Alibaba, Airbnb, Uber… All of these companies are fighting for their place under the sun. You’re probably wondering, how in the world are they able to stay relevant with so much competition out there? While there are numerous reasons for this that we won’t discuss today, one of the biggest is definitely Application Programming Interface.
If you’re not familiar with the phrase, let’s break it down for you. An API is a piece of software that allows one company to use the data gathered by another company.
APIs have other uses, but today, we’re going to focus on how e-commerce companies utilize their APIs to improve their business operations. We’ll also discuss how you can leverage the power of APIs to boost your own business. Without further ado, let’s start…

Extracting Customers’ Personal Data

A certain type of APIs can actually extract information about users that can allow you to have a better picture of your user base. This includes birth dates, gender information, and even movement patterns around their city.
Large e-commerce companies use this information to make adjustments to their services and even to create new businesses. Airbnb, a company that provides cheap city logging has used this ability to make suggestions to their users, based on their location.
However, the company has received a ton of criticism in the US. At the moment, the US FTC is investigating whether this use of technology complies with the country’s privacy laws. As you presume, you definitely shouldn’t follow their example…

Forecasting Customers’ Shopping Habits

This perfectly co-relates with the first thing we discussed. With so much data on their hands, e-commerce companies are now able to predict the shopping habits of their customers. Some APIs go through the customer’s browsing history, record it, and store it for the company to examine,
By analyzing the sites customers’ visited in the past and at what time they visited them, e-commerce companies now can place strategic ads that specifically target individual customers.
With enough accumulated data, e-commerce services can adjust their services and target even the smallest user groups. And this wouldn’t be possible without APIs. And this leads us to the most important thing APIs are doing for large corporations at the moment…

Maintaining Their Position in the Market

Without the help of the technology, these companies simply wouldn’t be able to keep their competition at bay. What’s more, they wouldn’t possibly be able to enter the mobile market so successfully. APIs enable them to launch apps with flexible interfaces that use some functionalities of their competitors.
Just take Alibaba for example. The company, at the moment, holds over 80% of the global e-commerce market. It even sells more products than Amazon and eBay combined. That means, Alibaba processes a huge amount of data on a daily basis. And guess what: that also wouldn’t be possible without APIs.
The company uses the Hadoop API to analyze all of those volumes of data. They also used it to build Apsara, their own cloud-based platform that calculates and stores their information.

How can you use the Power of APIs?

Of course, in order to utilize APIs in the same way, you would need a ton of resources. Since most companies start with a modest budget, chances are, you probably won’t be able to do everything the big dogs do with APIs. However, you can still use them to improve your business operations.
Since most API devs use good API documentation software to write documentation, you probably won’t spend too many resources implementing one yourself. APIs can also help you:

  • Make the ordering and shipping process much easier
  • Provide more security to your customers
  • Compile more information about your customers
  • Give your customers more search options
  • Make the payment process intuitive and self-explanatory

Technology is rapidly changing the landscape of commerce and those who don’t adapt to the times will be left behind. Stop waiting and start leveraging APIs as soon as possible.
We hope you enjoyed out e-commerce API piece and that you found it helpful. As always, if you have anything to ask or add to the conversation, feel free to share your thoughts with the rest of us by leaving a comment in the comment section below.
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