Hi, My name's Mark, and along with my colleague Charlie we wanted to look at the Linnworks Bespoke courier functionality, and how it can help you to grow your business. With Linnworks, you have a software package that works with over 30 marketplaces so you can sell your product to many markets from one location, and work with partners to ensure you have happy customers. In the court of public opinion, happy customers are not only repeat customers, but they also write good reviews, gaining you still more customers. A vital part of this your shipping partners, so you can get the products to the customer for a good place, in good time and intact. While we work with a large number of the major carriers, it's hard to ensure we work directly with all of hem, so we created the Bespoke Courier integration to allow you to tie Linnworks to their own software! Many providers have their own software that can accept and produce industry standard CSV files to interact with software like Linnworks.
With the Bespoke Courier method, you can setup shipping methods in Linnworks that pass order information in the right format to these software utilities so they can print your shipping labels with the provider of your choice. We can even get confirmation of printing and tracking numbers back into Linnworks to update the orders. Charlie will be explaining how this can work with providers such as MyHermes.
I'm Charlie, and I'll be covering the essential steps for setup, while Mark discusses advanced options and topics. In this how to, we are going to show you how to integrate couriers with Linnworks that are not currently integrated in the software.
The Custom/Bespoke courier method can be used with a shipping provider or courier's desktop/web based software. This includes couriers such as Parcel Hub, ParcelStation, Parcels2Go (and many more). They should normally be able to provide information and documents to help you to specify where the files are picked up from by their software, where it creates acknowledgement files, and the format of those files. If they return a file, it would be good if they can provide a sample, or tell you how to create one.
Creating a Shipping Method
As with all shipping providers in Linnworks, you will need to create a Postal Method to represent the Shipping service in Linnworks. This may be different to the name used on the listings on your Marketplace/Website, but also different to the shipping service name provided by the Courier. It forms a link through Linnworks, and is a name that makes sense to you and your team when working in Linnworks.
To do this:
- Go to 'Settings'.
- Select 'Postal Service Methods'.
- Click the 'New Row' option (Click here to add a new row).
- Fill in the name to create the Postal Method. Please also add a Tag, which is a simplified name for the service, usually one word, or an abbreviation that makes sense to you. You can also specify if it's for a single country, worldwide etc.
Because the Postal Method Name in Linnworks acts as a link between the item listings on different selling channels AND the shipping provider, it doesn't have to be specific. If you use, for example 'UK Express' internally, it doesn't matter necessarily to your staff that this month you're using Royal Mail, and next month you switch to MyHermes because they've offered you better rates. It allows the packing staff to focus on shipping out particular orders first to meet targets, and any scripts or filters you have set up in Linnworks won't need to be rewritten.
Create the Custom/Bespoke Courier
So this is where you create and customise the settings for the new custom/bespoke courier. This is found in the same location as the settings for all the other Shipping Providers in Linnworks.
- Go to 'Settings'.
- Select 'Shipping Management'.
- In the row labelled 'Custom/Bespoke Courier', click on the icon under the 'Configure' column.
- Click 'Add New' on the 'Shipping Velocity Module' screen to create a new courier configuration.
- Give the new configuration a name.
- Click on the 'Edit' icon for the courier to setup services for the new courier/shipping provider.
You can have multiple couriers setup in this section, and each will have Postal Methods assigned to it if you're using it. A Postal Method cannot be assigned to 2 different courier configurations, so remember that if it doesn't show on the list, it may already be assigned to another courier or Shipping Provider, and will need to be removed from that provider before you can assign it to this one.
- Add the a Postal Method to this courier configuration with the 'Add New' Button.
If you're passing different services to the external program, the 'Options' button for the method lets you setup 1 or more option headings and values that you can include in the export file. This means you can include service names, insurance information, etc alongside the order information to ensure the correct service and information is used when requesting and printing the label.
- In the bottom left hand section of this screen, you configure and setup the file you will export to the external program with the order details in. Click on 'Options'
- First, specify the 'File Path'. This is the location and the name of the CSV file Linnworks will produce when you click on 'Print Shipping Label' for an order.
You can click on the button with three dots to search for the folder you want the file in and specify the name.
- The 'delimeter' will normally be a comma, so this can be left alone unless your shipping provider specifies otherwise.
- You can usually leave the other options ticked, but if there's a specific requirement, your Shipping provider can provide more details.
- Click 'OK'
The next step is to setup the information Linnworks will include in the file. There are 3 columns in this view. 'In' specifies the order of the columns in the file. You shouldn't need to worry about this normally, but it means if the provider changes the order of the columns, you can change the numbers rather than deleting columns and re-entering them. The 'Column Name' is the header that is in the file we output, and will be specified by the Shipping Provider. The 'Output Column' is selected from a drop down. The list you can choose from includes information from the order (Field Names) or any of the 'option names' you have setup on an entry for a 'Service Name' above.
You can enter in as many, or as few columns as requested by the Shipping Provider., They should have a list of the fields they need, and usually information to help you decide what should go into it. You can click on 'Add Column' to create a new entry for each that's required, but I'd suggest only adding a column one at a time in order for the list your Shipping Provider should have sent you in their documentation.
- Click on 'Add Column' to create a new entry.
- Click on the 'ColumnName' to delete the text and enter the Column Heading specified by the Shipping Provider.
- Click on the 'Output Column' that starts as '(Nothing)'. This should give you a drop down list so you can select the Linnworks order field which will provide the information for this column.
- Repeat for all the other required columns in the file.
Once you've got the Export set up the next step is the Import, this is on the bottom right hand side. This is the stage at which Linnworks gets confirmation of the label being printed, errors and/or the tracking number. The file must include the Linnworks Order ID in one field for the import to work, otherwise Linnworks doesn't know which order the information is for.
When setting up the Import file, your Shipping Provider should hopefully provide a sample csv file with the column headers in. This is used to make sure Linnworks is searching for the correct column headers. If they can't provide one, you can create one yourself using a text editor like Notepad, or a spreadsheet application like Excel.
The field 'Wait for Export File to be deleted, in contrast, tells Linnworks not to start counting that timeout until the file it passed to the shipping software has been deleted. If the file isn't deleted after the label is printed, untick this option. If you don't want Linnworks to delete the file with the Tracking Numbers in, then untick the field 'Delete after import'. By default, Linnworks copies the file into a backup folder before deleting
Start by using the load sample button. This allows you to import a csv file from your PC with the headers to create the 'Expected' columns.
The 'Timeout' value is how long the program waits for the return file to be created after Linnworks sends the order information. If Linnworks is not getting the Tracking numbers back, then try increasing the timeout - It's measured in seconds).
- Click on 'Options'
- Check the “Column Headers” check box
- Specify the ‘File Path’. This is the location and the name of the CSV file the courier software will use to export tracking numbers and printing confirmation.
- Click 'OK'
- Map the CSV columns to the Linnworks order field the information will either be compared to (Order number) or imported to (Tracking Number).
And this is how you set up a custom/bespoke courier. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us anytime or check out our documentation page.