In this piece, Arno Ham (pictured below), chief product officer, Sana Commerce, tells RetailTechNews that, for competitive e-commerce companies, it’s no longer a question of whether APIs should be used; they should be incorporated as standard practice to optimise your webstore and provide a seamless customer experience. It’s vital to understand the value of APIs and their application in e-commerce to remain at the forefront of your competitive market.
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) connect different software components and specify how they should interact. By receiving requests and sending responses, they enable new integrations to extend the functionality of an application or website – for example, a payment handling API allows an e-commerce business to take a smooth and secure payment without having to redirect the user to another page.
The vendor market is changing as the industry moves towards selling consumption of APIs, rather than specific products. As a result, many vendors are now working together and progressing towards complete openness, rather than vendor lock-in. By exposing APIs, developers can focus on extending a certain functional area to make it easier to understand. In e-commerce specifically, there’s currently a lot of discussion around ‘headless’ solutions, which don’t define the frontend and use APIs to fully customise the customer experience.
Due to the ‘plug in’ nature of APIs, you can pick and choose elements of your webstore solution from different providers, allowing you to create a highly tailored platform to your specific business needs, as well as the requirements of your customers. APIs are being developed to allow vendors to connect to shipping statuses and provide customer recommendations to create a personalised shopping experience. Marketing solutions, such as MailChimp and DotMailer, can also be integrated using APIs to help send highly targeted marketing communications from data collected in the e-commerce platform.
The shift to SaaS
As UK software marketing is increasingly moving away from perpetual licensing and towards the subscription model, APIs can help vendors make the transition and remain competitive. At Sana specifically, all SaaS developments for the upcoming Sana 9.3 release are based on APIs and extension points are being built onto the SaaS platform. This means customers can make the transition to SaaS and take advantage of modifications, offering a truly integrated e-commerce solution with their ERP.
It’s no secret that an inconsistent or disjointed online shopping experience is a big turn off for customers. As e-commerce becomes more slick, customers become less tolerant of less-than-perfect solutions and can turn to your competitors. As well as enabling a wider range of functions for your webstore, APIs can also be used to help your e-commerce company stay ahead of the latest trends and technology, helping you remain competitive and continue to provide a seamless and fulfilling customer experience.