eCommerce Integration Defined

eCommerce is a broad field encompassing many industries and types of software. To many people, this is a confusing term, since it is often used interchangeably with other, related words. In this article, we cut through the noise, clearing up what eCommerce is and what it means to integrate this into your business. We also discuss why this is important for your business success and how to go about the integration process.

What is eCommerce?

eCommerce is short for electronic commerce. Simply put, this is a system where goods and services and bought and sold using electronic systems, like the internet. To make sense of these transactions, some data, such as inventory and pricing information, travel along with the transaction data.
While eCommerce predates the internet (it started in the 1980s), it has, of late, become almost entirely dependent on the internet. Features like group buying, private sales, and social commerce form part of eCommerce as the field continually evolve. Both small and large businesses use eCommerce to supply the demand for retail convenience – people want to purchase things 24/7 from the comfort of their living room, and they want things to work well.

To this end, businesses use a wide range of websites and website models to fuel online shopping. The downside is that these websites often don’t integrate well with other, existing processes, and inventory management software packages.

What is eCommerce Integration?

Linking your online shop or retail website to your inventory system, order management and accounting systems is essential for success today. Customers should know whether or not the item they want to buy is in stock, refunds should go through seamlessly regardless of the channel the customer used and your CRM systems should have a full and complete view of the customers order history.

Sure, you could manually update all this information, but that would take an inordinate amount of time and resources. The information on your website would then also be constantly out of date, exasperating customers and staff alike. Alternatively, you could link your retail website to the back-end accounting and inventory system. This accounting system is better known as ERP (enterprise resource planning) software – there are also a wide variety of software packages on the market to this end.

Proper integration of all these systems allows for full automation, resulting in an update on all systems, i.e. bi-directional data flow. Here, inventory levels update automatically at each step in the process: when the product is sold on the eCommerce website, when the product leaves or enters a warehouse, and when the entire transaction is complete. Initially, these updates occurred in batches, once or twice daily. Recently, however, advances in technology allows for real-time or near-real-time data flow, keeping your site up to date, to the minute.

We work with companies all the time trying to solve this problem. The scope varies dramatically depending on the specific needs, but consider this recent example.

The customer operates three different websites one on Shopify, one on BigCommerce and another using WooCommerce on their own server. They also sell through several different marketplaces. They have an Amazon Seller Marketplace Account, an eBay account and Lazada. All have different requirements for integration. Further complicating matters are the different payment systems and methods applied from each channel. And finally to make matters worse, all inventory is shipped from a third-party warehouse vendor or 3PL.

Lastly, your bank, accountant and shareholders need a consolidated view of this information in a proper accounting system.

To say the least, doing this right is hard.

When eCommerce integration allows for real-time updates, the pricing, inventory, order and shipping information available to staff and customers are up-to-date, easing the process flow. The added benefit is that this is all handled automatically, decreasing the need for staff on hand to complete transactions.

Why is eCommerce Integration Important?

Often, businesses rely on a variety of different packages for their eCommerce websites, business operations, and ERP systems. Too often, these software packages can’t communicate with each other, hampering the integration process. Here, staff members suffer exasperation as they untangle the mass of conflicting messages. Their task is figuring out what was sold, at what price, and what’s left in the inventory. This disconnect severely hampers business flow and thus the profit margins and customer experience.

Customers Want a Seamless Experience

Customers expect a seamless experience in brand interaction, regardless of the type of interaction they choose. They expect the information on your website to be accurate and up to date, and they expect smooth sailing in purchasing your goods or services. This is where eCommerce integration enters the picture. If customers have a disjointed experience with your brand, fuelled by systems that can’t talk to each other, they are unlikely to return or recommend the brand to others.

With proper integration, your eCommerce, business operations, and ERP systems “talk” to each other in real-time, resulting in accurate, up-to-date information displaying on all your platforms, both front-end, and back-end. Here, customers know whether the goods or services they require, are available and when to expect delivery. With correct pricing information, your bottom line is protected as well.

