There’s no question that today’s small business owners are highly tech-savvy, it’s basically a job requirement for operating any kind of online enterprise. With such a vast and complex e-commerce landscape, it can be challenging for one person to manage all aspects related to an online business. Although you may not know what API stands for, if you operate an online business, you use them every day.
Simply put, an API (application program interfaces) is an interface that allows two parties to communicate with each other, whether this is technologies, platforms, databases, operating systems, etc. It acts as a translator and organizer to facilitate the transmission of data across a multitude of systems. This allows us to overcome the fractured nature of today’s digital economy and stay connected to one another in spite of our different infrastructures and technologies.
APIs are one of the building blocks of the digital economy. They are little seen and often taken for granted – but by leveraging this technology in a smart and strategic way, your online business can be elevated to a whole new level.
An API is like an outlet. Plugging a lamp into an outlet connect it to the power supply – the outlet, like APIs, is what converts that power to something usable by the lamp. You, the user, benefit from the light source, and the utility benefits from being able to make its product useful to the user. Like other complex IT tools, the importance of APIs is often overlooked. This is because small business owners are preoccupied with the latest trends and sales platforms to consider more technical aspects in depth.
However, by shifting your focus toward optimizing your internal processes at a foundational level, you can increase your efficiency. Investing in API development and integration can optimize your operations, broaden your audience and automate many small tasks, freeing up your day-to-day to focus on growing your business.
How APIs Can Improve Your Business
- Introduce New Features
Developing a good API strategy can be a major competitive advantage. APIs are a powerful tool for increasing functionality, which can be used to offer new features to your customers. For example, you can use an API like Elastic Path to offer customers the opportunity to connect their smartphone to their account during checkout. This would allow you to then introduce any number of new automated features, such as sending notifications when an order has shipped, discounts for preferred customers, reminders when their product is due for an update, and many more.
- Improve the Post-Purchase Experience
APIs allow you to integrate your store, service or platform with any number of other platforms, from sales channels like Amazon, media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and even logistics firms. The increase in sophistication in today’s APIs allows you to integrate your business across many different channels. APIs such as Outright can be used to collect and translate all of that data into a single, uniform format, increasing the efficiency of your back office.
- Serve Customers More Fully
While APIs offer a high level of automation, they also make possible a high level of personalization. The APIs listed above can be used to gather user data from many different sales channels and organize it into a single database. Then that data can be plugged into another API, like Gravity, which organizes personalizes your marketing content for each visitor based on the purchase history and behavior during previous visits. This provides you with the ability to understand your audience better and tailor your products and services to their needs.
Any online business can benefit from leveraging APIs in a smart and strategic way and making them foundational to your business strategy. Freelancers who want to advertise their services more effectively, online stores who need to build up their base of repeat customers, affiliate marketers who want to expand their network – there’s an API for that.