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eCommerce API-Why your Business Needs it & How it Works

By: Taru M. Taru M.
27 Jul, 2022

An eCommerce API allows online stores to connect to other systems and platforms to streamline data exchange and make their operations more efficient. eCommerce APIs save you time and money by automating tasks that would otherwise be manual. You can quickly and efficiently build product catalogs, inventory management systems, payment gateways, etc. It is no exaggeration to say that the API economy has transformed the eCommerce industry. Though huge technology companies like Amazon, Netflix, Stripe, etc., ushered in the growth of APIs, today, non-technical companies have been able to also scale their online businesses using them.

For example, you can integrate Payment API with your favorite eCommerce platform. A good Payment API prevents common errors like incorrect banking or credit card details, minimizes frauds, enhances security through powerful authentication features, etc. Thus, your eCommerce website can have a smooth checkout experience without reinventing the wheel.

In this blog, we’ll see how an eCommerce API works and how you can use it to improve your business.

What are APIs?

An API (Application Programming Interface) is a set of programming instructions that allow the software to interact with others. In other words, an API is a way for one piece of software to tell another piece of software what to do. For example, when you use a mobile app to book a hotel room, the app is using an API to communicate with the hotel’s reservation system. The API tells the hotel’s system what room you want, when you want it, and how many people will stay.

Two astronauts communicating with each other using APIS

APIs are a crucial part of how the internet works today. For example, Facebook has an API that allows other websites to show Facebook user data on their websites. This is how websites like “Friendster” can show your friends’ profile pictures on their websites.

What is eCommerce APIs, and how do they work?

An eCommerce API integrates your eCommerce platform with the services such as Content Management Systems, Product Information Systems, etc. The communication happens in real-time or as batch processes. When data is exchanged in real-time, the two systems are connected, and transmission occurs in a near-instantaneous fashion. This is important for things like processing customer orders and payments.

Batch data exchange, on the other hand, happens in a less timely manner. With batch data exchange, data is typically exchanged on a nightly or weekly basis. This is often used for things like inventory updates and customer information updates.

An eCommerce API allows developers to interact with an online store’s backend to retrieve data and perform actions, such as adding or updating products. These WebAPIs generally use REST (representational state transfer) architectural style. It is a more modern, faster, and simpler method that uses less bandwidth than SOAP (simple object access protocol).

Both protocols use HTTP for requests and responses with the API. The request includes information about what data is being requested or what action is being performed, and the response includes the data or the result of the action.

Our eCommerce development company can help you craft an excellent customer experience for your online store. Contact us to get a free consultation.

3 Common Types of API models

Three types of APIs are commonly used: system APIs, process APIs, and experience APIs.

System APIs

Used to access system resources and data. Developers typically use them to build software applications.

Process APIs

Used to automate business processes. Organizations often use them to integrate their various systems and data.

Experience APIs

Used to build user interfaces and create customer experiences. Designers and developers use them to create web and mobile applications.

What is a RESTful API?

REST is an acronym for Representational State Transfer and is an architectural style for building WebAPIs. RESTful APIs are Web APIs that strictly adhere to the REST design principles. Some of these principles are client-side architecture, uniform interface, caching, and statelessness.

The definition of RESTful API consists of the following three parts.

URI

A REST API uses URIs to identify resources. For example, a user resource might be identified as /users/{id} where {id} is a variable that contains the user ID.

Request and response headers

A REST API uses HTTP headers to specify the format of the data that is being transferred. For example, the Content-Type title is used to identify the data in JSON format.

Message body

A REST API uses the message body to transfer data. For example, a JSON object can represent a valuable resource.

Seven eCommerce APIs to help streamline business operations

If you’re running an eCommerce business, you use various software applications to manage different parts of your operations. APIs are the most productive way to streamline all operations on your eCommerce websites – from your inventory management system to your payments processor.

  • Product information API

    This type of API allows you to share product information between your different software applications. This can help you keep your product catalog up-to-date and ensure that your inventory management system and eCommerce platform use the same product data.

  • Inventory API

    With this API, you can access and update inventory data in real-time, making it an essential tool for businesses that manage large inventory levels. The inventory API can create, read, edit, and delete inventory data and perform other tasks such as tracking inventory levels and locations.

  • Order API

    An order API allows you to manage orders from different sources in one central place. This can help you keep track of your sales and fulfill orders more efficiently. The Order API is a great way to add eCommerce functionality to your POS system. Not only can you manage orders from your POS, but you can also use the Order API to create and manage orders from your eCommerce sites or mobile apps.

