Table of Contents

Core Concepts

Cory M. Updated by Cory M.

This article outlines the core data types and concepts within ShipStream and is a good place to start to familiarize yourself before diving deeper. The sections below are organized to match the main menu items in the ShipStream user interface.


The Shipping menu deals with the data pertaining to outbound operations.

Orders represent a request by a merchant to pick, pack and ship a set of items to a given destination. When an order is ready to ship it will be processed into one or more Shipments depending on many factors. Orders are not necessarily assigned to a specific warehouse or shipping method as these can be assigned dynamically based on the customer needs and preferences.

Shipments represent a subset of items that should be picked, packed and shipped at a specific warehouse via a specific shipping method. A shipment may also be referred to as a Packing Slip since each Packing Slip will represent only one shipment. An Order may have multiple Shipments and a Shipment may be packed out using multiple Packages.

Packages represent a subset of items from a Shipment that were packed into the same container. Each package will typically have a unique tracking number and can be loaded onto a Manifest independently of other packages.

Collected Data represents the data that may have been collected during packing a Shipment such as product serial numbers, variable item weights, etc.

Packing Solutions are the answer to the question, "Given a set of items, what container and infill should be used to pack them and how?"

Packing Solution Overrides record instances when the packer determined that an assigned Packing Solution was not suitable and needed to be overridden with a different solution.

Packaging Features are physical or conceptual products used in the process of packing a shipment and include containers, supplies, infill, instructions and data collection. You may define any number of Packaging Features and use several strategies of assigning them to an order, shipment, item or each to help ensure that proper supplies are used and processes followed.


The Receiving menu deals with the data pertaining to inbound operations and some internal operations.

ASNs (Advanced Shipment Notifications) represent a set of items that are expected to be received at the warehouse around a given data and to be processed into the warehouse inventory to be made available for order. This is typically stock that was purchased from a supplier and is now being delivered to the warehouse for storage until it is used to fulfill an order.

ASNs > Shipping Labels are labels generated by ShipStream to be used by the sender for the inbound shipment of the ASN.

RMAs (Return Merchandise Authorizations) represent a set of items that are expected to be received at the warehouse and processed into the warehouse inventory to be made available for order. This is typically stock that is being returned from a customer.

RMAs > Return Labels are labels generated by ShipStream to be used by the sender for the inbound shipment of the RMA.

Other Deliveries are similar to ASNs and RMAs but can be used for purposes that do not fit those definitions such as warehouse transfers.

Cancellations represent a set of items that were picked in the warehouse but the order was canceled or the shipment reverted and so the inventory needs to be re-stocked. These are created automatically to prevent inventory in the warehouse from being unaccounted for.

Work Order Outputs represent the finished product of a Work Order which is ready to be re-stocked into the warehouse.

Container Types are user-defined types of vessels for receiving ASNs, RMAs, and Other Deliveries, for example, a Pallet or a Carton.


The Catalog menu deals with data pertaining to the definition of product information and the inventory at rest.

Products refer to the catalog of SKUs being sold by the merchant. Each product belongs to one merchant and each merchant's products are unique to that merchant (merchant SKUs may overlap with other merchants but one merchant cannot have overlapping SKUs).

Product Attributes make up the information about a product. You can control which properties are hidden, required or restricted and add your own custom attributes.

Bill of Materials (BOMs) describe relationships between products such that one product can be substituted with one or more other products either on-demand or through a kitting process. BOMs that are kitted on demand can have their own "virtual" inventory and be interchanged for other SKUs representing different quantities of the same product (e.g. you can pick single units from a location that is stocked as cases).

Lots/Expirations track when a product was received, lot numbers and expiration dates and allow you to easily enforce policies like First-In, First-Out (FIFO) or First-Expire, First-Out (FEFO).

Inventory Snapshots give you a point-in-time view of what was in your warehouse at a given time and can be scheduled to be recorded automatically multiple times per day.

Lot Types allow you to define what information should be gathered and what rules should apply to all products that are designated with a given Lot Type. For example, perishables may have a different Lot Type than non-perishables.

Regulations may be setup and assigned to products that have special requirements and shipping restrictions, typically "Dangerous Goods". Common examples include aerosol cans, lithium-ion batteries, caustic chemicals, etc.


The Operations menu deals with data pertaining to operations that are neither inbound (Receiving) nor outbound (Shipping).

Picking Batches are a group of one or more Shipments that are to be picked as a group.

Cart Types define the name and physical capacities of the carts or machines (e.g. fork lifts) that are available for the picking process.

Picking Classes are the user-defined classifications of Shipments which are used to segment the shipments into groups in order to streamline operations.

Bulk Fulfill Orders are similar to Picking Batches in that they represent a group of Shipments, but the Shipments are all composed of identical sets of items so that they can be picked and packed using a process that is optimized for greater throughput given that the Shipments are all similar.

Relocations track in-progress and completed instances when a user invoked the Relocation feature to "pull" inventory from one location and "push" it to another. Relocations can also be used to convert product from one SKU to another when the two represent different quantities of the same product without using a BOM.

Work Orders represent an order for the components of a BOM to be picked and assembled into the parent product of the BOM using a simple assembly line process.

Manifests represent a set of completed packages that belong to the same Manifest Courier and help track the location of completed packages before they leave the warehouse and ensure they are loaded onto the correct transports.

