IBM i and UPS Communication Using APIs

Leah Avner

The role of APIs with IBM i users continues to grow, as it should. APIs help increase revenues by providing additional channels and access points for customers, while also decreasing operating costs, manual labor, and system inefficiencies. While there are literally thousands of APIs out there for you to use, every so often you come across the need to write your own custom code.

The Client

A B2B and B2C omnichannel merchandise company which sells via website/eCommerce, catalog, and B2B channels.

The Client's Need

While many APIs exist, they are often in languages like Java, Python, and Ruby. In this instance, the client was interested in writing the APIs in RPGLE as it allowed their in-house IBM i developers to create, own, and support the APIs. 

Of course there was documentation and toolkits for developing Web Services using java, but we wanted to develop these API calls for RPGLE programmers". 

For this project, Briteskies was hired as an outsourced resource to serve as the tech designer for reviving multiple existing API calls to communicate to UPS for the following functions:

  • UPS Address Validation
  • UPS Rate Shop
  • UPS Shipment Label Creation

Our team also helped code Web Services functions, fix and debug any issues, and coordinate the moving all pieces.

How the APIs Worked

Based on a date that the customer needs to receive the product, the system would call the UPS Rate Shop function to scan all the possibilities based on the desired delivery date and cost that would best serve the customer. Once the shipping method was chosen, the system would call out again to UPS to generate the label based on the results. This allowed the customer to save on shipping costs while staying within their necessary timeframe.

This API worked together with existing APIs that called out to UPS for Address Validation, as well as UPS Shipment Label Generation. While these APIs had existed prior, they had been placed on the backburner by the business since the company was using Agile to communicate to various private shipping companies. Since Agile support was sunsetting, the team was asked to revive the original APIs and perform preliminary tests.

And, because of our long-standing relationship with the business, our developer was also involved in debugging and fixing issues with the APIs since he had been involved in their original creation years ago.

Extending APIs using Web Services

But we didn’t stop there. Since the company has an in-store portal, our developer wrote up two Web Service programs. These programs ran through the System i and allowed the Address Validation and Shipment Label Generation to extend to outside systems including the intranet website which the store registers use. This extension allowed cashiers to check inventory and other back-office functions in real-time through the intranet site, and then order, purchase, and ship the product on behalf of the customer.

With the new communication channel between the intranet and the System i, the business was now able to help in-person and over-the-phone customers find necessary inventory and ship it out in just a few simple steps.

The UPS interface allowed the client to ship based on a date, perform lowest shipping price options, and ensure that addresses being used are valid and accurate.

Overall, these changes improved purchase experiences and offered price savings to the customer, which often lead to an increase of revenue and ultimately, an increase of net profit.

Interested to read more? Read the full Success Story

Curious to hear more about API Integration? Speak with our team to see how APIs can help improve your business.

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