How Channels Works

Channels (the new name for Channel API) acts as a gateway to all the supported eCommerce platforms and marketplaces and gives unified channel access to your company via a single-format API integration. Channels can be set up to support the use of specific developer accounts with marketplaces where required to give direct control over the marketplace relationships and branding or can use Despatch Cloud relationships if you prefer to do so.

Channels offers four key areas of functionality to provide your business with all it needs to have a robust and reliable order and stock management system. Channels achieves this by dealing with channel request and response logging, channel credential encryption, channel API logic, channel rate limits, channel SKU mapping and product kitting.


Key Functionality

The four key areas of functionality partners can use Channels (the new name for Channel API) for are:

Get Orders

This is to give you the ability to download your orders from any of your configured eCommerce platforms and marketplaces supported by Channels into Channels and to submit the order data in a unified JSON format to a specified endpoint via a webhook.

Get Products

This is to give you the ability to download your products from any of your configured eCommerce platforms and marketplaces supported by Channels into Channels and to submit the product data in a unified JSON format to a specified endpoint via a webhook.

Fulfilment Update

This allows you to submit fulfilment data to configured eCommerce platforms and marketplaces supported by Channels into Channels and to submit the product data in a unified JSON format to a specified endpoint via a webhook.

Stock Update

This enables you to update your stock levels to configured eCommerce platforms and marketplaces supported by Channels into Channels and to submit the product data in a unified JSON format to a specified endpoint via a webhook.


Optional Enhancements

In addition to the above key areas, Channels (the new name for Channel API) offers optional enhancements that you used not only to improve your processes but also to save a significant amount of development time and ensure an even higher level of abstraction.

These enhancements fall under three main categories as Smart Stock Control, SKU Mapping and Kitting:

Smart Stock Control

Channels (the new name for Channel API) comes with the Smart Stock Control mechanism as standard. Turning this enhancement on allows developers to have a higher level of abstraction and ensures that Channels deals with multi-channel stock control logic seamlessly and automatically adjusts channel stock levels without any developer input.


An example of how smart stock control works step-by-step in case of a decrease and increase of stock can be seen below.

Stock Decrease
  1. Company A has 3 channels connected to Channels. These channels are eBay, Amazon and a Shopify store.
  2. A customer visits Amazon and makes a purchase of 1 x SKU “DM123”. At the time of the purchase, the stock level for SKU “DM123” was 100 units.
  3. As the purchase was made on Amazon, Amazon reduced its stock level to 99 units at the time of purchase, however, eBay and Shopify still show 100 units.
  4. Channels polls Amazon’s API automatically at set time intervals, the result of this polling is that Channels downloads the order for 1 x SKU “DM123” into Channels and as it does this, sends a stock update request to eBay and the Shopify store to adjust SKU “DM123” to 99 units.

Result: All three sales channels & market places updated with the new stock levels.

Stock Increase
  1. Company A has 3 channels connected to Channels. These channels are eBay, Amazon and a Shopify store.
  2. A customer adds 50 units of stock for SKU “DM123” into their order processing system, which then sends one API call to Channels to increase the stock unit count of SKU “DM123” by 50 units.
  3. Channels confirms receipt of this request to the customer’s order processing system and sends a stock update request to eBay, Amazon and the Shopify store.

Result: All three sales channels & market places updated with the new stock levels.


SKU Mapping

In an ideal world, when selling multi-channel the same SKU would be used across all eCommerce platforms and marketplaces. Unfortunately, this is not always the case due to a number of reasons, however, you don’t need to put up with it as the standard SKU Mapping feature of Channels is here to save you the hassle.


Submitting a mapped SKU in the unified JSON format to the specified webhook endpoint, Channels will automatically map products that have an exact SKU match and will allow the mapping of SKUs via API calls for SKUs that require manual mapping. This means developers can build a simple mapping interface on top of the Channels endpoints but allow Channels to deal with the complex logic (specifically when it comes to kitting).

How does it work?

A company has 3 channels connected to Channels: eBay, Amazon and a Shopify store. This company does not use the same SKUs on Amazon as they do on eBay and Shopify.

  1. As a sample, they sell a USB Printer with SKU “DM123” on eBay and Shopify however on Amazon, the same USB Printer has the SKU “XJHDI23”.
  2. A customer visits Amazon and makes a purchase of this USB Printer with SKU “XJHDI23”.
  3. When Channels downloads this order from Amazon’s API, Channels converts the SKU from “XJHDI23” to “DM123”.

Result: This means that the all SKU-specific functionality, such as Smart Stock Control and Kitting, continues to work smoothly as a result of the SKU Mapping.


Kitting

Kitting, also known as product grouping, is where a customer sells a number of products individually - not in all cases - but also as part of a larger kit or group. In this case, Channels supports kit mapping and has support for variable kit item quantities.