Action Log allows you to see all operational actions performed by the users. This is often visible as a tab on other pages which contains the same data already filtered down to the item being viewed such as on an order page.

Stock Movement Log records every change to inventory items such as when an order is received and allocated to a warehouse or a shipment is picked from the shelf. This is often visible as a tab on other pages which contains the same data already filtered down to the item being viewed, such as on a product or order page.


The Operations > Warehouse menu deals with the organization of the warehouse.

Locations are individual slots or places where product inventory can be stored. They are assigned to a Location Type which determines if they are "Pickable" or not, as well as a Rack which helps determine their proximity in the warehouse to other locations.

Racks are a group of Locations having a name and pattern to match against locations which the rack is assumed to contain as well as a sort order along the warehouse's pick route.

Zones are a grouping of Racks which have neighbor zones to help provide an approximation of proximity between racks which is used to increase clustering of picking batches.

License Plates are reusable barcodes used to help tag Work Order Outputs as items are being assembled before they are returned to stock.

Location Types allow you to designate names for different types of locations and ensure that as new locations are added the Location Type and Pickable status is assigned appropriately.


The Operations > Staff menu deals with features related to time tracking of the users which have time tracking enabled.

Time Entry Log contains every time interval in which a user was clocked with an active status.

Time Report allows users to generate reports summarizing how staff users' time was spent in a given time period.


The Rating menu deals with features pertaining to Rate Shopping which is the process of assigning shipping methods to shipments dynamically based on the most cost efficient choices available in a given circumstance.

Rate Groups are sets of Rate Plans which together represent a complete set of data needed for rate shopping the appropriate services.

Merchant Rates allow you to assign one or more Merchants to a Rate Group to be active for a defined period of time.

Zone/Transit/DAS Maps are the tables which map postal codes to zones, transit times and surcharge areas.


The System menu deals with all of the other components and features of ShipStream which should typically be managed carefully by an administrator.

Configuration is where all other system settings are managed using an inheritance hierarchy to simplify managing configuration for a large number of warehouses and merchants while providing massive flexibility tailored to the needs of each warehouse and merchant.

Users are the unique logins for each person who uses ShipStream. Client Users are the users who belong to a Merchant and can only log in and see data limited to their merchant scope through the Client portal. Both types of users are assigned to a User Role which determines what permissions they have in order to see or modify different types of data in ShipStream.

Warehouses represent a physical warehouse, typically geographically separate from other warehouses which helps silo users to operations that are in their geographical reach.

Merchants and Brands are used to identify your clients and their business profiles. Each merchant has a completely separate set of products, orders, ASNs, inventory, etc. from all other merchants. Each order is also assigned to a specific brand. For a 3PL, each client is typically represented by a separate merchant but for non-3PL using ShipStream there is only one merchant.

Import and Export are features for bulk loading or exporting of data into and out of ShipStream.

Scripts are pieces of code which ShipStream will execute at specific times to allow the user a greater degree of control over the way ShipStream behaves. This embedded code allows the user to customize ShipStream with advanced business logic that is highly specific to your needs without the need to implement new features into the ShipStream core.


The Integrations menu contains the features that pertain to integrating with systems outside of ShipStream such as ERPs, shopping carts, and custom automations.

Merchant API Users are accounts which are used to access the ShipStream APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) which allow external systems to "talk" to ShipStream in a predictable and reliable way.

Merchant Integrations are instances of a specific connection to a third-party service using one of ShipStream's officially supported plugins.

Webhooks are messages that are sent in near real-time to outside systems to enable fast responses to events as they are occurring within ShipStream.

EDI Documents are the documents that are either received from external trading partners or generated by ShipStream and sent to external trading partners. EDI functionality is implemented with our SPS Commerce integration.

Errors are recorded when an integration operation fails. These errors provide information that is helpful to troubleshoot issues and allow the user to easily retry failed operations or mark them as resolved when they are no longer relevant.


The Shipping menu contains the features in ShipStream that are closely related to the shipping process.

Third Party Billing allows one to ship using their own account credentials but bill fees to a third-party. They are organized into groups so that when using multiple carriers you can assign one Third Party Billing Group and still choose between different carriers without breaking the connection.

Shipping Accounts represent the users shipping accounts and credentials that are used to communicate with third-party carriers. They are organized into groups for ease of maintenance and highly customizable to specific needs.

External Shipping Methods live alongside the officially supported shipping methods but allow you to define your own custom methods and API integrations to obtain shipping labels from any outside system with the same operational efficiency as the officially supported carriers.

Virtual Shipping Methods allow you to define one option for the customer to choose which will use rate shopping among any number of other real shipping methods to find the cheapest shipping method for each shipment taking into consideration a multitude of information in real-time.

Manifest Couriers represent the different pickup drivers which will accept completed shipments. The Manifest Couriers are used by the Loading feature to ensure the shipments always make it onto the correct trucks.

Service Levels represent a weekly schedule of "cutoff" times at which point an order will be assigned a Target Ship Date of either the current day or the next business day allowing you to promise your customers a level of service and focus your operations on the shipments which are needing to be completed first.


The Scanner UI is a mobile-friendly user interface that is highly optimized to be lightweight, intuitive, self-guiding, and barcode-driven. This system integrates with your warehouse hardware to make the various processes performed inside the warehouse frustration-free and error-free.

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