E-commerce platforms such as Shopify, Etsy, WooCommerce, and Magento help small and medium businesses design and set up their online stores, manage orders and customer interactions, and build brand awareness. E-commerce integration empowers merchants with critical customer data; provides marketing, point of sale, payment, and inventory tools; and helps manage the full customer buyer’s journey online.
During our AMA Talk Show series, we interviewed two leading experts in the E-commerce space Oren Harris, Apps Team - Onboarding Lead at Shopify (a leading e-commerce platform) and Jennifer Kessler, CEO and Co-Founder at Bizzy (an automated marketing platform for E-commerce professionals) on all things E-commerce integration. The result? Tons of helpful tips for any product manager and technical executive in the E-commerce realm should consider when it comes to designing their API strategy. We’ve broken down these awesome tips into the following six topics:
1. Designing an API Strategy That's Valuable for a Business
Merchants, business owners, and e-commerce professionals are demanding more API integrations than ever before. They want their online stores to connect to the ecosystem of apps they need to run a successful online business. However, building point-to-point integrations is timely and costly. Both experts advice on building an API strategy, rather than one-off integrations, that best serves your business’s diverse set of stakeholders including developers, end-users, and partners.
Oren from Shopify notes, “our apps team strives to make clean, easy to use integrations, that provide as much information publicly as they can while protecting their merchants and partners. Shopify strives to build the best APIs, the most open APIs, and the ones that are easier to use.”
When it comes to creating an API strategy, Jennifer from Bizzy states, “API consumption is about the consumers and the purpose of an API is to enable new forms of consumption for your applications services. Take a step back as the ‘expert of the product” and actually use your service as your end-users would.”
2. Driving Adoption of APIs
Addressing the consumption challenge of APIs is the next step beyond publishing your API. To accelerate adoption of your API, identify the barriers of adoption and address them head on. Do this by employing savvy marketing, providing developers with tools and improving the API's accessibility like thorough API documentation, build a developer community, support forums for developers, and host a hack-a-thon.
“We’re tackling way more events than ever before...going to more Meetups and hosting our own [Shopify] events at our offices. We’re becoming more involved in the community,” Oren provides.
Jennifer from Bizzy drives API adoption by incorporating customer feedback into their API roadmap. She says, “we really believe in listening to our customers, and make an effort to understand what tools they are using. That way we understand which tools are most critical to them and what tools they want integrated with us. This helps drive our integration and API strategy.”
For even more tips on on how to boost adoption of your API, check out our latest infographic.
3. APIs for Business Owners
One myth about APIs is that they are just for developers. We’ve learned this is far from the truth. API Evangelist, Kin Lane has said, “if you can use a web page, you can use most APIs.” There are plenty of support forums, educational material, and API documentation that any tech-savvy business owner can handle.
At Shopify, they pride themselves on a full support team that is availble to help business owners every step of the way when they start connecting their online stores to new apps and integrations.
4. App Marketplace Strategies
How much more successful would the adoption of your product be, if your customers knew exactly what integrations you were planning to build, currently building and when they are available to use?
Creating a REST API based Integration Marketplace is the best user experience you can offer to your customers who expect low-code, ease of use, simple connections.
Shopify’s app marketplace currently offers integrations to 1600+ apps. Oren notes that at the beginning, there was a lot of trial and error in building their app marketplace that we all know today. They are now focused on a consistent, strong user experience.
To learn about other leading app marketplaces, check out our Top 8 Integration Marketplaces article.
5. Strategies for API Monetization
API monetization is the ability charge for the data that is unlocked through the API. There are a number of different API monetization models ranging from simple to complex.
Here’s a quick list of monetization strategies:
- Offer a bet version to get off the ground
- One-time lifetime fee
- Yearly fee
- Monthly fee
- Usage fee (based on the number of API calls or number of users)
6. Which E-Commerce APIs Matter the Most?
Both experts agree, when it comes to prioritizing E-commerce integrations, the ones that "matter the most" really depend on the end-user and their specific use case.
For Jennifer at Bizzy, the APIs that deliver the most critical data (such as customer information, orders, and online interactions) are prioritized first.
At Shopify they have seen huge adoption of APIs that offer the most automation when it comes to billing. That way, the buyer doesn’t need to install another app and enter their credit card information separately. Through billing APIs, the buyer can actually store a credit card on file and charge that card when they checkout making for a clean user experience.
To dive deeper into these 6 tips, download the complete E-commerce integration guide here.