What is application programming interface (API)?

An application programming interface (API) serves as a go-between software for two or more applications that work together to fulfill specific functions. It allows an application to interact with operating systems, microservices, and external software components.

Open API and its benefits

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API is a set of programming standards and instructions that serves as a key to access an external database or service. For example, the Google Maps API enables the embedding of maps on web pages. Booking flights online and getting the weather forecast through any smartphone also use APIs to pull data and project it onto the current web page.

Some companies create private APIs for internal use, but others allow open access to their APIs. Public or open API provides universal access to developers and consumers. It prioritizes its accessibility to as many clients as possible.

Cafe24 and other global platforms publish open APIs. Doing so offers some advantages:

  • Wider reach – Providing API access to outside developers lets publishers expand their user base without devoting additional resources to make niche software.
  • Increased revenue – Third-party developers can approach API publishers to sign licensing agreements for newly developed programs.
  • Stimulate innovation – Companies can foster a culture of innovation that generates new ideas even without direct investment in internal development efforts.

There is also the benefit of product/software platformization. Developers can use open API to create products out of specific data, activity, or capability. Individuals and organizations communicating through the product can create an ecosystem that creates value for each other, usually through the production or consumption of goods and services. With proper organization, the software could become a platform that brings together the ecosystem and reduces friction for any interaction.

Developers can also benefit from open API:

  • Reduced dependencies – Open API is a set of programming instructions meant for universal use. Developers can readily use the API to create a new program or app with little to no reliance on front-end or back-end development teams.
  • Faster development time – Products take less time to go to market, thanks to the already-developed code of open API.
  • Better flexibility – Developers have more freedom to use their preferred tools using open API.

These qualities pave the way for a more robust app industry in the e-commerce sector and beyond.

APIs in the context of e-commerce

API in e-commerce can fulfill several functions. E-commerce sites use APIs to handle logins and registrations, conduct site-wide searches, obtain product information, process shopping carts, and manage payments. There are also more advanced APIs that venture into price comparisons, marketing automation, personalization of recommendations, and even shipping.

APIs offer e-commerce sites distinct advantages. For instance, APIs streamline the process for the user to collect data. There is also the benefit of scalability, with APIs providing companies greater flexibility in expanding their offerings or other needs. Using APIs delivers a security layer, too, as there is no direct link from the site to the server. Instead, every request courses through the API.

Cafe24, provide open access to about 300 APIs. Third-party developers can utilize these APIs to build competitive apps that specifically benefit e-commerce merchants. These apps are available through the Cafe24 Store, a marketplace for e-commerce apps, services, and functions. Here, merchants can download and install the apps they need to operate their online business more efficiently. Already, more than 2,600 developers are actively participating in Cafe24’s ecosystem to expand new addressable markets and strengthen the e-commerce ecosystem.

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