If you are a UPS customer making use of the label software 'WorldShip', you may not be aware of functionality available to automate your shipping. This can be setup in the form of a live link to your ordering system, where you key, for example, an order number and automatically populate the ship to address (and potential other pertinent data) into WorldShip. Alternatively, if you don't have direct access for integration but can export your shipment data into a comma separated file (e.g. .csv) or to XML, WorldShip can process shipments from files automatically also.
The idea is that all the shipment data has already been collected and stored in your order management system and your picking/packing staff are duplicating this work by key-entering this into the shipping software, consuming time and leaving room for human error. The method that works best for you will depend on how configurable your system is and how much shipment data it stores. For example if you have an off the shelf ordering system that only holds a delivery address, then we may be able to map fields to the database and pull this detail when processing shipments so users can finalize other detail like shipment options; if your system holds data like weight, no. of cartons to ship on an order, etc., then it may be possible to fully automate your label printing.
If you are interested in looking further into this...
1. Automation Methods available with UPS WorldShip
Based on your order management / ERP system's capabilities, the below methods can be used to automate labels.
If your database management / ERP system has an ODBC link (such as Sage
Accounts), WorldShip can connect via this link and use a connection wizard that
will allow us to create a field mapping between the systems. We can then
nominate a unique identifier so by entering an order number the address will
populate directly into the WorldShip screen.
If your system can write XML files containing order information,
WorldShip can be set to poll a directory, pick up any XML files written at any
time and process the shipments automatically. The only WorldShip operation would
be to start the software up and close it down.
Below is an example XML file that will process a UPS label automatically:
WorldShip can be mapped to CSV headers (or other separated
files) containing address and/or shipment information and a user can then select
the mapping and choose to import as shipments. This can then be processed in
bulk as a batch import, one by one by use of primary key, or by monitoring the
file for new entries and then process the shipments when they are added.
The following are options within the UPS WorldShip software that make use of the above automation methods.
Mapping to a data source so a shipment record can be pulled by unique identifier
and populate on the shipping screen. This allows for further amendments, e.g.
weight / service level etc. to be finalized before processing the shipment.
Mapping to a data source and importing all records 'on batch' to either a
history folder for reconciliation or, if all shipment data is present, to print
all labels upon the import request.
Hands Off Shipping
Mapping to a data source that will be continuously monitored, shipments will be
processed automatically when new records are written.
XML Auto Import
WorldShip is set to poll a directory and automatically processes new shipments
when their XML files are written to this location.
Customer Technology Sales Support technicians employed by UPS are responsible for implementing these solutions and will be available via your sales representatives so please request their presence should you wish to take automation further; for assistance but also because this process needs to be logged for future support requirements. There is no extra cost involved with their assistance in discussing and implementing automations with WorldShip; however, there may be a development requirement for yourselves should you plan on adding functionality to export data from your system (e.g., via XML), if that function doesn't already exist.
On the other hand, most of the time an ODBC integration is fairly straight-forward, and, because no development work is needed on your side, there is no cost and normally can be setup same day fairly quickly. Also note that your ERP software provider may have developed UPS automation functionality for some of their customers already; therefore, they are a good resource to be able to supply this function as a 'bolt on' for a lower cost than it would be to have it developed by yourself or a third-party.
Hopefully you found this helpful and enjoy your new found knowledge of WorldShip automation.
Disclaimer: the author is employed by UPS as a field based technical specialist implementing these solutions. His comments are his own and are not to be considered as the official statements of UPS.