How do APIs Work in the Transportation Industry?

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Busses that demonstrate how APIs work in the Transportation industry

APIs or application programming interfaces make sure data is able to travel to and from specific destinations and sources with ease. Data isn’t the only thing that needs to travel safely, which is why APIs in the transportation industry are so popular for everything from booking an Uber to getting a shipment of goods delivered. APIs help websites, servers, and apps integrate efficiently and effectively by allowing different software endpoints to communicate with each other. Let’s take a look at different APIs for transportation, commonAPI uses, and how partnering with an expert in creating and managing APIs can help support your transportation industry-related apps or websites.

Parcel Courier APIs

Some of the most commonly used APIS in transportation are those associated with shipping goods, specifically parcel couriers. UPS was one of the most successful parcel couriers in 2021, grossing over $11 billion. UPS provides APIs for a range of shipping-related services. Many of the features users take advantage of come via an API without those users ever realizing it, including:

  • APIs that pull through address details for printing shipping labels
  • Tracking shipments
  • Creating travel documents (e.g., to ship something overseas)
  • Requesting parcel pickups
  • Comparing shipment options and costs

Developers who want to take advantage of the digitization of shipping data can integrate UPS services by registering with the company and accessing their developer support options. There’s also a burgeoning developers’ community that supports each other with questions and concerns around UPS API integration.

Other couriers that provide APIs for transportation services for shipping goods include DHL, FedEx, and USPS.

Supply Chain APIs

APIs in the transportation industry go beyond simply moving goods around. From the production of goods to the trucking of goods to the consumer, the entire supply chain needs effective communication and management at every stage. This includes aspects like inventory management for e-commerce, assessing issues such as supply shortages, and dealing with disruptions, for example, when deliveries of goods into the port get bottlenecked.

Many companies provide APIs that specifically support developers and their teams in connecting the different parts of a company’s supply chain together. DreamFactory can help you assess all the partners you need to connect to and make sure you have the right APIs in place to make that happen, regardless of what industry you work in.

Third-Party Logistics Industry (3PL) APIs

3PL is the short name for any company or partner that helps you manage your logistics. For many companies, this is about delivering goods safely. But there are other aspects, such as storing goods and providing specialist warehousing solutions for pharmaceuticals. For example, during the pandemic and beyond, transporting COVID-19 vaccines requires a very specific arrangement of cooling and storage to ensure the vaccines remain viable. Both transportation companies and healthcare providers will rely on APIs to monitor the progress of these deliveries, check when they will arrive, and record data on the temperature within the specialist containment units.

Other, more conventional uses of APIs in transportation for 3PL companies include:

  • Links to all available partners for full real-time visibility of the supply chain on-demand
  • Creation of purchase orders
  • Creation of receipts and invoices
  • Generation of parcel labels
  • Retrieval of various shipping documents and data
  • Changing or cancellation of orders
  • Arranging face-to-face pick up of goods where appropriate

Order Fulfillment APIs  

Many e-commerce companies work with partners to fulfill their customers’ orders. This means they don’t necessarily hold any stock themselves, or some items may be held with partners that become the shippers for the online business. This is why one of the other common APIs for transportation and logistics is the order fulfillment API, which allows companies to integrate their order fulfillment companies into their own systems and apps.

The biggest example of this is probably Fulfillment by Amazon. Amazon has many fulfillment centers, allowing retailers, wholesalers, and even manufacturers to rely on them for a variety of needs. Their Selling Partner API portal replaces the now-defunct Amazon Marketplace Web Service. The API portal allows connected businesses to use APIs to manage just about every aspect of the supply chain, from creating orders to managing the pricing of goods to tracking shipments to customers.

Public Transportation APIs

Most of the APIs for transportation uses above focus on the movement of goods. However, there’s another very important thing that needs a range of transportation options: people! Many private transport companies have their own API connectivity, such as Uber and Lyft. However, many people will use the APIs that power public transport websites and apps daily. Even everyday names like Google Maps have a range of APIs available for developers that want to integrate the maps function into their own apps. These include the Directions API, which uses HTTP requests to return directions in either JSON or XML format. These directions can be by bus, train, tram, or even bicycle. The API pulls real-time data on distance, road conditions, and the best route right now to help travelers plan their journeys accordingly.

APIs like this can even reduce emissions by encouraging users to take less congested routes. This can help corporations hit their sustainability targets and make the world a better place. If your business app needs an API to connect to transport or transit services to support the efficiency of your corporate fleet, for example, DreamFactory can help you with those integrations to boost the agility of your operations.

DreamFactory for APIs in Transportation and Logistics

APIs for transportation and logistics are an essential part of modern business. Digital transformation is not the future: it’s now, and companies that don’t embrace it will be left on the hard shoulder. DreamFactory supports businesses in all industries with API creation and management, allowing them to integrate with all the moving parts of their company, from shipments to employee transportation to mapping routed for delivery drivers.

DreamFactory is the best-in-class solution for no-code API creation and automation, and electronic data interchange (EDI) that works the way you want it to. We empower you to choose the features you need without paying for those you don’t. Try DreamFactory today and connect to the transportation services your business needs with ease.

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