The amount of business applications that can be used with e-commerce websites is growing each year. Using these apps helps businesses to better track data, gather customer information, receive payments, ship items, and more. Most apps are cloud-ready which makes them cost-effective, portable, and able to sync across many devices. Although getting these applications to communicate with your website is relatively simple, ensuring they communicate well with each other requires specialized integration. Let’s take a look at what APIs are and how they can transform your e-commerce data into insightful business intelligence.
An API, short for application program interface, is a group of protocols, routines, and tools for building software applications, and essentially specifies how certain software components will interact. Think of your e-commerce website as physical structure, where the API provides the building blocks needed for smooth program development and the developer puts the blocks together to shape and build the final product.
The main types of application program interfaces that help simplify e-commerce business processes are:
E-Mail Marketing APIs
E-mail is important to e-commerce businesses because they can use it to alert customers of abandoned carts, new sale items, discount codes, payment confirmations, order statuses, and more. An e-mail marketing API will automate the process of sending these promotional and transactional messages to your customers. You can use e-mail to encourage customers to shop more frequently, to write a review of the specific products they have ordered, and to connect and engage more with your brand.
Social Proof APIs
Social media is consistently growing in use and integrating your social media with your e-commerce website is a necessity in order to build your customer base’s trust in your company. A social proof API will help with that integration and can allow you to display updates, events, and even customer reviews from your company’s social media pages directly onto your website. A more recent feature available with social proof APIs is the ability to stream real-time sales activity to current shoppers, which helps reduce the occurrence of abandoned carts and unfinished purchases and can further motivate internet users to shop with you.
Payment Handling APIs
Customers want a safe, secure, quick, and easy checkout process when they shop online, and integrating a payment handling API will allow them to do just that on your e-commerce website. This type of API provides shoppers with a simple payment interface with a minimal amount of form fields and helps make it easier for businesses and developers to manage transactions. Some payment APIs offer integration with PayPal as well, giving your customers multiple payment options for their purchase.
Sales Tax APIs
Sales tax can get complex when you sell and ship to multiple states and countries. A sales tax API offers e-commerce businesses a way to make the sales process simpler by automating sales tax calculations based on specific criteria. These APIs can eliminate the stress of having to deal with ever-changing sales tax rates and can ensure that the right amount of sales tax is charged to the customer each time they make a purchase from your website.
Shipping products in a timely manner to customers is a must for e-commerce businesses. Shipping APIs can be integrated into your current system to automate the shipping process by tracking shipping and delivery from your store(s) or warehouse(s). Order tracking is a huge benefit to shoppers, as they can receive regular updates on their delivery status and don’t have to reach out to your customer service team to inquire about an order in transit. Having a solid delivery and shipping API helps to reduce complications and errors associated with manual shipping processes.
As the internet grows and expands, unfortunately so does the number of malicious users looking for vulnerable websites from which they can steal credit card numbers and other personal information. With a more internet-savvy group of online shoppers comes the need not just for website security, but more visual confirmations that validate the protection your website provides when it comes to shoppers’ private information. Most online users will check to ensure that a website is secure before entering their credit card or related payment information. The easiest way to spot a secure website is to note an “s” in the site’s URL, for example, https://www.atintegrated.com/, where the “s” after HTTP confirms that the site has an SSL security certificate. A security or authentication API can give shoppers the authorization and protection they need from those malicious web users, allowing them to shop more confidently without worry that their information will be stolen or compromised while using your website.
Makes Apps Smarter
By allowing marketing and e-commerce apps to work together, API integration drives much better results with the help of real-time and up-to-the-minute information about sales, leads, customers, and payments. The insights you receive about your sales and customer base can help you send more relevant and targeted information to sales leads.
Human error is impossible to avoid with manual data entry. API integration helps store and process data more quickly, efficiently, and with less errors since it takes the data from the source directly. You can avoid wasting valuable time on searching for and correcting mistakes by allowing these apps to track everything automatically and work together to gather, store, and share your data.
No two apps are exactly alike, and you can pick and choose not only which apps to integrate, but also how exactly they will work together to benefit your business. Because of this, there is a huge opportunity for customization. Tailoring your API integrations to your business’ needs allows you to use your apps as efficiently as possible based on your specific goals.
Saves Time & Money
With API integration, the days of manually updating all your apps with similar data are over. Your apps can trade and share information in real-time, which saves you time by eliminating the need for tedious data copying and updating. And with saved time comes saved money, since you have automated certain business processes that help generate profit for your company and can use that extra time to focus on other marketing tasks.