An application programming interface or API is a software interface connecting between computers or between computer programs. Basically, it is an interface that allows you to interact with its logic without knowing the exact details of the underlying process, masking the complexity and making it easy to use.
Understanding eCommerce API
eCommerce API refers to a collection of eCommerce functionality exposed via API. Its functionality includes cart, checkout, orders, and payments—basically, transaction processing on your eCommerce website.
API is used for eCommerce because it allows you to interact with the logic without knowing the underlying process. Since there is a ton of logic that often involves complexity in supporting it, you don’t need to deal with this as an eCommerce website. You only get to see the results of the process.
So without further ado, here’s why you need API for your eCommerce website:
An eCommerce API consists of several core elemental products, such as shopping carts, checkouts, orders, and payments. But outside of this core functionality, there are other services that you may need. Some of them exist within the eCommerce API itself.
But an existing drawback is that this feature/functionality might be tightly coupled into the core services. For you, that means going back to hackneyed workarounds as you aim to branch out to other best-in-class providers or write your own logic. For instance, you may want to replace the tax functionality inside the eCommerce API with TaxJar.
Location and Response Time
The location of the eCommerce API and its databases is something you may want to consider, whether it’s for security, compliance, or legal reasons. While edge caching ensures your content and data is located near your end customers, this data type can be pushed to the edge, limited to only eCommerce use, and only work for GET requests.
In eCommerce logic and interactions, that cannot be cached. If an eCommerce API is located far, which can impact latency, application performance, and your website’s conversion rate.
You want your eCommerce API’s location to be near your customers’ location, so the response rates are between 200 to 300 milliseconds, except for more complex queries.
eCommerce APIs enable custom data through simple key-value pairs or a case-by-case, specific feature/functionality basis. The first one is excellent for storing simple data, but the burden on validation is usually with the development.
The second significantly increases the platform’s learning curve and reduces development time as you hop through the dashboard page, file, directory, or line of code.
Interoperability refers to which the API integrates other providers and vendors. Since structured custom data is part of the puzzle, you need to see how the events and communications work between other best-in-class services.
When understanding what an eCommerce API is and why you need it for your website, there are many things to consider. The list above should help you understand what you need and consider when evaluating an eCommerce API.
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