How is API driven eCommerce solution different from traditional eCommerce?
Usually, E-commerce platform's front and back ends are tightly coupled. Their front-end is pre-define and always linked to the back-end. In actual terms, this means that even with a set of customized features and with the best developers in the world, the platform can only deliver content through a website or — at a push — on a mobile app.
On the other hand, E-commerce architectures that use a RESTful API that comprises of a back-end data model and a cloud-based infrastructure makes requests between the backend and the frontend that are passed by the APIs — application programming interfaces. For example, when an order is placed, this request is transferred between the front end and the back end through the connecting APIs.
What does this mean in real?
When a user clicks on the ‘order’ button on their smartphone or give a voice command to Alexa, ‘buy me an Apple watch’, the presentation layer of the API driven E-commerce system (front-end) sends an API call (a message) to the application layer (back-end) to process the order. Then and there, another API call will also be sent, between the order-processing application and a fulfilment application, which will pick the quickest, cheapest order fulfilment method. The application layer (the fulfilment application, in this case) will also send another API call back to the presentation layer so that the customer can get an order confirmation and know about the order status.
Why should one go for API driven eCommerce rather than the traditional tightly coupled front end and backend for eCommerce?
The feature of API-driven E-commerce systems is that the back and the front end or dependent on each other for operating. This means brands can more effectively deliver a better online customer experience across multiple devices.
If you’re an E-commerce SME, staying in trend with the latest experiences and touchpoints is often impossible.
Incorporating any new experience and functionality in traditional E-commerce systems is complex as both the front and back end need to be updated,which is quite some work. Even if you take time out to incorporate a new feature, by the time you complete the development of that part in your application, the feature itself might have become out dated, with rise of more trending new features.
API-driven E-commerce total changes the entire scenario. It provides the flexibility for your back-end developers to use APIs to deliver core elements of your businesses — such as products, blog posts, or customer reviews — to any kind of device. Simultaneously, your front-end developers can focus on design and presentation of the content using the most feasible frameworks.
API-driven E-commerce is not just the need of the hour, but it genuinely has gained significance in today's trending eCommerce era. Changes to user interface/experience and content delivery to new IoT devices — such as smartwatches, tablets, and voice devices - all happen much faster and with full ease. We may sound biased, but the power of APIs for E-commerce cannot be ignored.