Creating a Better Shopping Experience with APIs

Online shopping, whether on desktop or mobile, has revolutionized the way we buy products. The competition between online stores is fierce, and companies are always looking for an edge over their rivals. How a company treats its customers is one of the ways a company can stand out. Online business owners are always looking for new ways to make the shopping experience better for their customers. When the customer experience is positive, those customers are more likely to spend money and are more likely to become repeat customers. Modern technology has created tools that online businesses can use to improve the customer experience, and APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) is one such tool. By using APIs effectively and intelligently, a company can create a better shopping experience for their customers.

What is an API

Before we dive into how businesses use APIs, we need to understand what an API is and how it works.

 

As mentioned above, API stands for Application Programming Interface. An API is a set of functions or processes that allow one application to integrate or work with a different application. APIs allow multiple programs to communicate and share vital data seamlessly and securely. The data exchange is virtually invisible to the customer as the customer only sees the result of different programs communicating. Well-constructed and well-implemented APIs should not negatively impact a website’s performance, but rather they should only add to the experience.

Shipping APIs

Convenience is a major selling point for online shopping. Customers can order a product, have that product shipped thousands of miles, and delivered to their front door. For how important shipping is, it can be an unpleasant experience for a customer. Shipping is often cited as the reason customers abandon shopping carts. A positive shipping experience can also go a long way towards making a customer loyal to your business. A shipping API can help eliminate shipping complications, like manual sorting errors, and improve the overall experience. Shipping APIs such as uShip, Shippo, and USPS Track all bring improvements to the shipping process. Some shipping APIs specialize in quick-service, while others compare shipping prices so your customers have access to the lowest prices. Address validation and real-time tracking are two common features most shipping APIs offer.

Site Search API

Nothing is more frustrating than being unable to find the product you are looking for in an online store. This where advanced search APIs come in. An advanced site search API improves the search function so customers are able to find what they are looking for. Algolia is designed to improve search functions on apps and websites making it a popular choice.

Autofill

Autofill APIs allow customers to save personal information so they do not have to type it out every time. This saves time for the customer and eliminates the need to re-type the same information for each transaction. The information is securely saved so it can be used on other sites.

Payment APIs

Payment APIs allow your business to easily accept and manage different payment methods while making the payment process simpler for customers. Be wary of payment APIs that add form fields a customer must complete, as this will drive customers away. Quality payment APIs like Braintree and Stripe make the payment process faster and less complicated for customers. Braintree is known for its easy integration with online stores and simple connection to PayPal. Stripe is another payment API that is known for proration across billing cycles and simple upgrade process.

Security APIs

The Internet is an amazing tool, but it can also be a dangerous place. Cybercrime is increasing as technology continues to advance and data breaches have become a sad reality of modern life. A report from 2014 found that over $445 billion is lost annually in American alone due to security breaches and this value is only expected to increase.

 

Most customers are reasonably Internet-savvy and understand basic Internet safety guidelines. Customers know what to look for when deciding if a website is safe or not. A website without an encrypted domain, an SSL security certificate will, or some other displayed security measure will raise red flags. An authentication API like OAuth 2.0 will protect your website and by displaying the API’s security badge, your customers will feel safer. By showing your customers that you take security seriously, your customers can shop more confidently.

 

APIs are powerful add-ons that can vastly improve an online store’s customer experience. Adding the right APIs to your website can make your company stand out above the rest, and your customers will thank you for making the shopping experience better.