A niche vertical of APIs in which there are multiple web services to choose from is package tracking. There are more than 70 tracking and shipping APIs listed in the ProgrammableWeb directory with many of the biggest global package shippers represented including FedEx, DHL and UPS. These are typically designed for commercial applications that need to integrate tracking, address verification, label printing and rate calculations. Here's a quick overview of 7 options available to developers wanting to track their packages.
- FedEx API: This package tracking API has been integrated into a variety of third-party shipping tools (They highlight case studies from Cover Shield and Webgility). Their new FedEx Web Services is replacing the soon to be retired FedEx Ship Manager API. Uncertified developers have access to standard services such as package tracking and FedEx locator. More advanced services are available to developers that submit to a certification process. Note that their site provides little in the way of public documentation.
- DHL API: DHL calls their offering XML Services. Along with shipment tracking, the service provides access to availability, shipping rates, bookings for courier pickups and transit times.
- UPS API: UPS offers over a dozen XML-based services about packages and shipments. The Tracking API is currently available in over 40 countries and allows developers to track shipments from within their e-commerce sites. This functionality includes tracking by reference or order number, finding scanning details such as time and location, and verifying the arrival of packages.
- USPS Track & Confirm API: The United States Postal Service offers a suite of APIs including this service that allows users to get estimated delivery times and track their packages. The developer portal is unclear as to how open this API is. Developers are encouraged to register for access to the API yet the documentation notes that the APIs are restricted to USPS internal use only.
- Aramex API: Aramex is available in over 60 countries and over 354 worldwide locations. They offer a suite of APIs including their Shipments Tracking API. With this SOAP API, developers can access live updates on a package’s location and status via a tracking number.
- AfterShip API: AfterShip currently supports over 200 couriers worldwide and standardizes the tracking results across all carriers. SDKs are available across 8 languages. AfterShip tracks shipments at intervals of 30 minutes – 2 hours instead of tracking in real time.
- Canada Post API: This Canadian based service allows developers to integrate Canada Post services such as shipping, tracking, post office location, pickup availability, returns and more into their applications. The Tracking API, available in both REST and SOAP, returns tracking summaries, tracking details, images of signatures and delivery confirmation receipts.