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API eCommerce: The Role of APIs In The Shopping Journey

Kaya Ismail • 22 April 2022

Nowadays, eCommerce stores rely on several moving parts. It all starts with an eCommerce platform to manage inventory, process orders, etc. But the tech stacks of today include frontend tools, marketing tools a CMS, PIM, CRM, and more. 


To make this all work you need APIs. Adopting an API-first approach can have a tremendous impact on your customer’s shopping journey and increase revenue.

API ecommerce explained

What Is An API?

An application programming interface (API) is a set of functions that enables different software tools to communicate. APIs allow data from one software application to be easily transmitted to another application. 


For example, when you open the weather widget on your phone to see if it will rain today, that data is provided by an API. The weather app on your phone connects to the Internet and sends a request to the server for the information you want to receive. The server processes that request and then returns the data you were looking for via the API— today’s weather conditions.  


APIs are critical for the microservices-based approach that many software systems are built on today. They enable single-function applications to be combined into one system, transferring data between each application and providing eCommerce stores with the added flexibility they need today. 

What Is the API Economy?

Modern businesses recognize that they need to be API-first rather than simply patching a system together. Since APIs have enabled increased connectivity between applications, even if they don’t have the same internal structures, businesses have discovered how critical APIs can be to their success. This has sparked the idea of the API economy, which refers to how APIs can provide value and profitability for a business.  


APIs enable businesses to be more agile, innovative, and efficient. They make it easier to integrate with different tools and systems, share information, leverage third-party applications, etc. For eCommerce stores, in particular, the effects of the API economy can be seen in the impact on the customer experience. 


How APIs Impact the Shopping Experience

Customers don’t want to just access your eCommerce store on their computers. They want to be able to buy products from their phones, tablets, social media profiles, and more. You also don’t want to provide the exact same shopping experience as your competitors. You might want to add a chatbot for support and an AI based site-search like Algolia and more. APIs make this possible. 


Firstly, you can create unique shopping experiences on all of these channels using frontend tools and headless commerce. You can also connect all of the systems in your tech stack and share data between them. This way you get a better understanding of your customers while they get a better shopping experience, all through the power of APIs. 


Why APIs Matter to eCommerce (Benefits of APIs)

If you’re building a modern eCommerce technology stack, you need to ensure that your systems are API-first. Here are the benefits APIs can bring to your store: 


Better Security

APIs can improve the security of your eCommerce store by enabling headless commerce. In headless commerce, the frontend and backend of your store are separated but can communicate using APIs. This decoupled approach reduces the surface area that malicious actors can target as problems with the frontend don’t have to impact the backend and vice versa. As a result, your customer data can be more easily protected from hackers and other security threats. 


Reusability

There was a time when connecting different software tools required tons of developer expertise and time. Nowadays, your team doesn’t have to create new integrations every time you want to add a new system because you can reuse existing APIs to form connections. For eCommerce brands this means less IT-costs and a faster time to market. 


Extensibility

The world of eCommerce is constantly changing, and that means you may find yourself adjusting the tools in your tech stack to meet different market conditions and buyer needs. APIs enable you to extend the functionality of your eCommerce store by easily connecting to additional tools and systems. 


Scalability

APIs make growing your business easier due to the extensibility they provide. As your software needs change, you can add more to your existing system using the same reusable API connections. 


Partnerships 

Today’s most profitable businesses have several partners as part of their ecosystem. APIs enable you to create a similar ecosystem for your eCommerce store, integrating the best tools for your tech stack, swapping out those that don’t quite fit anymore, and sharing data between the software products. 


Ecommerce API Use Cases

Ecommerce APIs enable you to break elements of eCommerce functionality into smaller pieces rather than have everything tightly coupled in one system. These APIs allow you to connect different services to your eCommerce platform so that you can create a best-of-breed ecosystem. 


Headless Commerce & Frontend Experiences

Headless commerce allows you to create an eCommerce storefront on any device. You can connect a headless CMS to help manage content across these multiple channels and use a frontend as a service solution to create the storefront interface for your customers and connect it to your eCommerce platform in the backend using an API.


Warehouse & Inventory Management

Inventory management is a critical piece of the eCommerce puzzle. You can choose a best-in-class inventory management platform to help you organize and track your products, connect to your storage warehouse, and use an API to share all relevant information with your other tools.


Shipping

Customers nowadays expect one and two-day shipping thanks to the service they already receive from websites like Amazon. You can use an API to connect your eCommerce store to a third-party shipping service that helps you manage your orders, distribution centers, and more so that products reach customers on time. 


Payments

Customers want the flexibility to pay using different options, currencies and more. You can add a payment gateway to your eCommerce store and connect it using an API.


POS Systems

The popularity of eCommerce has enabled more products to be sold online than ever before, but many companies still have brick-and-mortar stores for their products. You can connect to these point-of-sale systems using APIs to deliver a seamless experience for customers, whether they’re shopping online or in-store. 


Social Media

Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and more are growing in popularity as places for selling products to customers rather than just advertising. APIs enable you to connect social media feeds to your site and vice versa so that your customers can toggle from your social media pages to your product page quickly and easily.


Sales & CRM

The vast amount of data on your customers needs to be stored somewhere. You can connect your sales systems and CRM to your eCommerce store using APIs to share relevant data easily. 


Martech Tools

The best eCommerce experiences include more than just listing products on your store. Martech tools that enable automation, personalization and more can be connected using APIs to make managing your eCommerce store easier and help deliver a better customer experience.   


How Instant Commerce Leverages APIs

APIs are some of the most powerful pieces of technology that eCommerce stores have available. Instant Commerce is a no-code headless storefront solution that leverages APIs to help you step into the future of eCommerce. 


Using our front end as a service tool, you can go headless and create engaging experiences for your customers on any channel without being dependent on developers. Instant Commerce also provides seamless out-of-the-box integrations with leading tools such as Shopify, Storyblok, Mailchimp, Algolia, Klayvio, Google Tag Manager, Yotpo, Gorgias, Recharge, and many more. 


Get ready to create better front-end experiences, increase your site performance, get more conversions and avoid developer dependencies.   


Author / Writer
Kaya Ismail
Content Marketer

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