With eCommerce integration, shipping addresses are also updated automatically. The customer types in their own delivery address, which is then used across the entire purchasing process. You no longer have human error entering in to misspell addresses, resulting in late deliveries and frustrated customers. Integration allows for automatic shipping notifications, enabling customers to track deliveries from when they ordered to when the package arrives at their door.

Another benefit of proper integration is in handling returns. This is especially relevant for online fashion retailers – customers often change their minds and return products. Traditionally, this was a nightmare for online retailers, since the return process was handled manually. Integration automates even this process, saving time for your employees and simplifying the process for the customer.

Saves Time and Money

Integration has the added benefit of real-time sales tracking and statistical analysis. Since the process is fully automated, you no longer have staff members cranking away at the hidden machinery, updating inventories and tracking sales manually. For companies with large sales volumes, this process was traditionally a full-time job for entire teams of people. These teams are now free to do work of greater value to your company, saving both time and money. Automation is the way of the future. With automation, you have the added benefit of eliminating human error, something that often occurs when entering data manually.

Manage Increased Sales Volumes Easily

Since eCommerce integration allows for automatic updates on all your linked systems, you save time on data entry. In the past, an uptick in sales meant hours in front of a screen, manually keying in sales figures and finding mistakes to match up your online and actual inventories. With the automatic updates resulting from proper integration, you will know exact inventory levels in real-time. When merchants experience an increase in sales volume, they know immediately and can thus act immediately if needed. This integration also prevents overselling, which is a definite benefit to the merchant.

An uptick in sales used to mean a mad dash to get more inventory, as you only know that you’re running low on a product when it’s already too late. Proper integration adds a buffer, buying you time to supplement inventory levels if needed. Real-time access to this data shortens your staff members’ reaction time as well.
Often, increased sales volume are the result of extended marketplaces. This often happens when you add an additional website to your eCommerce arsenal. With proper integration, you can do this without losing operational efficiency. Your customers won’t even know the difference.

Online Retail is on the Rise

According to eMarketer, global retail eCommerce sales could account for as much as $4 trillion at the end of 2020. This staggering amount accounts for 14.6% of the forecasted retail spending of the year. Of course, these numbers might change dramatically in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic. According to news reports, online spending is on the rise with the increase of social distancing measures and the advent of the touch-free economy. Getting your business in line with the latest market trends is essential to stay ahead of the pack.

How do I Integrate eCommerce?

eCommerce integration, if done right, is a smooth process with minimal disruption to the workflow and other business operations. Here, two or more systems that can’t work together are “taught” to work together, facilitating bi-directional data flow. For this to work smoothly, minimizing the effect on your customers and staff members, you need the right people on the job. Industry experts, such as the teams from APIworx, understand your concerns regarding integration, and they know the challenges you face without integration.

Before lifting a finger to integrate your current systems, you need to understand where you’re headed. This will help clarify which system and solutions are needed for successful integration. Our team has the relevant experience to make this happen with minimal disruption to your current systems and optimal performance of the integrated system.

For new businesses, this road is far simpler, since they can factor in eCommerce integration from the get-go. There are many “all-in-one” software packages available that allow for integration across all aspects of a growing business. Here, choosing the right solution for your business is simpler and potentially less expensive than after-the-fact integration options.

In Closing

eCommerce is on the rise, taking over market share at a rapid rate. To keep up with current and future global demands, eCommerce integration is essential for all online retailers. For new businesses, this integration is simple, since they can choose an all-in-one software package to help them on their way. Established businesses that are not yet integrated, have a more challenging road ahead of them. For them, finding the right integration solution is essential – that’s where APIworx can help.

