When web APIs first began appearing everywhere, they were mere supplemental technologies. Has anyone else noticed that they have now become standalone products?

APIs have merged into nearly all spheres of life, not to mention eCommerce. Without APIs, there wouldn’t be online retailing as we know it today.

This integration-oriented mindset creates more intelligent and efficient software and tooling. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the most relevant eCommerce areas that rely on APIs to power their software systems.

1. Chatbots

Chatbots are making a quiet revolution in the corporate world. Slowly but steadily they are replacing search engines and virtual assistants.

The core purpose of any chatbot is to automate routine communication tasks. In eCommerce, they serve as a customer support option to help engage with shoppers. To make that happen an eCommerce chatbot has to “communicate” seamlessly with the shopping cart databases.

The integrations the industry needs:

  • Shopping carts and marketplaces.For a chatbot system, an online store is a source of information about the products, categories, and orders. Accessing and processing this information in real time requires building API integration with shopping carts.
  • Payment gateways. Without integrated payments, the chatbot ecosystem is akin to iOS apps before Apple introduced in-app payments: while there were some useful and engaging experiences, it was difficult for brands to drive revenue.
  • Inventory systems. Integration ensures the stock and placement of products through photo capture and analysis and comparison to planograms.
  • Messaging channels. Chatbot platforms need to work on multiple messaging channels (e.g., Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram,) to fit the needs of a wide clientele.

APIs to consider:

  1. Transpay Mass Payout API makes it possible to integrate straight-through processing for payouts into your applications.
  2. Link.fish API extracts semantic data from websites and mobile apps; from prices, social media profiles, to geo coordinates.

2. Supply chain management software

The nature of supply chain operations and logistics is that they strive for an integrated approach, as they handle multiple departments, partners, and third parties. Unfortunately, this often involves many software systems that do not “talk” to each other well. APIs are therefore a good means to provide standard communication between the supply chain agents, as well inspire innovative and creative solutions.

The integrations the industry needs:

  • Shopping carts and marketplaces. Obviously, all sorts of shopping platforms are on the top of the integration list. They store info on products, customers, and orders which are required to seamlessly manage shipping, orders, control inventory levels, etc.
  • Shipping carriers. Smooth integration with the biggest market players helps to automate most of the fulfillment processes.
  • Payment gateways. Undoubtedly, payments are the bread and butter of any business, and providing a secure and reliable payment collection process is essential.
  • Accounting. It is a valuable part of the supply chain, which provides a realistic picture of logistics processes state and the company finances in general.
  • Tax management systems. Largely discussed lately, tax efficient supply chain management influences the company as a whole: the location, movement of activities, allocation of risks. This integration is mostly designed to assist a flexible long-term tax planning which will be operationally driven.
  • CRM. SCM-CRM integration forms a logistic-oriented nature of customer support. Therefore, a business can achieve a more collaborative planning, forecasting, and replenishment.

APIs to consider:

  1. LandedCost.io offers an API that calculates import duty and taxes along with the trade automation.
  2. TaxRates.io API delivers automatic updates on global VAT, GST, and tax rates for eCommerce business and tax professionals.
  3. Shippo is a multi-carrier shipping API that empowers eCommerce platforms with the instant access to the data on real-time rates, label tracking, package tracking, etc.
  4. API2Cart is a unified shopping cart API that provides seamless data interaction between the e-Commerce software and multiple shopping carts.

A Good Case Study

Snapfulfil, a warehouse management system, overcame a challenge of a growing demand for support of local and international shipping carriers thanks to a third-party API solution. The integration with a mentioned above Shippo took them three weeks, including testing. For the warehouse clients, Snapfulfil remains the only system used. Shippo serves completely behind the scenes dealing with carrier account management.

3. Marketing automation

Modern digital marketing strives to be highly individualized and massively expansive at the same time. Automation is the way to do more with less effort and survive the race, and marketing automation (MA) software is one solution. As long as MA is meant to ease monitoring, gather insights about customers behavior and handling omni channels, many systems can be baked into the platform.

