We as consumers prioritize convenience above all else. We want to purchase anywhere, anytime, with little thought given to what happens behind the scenes. While this idea has permeated traditional B2C shopping channels, B2B eCommerce businesses are also responding to changing market demands and customer expectations. This is where eCommerce API (Application Program Interface) comes in: it offers a level of convenience, scalability, agility, and reduced costs that B2B eCommerce businesses need to stay competitive.
With the power of eCommerce API, B2B sellers can build and deliver the solutions their business clients demand. Solutions that address unique, complex business models that differ from one customer to the next. More importantly, eCommerce APIs can improve functions these customers, as well as their back-office staff care about, including seamless product selection, ordering, payments, shipping, and more.
How can sellers benefit from an eCommerce API?
Improve the user experience
The B2B buyer is just like any buyer, inherently aware of the power and influence they wield with their wallets. Research has shown that the customer experience correlates to loyalty and retention, as well as the customer’s willingness to repurchase, to switch brands, or to recommend the brand to others.
APIs help B2B eCommerce merchants personalize through individualized back-office insights. They can help you construct an accurate model using customer behavior and activities such as when, where and what they do on your eCommerce store.
The increasingly mobile and connected world makes the customer experience only half of the battle. B2B sellers must be able to keep track of business customers as they navigate to their purchase through various channels. In this sense, an API can be used to increase consistency across channels that may have been neglected.
APIs can help the B2B customer take advantage of coupons, company-specific discounts, or deliver custom, account-specific checkout experiences, boosting conversion no matter where the customer begins their purchasing journey.
One of the main objectives of B2B eCommerce businesses is to make it easier for their business customers to run their operations and sell to their customers. The eCommerce API gives B2B sellers’ customers the flexibility to connect directly with platforms they use in their back-office operations. The API acts as building blocks for the realization of numerous shopping and purchasing methods.
APIs unleash more flexibility out of your eCommerce platform, allowing your business clients to integrate it with their systems. They, in turn, can use the API to pass on information to their own systems, or platforms intended for use by their partners or customers.
What are some business uses of an eCommerce API?
Business sellers seek eCommerce solutions for double duty: to get their eCommerce managers, sales and support staff working more effectively and to help their business customers reach their goals. This means going beyond the self-service portal and accommodating their smallest shopping, ordering, and purchasing preferences.
B2B customers can use the eCommerce API to push data directly to their ERP, reducing manual data entry and human error. Open storefront eCommerce APIs make it possible to feed necessary product data to your business clients’ preferred systems without the need to invest in complex integrations with multiple 3d-party systems. Lastly, the API can be used to rebrand or recreate self-service portals from scratch to better meet the needs of end-users making B2B2C scenarios easy to manage.
Businesses with traditional eCommerce platforms must concede with adapting their solution to their tech stack – rather than having their tech stack adapt to their business needs. Headless architecture does away with these limitations with the flexibility and agility to build personalized experiences.
The headless approach means the ability to offer B2B buyers a custom-tailored storefront, web, phone, smartwatch, television or voice-activated purchasing while relying on a robust B2B eCommerce platform for back-office functions. This can include product management, order processing, and integrations with your ERP, PIM or CRM. In a headless scenario, APIs are used between multiple systems to communicate with each other, effectively decoupling the back-end from what happens on the front-end.
PWA (progressive web app)
A PWA is a web application that runs as a website while offering an app-like experience to users. It has promising uses in B2B eCommerce, offering mobile business customers a quick-loading and lightweight mobile experience without the high development costs of native apps. Best of all, PWAs make laser-focused personalization that enhances the user experience possible, increasing engagement and conversion rates for your target audience.
Developing a PWA makes extensive use of your eCommerce API. With OroCommerce’s Rest API, developers can implement service workers, web storage, ordering, payment, push notifications, and more – helping you bring the most complex PWAs to life.
How OroCommerce customers leverage eCommerce API
Animal Supply Company
Animal Supply Company is the nation’s largest pet food supplier and B2B distributor that also provides 3rd party logistics services to its network of retailers across every corner of the United States. Animal Supply utilizes hosted shopping carts and platforms like Amazon, so they had complex requirements for their warehousing, inventory, shipping and commerce needs.
As Animal Supply grew through mergers and acquisitions, they inherited various order processing systems which OroCommerce was able to centralize. Acting as an order management system on behalf of multiple ordering channels, OroCommerce gathers information from Animal Supply’s ERPs and warehousing systems to process orders for a number of business users and end-users. All this was made possible by OroCommerce’s headless architecture that connects via API to Animal Supply’s mobile application. To learn more about how Animal Supply Company was able to roll out a customer-first storefront in record time, read their success story here.
Petra Industries is a leading distributor of consumer technology products to tens of thousands of retailers and business partners. As Petra Industries outgrew their B2C-oriented solution, they started looking for a B2B-specific platform that could help in everything from onboarding customers more effectively, to carrying out orders, to executing better marketing campaigns.
Petra completely decoupled their eCommerce back-end and was able to build an effortless mobile journey for their customers’ clients as a result. Petra now offers a consistent site-wide experience with time-saving quick order forms and CSV file uploads. They implemented a native OroCommerce integration and pulled in data from their Akeneo PIM and MDS ERP. Learn more about Petra Industries and their successful transformation here.
Making the case for B2B eCommerce API
For B2B sellers, making shopping “easy” is not as straightforward as it is for B2C businesses. That’s because B2B buyers are an uncompromising bunch: they want the same effortless, omnichannel shopping experience they’ve come to expect as B2C customers, but with all the convenience around custom price lists, individual product catalogs, quote management, ordering workflows, and more.
A proper eCommerce API allows B2B sellers to give their buyers every reason to stick with them. Vendors can integrate their back end into ERPs, CRMs, and PIM systems, or merge payment functionality with a payment processor, for example. By decoupling the back-end form the front-end and have them communicate via API, B2B businesses can utilize the full benefit of headless eCommerce for their needs.
Fortunately, platforms such as OroCommerce are able to leverage headless with support for various PWA frameworks such as Front-Commerce, helping you realize projects of any size and complexity. Interested in utilizing the power of the OroCommerce API to make you stand out in B2B eCommerce? Read about our latest OroCommerce LTS 4.1 release to learn about the improvements to our API endpoints and our plans for the future.