What are APIs and why are they important?

2020-08-14

Written by Starshipit

The hardest part about running an online store is getting orders out the doors and into the hands of customers.

Fulfilment automation is a piece of software that streamlines dispatch by integrating with your sales channels and courier providers. Simply, this software manages many of those manual and mundane parts of the fulfilment process for you, so you can invest your human resources into other parts of the business.

But how does an integration actually work? The magic all comes down to an API.

AP … what?

An API, or Application Programming Interface, is a software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other. Without an API, two or more systems can’t share information so you can’t integrate them with each other.

In other words, an API is the middleman that sends your request to the provider that you’re requesting it from, then delivers the response back to you. APIs are everywhere, and you’re likely to be using them now, like sharing a blog on social media, logging into internet banking, or booking accommodation online.

APIs in real life

For example, many small and medium businesses use Xero to manage their accounting. Xero can connect with your business bank accounts via an API to automatically import transactions into Xero. This automation means that users don’t have to manually enter their income or expenses which saves them loads of time and helps to avoid making errors.

When it comes to filing end of year taxes, Xero also integrates with the tax department via an API so returns can be filed instantly which means users don’t have to use multiple platforms at the same time.

APIs & fulfilment

If you want to streamline your fulfilment processes, integration is key. This is when two platforms, like the sales channel platform you use (e.g. Shopify or Magento) and fulfilment automation software like Starshipit (http://www.starshipit.com/), are linked together so any changes made in one are replicated in the other.

For an integration to work, you need an API. For example, the API integration between Shopify and Starshipit tells Starshipit when an order has been made via your Shopify store. If you use live rates at checkout, Shopify will request rates from Starshipit, Starshipit will request them from the courier, e.g. Australia Post, then send them back to Shopify – all using APIs and all within just a couple of seconds.

Once the order has been assigned, Australia Post sends a message back to Starshipit via their API with the relevant tracking information, which Starshipit sends to Shopify along their API. When an order has been dispatched this information is sent back to Starshipit and Shopify too, triggering responses like Starshipit’s automated notifications and Shopify’s automated emails.

Starshipit & APIs

Starshipit integrates with dozens of online channels like eCommerce platforms, inventory management software, warehouse management software, and accounting platforms, plus the world’s leading domestic and international couriers. For every one of these integrations, there is an API integration that enables Starshipit’s software to talk to each platform and courier.

For channels that we don’t integrate with, Starshipit also has an API that businesses themselves can access to build their own integration. This isn’t a plug-and-play option like our integrations; it requires development work at your end.

Starshipit makes shipping easy

For an integration that works seamlessly with the platforms your already use, Starshipit is the ideal fulfilment automation provider. Try it for yourself free for 30 days by signing up for a trial.

Starshipit

Starshipit

Starshipit is the best practice shipping and fulfilment platform that helps retailers save time and deliver great shipping experiences.

More from this Author