The integrations the industry needs:

  • CRM. Running the systems separately risks resulting in roadblocks of messaging. Quite confusing! Thus, a foremost goal of the integration is to manage communication. This way, tracking whether the communication with clients is consistent will be much easier for the MA users.
  • Shopping carts and marketplaces. An online shop stores information on products, prices, statuses, discounts, and customers. Integration with shopping platforms allows one to track cart abandoners, website visitors, and successful purchases as well as send emails featuring new items, discounts, and special prices.
  • Shipping software. A marketing department can keep track of shipping statuses changes. This would allow marketers to automate testimonial requests, coupons, or feedback surveys upon delivery or shipment.
  • Social media. No secret that SMM is making almost any campaign more powerful. Using integrations between social media and marketing automation platforms can generate more sophisticated nurturing campaigns and raise the market demand for the clients’ products (and they will be unbearably grateful for that).
  • Advertising platforms. While getting data into the database is a starting point, an essential thing a marketing automation should do is to track KPIs. Integration with Google AdWords appears to be a useful tool in calculating ROI of the of the PPC store owners spend.

APIs to consider:

  1. The Kickfire API provides various applications with the accurate data for content personalization, ad targeting, and form enrichment.
  2. The Chargebee API allows to access and sync customer information, manage subscriptions, and retrieve subscriptions data.
  3. The Nylas API provides cloud messaging related features (email, contact and calendar synchronization) for CRM, HR, and marketing automation systems.

Case Study

Triggered Messaging is a SaaS company striving to make real-time marketing faster, cheaper and more effective. The system integrates with existing email marketing systems, making it easy for eCommerce shops to adopt Triggered Messaging without changing their existing marketing systems.

They required an API to integrate with their backend system and automate invoicing and email notifications for template-based transactional emails. As a result, with the help of a Chargebee API, the company could offer local currency payment to global customers with least complexity as well as to receive detailed subscription metrics analysis in one place. Moreover, Triggered Messaging has automated email notifications for billing related interactions.

4. Localization

Localization in eCommerce includes translating and adapting every piece of content visible to a visitor: product names, descriptions, categories, graphics, currencies, time, date, etc. Localization isn’t a one-time project, it requires constant maintenance, and APIs are the way to automate huge part of this process, especially when it comes to translating eCommerce shops with large assortments.

The integrations the industry needs:

  • Shopping carts and marketplaces. When choosing localization software, retailers check whether it works with sales channels they use, and you need to ensure it does work with them.
  • Shipping carriers. Translation is definitely not the only thing which has to be adapted to the markets. When expanding new territories, online retailers need to be able to offer local shipping options, and localization service is the one to handle this requirement.
  • International payment solutions. Shoppers prefer seeing prices in native currencies and pay via locally preferred methods. It requires integration with the web solutions for managing international payments.
  • SEO platforms. SEO keywords rarely happen to be the literal translation of their English equivalents. Therefore, SEO optimization is another important feature a retailer would expect from the localization software provider. A localization service has to be able to analyze the most popular keywords at the national markets and then provide synonyms to the customer’s suggestions.

APIs to consider:

  1. AfterShip API supports shipment tracking and notifications for over 430 couriers worldwide.
  2. WorldPay API offers eCommerce payment integration to a wide range of digital industries to let their customers pay any way they prefer.

Case Study

Webinterpret is a localization service which helps e-retailers to sell goods in 63 markets around the world for over 10 years already. They have set a goal to fully democratize international eCommerce via empowering retailers to sell products worldwide.

The key problem the company had to solve was getting access to store information that needed to be translated: products, categories, attributes, prices, etc. from different shopping carts and marketplaces. This would allow synchronizing this data between customers’ original online stores and their twins in the global market.

Webinterpret needed a solution that would both solve the issue of flawless data retrieval and save resources for other business purposes.Webinterpret used API2Cart, a unified shopping cart API which provided them with one API to work with shopping carts they needed.

Conclusions

eCommerce business is very interrelated and interconnected, and there are myriads of software solutions on the market. Practically all of them need to be connected to other eCommerce software, like shopping carts, marketplaces, CMS systems, delivery companies, etc.

APIs are that very technology to create connectivity across all of them. And while many called 2017 the year of API economy, it is definitely going to keep rocking eCommerce in the nearest future.

Mariia Volianyk

About Mariia Volianyk

Mariia Volianyk is a marketing manager at API2Cart. She is interested in observing and participating in the eCommerce industry transformation as well as learning about API technologies and artificial intelligence. If you are willing to share her love feelings to doing marketing, feel free to approach her via LinkedIn.