Application Programming Interfaces

Enabling businesses to embed software capabilities of other platforms within their own websites and applications, APIs or Application Programming Interfaces have facilitated new business models across almost every industry. It allows companies to link to and customize existing platforms, resources and algorithms to create new services and gain new customers. Here are four ways that you can use APIs to your website or apps:

  1. API as the Product. An API becomes your main product when it is your primary source of revenue. It means it is not merely an extension of what you are offering. Two great examples are Skype and Amazon Web Services.
  2. API Projects the Product. Through this API integration, your partners, mobile applications and third parties can get to experience your product. Take for instance Spotify and eBay.
  3. API Promotes the Product. Application Programming Interfaces can also be used to advertise your product through various channels. It allows third parties to access data used to generate interest in your offering. Some examples include Vimeo, Netflix and Amazon.com.
  4. API Powers the Product. APIs can be used to power products by serving as a channel to get new value into the business. It continuously receives new content that makes up part of your service. Popular APIs for this include Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Connected digital platforms improve our daily lives in many ways. Social media profiles are used to log on websites and applications and share activity data from Smart devices like Fitbit. APIs make all these possible, including powering third party payments while shopping online. Essentially, they deliver a request to the provider you are requesting from and bring back a response to you.

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) offer a number of benefits, including:

  • Increased revenue
  • New partnerships
  • New business models
  • Improved time to market
  • New distribution channels
  • Access to new markets
  • Reduced costs
  • Improved control over resources
  • Competitiveness
  • Improved brand recognition
  • Distinguishable from competitors

How do Application Programming Interfaces work? Say you open up a weather application on your Smartphone. The apps need to get information from a source, right? Apple or Samsung could scrape off the data from a weather site, but APIs has a more standardized approach for requesting information. They are the heroes that fetch your weather information for you! Learn more about API integration here.

API Integration

The term API integration as a service is fairly new. It is a secure and reliable solution that allows you to connect applications across various web services and organizations. It also allows you to deploy integrations without the need to install new software and hardware, or create a custom code. Many technological trends are driving the rise of API integration as a service. Here are three of them:

  • The Cloud. The cloud has already replaced the computer and other physical storage systems in keeping personal content. We can now access services and our personal preferences from this technology – making it the center of our digital lives.
  • Internet of Things. Basically, the Internet of Things (IoT) is connecting any device with an on/off switch to the Internet. It is a giant network of connected things – such as cellphones, wearable devices and almost anything you can think of.
  • Big Data. Big Data is now moving from a personal aspect to an enterprise level. Many organization are already abandoning the idea of a single enterprise data warehouse that contains all information. They are moving towards multiple systems.

The advances in technology are generating, sharing and storing enormous amounts of data across various types of organizations and applications. Data is becoming more disconnected between cloud applications and the website. Here’s when an integration solution becomes a business saver.

Several companies offer API integration as a service, including APIworx. APIworx creates high quality API integration across your internal and external systems to get the best results. Our customized API solutions and integrations provide you with real-time advantage and integration between traditionally disparate unintegrated systems. Designed as a global company, we have cloud-based employees from various locations around the world.

Here are three reasons why you should get API integration as a service from APIworx:

  • Superior customer care. At APIworx, we understand that APIs are your new business. That’s why we are here to expose your systems, make them available and support them like any mission critical system.
  • Direct connection. We directly and securely connect to your internal systems and your cloud systems, so we can provide you with a seamless API-based workflow across your extended application ecosystem.
  • Cloud-based and infinitely scalable. APIworx applications leverage the best technology of the world’s largest cloud infrastructures. We deliver unlimited scalability, uptime and low cost.

With APIworx, you don’t have to deal with software or hardware. You don’t need programming or any technical skills to use the service. We’ll do it all for you. We have pre-built integrations to the best systems and a wide selection of online service providers. Our solutions automate various types of repetitive business and social tasks. Learn more about us here.

APIs

Integrating useful APIs in your website helps you get valuable data, share it with your consumers and be informed with important events. It also improves user experience. In the new world, your APIs are your business. Exposing your systems and making them available in the most secure way is what you need. APIs allow you to do almost anything that you can imagine online. And, there are hundreds of them to choose from. Some are better than others, and some are definitely more useful.

