Having all of your orders in one place certainly has its advantages.  Centralized data means you don't have to go to several websites, online stores, CRMs, and other locations to track down your order information,  you can easily search for orders, easily see how many orders a customer has placed, run historical reports and more.  But is keeping all of your historical order data in ShipWorks really the best option?  In this article we will take a look at some of the advantages of keeping all of your orders in ShipWorks, some of the disadvantages, and at alternatives to doing so.

The Advantages

Your All Orders filter shows that you have thousands, hundreds of thousands, maybe even a million orders or more in ShipWorks.  Congratulations!  It sure feels good to see that number grow every time you download orders.  After all, it means all of your hard work has paid off.  And, there certainly are many advantages to having all of your order data available to you in ShipWorks.  Let's take a closer look:

  • Everything's in one place. -  It sure makes it easy to locate order information when all of your orders are in ShipWorks, especially if you sell on more than one marketplace or have multiple websites connected to ShipWorks. Type an order number or customer name into the Search All Orders field and get instant results from all of your marketplaces.
  • Easy reporting. - Use filters to filter your orders into almost any category you want ( by store, dollar amount, date range, number of orders placed by customer, items on an order, etc) and easily run reports against that data.  Having all of your historical order data in ShipWorks makes running history reporting, such as year over year, really easy.
  • It's a great fallback option. - While all of your orders also live in your CRM or on your online store(s) or marketplace(s), what if something happens?  If a site goes down, for example, the orders are still in ShipWorks.
  • Business requirements. - Perhaps you need to retain order information for a required length of time.  Having all of your order data in ShipWorks is an easy way to do that.

The Disadvantages

There certainly are some great advantages to keeping all of your order data in ShipWorks. However, there are also some important disadvantages to explore when deciding just how much order history to keep on hand in ShipWorks.  Let's take a look:

  • Performance. - As more data gets stored in the ShipWorks database, performance may decrease and you may notice slowness in ShipWorks when:
    • Searching for orders. - More order data to search through means that it may take longer to display search results.
    • Updating filters. -  Any time that filters are updated (such as when you are downloading or shipping orders) ShipWorks has a lot to think about.  It has to take a look at every order and determine if the order belongs in a given filter or group of filters.  The more orders it has to sort through, the longer it may take to do so.
    • Processing shipping labels. -  There are a lot of things that go on when you process a shipping label.  Filters need to be updated, actions are being run in the background, and more.  More data in the database may mean a slower go at it.
    • Downloading orders. - As orders are downloaded into ShipWorks, ShipWorks has to decide into which filters the orders are sorted into. (see Updating Filters above) There may also be actions configured, such as printing a packing slip, when an order is downloaded.  Again, the more data to sort through, the longer these steps might take slowing down the downloading process.
    • Backing up ShipWorks. - When you run a backup of the ShipWorks database, more data means a longer backup time.
    • Upgrading ShipWorks. - Upgrading ShipWorks to a new version may take longer as well.
  • Reaching the 10GB database limit. - When you install ShipWorks, it runs on a Microsoft SQL Express Database (the free version of Microsoft SQL Server software) that has a 10 gigabyte size limit.  What this means is that when you reach the maximum of 10 gigabytes of data in the database, SQL Server encounters problems and can stop working completely.  The more order data and history stored in ShipWorks the closer to the 10 gigabyte database limit you become.
  • Microsoft SQL Express limited resources. - The Express version of Microsoft SQL Server is also limited on the amount of computer resources it can use.  For example, even if you are running a computer with multiple CPUs, Microsoft SQL Express can only utilize 1 CPU only.  What this means is that the more order data in ShipWorks, the more demand on the limited resources available which can translate into possible performance degradation.
  • Costly Upgrades. - It is possible to upgrade to the full version of Microsoft SQL Server which does not have a 10 gigabyte size limit or the limit on resources it can use.  However, the software can be costly to purchase. The full version of Microsoft SQL Server may also require that your computer be upgraded to support the software's minimum requirements.

The Trade-Off

As you can see, it comes down to a balancing act of how much data you actually need available versus performance and possibly filling up your 10 gigabyte database.  So, what is the best option for you?  The below scenarios may help.

You really don't need all of your order data in ShipWorks.  You just need order history for the past few months.  Perhaps you:

  • Only use ShipWorks for generating shipping labels.
  • Perform all of your reporting outside of ShipWorks.
  • Don't allow returns after a certain time period.
  • Keep all of your historical order data stored in a separate system.
  • Would still like to have a backup of all of your ShipWorks data, just in case you need to refer back to it in the future.

If this is you, think about setting up an action in ShipWorks that will automatically purge old data for you, leaving only the data that you need available at any given time.  This will help to keep the database size to a minimum and will assist with overall performance as well.  The great thing is that you can automate ShipWorks to create a backup of your ShipWorks database and, only after the backup completes successfully, perform a database purge.

This article will help you configure and schedule an action that will:

  • Automatically back up your ShipWorks database
  • Automatically run a database purge only after the database is backed up successfully

You need to keep all of your ShipWorks data in the ShipWorks database.  Perhaps you:

  • Run frequent, historical reports in ShipWorks.
  • Use ShipWorks for Customer Relations Management, Analytics, Reporting, and more.  Having all of your order data from multiple sources in one place is very important.

This may require upgrading to the full version of Microsoft SQL Server and may require upgrading your computer's hardware to meet the requirements of SQL Server.  Take a look at the following article.  It may help you decide what you need.

What are the ShipWorks System Requirements

Other Frequently Asked Questions

Can I easily copy data from ShipWorks into an Excel Spreadsheet?

Yes, you can.  It's really easy to do.  Check out this article on how to do exactly that.

I'd like to make sure that ShipWorks is running at its best.  How can I do this?

Check out the following article.  It should help.

Optimizing ShipWorks Performance

Still Need Help?

Please feel free to reach out to one of our awesome Customer Care representatives in St. Louis. We are happy to help.