Clearinity encounters companies that have unique workflows that fall outside the paradigms of the inventory management platforms they are implementing frequently.
These unique workflows create workarounds in the systems they use for inventory management and often need support with API development. This is where many of our stage 4, 5, and 6 ecommerce owners find themselves because of the complexity they have built in the early stages of their business.
Unfortunately, many of these business owners don’t have the exposure or experience to know what APIs they need most, or what APIs could have been avoided with other technology solutions. Thus they get blindsided by the cost, the time it takes to develop, and ultimately what it means to the future of their business.
That’s where having a business consultant is important and also crucial. As you continue to scale, your choices with your technology and resources can impact your success.
To better prepare you for your change management process, let’s look at what APIs are and why they matter to the longevity of your business.
What is an API
API, or Application Programming Interface, is a piece of software code that can help facilitate two actions between platforms, apps, or functions within an application. Every day people come in contact with APIs when they use apps like Facebook to send an instant messages. Or when people search Google Flights for flight options.
In analogous terms, an API is like a waiter in a restaurant. The waiter is there to communicate about an array of menu items with you and the kitchen. When communication breaks down, you receive the wrong meal. When communication flows correctly, you receive the meal you requested.
Over the years, the modern API has taken on characteristics that help define and elevate its value to the online business community.
API for Ecommerce
Today, ecommerce business owners are familiar most with APIs as they can help a variety of functions in a business such as order management, payment gateways, and even inventory control.
There are hundreds of APIs that could be integrated into your tech stack. So how can you know which APIs are worth the money and development? First, its best to start by identifying the API model you are seeking.
There are three common API models; experience APIs, process APIs, and System APIs. Experience API allows for data reconfiguration and can be filtered and sorted based on the viewer’s needs. This appears often in BI technology and gathering customer information to be sorted through.
Process APIs pull multiple data sets into one location. Process APIs are present when connecting multiple different IT environments together. Such as BI software and CRM software. These APIs allow independent data sources to avoid data silos.
Lastly, System APIs hide the complexity of systems such as ERPs or legacy systems. These APIs allow access across multiple records and data systems in an entire organization.
We care about APIs at Clearinity because when API integration is present in a client’s tech stack, there can be core workflows that are impacted in migration. Likewise, it can also help clients that have complex workflows by simplifying functionalities in systems. Often API integrations can extend the life of a platform for an ecommerce client as they continue to scale, this can reduce overall lifetime spending on ERPs or legacy systems.
In contrast, APIs can also be overdeveloped for some companies and can cause huge webs of interconnected technology that are reliant on each other. This can be extremely tricky and time-consuming to migrate to a new platform and often results in costly development as well.
Before jumping into API development, it’s important to consult and understand not only your technology needs but your people and process as well. Consultants, like those here at Clearinity, can help identify potential hurdles in the future as you scale and can help you avoid costly, unnecessary API development by finding easier technology that answers your problems