A big problem with SaaS ecommerce platforms is that you don’t have access to the underlying eCommerce system, you are merely renting out access to it to run your eCommerce website. This has a lot of advantages but makes fine tuning and customization of design as well as adding functionality and integrations with other services rather limited.
While BigCommerce still can’t give you access to all of your sites nuts and bolts due to the fact that they can’t give just anyone access to go in and break their platform for everyone, it does provide powerful API access to eCommerce web developers which gives them extensive ability to bring unique abilities to their ecommerce solutions.
An “Application Programming Interface” provides a way for different software solutions to communicate with each other. Extending the functionality of both by allowing them to work together. A common example of this in eCommerce would be where your website automatically adds consenting customers to your email marketing platforms' mailout lists upon purchase. In this case, your ecommerce system processes the sale itself and then communicates with your email marketing service, like MailChimp, over an API to upload the customers information and what list to add them to.
Or maybe you already have a separate stock system that works with your in-store POS that you want your website to sync with. That is going to require integration using an API. And how do you think you can have one system sell on multiple channels? Exactly, even Amazon has API’s that developers can use to manage their Amazon store using software!
API’s are the foundation of most integrations, anytime you have two separate services that can work together then there is an API bringing them together. Even two services that have API’s that don’t know how to natively communicate with each other can be joined together with an intermediary service like Zapier.
Mainly because of the pure power it provides to developers who know how to work with it. It is incredibly impressive in not only the access to the innards of your ecommerce store that it gives you, but with how often they allow you to use it. For comparison, Shopify will allow a developer to make two API requests per second, four if you are a Shopify Plus subscriber. BigCommerce barely limits you with a whopping 400 API calls per second allowance! Now that makes it worth using and highly scalable!
For example, imagine you are already syncing your large stock on the fly with an API but want to run a weekly checkup to make sure. If you have 10,000 products then you are limited to checking 2-4 products per second on Shopify, that will take 40-85 minutes to run the check using Shopify and could possibly cause conflicts as other API requests are denied or queued, no doubt slowing down your site for anyone using it during that time. Do that with 400 API calls per second and you are looking at 25 seconds. Yea, huge difference!!!
The truth is, a 2-4 API calls per second limit greatly reduces what you can achieve with it and makes some applications alone unfeasible. Or maybe you want to add functionality that doesn’t require many API calls to run but unfortunately all your API allowance is already being used up by a greedy integration.
Due to the large library of API calls available to you, they are segmented for organizational reasons, so you can find API calls unders the following categories...
Used for cart and checkout customization in both back end and on the client side. Used for complete control over the products in someones shopping cart, gathering and displaying customer information and more.
Used for inserting scripts without having to mess with code. Mainly used for analytics and applications like support plugins, live chats and standard extensions or integrations.
Pretty self explanatory. This is what connects your website to your payment gateway. While most will simply use it to hook up to their payment gateway of choice, it also allows for creation of a custom checkout experience by an experienced magento web developer.
Used for creating content that you can drop onto your pages. Best used by developers to make it easy for users to manage content by modifying theme files or adding new custom dynamic content to make the website unique.
Taking the standard storefront API and ramping it up it to be more powerful for delivering a customized shopper experience through custom built front end applications that can access product and customer information. An advanced and powerful API feature of BigCommerce.
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