In today’s world, the E-commerce industry has become the epicenter of the Retail industry. Also, this pandemic situation has compelled the end-users to rely more on the e-commerce channel for all of their needs. Consumers today prefer convenience above everything and want to shop anytime and anywhere without bothering much about what is going on in the background. This has transformed the traditional B2C business structure into a B2B business module. Shipping API Integration in the E-commerce business has increased their flexibility to shape up as per the requirement.
API Integration for eCommerce has helped the sellers to build and deliver the solutions as per the liking and demand of the customer. This ultimately helps in giving the consumers a seamless and smooth experience, hassle-free ordering and payment process, and ultimately an enhanced experience of shopping online.
WHAT DOES API MEAN?
Let us first quickly understand API before diving deep into its application in the eCommerce industry. API refers to Application Programming Interface which allows the two systems to communicate. The users or merchants can connect the programs, modules, systems, and processes with each other through APIs. API Integration in E-commerce allows the e-commerce platform to connect with different systems like ERP systems, fetch the required data and utilize the same or further processes.
Shipping API Integration has refined the supply chain system of the E-commerce platform which ultimately adds value to the end-users.
BENEFITS OF API INTEGRATION IN E-COMMERCE:
- Improved sales and conversion: API helps the B2B channels to keep track of the customers visiting their website, what they are browsing, showing the ads and products as per their requirement. API also helps the customers in enjoying the advantage of cash backs, coupons, and other offers. Overall, these factors contribute to increasing the sales and more viewer conversion in customers.
- Faster Execution: The API-enabled B2B platform is capable of executing the instructions at a faster pace which ultimately makes the customer’s navigation smoother, and they spend more time on the portal.
- Improvise automation: The API implementation makes much of the processes automated which consequently increases the efficiency of the system overall and the e-commerce business responds in a better manner.
- Improvise the speed despite load: If the B2B platform is API enabled then, despite having heavy traffic on the website, the platform will be able to cater to the requirements of all of its users and provide them with tailor-made solutions.
HOW THE API CAN BE USED IN B2B E-COMMERCE BUSINESS?
1) B2B INTEGRATION & AUTOMATION:
One of the biggest challenges of the B2B business is integration and the automation of the business process. As there are n number of visitors on the website from all across the world who place the order of their selected items from different regions at different times. Thus, it is very important to integrate and automate the whole process in order to enhance the end-users experience as well as supporting the e-commerce staff to work more efficiently.
Firstly, there is a need to remove the manual entry of all the orders which will also reduce the chances of human errors, for this the B2B company can transfer their data directly to ERP, CRM, and Product Information Management. Another way is that the EProcurement platforms like Oracle, Netsuite or IBM Websphere can be integrated with the e-commerce platforms of the vendor.
This kind of integration helps the e-commerce business with the inventory management solution, fulfilling the orders, managing the suppliers, proper and detailed documentation. These functionalities increase the productivity of the business along with reducing the costs by centralizing and digitalizing the procurement process.
The API-driven automation has also led to ease in the process of transaction which helps in easy identification and authentication of the buyers and the orders to proceed further. Another form of automation is that once the order is approved, the Purchase orders can be automatically sent to the eCommerce center and the invoices will be returned by default.
One important point to be noted is that there are a number of different e-commerce platforms and each one has its basic process the same but at the execution level, they work differently as per the size of industry they are catering to. Hence, there is no such API that is industry standard, so it is possible that only significant suppliers are integrated leaving the clutter behind.
Also, today the cost of integration has really reduced a lot as there are many third-party options available to whom the integration process can be directly outsourced.
2) HEADLESS ARCHITECTURE OF E-COMMERCE:
B2B business includes B2B sellers from niche industries. And each one of them has a different product catalog which is again different from the B2C catalogs. The headless architecture of API allows different brands to operate different Content Management Systems (CMS). Headless architecture divides E-commerce into two big heads:
- Back end- It holds most of the functionalities from eCommerce
- Front end- The User Interface with which the end consumer interacts
Some of the API driven e-commerce platforms are Elastic Path and BigCommerce which have the services like Managing catalog, Bulk Pricing, processing the payment, etc. One of the major advantages of API is that the eCommerce experience is tailored as per the requirement of the specific market segment, or the type of channel used by the end-users. The technology stack used by B2B sellers should be compatible with the API to access it completely.
Nowadays, the buyers expect to buy through different channels, be it a web browser or mobile application, but this does not go well with the conventional eCommerce application which was hosted on a server, and it does not fit the modern eCommerce platform.
3) PROGRESSIVE WEB APP:
It refers to the web application which actually operates as a website and offers an experience like a mobile application. PWAs help to develop laser-focused personalization which helps in enhancing the experience of the consumers, increasing their engagement to the website, the conversion rates of the visitors also increase.
The above points clearly signify the importance of API integration in the E-commerce business and how it has changed the experience at both, front-end level for the end-users or the consumers and the back-end level for the e-commerce managers. This integration increased the overall sales from the B2B platform and has also increased the profit margin of the companies. And through the UI development and automation driven by API, even the small business person is able to hire a developer to showcase their services on the modern e-commerce platforms.