What Are eCommerce APIs?
As technology continues to advance, entrepreneurs benefit by adapting and implementing changes effectively into their business strategy. Today, we’ll discuss what eCommerce APIs are and how they can be utilized to scale your online store.
What Is an API?
First, let’s define a traditional API. The acronym stands for Application Programming Interface and refers to the interaction between multiple software applications and/or hardware intermediaries.
In other words, an API sends and retrieves information to and from another source. Then, it brings it back to the user without him or her having to leave your site. An API “connects” two parties together in the same manner that a waiter in a restaurant “connects” a customer with the kitchen.
What Is an eCommerce API?
Now, having defined an API in a broad, basic way, let’s narrow down its functionality specifically for eCommerce.
Essentially, developers utilize APIs for any number of eCommerce operations: shopping carts, payment screens, and customer orders are just the beginning. In fact, with headless eCommerce, developers decouple a store’s front-end from the back, allowing API calls to facilitate commerce without the need for a fixed design template. APIs also help entrepreneurs integrate with third-party business applications for seamless simplification.
How Is an eCommerce API Used?
Many businesses use APIs to enhance customer operations without a full-scale site redesign. For example, APIs can allow you to create a customer portal, to which users log in using accounts they already have - like Google or Facebook.
Another beneficial example is the display of social proof. By using a simple API call to your existing social media pages, you can display positive customer feedback on areas of your site that matter the most. Plus, some large businesses use an API to display competitors' pricing on their site, in a helpful, persuasive price comparison chart.
Clearly, the options to enhance the customer experience on your site by utilizing an API are truly endless.
As a result of APIs, business owners can sell their products on any internet-equipped device, like voice assistants, in-store interface screens, smart mirrors, and so much more. It allows entrepreneurs virtually endless selling options, without any development or design constraints.
Plus, headless eCommerce increases the efficiency and productivity of developers and designers, since the two can work concurrently alongside each other, rather than waiting for one team to finish before the other can begin. Thus, entrepreneurs can deploy new strategies and solutions faster, making the best use of valuable time.
Business Program Integrations:
Additionally, APIs allow business owners to integrate their stores and store dashboards with technologies they are already using - or those they wish to utilize in the future. In other words, entrepreneurs can simplify and streamline business operations, organization, and analytics (just to name a few) by developing an API integration to do so.
So, how does it actually work? The API will transfer data from one program to another, eliminating the need for monotonous data entry. This enables business owners to take advantage of multiple business solutions, without having to build a program from scratch with which to do so.
For example, many entrepreneurs utilize Shopify as their storefront, QuickBooks for accounting, and another software solution for warehousing and fulfillment. When an order comes in on Shopify, APIs can automatically publish that transaction to QuickBooks while simultaneously sending the order to the warehouse for packing and shipping. This is all completed automatically, via API - reducing the opportunity for human error and saving the business precious time.