  • Shipping API

    Shipping API enables companies to automate their shipping processes, getting products to customers faster and easier. Companies can use shipping API to track shipments, label, or create shipping manifests.

  • Payments API

    There are many benefits to using a payments API. Perhaps the most obvious is that it can save the company time and money. Instead of developing and maintaining their payment processing infrastructure, they can rely on a provider specializing in this area. In addition, a payments API can provide greater security and compliance with industry regulations. When sensitive financial data is involved, it’s essential to protect it adequately.

  • Marketing automation API

    Marketing automation API is to create, manage, and track marketing campaigns. These APIs allow developers to interact with the venue and perform everyday tasks, such as creating and managing campaigns, tracking leads, and measuring results. It can also help with email marketing, social media campaigns, and targeted advertising.

  • Authentication/login API

    An authentication API is to verify the identity of a user or process. This type of API is typically used to protect sensitive data or resources. It can also help simplify the process of logging in and out of eCommerce platforms and provide an extra layer of security.

Complement with Facial Recognition APIs to know how to integrate facial recognition technology with web or mobile apps.

What are the benefits of using eCommerce APIs & Why its Important for your business?

An eCommerce API can benefit your business in many ways. Here are just a few of the many benefits of using eCommerce APIs:

  • Cost Savings

    API-based eCommerce platforms are typically more cost-effective than ones not utilizing them.

  • Agility

    API-based eCommerce platforms are more agile. This is because APIs allow you to quickly make changes to your website or mobile app without going through a lengthy deployment process.

  • Mergers and Acquisitions

    Your online business has a high probability of receiving funding. This is because APIs make it easy to integrate acquired businesses into the acquirer’s existing eCommerce infrastructure.

  • Reliability and Performance

    APIs make your eCommerce site more reliable and high performant. This is because APIs are built on robust, scalable technologies that can handle large traffic volumes.

  • Scalability

    APIs enable you to connect to new systems without changing the original program or hardware. Consequently, strengthening your entire eCommerce ecosystem. Companies can easily connect with any new system or software with a few lines of code and offer their customers more scalability and a smooth experience.

  • Partnerships and Integrations

    API-based eCommerce platforms make it easy to partner with other businesses and integrate with third-party applications. Simply because APIs provide a standardized way for different applications to communicate with each other.

  • 360-Degree Customer View

    Without analyzing the consumer data, it is tough to deliver personalized messaging. Poor digital marketing is one of the major reasons for eCommerce failures.
    Since APIs allow you to collect data from various sources and consolidate it into a single view. APIs have the potential to aid you in delivering proper contextual advertising.

How can you get started using eCommerce APIs?

If you’re thinking of using eCommerce APIs to get started with your online business, there are a few things you need to know. Here’s a quick guide to getting started with eCommerce APIs.

  • Choose an eCommerce platform

    The first step is to choose an eCommerce platform that offers APIs. Almost all popular eCommerce platforms today provide RESTful APIs.

  • Find the eCommerce API documentation

    Once you’ve chosen an eCommerce platform, you need to find the platform’s API documentation. This documentation will provide you with all the information you need to get started with its API.

  • Read the documentation

    The next step is to read the documentation thoroughly. This will help you to understand how the platform’s API works and how you can use it to add features and functionality to your online store.

  • Experiment

    Once you’ve read the documentation, it’s time to start experimenting. This will help you to learn how to use the platform’s API and see what it can do for your online store.

  • Ask for help

    If you’re having trouble understanding the documentation or are unsure how to use the platform’s API, don’t hesitate to ask for help. There are many online forums and communities where you can find help and support.

Conclusion

eCommerce shipping, order fulfillment, payment, transaction processing, etc., become more manageable with the help of APIs. The eCommerce API is the key to the success of smoother and more efficient business operations. Without a doubt, it is a powerful tool that can help you to build a robust eCommerce business.

Taru M. Author
Taru M.

For over 18 years, Taru M. is a successful technology entrepreneur by profession and a tech enthusiast by spirit. She takes pride in offering expertise in her domain to business people's success across the globe. As a business woman and technology expert, she manages to keep her balance along with her family responsibilities. She did her masters in computers, and her work delivery shows the expertise of her education. Connect with her via Linkedin profile to know more about her exciting personality

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