12 API Features for Successful eCommerce Sites Posted in Strategy Alex Husar November 10, 2021 Let’s imagine the Internet as a restaurant. You sit and read the menu and place an order. You don’t go directly to the chef, do you? Instead, there is an intermediary between you and the kitchen — a waiter. APIs, or application programming interfaces, work the same way. They help applications access data and communicate with third-party software. For example, say you press the “Add to Cart” button on an online shop. An API tells the website to add a product to your cart, and you see an updated version on the screen. You’ve probably heard of modern technologies to aid eCommerce, such as augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR), the Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence (AI). But the thing is, you need to unite them all. And the solution is to use APIs. How do APIs help online stores? They ensure easier transactions, secure shopping, and user-friendliness. Developers can utilize eCommerce APIs to transmit data from one software to another and then use it in a single user interface. Let’s browse the benefits of eCommerce and API integration and review a list of essential API elements to include in your online store. Why You Need to Incorporate APIs Into Your eCommerce Platform There are various ways eCommerce sites can benefit from APIs. They can help grow a company’s brand, streamline product search, and increase earning potential by selling products on sites like eBay, Amazon, and Facebook. Note that you need to ensure a fast response when a user makes API calls or loads your store. Thus, it’s recommended to implement Magento performance optimization tips or the optimizations that suit your CMS. Now let’s proceed to some of the reasons why APIs are so vital to eCommerce companies. 1. Extending the Functionality of an Application or Website APIs connect various software components. They allow these components to communicate with one another by receiving and responding to requests. This can improve the operation of a program or website, allowing you to perform tasks quicker. It also makes information sharing easier. All these factors increase a developer’s productivity. 2. Protecting the Online Store How do APIs make software systems more secure? With their help, users can safely request data from your systems. APIs can employ security features like encryption to keep your eCommerce data safe. Let’s assume you send a request. You don’t link to the server directly. Instead, you transmit little quantities of data to the API, which delivers it to the server, and the server returns the request. This design pattern can reduce data breach cases or unauthorized access to a server’s backend. 3. Scalability When it comes to increasing the store inventory, security, or data demands, you won’t find anything better than APIs. How can your store grow faster? Because you don’t have to factor in new code for every single product or customer. APIs allow you to connect to any new system without modifying the existing program or hardware. You’ll just write a few lines of code to handle more complicated transactions. 4. Synchronization API integration enables you to pick and select your online store elements from other applications and programs. It means you can develop a platform that meets your individual company’s demands, allowing you to coordinate your operations workflow logically. How can a company use integrated systems to its advantage? It can connect to other companies’ software and apps to effectively handle their data, shipping channels, products, and services. Three General Types of API Models 1. Experience APIs You use these APIs to reconfigure data. As a result, you can deliver the same data in different formats according to users’ needs. It means no need to set up separate integrations for each channel. Experience APIs create a single data source for all of them. 2. Process APIs Process APIs are used when integrating different systems in an IT ecosystem. They assist in the creation of separate data source points. It eliminates data silos inside and across systems. Importantly, process APIs don’t rely on other systems but help businesses wishing to enhance their present IT infrastructure. 3. System APIs A system API is a layer on top of a system to handle all of the system’s unique connection quirks and settings. It then exposes these resources to the rest of your APIs in a standard way. It allows you to change your present system and construct a new system API with different adapter logic. 12 Robust API Elements for eCommerce Success 1. Site Search API Suppose you sell a large and diversified range of products. There are thousands of brands, sizes, colors, prices, etc. A customer can get frustrated when looking at an endless list of goods, can’t they? A site search option helps to swiftly locate and acquire the particular product while also assisting visitors in discovering new brands. Learning Search is an example of SLI Systems’ site search API, which you may observe below. Screenshot taken on the official SLI Systems YouTube channel 2. Catalog API This API feature aids in working with the product catalog, i.e., creation, editing, and management. A large inventory can make it harder to update your product line manually. Catalog APIs enable you to do it swiftly. This API ensures smooth interaction with various eCommerce systems such as point-of-sale systems, inventory management, financial reporting, etc. You can see the BigCommerce catalog API in the screenshot below. Screenshot taken on the official BigCommerce website 3. Product Information API A product information API is an eCommerce API allowing retailers to extract product information, including: product IDs; descriptions; full product titles; detailed