The pandemic escalated businesses' digitalisation processes and disrupted almost all economic sectors – particularly retail. Having to quickly adapt to this new circumstance, brick-and-mortar businesses resorted to APIs as the ideal means to innovate and establish themselves in e-commerce.
A study by Visa Consulting & Analytics showed that, in the second quarter of 2020 alone, when the health crisis broke out in Brazil, over 70,000 stores shifted to e-commerce. In fact, the country leads in online sales expansion, with an expected growth of 20.7% by 2025 – almost twice the world average, which stands at 11.3%, according to a study by Statista/CupomValido.
But what is the actual impact of modern integrations in e-commerce? How can APIs improve your e-commerce? Here are 10 insights.
By using an API, you can connect your product catalogue directly to a global database that shares detailed information about what you sell.
This type of API can be used to display brand images, product descriptions, detailed specifications, and full product titles directly with the global database. This way, you can automatically populate product catalogue content on your online retail website using a product information API. Easy integration will depend on your e-commerce platform.
Social approval by means of Twitter comments, Instagram likes and product reviews is an important sign of trust to share with buyers. These APIs are so commonplace that you may have already used them without even realising it.
Think of an e-commerce store that uses their customers’ Instagram photos wearing their jewellery to engage potential buyers by conveying greater trust. Retailers can use APIs to “stream” what happens on social media straight to their websites. Widgets on product catalogue platforms that allow you to show recent comments or posts, for instance, are powered through the APIs of platforms like Twitter, Instagram etc.
Providing advanced search features on your website can optimise your customers’ shopping experience. An example is pet shop Cherrybrook, that uses this feature to help website visitors to quickly sort product categories and discover unique brands or items they might have missed.
For retailers with too many content pages, a website search API can be added on to their site to provide visitors with a less frustrating experience when they are searching for a particular product or specific content.
Personalization APIs can help you organise website content to better meet the needs of each customer and visitor. There are two main ways to use personalization APIs. This allows you to order the content you promote on your website based on past visits and purchase history. You can also use these APIs to target customer offerings. So, you can be sure that your visitors will be exposed to relevant products.
A second option is to use an API that helps you understand your customer’s interests from their behaviour on the web and social media. These APIs use complex algorithms to reorder website content to match what your visitors have been saying on Facebook, what they have searched on Google or other search engines.
There are tools available that can help you automate business processes through APIs. The beauty of using marketing automation is that you don’t have to "get your hands dirty" to target opportunities or even earn new customers. For instance, you can automatically add website customers to an email marketing list, and group them by the product they purchased or the amount they spent so you can customise your communications by sending offers that you know they are interested in.
Another common example: online retailers specialising in direct delivery can incorporate shipping with delivery APIs into their business model to provide a more reliable shopping experience. By using these APIs, retailers can automate the processes from the sale down to the level of the package being delivered to their customers’ doorstep. Think of when you buy a product and receive the delivery status via SMS, email or WhatsApp... This happens thanks to the logistics APIs.
Being able to follow up on your competitors’ prices is critical to a digital business. You can plug your product catalogue into a price comparison API and receive automatic reports that compare your price levels with your competitors’. Then, you can assess such information to optimise your prices (selling at a fair price so you can boost sales without losing profit) and match prices at specific times of the year.
These are APIs that allow adding popular and trending product items to a page on your website that helps new customers scan items they might be interested in. This is a combination of using social proof as product endorsement, helping customers come across similar new products by comparing new ideas and reviewing the ones that are currently “more popular”. There are also other recommendation APIs that can help e-commerce retailers create product suggestion lists.
There are many coding techniques involved in incorporating APIs into your website. This can lead to uncertainty. But you may already be using APIs and not even realise it. If your website includes items that refer to products on Amazon, chances are you have been unknowingly using the Amazon API! These elements are powered by Amazon APIs to help you display the company’s products on your website and trace your customers’ purchases so you can get your commission.
You can add an anti-fraud API to your workflow so that when customers buy from you, their purchases are routed via the API through an anti-fraud algorithm to determine if they raise any flags on customer behaviour. Anti-fraud APIs keep up to date with the latest financial and credit card fraud trends, as well as flagging information on all completed sales that coincide with previous fraudulent practices.
If you are not using any APIs, make 2023 the year of the digital revolution for your business.
How about understanding more about modern integrations in the industry? Click here and download our ultimate guide to retail APIs for free.