API is short for an application programming interface. The term refers to a code or software that intermediates between two applications so that they can communicate and share data. The code or software is made up of a set of routines and protocols that dictate how other applications should interact with each other.
When applied to eCommerce, APIs allow website systems and eCommerce platforms to handle and share information. This can cover services such as order management, customer data, pricing, and personalization. Through APIs, enterprises enjoy speed and efficiency in their services, as well as growth in the long term.
How Do APIs work?
To understand how APIs work, you can think of them as messengers. An API translates the data from one application that is then sent to another application. The data received by the second application is now usable, thanks to the intermediating API.
Through APIs, applications can communicate smoothly and efficiently. They can connect the eCommerce system with other important back-end systems, such as product information management, order management system, content management system, point-of-sale, etc. When the transfer of information is accurate and smooth, it also supports other organization goals like growing revenue and nurturing customer relationships.
Types of API Models
APIs are often organized into three types:
- Systems APIs: APIs that fall under this category make it easier to access core systems such as ERP, CRM, and FTP servers that are often complex.
- Process APIs: These APIs are important for integrating different systems as they dissect and break down data silos. These are not dependent on the source or the destination systems.
- Experience APIs: These APIs allow data to be shared and accessed across channels while coming from a single, common data source. The data can be read in different formats depending on the user’s purpose.
Benefits of APIs
Ecommerce APIs make it easier for businesses to automate and streamline their operations. The result is a solid platform that brands and customers alike can rely on. The following are also some of the benefits of using APIs:
- Scalability. Using APIs makes it easy for brands to connect to other systems and programs without changing the existing ecosystem.
- Extended functionality of the system. APIs allow seamless interaction between software and programs, enabling the job to be done quicker.
- Heightened security. APIs add an extra layer of protection for brands through encryption. This is essential, especially when brands handle sensitive customer information.
- Reusable programs. APIs do not need to be reconfigured every time they are in use. This, in turn, increases the productivity of your organization’s developers.