Sunday, 31 March 2019

API's, Platforms and Fulfilment

Today we are talking with Mark O’Connor, one of our founders, about API’s and platform integrations and why they can make or break the consumer buying experience.

The OCF API Schema

Remind us of what an API is?

An API is just a means for different systems or apps to share data and talk with each other using a common language or key.   It is shorthand for Application Programming Interface but just think of it as a connection from one app to another. Each app will have its own API to broadcast and receive, so you really need two API’s to communicate, one to pitch and one to catch. 

Why are API’s important in eCommerce?

Data is automated from the buy button through to delivery so you can sell on multiple channels, and don’t have the overhead of trying to handle data manually or maintain several sets of inventory balances. They can create and connect an ecosystem from multiple platforms, shopping carts, warehouses, fulfilment centres, and carriers, so you can realise a cohesive sales and inventory solution for your business.

What can go wrong with an API?

While using the acronym API makes it sound very simple, this is not like connecting two devices together with a scart cable. There are a lot of variables involved and you don’t control them all.  Errors can arise from bad or unexpected input data, server settings, new plugins, platform upgrades, authentication, bandwidth, incorrect code, security changes, poor documentation, no matching records etc. and this is normally times two as it could be your app or the one you are communicating with. 

Ultimately though, what can go wrong, if those errors occur unchecked, is that your customer has a terrible shopping experience, they don’t get their order, the item is out of stock, there is no communication, and they just shop elsewhere in future. 

What challenges do APIs present for you as a 3PL?

As a multi-client service provider, we connect to a high number of API’s. For each client for instance it can be their own store plus, say an Amazon and an eBay. There is also a very high volume of data packets going back and forth - plus we are connecting to all the carrier API’s so the challenge for 3PL’s in general is really around the volume of API’s to maintain in an environment where you are not holding all the cards. You need a very concise, intuitive, real time summary so you can monitor traffic, ensuring all orders are fulfilled and none are dropped.

Are there any stores or platforms you prefer to work with?

We don’t really think that way. The important thing is for the platform to work for our client, we’ll fill in the rest. Practically though, with Shopify being a hosted solution, it is generally more stable. Others such as Magento, Woo and Squarespace are not, so there are a lot more variables to consider. These allow for a more creative design to a store, so developments diverge and there may be less documentation for us to follow.

What, if any, recommendations would you make?

 An API is only ever as good as its error handling.  Error handling can make or break the experience for your customer. You need to know when something goes wrong as soon as it does. You don’t really want your customer to be the one telling you there is a problem on Twitter before you know about it.  
Make sure yours, and your supply chain partners, error handling is fit for purpose; and don’t underestimate the effort involved in maintenance.  

About OCF

OCF provide storage and omni channel fulfilment from their secure warehouse in Swindon. If you are looking to review your fulfilment options then speak to us today and see what we can do for you:

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Swindon Warehouse

An additional picking zone is being created in our Swindon warehouse. More shelving is being added to give us several thousand more locations to store and pick from.

Sunday, 24 March 2019

For whatever you sell we have the fulfilment solution

With our secure warehouse, dock level loading bays, skilled pro-active people, innovative systems and plugin API connections to all major platforms, we have the infrastructure and passion to manage your every distribution requirement.

Friday, 1 March 2019

eCommerce Call Handling

Launched earlier this year, our ecommerce call handling provides voicemail, call forwarding and call answering services for our ecommerce clients.
With our cloud based phone system we can easily add local or national numbers for fixed periods, long term or in support of a campaign.
Where you want to raise or keep the bar high for customer service but just do not have the resource in your team to do it yourself, then let us be that resource and support your development. 

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Business is Personal

You can’t hide behind a corporate veil, saying “it’s just business”, as an excuse for not doing the right thing.  Business is hugely personal, and we will never accept the converse. 