product specifications; product and brand images; pricing information; quantity-based discounts; among others. Asos API is an example of this API type. Screenshot taken on the official RapidAPI website 4. Price Comparison API A price comparison eCommerce API gathers pricing data from different sources. Retailers can use the API to see their products’ value on the market, altering their prices to stay competitive. To illustrate my point, PriceTree provides a price comparison API. Screenshot taken on the official PriceTree website 5. Personalized Recommendations API Do you want an 80% increase in your sales? Statistics prove 80% of consumers are more eager to buy when there is a personalized experience. This is where personalization APIs or recommendation engines come in handy. These technologies assess a visitor’s browsing activity and then recommend relevant products or items. It streamlines discovering the right product and allows the shopper to try out new brands or things. Recombee is one of such [useful APIs] (https://nordicapis.com/8-new-and-useful-apis-from-2021). Screenshot taken on the official Recombee website 6. Social Proof API Social proof entails customer reviews, Facebook likes, Twitter comments, etc. They increase customer trust and prove your site is selling. Social widgets or a social proof API are simple ways to highlight relevant social media activity to site visitors. You can tweak and add developer APIs from social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to your website. Fomo is an example of this type of eCommerce API. It transmits real-time sales activity to web users, such as purchases and newsletter sign-ups. This proof could encourage other potential consumers to do the same and convert. For example, when you visit the Matchaeologist website, you can see Fomo notifications down the page. They tell you the buyer’s name, location, and the product they ordered. You can click on this pop-up and go to the product page. Screenshot taken on the official Matchaeologist website 7. Cart API A cart API is a vital eCommerce feature that gives merchants access to their consumers’ shopping carts. It enables you to integrate a personalized customer experience at checkout. This may include: discounts; coupons; B2B-specific features like invoicing; and so on. To provide an example, API2Cart is a cart API solution. Screenshot taken on the official API2Cart website 8. Login API Some eCommerce sites may require you to log in before making a purchase. It helps to keep data in the system if you want to order more than once. A login eCommerce API allows retailers to implement this functionality. To give you an idea, check out the BigCommerce login API. This feature enables you to link your BigCommerce user accounts to your preferred login systems. You can activate login via Active Directory, Google Apps, Okta, SailPoint, OneLogin, and many other services using the proven SAML standard. Screenshot taken on the official BigCommerce website And here we come to a variation of this API. Let’s look at a social login API. 9. Social Login API This API removes the effort of creating an account. Customers can log into your online store with their social media accounts, such as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. They skip the account creation procedure with just one click, making a buying decision faster. 10. Shipping API This type of API is responsible for automatically calculating shipping rates for your customers at checkout or when they add products to their carts. Why does an online store need a shipping API? First of all, it’s convenient to know your potential spending. It also prevents customers from being frustrated with shipping prices at the very end of the purchase. Some clients may cancel their orders due to shipping rates, so you’ll lose your conversions and revenue. Having a shipping API can help you avoid this. Shipping APIs can also automate the creation of shipping labels and tracking numbers. One shipping API is ShipHawk, which allows you to incorporate shipping services into your existing systems. Screenshot taken on the official ShipHawk website 11. Payment API Is your website equipped with electronic payments? If it is, include a payment API as an intermediary between the store and the processor. This API ensures secure and reliable electronic payments on the eCommerce site, including: processing credit cards; tracking orders; keeping client lists up to date; preventing fraud and data breaches. It also expands your customer base if you offer numerous payment alternatives. Case in point, Square APIs cater to online and offline merchants who want to integrate payment processing into their websites or POS apps. Screenshot taken on the official Square website 12. Currency Exchange Rate API Let’s assume a British customer wants to buy a coat from a US store. The issue may arise regarding the proper currency rate. Currency exchange APIs allow international merchants to change money for different locations. One example of this is XE Currency Data API. Conclusion Your online should satisfy your target audience with competitive prices, an extensive product selection, and a slick website design, among other aspects. However, you won’t accomplish that much without the appropriate eСommerce APIs. APIs help you streamline your business operations, expand your brand’s reach, direct your customers to the desired products, and much more. For example, you can simplify eCommerce shipping, order fulfillment, or personalize product recommendations. Every decision regarding your eCommerce firm should assist you in reaching your objectives. So why not provide your website with the features to make each sale stress-free and straightforward? That’s why eCommerce developers should consider implementing APIs.