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The Future of E-Commerce: Why Businesses Are Incorporating APIs in Their Strategy
Shannon Ingrey, VP and General Manager, APAC region for BigCommerce talks the future of e-commerce and the role of APIs for remaining competitive.
The e-commerce industry is constantly evolving, and competitive businesses are undergoing digital transformations to stay competitive. The rise of new technologies and increased customer expectations have led to a need for more robust customer experiences and more complex site structures to create them.
Businesses are able to rise to meet these challenges by using APIs to connect information between multiple applications. This allows them to build on their existing tech stack to expand into new markets, provide the digital experience customers demand and establish strategic partnerships.
What Are APIs?
First things first, APIs, or application programming interfaces, are the building blocks that transfer information between applications.
Essentially, they enable your systems to ‘talk’ to each other, providing easy access for sharing data back and forth. APIs are the underlying technology that makes it possible for your e-commerce platform to connect with your ERP (enterprise resource planning), PIM (project information management), or other necessary systems.
APIs can also be useful for connecting the backend ecommerce features of your platform to the technology that creates your frontend experiences. For example, they can enable your e-commerce platform to connect to your CMS (content management system), DXP (digital experience platform), IoT (Internet of Things), PWA (progressive web app) or other solutions.
APIs allow brands to be nimble. They can make quick changes to their frontend while keeping their backend ecommerce functionality stable.
API Benefits to Businesses
To future proof their businesses, brands need solutions that allow them to be flexible and to adapt to meet changing customer expectations. They need technology that can allow them to quickly and efficiently evolve their sites.
APIs can speed up the path of innovation by allowing your business to leverage best-in-breed solutions. Instead of working with one monolithic block, you can use smaller connected systems.
Because APIs enable you to work with multiple systems by allowing them to communicate with each other, you can easily create the perfect modular system where individual components can be swapped out as needed. This leads to improved software development efficiency. Well managed APIs lead businesses to streamline processes and save time and money.
APIs power not only the speed of innovation but also the efficiency by helping brands to understand which changes will have the most impact on their customers. Since APIs communicate data between systems, they also provide an opportunity to collect that data to analyse customer behaviour. This analysis can provide keen insights into how to best improve the site for customers to improve conversions and drive revenue.
APIs in Action
It’s one thing to talk about the possibilities for APIs, and another to see how real businesses are leveraging them.
New Zealand based health food and supplement retailer HealthPost is a good example. They used the BigCommerce Wishlist API to improve their customer experience and better understand what their customers are looking for.
The Wishlist API opens up that part of the platform to third party services meaning developers can devise any kind of wishlist they can imagine to make a better process for customers. Additionally, wishlist data can be extracted and analysed to pull out meaningful insights and better target marketing for customers.
On the Healthpost website, customers can easily create a wishlist from the homepage or a product page. They can create multiple wishlists so they can group wanted products in different categories. Healthpost can also use the data from these wishlists to make better product recommendations for these customers.
This is just one example of how one API is able to provide both a better site experience for customers and more accessible data for the business.
Today’s ecommerce landscape is a sea of options. Brands are having to hone their digital experiences to draw in customers and help them easily advance to making their purchases.
The way they’re able to keep innovating their site experiences and keep pace with the competition is by diversifying their tech stack. By using APIs to open up their ecommerce platform, brands are able to create new opportunities to create stronger digital experiences, better buyers’ journeys, and ultimately more knowledge about what their customers want.
If you’re interested in learning more about what APIs can do for ecommerce businesses, I recommend this longer resource on the API economy.