Exploring APIs, What Are They, & How They Impact eCommerce

Exploring APIs, What Are They, & How They Impact eCommerce

Tuesday, June 16, 2020Eric Zegarski

APIs Explained: What Are They & The Role They Play in eCommerce

In today’s business landscape, we are bombarded with acronyms. They usually become common verbiage internally within departments but come off as insider lingo outside of the department. Look no further than sitting in on a marketing chat, you’ll be left scratching your head after hearing terms like CPA, CPC, CLAC, CTR, and CLTV. Brownie point if you know these terms ;) In the eCommerce space, everyone is always talking about APIs. For those of us who are not so tech savvy, we might not know what an API is or its benefits.  

According to Merriam-Webster an API or Application Programming Interface is “a set of rules that allows programmers to develop software for a particular operating system without having to be completely familiar with that operating system”  

The Role APIs Play in eCommerce  

APIs allow for proper data flow in your eCommerce network. Thanks to APIs things like PIMs, CRMs, POS solutions, and ERPs can communicate with one another. Essentially, APIs ensure your front-end user experience is connected in the backend.  

Having these systems integrated enables your business to be agile and adapt to changes in the market. APIs allow businesses to build a tech stack that fits their needs. Merchants can add or remove systems as their business needs change. Therefore, companies are not tied down to one size fits all solution.  

With APIs, vital business data like inventory, order data, customer information can automatically flow between systems. When a system gets pinged for an info request, that’s an API call. You’ll find that each platform has their own set of guidelines when it comes to APIs. It’s important for dev teams to reference these documents to ensure they are meeting API regulations.   

For example, say a merchant is using Shopify, and relying on 5 different apps for added functionality. Another merchant is running their shop on BigCommerce using the same apps. Both Shopify and BigCommerce have their own APIs. The app must have API compliance with both Shopify and BigCommerce. The merchant does not have to worry about being complaint since API compliance is the app publisher's responsibility. If the publisher has a native integration with a given eCommerce platform, the merchant can capitalize on a plug and play connection. If you’re curious about the big 3’s API documentation below    

Common APIs That Major eCommerce Platforms Have 

ECommerce platforms don’t just have one set of API rules. Based on the functionality, they have specific API protocols. Here are common API functionalities and protocols that major eCommerce platforms have:  

Catalog API  

Catalog API protocols allow you to streamline your products and work smarter. This API allows for the synching of product data in a matter of minutes. With this API, you can access inventory levels in a speedy fashion as well as product information. Accessing vital product information like product collections, images, variants and individual products is done through this API. 

Cart API 

The cart API allows you to access information directly in your stores cart. Accessing this information allows you to make data driven decisions based on user activity. This API also allows you to pass vital information to your external CRM systems and analytics tools. Depending on the eCommerce platform, you can use this API to customize your shopping cart experience.  

Login API 

Some eCommerce service providers have a login API that enables you to connect and utilize your preferred login system. Users can login via your existing CMS system, single sign-on, on secure identity service provider. As an organization you can take advantage of things like Google Apps or SailPoint.  

Our Universal Integration Platform Utilizes APIs 

APIs allow our platform to seamlessly communicate with your vital business systems. With the use of APIs we can send data bi-directionally between eCommerce, ERP, and retail EDI systems. These APIs enable us to have pre-built connectors for leading eCommerce platforms, ERP solutions, and retail EDI trading partners. These connectors allow us to execute an integration project in a timely and effective manner. In addition, our own API allows developers to write to our platform if a pre-built connection for a specific system doesn’t exist. Furthermore, our platform is hosted in the cloud, therefore it has enough bandwidth to support an influx of API calls during the busiest shopping season.  

eBridge is hosted on Microsoft Azure, therefore ensuring an almost 99.9% uptime and industry leading security. With an integration solution from eBridge, you can ensure that your commerce network is connected and communicating data bi-directionally. 

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