What Is An API and Why Do E-commerce Sites Use Them?

What Is An API and Why Do E-commerce Sites Use Them?
By max July 20, 2023

We’ve seen massive growth in eCommerce stores. Digital expansion and the latest trends in this industry have brought a significant change in customers’ buying behavior and the supply chain. Things transformed rapidly in 2020, as the demand for online shopping accelerated and people were left with no choice but to place their orders online, even for simple stuff like groceries. With that, customers’ expectations increased. Now, they look for online stores that offer dynamic and personalized shopping experiences that cater to their individual needs.

Businesses are focusing on adapting to innovative solutions and advanced technology to live up to their customers’ expectations. That’s where the eCommerce API comes into play. Know what is an API which are called the building blocks that establish connections between different elements on your website and facilitate data-sharing features between different apps. In this post, we will explain the meaning and purpose of APIs, why they are needed, and why eCommerce stores use them. Let’s take a look.

What is an API?

API or Application Programming Interfaces connect two applications by linking them and enabling data transfer between the two to provide users with a seamless experience on a website. For example, payment APIs are used to connect your payment gateway to your eCommerce store.

So, when customers enter their credit/debit card information and other personal details on the checkout page, the API helps transfer this information to the payment gateway, which then processes the transaction. You can think of the API as an intermediary that facilitates data sharing and excellent connectivity.

What is an API for ecommerce sites

Simply put, API creates an interconnected platform where data is shared between two or more applications flawlessly. When you create a website on Shopify or other platforms, you have several elements that are separated from each other. For instance, the inventory, shipping, and tax calculations are three different functions, which might be from the same website, but have individual functions. Gathering data from all these elements separately can be very time-consuming and hectic for the merchant. That’s where API simplifies the job. It connects these applications and ensures smooth data transfer between different apps.

First of all, the API separates the front end of your website (the customer’s interaction with your website) from the backend. Once done, the APIs can be used for order management, inventory, and other elements in the backend. All this is done without affecting the front end. This decoupling of the front end and back end enhances your business and provides you with more control over managing your backend applications effortlessly.

How Do E-commerce APIs Work?

APIs enable smooth backend processes and allow you to display the requested information to the customer. As mentioned previously, it creates front-end and back-end systems, enabling merchants to handle all processes in the backend effectively.

These are critical for all businesses since there is a considerable volume of requests and queries that need to be processed simultaneously. Different systems within your site can interact with each other and work together to create a robust front-end platform that responds to your user queries seamlessly. Different APIs handle this interaction such that your customers never see what’s going on in the backend.

APIs establish a connection between your backend systems using a point-of-sale system, customer relationship management, retail ERP, content management, and order management system. Proper integration between these systems is vital for your business growth. It also ensures efficiency in your business operation and excellent connectivity between different website elements. Using API is essential to ensure smooth data flow between your inventory and order, pricing and checkout, and so on.

Benefits of E-commerce API

Growing your eCommerce business requires robust API integration that covers all backend elements of your website. The eCommerce industry utilizes APIs that are based on a REST architecture, which involves simple URLs, and a clear visibility into the company’s data. The main reason merchants need API integration for their E-commerce stores is to develop a perfect headless eCommerce site that promotes excellent user interaction.

Benefits of E-commerce API

The API tools allow you to integrate different eCommerce functionalities into your store without having to type their code from scratch. These can also be used to connect your website to a third-party application. For instance, you can integrate a third-party payment gateway solution into your eCommerce store using the payment API.

ECommerce APIs offer a host of benefits that allow merchants to create a lucrative, high-quality, and easy-to-use website that delivers a world-class experience to their customers. Let’s check out its advantages.


API integration enables you to scale your business, as your customers’ demands change and you need to expand your business to different markets. Whenever the trend in your industry changes or there’s a shift in your customer’s buying behavior, you need to transform your eCommerce platform to adapt to these changes.

API enables you to add new functionalities to your store or extend your platform without making changes to the underlying system. For instance, there was a huge demand for contactless delivery and mobile shopping during the pandemic. You can use the API to embrace these changes.

Increased Security

Traditional security protocols that may have worked in the past have now become obsolete. Attackers are finding new ways to hack into your system. With eCommerce businesses the biggest target of attackers, it’s become important for all merchants to update their security protocols to ensure maximum protection against cyber attacks. APIs can take your security to the next level by deploying encryption technology. It prevents man-in-the-middle attacks and protects your customers’ data from being exposed.

A Customized Platform

API integration allows merchants to decide which features they’d like to include in their eCommerce stores, instead of having to implement the functions they don’t need. You can integrate APIs that make sense to you and streamlines your workflow. One of the reasons for the growing popularity of API integration is its customizable options. You can customize your storefront to your requirements.

Improved Customer Experience

To create a seamless customer experience, you need a customized eCommerce platform with a clean and easy-to-navigate interface. Customers are willing to pay extra to achieve a great shopping experience. They shouldn’t know your store has different systems. Instead when they visit your website, they must feel like different elements are combined together to create an intuitive interface that helps them browse your store or make a purchase with a few clicks.


Let’s say you are starting a new website or switching applications. If you had API integration on your previous eCommerce store, you can reuse them across different applications and websites to deploy the same functions. This saves you the cost and time of developing APIs for another website. It also gives you peace of mind knowing that you can reuse functions of the same quality instead of creating everything from scratch.

Different APIs for Your E-commerce Store

You can use different APIs that help you run your eCommerce operations smoothly. Below we’ve listed the most commonly used API integrations for eCommerce stores.

Cart API: This API integration gives merchants the ability to view and manage customers’ shopping carts effortlessly. From calculating shipping costs to the taxable amount, this API integration does everything. It’s also used for processing card payments.

Checkout API: You can customize the checkout page for a specific audience using the checkout API. For example, you can configure the checkout API to automatically convert the currency to the customers’ local currency(if you operate globally).

Login APIs: Login APIs allow you to track the customers that logged into your eCommerce store. It also allows them to use different platforms (they might already be familiar with) to complete the sign-in process. For example, you may have come across an eCommerce store asking you to log into your Facebook or Google account. Customers find such services secure, as they don’t have to enter their personal information on another platform.

Sales Tax API: If you do businesses in multiple states, you can use sales tax API to automate tax calculations depending on the customers’ location and where they do business. It prevents the risk of miscalculating taxes for different locations.

Shipping API: A shipping API connects your eCommerce store to a logistics partner that handles the delivery services for each order. It also allows you to track each delivery from the point someone ordered a product until it reaches their doorstep.

Payments API: A payment API lets you integrate a third-party or built-in payment gateway with your eCommerce store. You can start accepting credit card payments once you have embraced this API integration.

Anti-Fraud API: This API integration detects fraudulent activities to prevent any unauthorized transaction on an eCommerce platform. It identifies red flags associated with card payments and declines a transaction if it looks suspicious.


API improves your agility and promotes innovation, which in turn, positively affects the company’s bottom line. That’s why API is the most valuable element of eCommerce operations. For businesses, API is the way to establish a strong online presence or create new features, capabilities, and experiences for customers.