a character other than a letter or number in one of the address fields, (which happens often!) then the address will verify, but when you try to create the label, it chokes on the character (does not create the label and gives an error message), then you have to go manually remove the character. This will happen for example with an apostrophe as in O'Connor in the name field. Again, it could be sanitized programatically very easily using regular expressions.

 4-Updating the orders, this is another big time-waster. You cannot just hit the F5 key to refresh the page and reload with the new orders, you have to mouse over the menu item, then click on the drop down item "Update All Stores". I assume this has something to do with they way they process the multiple marketplaces, but we have only 1 at the time of this review. Then you have to click on the tiny Reload link to actually see all of the new orders that have been updated. Oh, and it takes at least a minute to do all this updating, which has to be done however often you check for new orders...and there is no way to automate this like, say every minute or two.

 5-They are constantly re-working the site!  After a few months of using it, they completely revamped the whole look of it, changing where everything was and how it worked, saying it was "improved"...  They also now do what seems to be at least weekly updates, after which there are almost always issues causing lost time, labels and tempers. Like the latest one now has a tutorial every time you login, which will not let you do anything until you either see and click on the tiny, very light grey "x" in the upper right hand corner of the small box, or go through the tutorial, clicking on the Next button all over the screen 13 times.

 6-If there is any deviation from the normal ship the order and done, such as re-shipping a missing or wrong item that was sent, ShipStation does NOT send any further information to the "marketplace", meaning you have to do it manually. Also, if you mistakenly print a label for an order, it has updated the marketplace already, it does not go back to the order and remove the tracking information, you have to do that manually too. 

Try to get support chat right after an update, usually on Monday when we are the busiest, and the “hold” time has been up to 38 minutes. Then when they get online with you, they always seem to blame the user’s computer settings or else they say that it just isn’t doable what you expect the site to do, like automate the label printing process. What are we paying for then???