Monday, 9 April 2018

Recruiting in Swindon

We are currently recruiting in our Swindon warehouse for roles including Pick Pack, Logistics Admin and Customer services. To apply please email your cv to

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Selling on Facebook


With more than half of the UK population estimated to use Facebook this year, utilising it as a marketplace and channel to sell your products on, can give you access to more opportunities to build your brand and convert sales.  

Facebooks targeting techniques enable you to focus your promotional activities on specific age groups, genders, and geographic areas. They do not charge commission on your sales as your transactions link directly through to your existing payment gateway or shopping cart. However, you would be advised to promote your products and buy advertising. Facebook makes it very easy to control your budget and monitor results so you can stay on top of your investment return. 

This post is designed as a how to guide to create your store on Facebook. This is step 1 in selling on Facebook and boosting your sales.   

How to Steps

The first thing you need to do is create a page for your brand. 

In doing so it is useful to remind ourselves that Facebook is designed as a social  platform for people. This means you should create a page against your own Facebook ID rather than adding your company as a person with separate login credentials. When you are logged into Facebook click the down arrow in the right hand of the top menu and click Create Page, as illustrated below.

For note, you will be able to add other users as administrators of the page, so you need not worry about having to share your ID and credentials. The page is also separate to your Facebook profile so whatever you do on the page does not appear on your own timeline, unless you choose to share the content, as you would with any other post. 

You will be prompted to select the type of page you wish to create. If you intend to sell then the most relevant options are (1) Local business or place (2) Company, Organisation or Institution, and (3) Brand or product, as illustrated below.

In this example we will select Brand or product. You will then be asked to select a category. Select the one most appropriate for your business.

Having selected the category, add your Brand name and click Get Started.

You now have a blank page created, ready to add your banner and “user” images and all other relevant information about your brand. 

This is only the landing page, you now need to add your shop. To add a shop to your page, click on settings followed by edit page.

This reveals the following screen. Scroll to the bottom of it.

Click Add a Tab

A further pop up lists the tabs you can add. At the bottom you will see Shop. Click Add Tab.

You will now see Shop added to you menu options on the left side of your screen. Click on Shop. You will be asked to agree to the Terms and Conditions. Tick and click Continue.  

Next select your checkout method. You have two options (1) Message to buy or (2) Checkout on another website. Assuming you already have a Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce or other platform store, select Checkout on another website and click Continue. 
 Next select the currency you will be selling in. In the example below we have selected British Pound Sterling. Click Save

That’s it. You will now be prompted to add your products to your shop. Click Add Products.

There are a range of attributes to each product add such as images, price, description and a checkout URL as per the illustration below. Add your details and click Save


As you can see from the above, setting up Facebook as a sales channel is very straightforward and does not require any great technical skill, apart from ensuring your checkout URL works. You will need to pass some parameters to the checkout such as quantity and item code within the URL to ensure a smooth experience for your customer and they complete the checkout.  

Using Facebook’s marketing and promotional tools gives you access to advanced targeting and a huge market of consumers - over half of the UK population will use it this year, estimated at over 35m people. As a sales channel it can be a great addition to your online sales strategy, and with a low cost to deploy, you have everything to gain from using it. 

Monday, 11 September 2017

A case for premium packaging

More than 1 in 2 consumers are likely to reorder from you if their purchase is delivered in premium packaging.

40% would share an image of the delivery on social media.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Your Fulfilment Partner

In a world so connected you need to fully depend upon your supply chain to deliver what your customer wants, when, where and how they expect it.

You need to respond to demand quickly, and be prepared for surges; Black Friday, seasonal, they keep coming. 

Your customers don't rest. They're engaged 24 hours a day. They want to talk to you. They want to buy. They want to track orders. They want to return items. They want flexibility. 

Whatever your size, whatever your scale, we have the fulfilment solution for you and your customers, for your ecommerce and 'bricks and mortar' business.

Pick pack,warehousing and storage, delivery, returns, product assembly, personalisation and rework, we have it covered. We are a true omni channel fulfilment partner. 


API's, Platforms and Fulfilment

Today we are talking with Mark O’Connor, one of our founders, about API’s and platform integrations and why they can make or break the consu...