  • Facebook. Facebook APIs are great time savers. They allow you to sign in to many applications and websites using your Facebook ID. They also allow your app to read and write data to Facebook. Other offers lets you work with Credits, Ads, Chat and other legacy APIs that are no longer actively supported.
  • Twitter. Following Facebook afterward, Twitter APIs and social media campaigns are also intertwined into its business model. They allow you to create applications that interact virtually with any Twitter feature.
  • YouTube. YouTube has 2 APIs available – Player and Data. The former allows you to have an embedded player that you can customize within Flash or HTML. The latter lets your application perform operations available in YouTube, such as uploading videos.
  • PayPal. Operating a worldwide online payment system, PayPal API allows you to easily and securely accept mobile and online payments. It enables your customers to make PayPal and credit card payments in just a few clicks.
  • QuickBooks. QuickBooks API makes your customers’ lives easier. It helps connect and integrate QuickBooks data with other business applications easily and quickly.
  • MailChimp. MailChimp allows you to send millions of emails every day without hassle. Easily sync your data, import content from various sources and keep track of your revenue in just a few clicks. It is the ideal API integration for data-driven emails, such as targeted e-commerce and personalized messages.
  • FedEx. Take advantage of the peace of mind associated with successful transport. Use FedEx API shipping integration to locate the best rates, track shipments and estimate transit time. You can also save time by automating processes like exchanging information between sources.  

Do you need integration with these applications? We’ve got your back. APIworx offers direct, cloud-based integration and API solutions for these applications tailored to your needs. We handle all the tasks involved in accepting and processing up to hundreds of thousands of API calls. We integrate tightly with your systems, so you can run APIs without servers. We also create REST APIs that you can use to call publicly available services through your system’s available API. To check out more of our integrations, click here.

cloud APIs

The Cloud has become an important part of various industries in recent years and in the new world, your APIs are your business. That’s why finding ways to integrate applications and other workloads into the cloud using APIs is also paramount to success. However, there are four major Cloud APIs to choose from. Which is the right model for you and how can you operate an API to the cloud?

There are many ways to integrate into an infrastructure, and each has its own fundamental components.

  • PaaS APIs (Platform as a Service APIs) – These Cloud APIs are designed to give access and functionality for a cloud environment. They allow you to integrate with messaging systems, databases and storage components.
  • IaaS APIs (Infrastructure as a Service APIs) – These Cloud APIs help control specific cloud resources as well as their distribution. They can also be used in network configurations and workload management.
  • Cloud Provider & Cross-Platform APIs – For greater cloud versatility, providers offer generic HTTP and HTTPS integration. Cross-platform APIs provide access to resources from different cloud providers and platforms, saving you a lot of time and development energy.
  • SaaS APIs (Software as a Service APIs) – These Cloud APIs help connect the application layer with the cloud and underlying IT infrastructure. These application APIs create a cloud application extension for your environment.

Choosing the right platform is important for your organization. For your environment to function well, you may also need to use multiple platforms. Whatever you decide, make sure to plan the deployment carefully and that all elements can interoperate and perform compatibly.

APIworx build and manage customized API solutions and integrations, giving you real-time advantage and integration between unintegrated systems. We are dedicated to making cloud integration simple and easy for you. If you want to operate seamlessly in the cloud, use our managed API to manage your business across all your applications seamlessly. Check out a few of our integrations here.

In his latest push to bolster cybersecurity across the healthcare sector, Sen. Mark Warner is urging HHS to add data standards to its data sharing rules to bolster patient privacy protections. https://healthitsecurity.com/news/senator-urges-hhs-to-add-api-privacy-standards-to-data-sharing-rules

efficient API integration

Recently, there has been an explosion of APIs. Whether you believe it or not, API integration has become an important part of application development and the future of your business may rely on it. APIs enable power. They create a more open and adaptive future for your business. They are the difference between small tweaks in your processes to real innovation. If you want to be more precise with data, innovate and deliver more efficient service, you need an efficient API integration.

  • APIs ensure governance. Customers expect consistency, and that’s what you should offer – consistency in your data models and management. For instance, you have multiple definitions of a customer. You risk alienating developers who expect a common definition. To prevent a disaster from happening in your hands, your staffs need follow a robust governance model.
  • APIs enable collaboration. Collaboration between people and technology is the key to the future of your business. Everything depends on data analytics and, by default, APIs help foster collaboration. With API integration, you don’t have to rewrite the application’s capability. You simply share its existing service, which is more practical.

