Changes to CarrierService API rate request timeouts - 10s -> 5s

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Shopify Expert
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The funny thing is, if there is really dissatisfaction out there, it exhibits itself as spikes showing delays, which are connected to shops. So we know the shops exhibiting delay. Now we can analyze why those shops exhibit this delay.

So instead of throwing out the baby with the bathwater, why not work with the issue at the source, with those Apps and/or shops suffering?

And secondly as per the other complaints, over the past 14 years, other than releasing Carrier Services as a thing, pretty much nothing has ever been done to improve it from the Shopify end. The payload sent to Apps remains stripped of value (no clue about discounts for example), tags, or cart attributes. Additionally, when customers make errors, and the Carrier Service discovers it, there is zero way to transmit this important information back to the customer.

So while it all sounds nice to pump up this BFCM hype, this hatchet falling so soon, so fast, and without much recourse just screams amateur hour. Had Shopify been working on Improving Carrier Services for years, interacting with the partners and community serving that important niche, this NEVER would've been a thing.

 

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Shopify Partner
35 0 6

Is this gonna be permanent or only for BFCM 2020?

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Shopify Staff
Shopify Staff
9 0 1

Hi Sharon.

Sorry for the short notice. We are doing this because of production engineering team, kernel team and shipping team believe that 10s is causing too much stress at the Shopify platform level.
-> With the crazy traffic we are all experiencing, a slow carrier service API user can impact negatively multiple stores and multiple key processes.

The backup rate solution is not mandatory and we are well aware that the timeline to implement, test and roll-out for all your customer can be problematic.

This being said, as stated in the message, we have no visibility on apps and what is very hard for an app could be easy to implement for another.

Other things that could be done:
- scale faster your infrastructure (if you have auto-scaling)
- adjust your alerts to ping you when rates start to slow down (4.5 seconds)

Thanks for your understanding.

Please let us know how we can support you further.

 

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New Member
11 0 0

This is simply the worst global change Shopify could make to its developer community and the stock will suffer gravely for it.  The reason why merchants pay the extra $20 monthly or upgrade their plan for the carrier rate option is because the default platform shipping is elementary, to say the least.  Complex 3rd party solutions on average require over 5 seconds to return shipping rates .... especially for large orders -  This will hurt the merchant ............the developers................THE STOCK!!!!!!!!!! 

Customer Success Manager - Shipping Guru
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Shopify Staff
Shopify Staff
9 0 1

Sorry about the short timeline.

The fallback rate is a proposal: it may be possible for some partners to implement rapidly and it may be impossible/highly impractical for others this close to BFCM.

Please let us know how we can help supporting you.

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Shopify Partner
67 1 33

Hi there,

I think you're missing the point that the timeouts aren't really related to our app platforms, but rather we  grab rates from 3rd party carriers, or many 3rd party carriers, it is impossible for us to make our platforms run faster.

I've just run some numbers, and i can tell you now, by wednesday, you will have at least 500 very unhappy merchants complaining, many of which are PLUS merchants because they have lost tens of thousands of potential customers - or lost significant amounts of money because they have had to subsidise shipping with fallback rates. Now 500 might not seems like much in the grand scheme of things, however we can't just ignore the minority here..

A lot of merchants here do ship wholesale orders, hence the reason for a need to obtain multiple carrier rates and toe compare rates, shipping is highly competitive in ecommerce and is often the point of difference for whether a merchant makes a sale or loses out to a competitor.

Understand that there will be increased traffic, however it sounds more or less an engineering issue that has been put off for far too long and should have been addressed by the engineering team rather than such a knee jerk reaction at the last moment. Myself and other app developers have been trying to get partner engagement so we can provide feedback, however there is almost no avenue to do this other than the forums, and when we do voice our concerns, nothing happens. I've just been on partner support and when i raised the issue, no one over there has heard of this change, and ended up hitting a brick wall because there was literally no one they could escalate the issue to.

At the moment, we have no other choice but to notify all our merchants that their rates are likely to be impacted in less than 4 days, and they will need to come up with a new shipping strategy in less time than that.

Thanks

Min

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Shopify Staff
Shopify Staff
9 0 1

Thanks for your feedback.

We are all part of the same ecosystem and it is bad when a checkout is broken because no shipping rate can be returned.

We are merchant obsessed and the decision to adopt a 5 s timeout was motivated by the greater good: platform performance and reliability.

Could you have a look at your metrics and assess how many merchants have complex carrier requests that takes more than 5s to complete?

-> You may want to warn them before next Wednesday.

A sub-optimal solution could be to have them use the shipping profiled (flat rates) until you have time to update the app in order to be under the 5s timeout?

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Excursionist
16 0 6

The issue is not our app servers it is that carriers are slow to begin with. UPS, FedEx and many others especially regional carriers are also near or at this limit. The main carriers also slow down during high volume months. How is a carrier service supposed to return rates if the carriers take more than 5 seconds? This is starting to sound like a push to kill off carrier services in favor of your own limited shipping which Shopify collects brokerage fees on. This seriously needs to be reconsidered both for developers, business owners, and Shopify Plus customers who you say you wish to help.

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Shopify Staff
Shopify Staff
9 0 1

We are sorry about the short delay.

We analyzed the data and 5s seems, statistically, like a very acceptable number but, as you explained, some use-case may be impossible to address with this new constraint.

Could you check your metrics and identify the at-risk merchants?


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Shopify Partner
67 1 33

Hi @bligneri 

So what happens if these merchants who have rates that take longer than 5s to complete can't make a decision before wednesday on how they want to structure their rates? you can imagine that not all merchants will have capacity to drop everything and work on their shipping rates. With such large dynamics in orders coming through stores, setting up flat rates, even coming up with average rates or implementing some sort of caching on the app ends will be next to useless, you are effectively asking all these merchants to lose for the greater good. Such a change is effectively holding a gun to their heads.

Thanks

Min

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