What is an API? A comprehensive guide with API Examples for Ecommerce Owners

API has become a common term now, and we quite often here people in the tech world talk about API, Public API, or Web API. These terms are referred for talking about applications, operating systems, or websites, which use them to provide certain functions.

Let’s first understand what an API is?

An API, short for Application Programming Interface, is a tool that securely integrates two systems so that the data can be transferred. In simple terms, an API receives the response from the user, sends it to the system, and then provides the response of the system back to the user.
In short, it gets two systems to talk to each other without any leak of information.

For example, suppose you walk into a shop, and you are looking for shoes of a specific brand. You ask the shopkeeper to show the shoes of that particular brand. He goes to his back office and performs a search for the shoes you requested. Once he finds them, he comes back to you with the shoes. Now you like those shoes and want to purchase them immediately. Also, the shop offers the shipment to your house. You opt for it and give your details, including the ZIP code.

Here, in this example, the shopkeeper is an API who knows how and what information to serve, the back office is a database to look for, the customer is the one who wants to have some data, and ordering shoes is an API call.

If this was an online shop, multiple APIs might have been used, such as search API, shipment tracking API, add to cart API, etc. This was just to give you an idea of what are the general APIs you might interact with regularly.

Let’s answer why we need APIs?

APIs are now so able to integrate the myriad of systems that can build sustainable digital products, which may have put a burden of extra cost if the software team was to connect them in a single working environment. This is why the tech-savvy people now prefer to use the API first systems where their main goal is the efficient integration capabilities of the systems.
Through these systems, the large data is collected, stored, and processed that helps organizations to grow their customer acquisition and retention, which leads them to high margin profits. This tedious job of collecting, storing, and processing data was made easy since the invention of computer science. This created a shift in the approach of handling databases.

Let’s understand why Ecommerce owners must use API?

Ecommerce sites, when integrated with particular APIs, benefit in numerous ways such as security, scalability, and speed optimization of a website. API doesn’t send the whole database at once. They only offer certain data requested by the user and shows the same after getting data from back-office and thus reducing the chance of someone accessing the database stored in the backend.

Without the use of certain APIs, you would have to call up or visit the store in person and find out what data is available for your use, which reduces when an API is implemented for all those things, which makes the whole thing speedier.

Also, APIs offer flexibility and scalability when you need to expand your business without the need for adding new codes whenever the user base or product catalog increases.

Now, Let’s look at the common APIs Ecommerce site owners use.

1. Site Search API

The search feature of Ecommerce sites is integrated through the custom search API, which helps in providing a positive shopping experience to the customers. All of the major and well-established Ecommerce sites use this custom search API for their website.
Imagine a site without the search facility, and you have to find a specific product from that site. Well, you will have to go through lots of unnecessary pages to find the product you are looking for. This will just give an unpleasant experience to anyone. That’s why the major advantage of implementing the site search API is its extraordinary ability to convert visitors into customers. Adding a filter may do the job, but when someone is looking for a particular product, this tool comes really handy.

2. Product Data and Inventory management API

Accessing or retrieving data from the database by entering some codes or with a query can result in the malfunction of the database, and your sales are immediately affected by this. This is when the product data API comes into play. It can simplify the task and retrieves the data from the global database and inventory management system.
The Inventory sync with the smart SOAP API for Magento 2 Ecommerce store is one such example of integrating and updating your product inventory from the source without putting much manual effort.

3. Social Media Proof API

Shopping on social media is the next big thing in the Ecommerce world. The social presence of the big companies will benefit them with extra sales, and they will be able to generate social proof of their own. Social proof means that you are trustworthy for your customers, and they have spread the word about you on their social channels.

Integrating social media APIs will put you up on display for customers when they land on your product page. These APIs will generally integrate your social channels on your website and show your social media presence, such as your Facebook page likes, Twitter comments, reviews of the product on other channels as well. This makes you a brand that can be trusted in the eyes of the shoppers, thus generates the social proof of your brand.

4. Shipping Tracking APIs

The shipping APIs make the order tracking process easy. It is that process which makes or breaks your Ecommerce business because no one likes to buy from a brand that can’t provide the shipments on time. Many of the online stores have to shut their businesses because of their unreliable and overpriced shipping methods.
The only thing that matters to customers after they decide to buy a product is when their shipment will be delivered. They want to have the ability to track their order after they have made a purchase, which is impossible without the use of the shipping API.
Shipping starts working immediately after the purchase process is over. They collect information and show that to the end-users as well as the site owners. This information includes how many steps will shipments have to go through, starting from the warehouse of the seller to the final delivery point. This API gets updated after every step completes and shows the status of the shipment.

5. Anti-Fraud API

Anti-fraud APIs help you identify fraudsters before they can damage your Ecommerce Business. Also, you need to make your visitors trust you and show them that you are not any spammer or fraudster to make them trust in you.

Integrating anti-fraud API to your website would be a wise thing to do. These APIs have anti-fraud algorithms that can identify the fraudsters from the data they feed into your system, such as email, credit card, geolocation, use of any proxy server, transaction detail, etc. These APIs follow the reference of the past such events and based on that data, its algorithm can identify fraudsters and safeguards the whole process without you putting much effort.

6. Auto Marketing API

Auto marketing APIs work when new visitors join your list of customers. These APIs segment them into different groups based on their purchase behavior, the purchase amount, location, etc. After the segmentation is done, then you can target them according to the group they belong to through the different marketing automation channels available such as Email, SMS, and WhatsApp. You can also get FREE WhatsAPP Credits with your automate API.

7. Payment Gateway API

These APIs ensure that your website has a fully functional payment gateway that customers can trust. This is also one of the essential API to have just like shipping or anti-fraud API. The main goal of these APIs is to easily and safely manage payment transactions.

The interface of the API should be user-friendly and should provide a simplified way to make customers give their credit card data. Avoid using APIs that require users to enter too many form fields, which is undesirable for certain users, and Ecommerce owners can lose some easy sales.

Over to You

APIs are one of the powerful tools available right now in the market. They can help Ecommerce owners in numerous ways to speed their operations, grow the reach of your brand, and connect to the vast community of online shoppers. In this digital world, if you are not able to keep up with the latest trends, then you might lose your market share to your competitors.
This allows you to take advantage of the marketing channels and system expansion opportunities that do not harm your back office database with the utmost security.


Gaurav Jain is a Co-Founder cum Computer Engineer with Extensive Marketing skills who handles all kind of customer Queries and his Happy & Helping nature makes customer's day Delightful. When he isn’t working, you’ll find Gaurav Reading on Books or Traveling. Also, he is Speaker at Meet Magento India. For more info visit our website - https://magecomp.com/