It gets even better when used together with Smart Stock Control - if it is active, when a kit is ordered, Channels will automatically link the individual items to the order and adjust the individual item stock levels by recalculating the available kit stock.


Channels will also break down the order item data by kit SKU as well as product SKU, so it is clear that the order was for a kit but also what individual item SKUs and quantities have been ordered as part of the kit order.

Example A

A company sells a kit with 2 items in it. The kit contains a quantity of 1 for Item A and a quantity of 2 for Item B. The SKU for this kit is “K0001” and the SKUs for the kit items are “DM123” and “DM456”. The kit is made up of 1 x “DM123” and 2 x “DM456”.


When a customer orders 1 x “K0001”, the system adds a kit element to the order lines element in the Orders > List API call or in the orders webhook request. The kit element includes the kit item SKUs and quantities (1 x “DM123” and 2 x “DM456”).


The main order line element includes the kit SKU “K0001”, the kit order quantity of 1 and the kit name as it would with a standard order.

Note:If Smart Stock Control is active, Channels also adjusts the stock levels for “DM123” and “DM456” and recalculates the available kit stock for “K0001”.


Result:The sale is completed and the stock levels for individual kit items - and by extension, that of the kit in question - are adjusted.

Example B

Company A sells a kit with 2 items in it, the kit contains a quantity of 1 for Item A and a quantity of 2 for Item B. The SKU for this kit is “K0001” and the SKUs for the kit items are “DM123” and “DM456”.


Company A has a stock holding of 100 x “DM123” and 100 x “DM456”, so the available kit stock for “K0001” is 50.


Result:The kitting enhancement automatically calculates the available stock for a kit based on the maximum stock available for each of the kit items.

Example C

Company A sells a kit with 2 items in it, the kit contains a quantity of 1 for Item A and a quantity of 2 for Item B. The SKU for this kit is “K0001” and the SKUs for the kit items are “DM123” and “DM456”.


Company A has a stock holding of 8 x “DM123” and 15 x “DM456”, so the available kit stock for “K0001” is 7.


Result:The maximum kit stock is automatically calculated based on the available stock for kit items as well as the quantities of each item required for the kit.


Support & Developer Tools

In addition to the above, Channels has been developed with support staff and developers in mind. The system has been created from the ground up with a focus on the idea of making things as simple as possible for support staff and developers to use Channels.

Channels has some key advantages that make supporting customers using Channels simple and stress-free for support staff, and a breeze for developers not only from an integration viewpoint but also from an error reporting and debugging perspective.

Supporting Customers

Channels makes it easy for support staff to have a global view of all channel connections under their company account. Channels supports advanced user role settings to limit what specific staff have access to - including the ability to limit who can see Personally Identifiable Information (PII) as shown in Fig 1 below.


Channels also supports multiple child companies or stores under one account. This makes it easy to view child company logs, orders and products and also manage child company channels as shown in Fig 2 and Fig 3 below.



Fig 1 - Channels Roles Admin



Fig 2 - Channels Orders Dashboard


Fig 3 - Channels Logs Overview



Developers

Channels makes it easy for developers to integrate with a simple JSON API with clear, well-documented endpoints. In addition to this, Channels fully supports event-triggered webhooks that can be configured via the API or via the Channels user interface as in Fig 4 below.



Fig 4 - Channels Add Webhook GUI


Channels does not only allow developers to easily view API and webhook log data between Channels and their application, but it also allows developers to see all log data between Channels and the connected channels, as shown below in Fig 5.



Fig 5 - Channels Channel Log Data


Channels also allows developers a higher level of abstraction from concerns such as channel credential encryption, log encryption, channel API logic and channel rate limits as this is all done by Channels as standard.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have a question about our Channels not covered in our FAQs?

We are always happy to assist new or existing clients. Please feel free to call us on 01377 455 180 or send us an email with your enquiry at hello@despatchcloud.com and our customer services team will be quick to help assist you.

Contact Us
We created Channels with security in mind, SSL is standard for all API requests and all channel and customer data on our servers is encrypted with AES-256 as standard, and Channels supports and encourages the use of multi-factor authentication on system login. If you would like to find out more about the security aspects that we have at Channels, then by all means, please do get in touch with us and we'll provide further details.
Yes! - Channels offers a comprehensive user interface that allows users to find, analyse and download channel log files for all Channels requests. If you would like to find out more on how you can do this, don't hesitate to contact us, the Channels customer services team will help to assist you.
No long contracts, no tie downs. We price our API service per event (such as getting an order or updating a product stock level). Our prices vary depending on monthly event volume and are based on a flexible monthly rolling subscription. So, you can cancel or adjust your plan anytime. If you have any questions with regards to our pricing options for Channels then please let us know and we will be happy to help you.
Yes! Channels is compatible with a number of international channels.
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