In case your eyes glazed over when you saw ‘API’ here’s an image of a puppy in a cup to hold your attention.
We live in a world where we can do just about anything online. Connect, shop, upload, download, click, tap, send, receive, pin, react – the list goes on. We do these things on multiple devices through multiple applications. There’s A LOT going on! Exactly how do our phones and computers manage all these requests? We’re able to do all these things because of APIs.
What is an API?
An API or application programming interface is the thing that helps different devices and applications talk to each other. It’s a piece of software that runs behind the scenes as a messenger that delivers your request to the appropriate source. A more technical term would be, ‘a set of functions and procedures allowing the creation of applications that access the features or data of an operating system, application, or other services.’
Think of it like the pigeon that delivers your message or the waiter that takes your order. APIs give your website more functionality to run efficiently and allow for customers to carry out certain actions, like browse, filter or buy.
6 must-have APIs for your Ecommerce website
1. Cart API – Moltin or Bigcommerce API
As an Ecomm website, probably the most important part of your website is the check out process. If the check out process is not streamlined, has too many roadblocks or requires too much effort from the user, they’ll abandon their cart – no doubt about it.
2. Catalogue API – Bigcommerce API
If you’re selling products online you will definitely need a catalogue API. A catalogue API allows you to create, edit and manage a catalogue of all your products. Such an API typically comes with features like inventory control, sales analytics and reporting.
3. Search API – Algolia
Ecomm stores with a lot of inventory need a search API to help customers search by model, brand, colour, etc.
Algolia boasts an impressive client list including sites like Slack, Lacoste, Stripe and Dior. Algolia is an intuitive search API that makes every search guide, matter, strategic, visual, relevant, inspired, personalized – the list is endless (just look at their homepage!) The API is designed to enhance the customer shopping experience with cutting edge search functionality but also has developers in mind. Their mission is to give ‘development teams the building blocks to create a fast and relevant search experience.’
For something a little less flashy, check out Google Custom Search.
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4. Login API – Okta
For many websites, logging in is the first step required before we can do what we need to do. There is nothing more frustrating than having a sticky or clunky login process!
A login API helps customers login with ease and using a variety of methods. Back in the day, we’d need to sign up using email. Now, we can sign up with our existing Google, Facebook, Amazon or G-Suite logins, making is SO much easier to manage our login information. No more hideous spreadsheets with multiple logins for each site you use – yay! By the way, if you’re looking for a good place to store your passwords, use LastPass.
As far as login APIs go, we recommend Okta which offers easy, customisable login options for your website.
You’ll need a payment API to take customer payments. Check out our recent blog on best payment gateways for your website , the article contains our recommended payment APIs for your website.
6. Shipping API – Shippo
Website traffic – check. Product search – check. Product selection – check. Product check out – double-check. What about shipping? Yep, you’ll need an API for that too. We recommend Shippo. Shippo connects you with couriers and compares their prices, helps you access discounts for shipping and manage all the tasks that surround the delivery process like returns, labelling, address validation and more.
Other shipping APIs:
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