Many business owners dismiss the benefits of API in their business. You don’t want to be one of them. Here are 5 ways efficient API integration can brighten the future of your company:

  1. Improving site loyalty and conversion rates
  2. Empowering lead generation with social insights
  3. Harnessing remote processing power for business intelligence
  4. Harnessing remote storage
  5. Developing lightweight mobile applications with power and functionality

Do you want to benefit from APIs without worrying about what they are and how they work? We can do that for you! APIworx build and manage customized API solutions and integrations, so you can operate seamlessly in the cloud. Check out a few of our integrations here. If your application isn’t listed, don’t worry! We can build and manage it for you using our cloud-based API framework.

API management platform

API management platform offers you a range of tools that could help you achieve business success. They are a great way to improve the development and management of your APIs with minimal overhead. However, there are a number of vendors out there that offer various platforms. That’s why you need to know the main features to look for to make the right decision.

Here are some questions you need to ask before you purchase an API management platform:

  • Which platform should you go for: On-premise or Cloud?
  • How large is the support infrastructure?
  • What method of documentation is used?
  • How much does it cost?
  • Should you go for a unified platform or multiple platforms?

Do you have a solution in place for API management? Some of the important areas where individual tools exist include scalability, documentation, testing and security. Although using multiple tools require less commitment than a unified platform, they may lack integration – making it more difficult for employees to access them.

When considering to purchase an API management platform, here are the main features you need to consider:

  • User Support. Stay away from platforms with a history of poor support. User support is crucial to the success of your enterprise. This is the problem with on-premise solutions. When something goes wrong, your developer productivity could face drastic consequences since your engineering team’s hands are full. By leveraging the cloud, you can increase accessibility while achieving a seamless workflow.
  • Usability. One of the biggest advantages of using the right API management platform is usability. You need to be aware of these areas: metrics, documentation, design and customer support. API management platforms that provide metrics can help reduce strain. Documentation and design allow you to update easily without changing the structure of the back-end. Lastly, empowering your customer service team reduces sprint creep and frees up engineering resources.
  • Implementation. The type of implementation is perhaps the most important decisions you should make before purchasing an API management platform. It determines how API manages authentication methods, automates changes in infrastructures and deals with traffic spikes. The three methods of implementation are: on-site, off-site and hybrid.

With this information in mind, you should be able to make the right purchasing decision. Choose an API vendor that offers a product that best suits the needs of your organization. Learn more about APIs here.     

APIs

APIs started just as an acronym that only programmers know in the 2000s. Now, they have become an important piece to ignite several innovative solutions. They unleashed a number of opportunities in various services to help them function more efficiently.

Using APIs is easy, but many don’t understand what it takes to make it useful. People are too focused on the technology part that they overlook the use cases for which they can add value to their businesses: representing a way to reduce operational costs and automating business processes completely.

But, how do you make money from APIs and how should you price them to get the best return? There are three ways to monetize APIs:

  • Data Collection. This is Facebook’s preferred method. It involves collecting of data from third party applications to use in your advertising efforts or your own products.
  • Product Adoption. It allows developers to build custom integrations that increase the value of products and keep the users locked-in.
  • Developer Usage. This is the most obvious way to monetize APIs. You simply charge developers for API calls.

The Developer Usage model has three pricing models, so you need to think carefully and choose wisely. The first models is Pay-as-you-Go, which simply means that you pay per API call. Fixed quota means you pay for a fixed number of calls per month and you are not allowed to exceed. Lastly, the Overage model is like the previous model. However, it allows developers to exceed their call limit in exchange for a small overage fee.

Each pricing model has its own pros and cons, but the last one may be the best option for you. It has the scaling advantages of the pay-as-you-go model and offers the predictability of the fixed quota plan.

Of course, how much you should charge per plan depends on your business. Just consider these three C’s when pricing:

  • Cost
  • Competitors
  • Content

On pricing your APIs, determine what type of value they can deliver and your actual pricing structure. Determine how much the access is worth in conjunction with your existing web-based offering and competition, then choose the pricing model that your customers will ultimately be comfortable paying. Find out how we can help here.