How to use Shopify Order Tags with ShipStation

We received a flurry of requests from Shopify Merchants using our Order Tagger app, hoping that we could offer a solution to a ShipStation dilemma.

We contacted a number of our Merchants during our initial research into this request and we found that quite a few of them were happily managing their orders through Shipstation; so we hooked up one of our demo stores and it didn’t take us long to see why.

Centralised order management across multiple channels, printing shipping labels and packing slips from a wide range of Couriers, tracking orders, building automation rules... all of this within a single platform. Merchants are saving hours of valuable time each day with ShipStation, which is something we’re very passionate about here at Union Works!

Once we understood what ShipStation was all about and what it meant to our Merchants, it was easier to for us to put our heads together to find a solution.

In this article, we will describe the problem our Merchants were facing and the solution we implemented to help them.

Apps you will need:
Order Tagger
ShipStation

The Problem

Shopify Merchants use our Order Tagger app to define a bunch of rules that will apply tags to orders that match those rules. When a new order is placed in their Shopify store, the order is checked against each of these rules. If a rule finds a match based on the Order or Customer details, a “Merchant defined” Tag is applied to the Order. Simple right? Well yes, it is quite straightforward, it’s how we like to roll.

Unfortunately however, it appears that Shopify Order Tags are not imported into ShipStation along with other Order details. This is the problem that our Merchants have asked us to try and resolve.

You might be wondering why this is a problem, so here’s an example that we found in common between a few of the Merchant’s that we spoke to:

A Merchant likes to place a welcome note or gift into first time Customers’ packages, therefore, they need to be able to identify new customers in ShipStation. Using our Order Tagger app, they can create a “Tag first time customers” rule, which will tag new customers’ with something like “Customer_First_Order”. However, because the “Customer_First_Order” Tag does not make it through to ShipStation, the Merchant is not aware that this is the Customer’s first order. They therefore miss the opportunity to welcome and thank the new customer at this important touch point in the customer lifecycle.

Merchants were understandably very keen to find a way for Tags to be included in the ShipStation import. It sounded like a good challenge to us and one we felt was worth taking on. So here’s how we addressed it.

The Solution

Having investigated the implementation of Custom Fields and Tags within ShipStation, it didn’t take long to identify a clear path to a solution, one that we felt we could implement quickly and one that added value for existing Merchants’ using our Order Tagger app.

We noticed that the Shopify Order Notes field was carried across into Shipstation during the import process. We therefore needed to find a way to append Tags from the Order Tagger rules to the bottom of the Order Notes field and then use Shipstation Tags and Automations to provide an end to end solution.

We’ll spare you the details about how we enabled this to work in our Order Tagger app, but if you would like to pass in Tags from our Order Tagger app into ShipStation, the following steps will explain how to do so.

Step 1 - Create the rule in Order Tagger

(for the purposes of this example, we will create a rule that will apply a tag titled “Customer_First_Order” to the Shopify order)

Within the Order Tagger App, select the “create a new rule” button and then in the “CUSTOMER BASED RULES” category, find the “Tag if it’s the customers first” and click on “create rule”

Add the tag title Customer_First_Order to the first field

Ensure the checkbox “Append Tags to the Order Note field” is checked

Then click on “Create tagging rule” to save the rule.

When a new order is placed on the Shopify store and it is a customer’s first order with that store, the order will now be tagged and the tag information will be appended to the Shopify Order Notes. The Order Notes information will then appear as follows in ShipStation

2. Create a ShipStation Tag

Head into ShipStation where we will now create a ShipStationTag.

Click on the Orders tab in the top navigation bar and click on an order to highlight it.

In the toolbar above the orders list, click on the “Tag” option and then click on “Manage Tags…”

Click on “+Add Tag” 

Enter a Tag name (e.g. Customer First Order) select a tag colour and click on Save

Close the Manage Tags dialogue box

3. Create a ShipStation Automation

We now need to create an automation that will read the Order Notes field to see if the phrase “Customer_First_Order” is contained within the field. If it is, we then need to apply the ShipStation Tag “Customer First Order”

Click on the Spanner icon in the top right hand navigation of the ShipStation App

Click on Automation and then Automation Rules in the left hand menu

Click on “+ Create a Rule”

Give the rule a name and then select “Only apply these actions to orders that match specific criteria”

Click on “+ Add Criteria” and select the following criteria

Click on “Add an Action” and select the following action

Click on “Save Rule”

Step 4 - You're Done!

The next order that comes in with an Order Note containing “Customer_First_Order” will have the ShipStation Tag applied “Customer First Order”

You can now use the tag as you see fit and it can be included in your Packing Slip printout or Email Templates to provide notification to the Packing Team that the order is for a first time customer and should be processed accordingly.

Endless Possibilities

This is just one use case for passing rule based data from Shopify into ShipStation. Once you have seen how simple it is to pass tags from Shopify into ShipStation, any number of automations can be set-up to meet your unique picking, packing and shipping needs.

Our Experience with ShipStation

We received a very courteous and professional call from Megan of Shipstation not long after we installed the app to begin testing. Megan wasted no time in introducing us put us to their partner manager, Kevin Kline who she suggested could help us further with our integration requirements. We love great customer service here at Union Works and that experience was top notch!

Now, I don’t for one minute believe that I was speaking to THE Kevin Kline, the infamous Otto from A Fish Called Wanda, but between us, let’s just picture him that way… (just don’t call him stupid!)… Kevin was also very professional in his approach to the problem and was keen to understand if we could work together to help our fellow Merchants to achieve their desired outcome. Kevin informed me that Shipstation have a number of upgrades and new releases planned for early next year, so the first step would be for him to investigate and find out if support for Shopify Order Tags was tabled for the next release. We wait in anticipation!

For now, Merchants are very happy using the Order Notes solution, however, if we can find a tighter integration between the two apps, then of course that is the Gold Standard that we will aim to achieve and we hope to update our Merchants when we are able to deliver an even better solution.