1) What Exactly is an eCommerce API?
When you’re trying to scale up your online business, the first phrase that should pop into your head is ecommerce API. For anyone asking, “What is an ecommerce API?”, we’ll give you a quick explanation. An ecommerce application programming interface is a software tool that can be programmed by online stores to automate and simplify a wide range of fulfillment processes.
2) How to Use an eCommerce API?
API integrations are used in every facet of ecommerce, especially when it comes to providing a rock solid customer experience. These APIs are programmed to receive instructions and perform functions, reducing the need for excessive manual effort. They take care of everything a good online store needs to keep things running smoothly like shopping carts, payment, and tracking orders.
An important yet often overlooked example of ecommerce API can be seen in the mechanism used for displaying EDD (Estimated Delivery Dates). This API functions systematically as a response to specific data inputted, i.e., the customer’s address information (like pincodes or districts). Once the info has been entered, the EDD API runs through collected data on your carriers’ delivery performances. Accordingly, it displays an approximate date of delivery to the customer, which can help customers make a quick choice to move from the product page to checkout.
3) What are the Most Common eCommerce API Models
The best way to find the ecommerce APIs you need is to understand the different types of APIs available and what models they fall under. We’ll get to the types in a minute. But first we’ll discuss what an ecommerce API model is. These models categorize the various APIs based on their functionality and manner of use. Because each model plays a different role in your backend support, you’d likely need ecommerce APIs that fall under all three. This brief explanation will tell you why.
3.1) System APIs
For getting tasks done, information processed or passed on, and automating any process, ecommerce businesses (and pretty much all online platforms) rely on system APIs. System APIs are what you’d call the talkers, communicating with other system APIs, regardless of respective coding language (SOAP, REST, etc.,) to perform specific functions. So function-oriented eCommerce API integrations like shipping API or checkout API, come under this model.
3.2) Process APIs
Process APIs, also known as Client APIs are what come into play when integrating with multiple systems or even for integrations within a single system. At times like this, data silos tend to form so process APIs help break them down by creating separate databases for managing information. It does so by connecting various system APIs without interfering in their functioning or communication. It essentially acts as an orchestrator for the network of system APIs, and they are the overarching APIs used by ecommerce businesses and service providers.
Under the model of Experience APIs, you will find all APIs that handle organization and display of data. Hence they play a vital role in both User Experience for admins and customer experience for ecommerce businesses. For example, when it comes to ecommerce shipping, experience APIs are what display delivery statuses on order management dashboards, like the one provided by ClickPost. The EDD API mentioned above may also fall under this category.
4) 5 Most Common Types of eCommerce API
Now that we've understood what ecommerce API models are, the next thing you need to look at are the API types. The different types of eCommerce API, in particular, are usually discernible based on the functions they carry out and therefore their overall operational role. Just like how many different types of API can fall under a single model, there are a myriad of ecommerce API that fall under these varying types. Let’s take a look at the ecommerce API types that you’re likely to need.
4.1) Marketing API
A Marketing API will help you automate a wide range of functions related to marketing. For example, Facebook’s marketing API uses data provided by advertisers to ensure ads are displayed in a targeted and strategic manner. Marketing APIs enable you to use information on customer behavior to better sell your brand.
4.2) Inventory API
An Inventory API is used to integrate your inventory and stock management services with your overarching system. This type of API helps you keep track of incoming and outgoing stock, while also aiding you in organization of your inventory. More advanced Inventory API will be able to give you stock forecasts and predictions so customers can never place orders for out-of-stock items.
4.3) Catalog API
A catalog API makes sure you and your customers have access to complete indexes of your products and batches of products. These ecommerce APIs create search systems for filtering and locating products within your catalog. They may even include information and specifications on the product as well as endpoint references.
4.4) Courier API
Courier API typically refers to the API used to integrate your ecommerce business with a specified courier company. Most courier companies have their own independent APIs for integration, which enables you to create orders and receive status updates from them. Courier API may also refer to an API that lists all your integrated carriers, so you may review their performances and select an appropriate carrier for any given order.
4.5) Channels API
If you’re tied up with a selling channel or multiple selling channels like Shopify, Magento, or Woocommerce, a channels API is a must-have. Using this API, you can easily integrate with these sales channels to ensure your storefront and your backend are synchronized. As soon as an order is placed on your selling channel, your internal system takes note of the same.
4.6) Shipping API
There is a wide range of shipping APIs that are used by online businesses. In fact, it’s among the most vital of ecommerce APIs. This is because shipping APIs take care of the bulk of the work that goes into ensuring each order reaches the respective customer safely. Shipping APIs can help you determine which shipping partner is best, what the ideal transportation routes are and even address difficulties that may pop up during delivery.
4.7) Login API
Login APIs are exactly what they sound like, they are programming interfaces that take care of login-related functions. It works to authenticate login IDs of users, collect login records and create a database to search through these records. These APIs are also used for taking note of new credentials and retrieving login information later.
4.8) Validation API
Given how much information is usually submitted by customers on online stores, from login information to contact details, a validation API is just what you need. Validation APIs verify this information by checking the values inputted by customers. This is exceptionally important when it comes to customer addresses during delivery. You can reduce delivery failures drastically with an effective validation API.
4.9) Tracking API
The most recognizable Tracking APIs are those used for tracking orders during delivery. Most shipping labels have barcodes that are scanned at each passing location to notify carriers of the delivery progress. Tracking APIs pull that information from carriers straight onto the respective ecommerce websites. Use of more high-end tracking updates can ensure order status updates are provided in real time.
4.10) Payment API
Payment APIs are used to speed up the process of accepting and receiving payments from customers to ecommerce businesses. They allow payment gateways to quickly and securely collect payment information from customers and process it with minimal delay. Automating this process with the help of payment APIs simplifies the checkout process, maximizing order volumes. These APIs can work for credit cards, debit cards and wallet payments.
The goal of this article was to take you on a journey through the finer details of what an ecommerce API is. The purpose of ecommerce APIs is to help online enterprises to keep up with the rising demands of customers and the rising competition of the market. And they perform this task splendidly. As you read above, there are ecommerce APIs built and designed to cover nearly every potential need that an online store may have to fulfill for its customers’ satisfaction. From easier logins to order tracking and even returns management, ecommerce APIs are bringing the future of online shopping to the present.