So you’ve decided to build an application or maybe you want to integrate another platform into your business process. Now, your developer is talking to you about APIs.
Understanding the technical jargon that goes into learning about technology can be quite intimidating. But don’t let this deter you from learning the basics and understanding how these technologies can benefit your organization.
On the other hand, if you’ve never heard of APIs or how businesses are implementing them into their systems and processes, then it’s time you do.
In this article, we’re going to briefly cover what an API is and then go into how you can implement them into your business.
Let’s dive in!
So What’s an API Anyway?
An Application Programming Interface, or API, is an interface that’s used by software to communicate with one another. For example, when you visit a travel booking website and purchase airline tickets and a hotel room.
The process of inserting your data into the website and then checking out using your credit card all requires the use of an API. The website must communicate with your credit card company or bank in order to process the transaction.
Thanks to APIs, this is possible.
There are different ways APIs work in the business world – this is just one example. Hopefully, this gives you a better idea of what an API is.
Now, it’s time to look at how an API can benefit your business.
1. Create New Monetization Streams
One way businesses are using APIs is to open up new forms of monetization. There are multiple ways to do so.
For instance, you can create a private API to allow customers paid access to certain data or services. Or you can implement a public API into your system to offer a tiered service.
In one plan, you offer services without the new tool or platform you implemented using an API. And another that costs higher for the tool integration.
This is a great alternative if you’re not looking to build your own API but want to make use of one to offer more solutions to your customer base.
2. Open New Channels of Communication
In today’s age, you need to be highly responsive to meet the demands of consumers. For instance, both millennials and baby boomers are using chatbots to reach out to brands.
And guess what – many companies that offer chat features are using an API.
One, in particular, is ChatFuel, which is an API that’s used for building Facebook bots. If you don’t already have an online chat feature for your brand, then it’s definitely time to consider using one!
Not only does this improve the consumer experience with your brand (both new and old), it helps your lead acquisition efforts.
3. Streamline Billing and Invoicing
When you have business partners, streamlining all of the company’s finances is key. With the PayJinn API, companies are able to do this.
This works by allowing developers to access and integrate the functions of PayJinn with other applications. For instance, this will allow the software to retrieve account transactions, account balances, and initiate money transfers.
It’s a solution frequently used by B2B companies in Europe. This invoicing and payment processing API provides a standardized and unified billing system for partners.
By using this API, your developers can turn their focus to building features instead of standardizing the process for invoicing.
4. Enhance the User Experience for Clients
When you use an API, you’re creating access to specific data, services, software, and the like. In doing so, your developers are able to make it so your clients are able to customize their experience with your tools.
For instance, they can tailor what data they want and the format it comes in. This will reduce return routes and optimize client requests.
In the end, you get a more enhanced user experience, which is critical for turning customers into loyal customers.
5. Make Internal Operations Seamless
One of the biggest shifts we’re seeing in business is the switch over to automated systems. But for many companies, this overhaul can be an expensive and grueling process.
And that’s where APIs come in.
You can use one to automate your internal operations, which can enhance your workflow. And this is possible without the risk of productivity loss.
For example, some operators can be done with the help of operators or by outsourcing to cloud computation systems. Then for your internal mail and generation of tickets, you can use a single API.
This way, when a customer files a complaint, it generates a ticket and quickly emails the appropriate department. But this is just one method of using an API for internal operations.
6. Gain a Competitive Edge
Where will your business end up if it’s incapable of competing with its number one foes? Finding ways to gain a competitive edge is key to staying relevant to your audience and maintaining a leg up on your competition.
Remember, if you want to stand out in a good way, then you have to offer the best tools, services, and experience to your customers. That’s how you create a long list of loyal fans and brand advocates.
And one way of achieving this is through the use of APIs. As we already mentioned, you can use them to improve your services, the user experience, and offer tools your competition aren’t.
But don’t just focus on the consumer experience – you want your developers and B2B experiences to be great as well. After all, they all play a role in your company’s success.
Next, let’s take a look at some real-world use cases for APIs.
Use Case #1: Improving Your Onboarding
There’s no reason for your business to use outdated onboarding processes. Especially not with all the technology out there today.
If you do the research, you’ll find that not taking the chance to adopt new technologies to improve your onboarding processes could cost you a lot more than not doing so.
Today’s younger workers are looking for happiness in the workplace. So if your onboarding process isn’t appealing or fails to properly onboard them, then your retention rates will suffer.
The onboarding process starts with the first documents being signed at the time of hire. But doesn’t end here. You must also make the training seamless so they can hit the ground running.
One way to offer this solution is with an API. Take for example the eversign API, which you can use to embed your hiring forms directly in your website or software program.
This will enable new hires to quickly fill out and sign the necessary paperwork to begin their training. And you can also find other APIs to combine tools and systems to make your current onboarding processes better.
Use Case #2: Scalable E-Commerce Transactions
Both online and offline retailers are able to use scalable API to handle transactions on multiple devices. This opens the door to creating additional revenue streams and distribution channels, without increasing infrastructure.
Take eBay, for example, which generated about 60% of its sales from a public API.
Other businesses can use APIs to grow their business without taking on large capital expenditures. Plus, they get to avoid time delays oftentimes associated with these transitions.
This allows a true pay-as-you-go model to address seasonal spikes in API usage. For example, during Black Friday, retailers are able to increase their API servers to accommodate the surge in sales transactions.
Use Case #3: Integrating Platforms for Enhanced Experience
If you look around today, you’ll find some of the most successful software out there today are those that offer consumers a single platform with access to all their favorite tools.
One example is Qebot, which uses open APIs from Saas-based technology providers. And, in turn, it built a platform that comes with services and functionality of top-tier cloud software companies.
It offers multiple tools in one, such as a CRM, website builder, review management, email marketing, and social media management. This enables its customers to take care of the majority of their online marketing needs in one place.
Adopting an API Business Model
Starting to see the bigger picture of using an API to grow your business? Well, you’re not alone. There are already a number of larger corporations using the API business model.
This includes Amazon eCommerce, Amazon S3, Facebook, Rhapsody, eBay, Cypress Golf, Salesforce.com, and Exact Target, to name a few.
And as you can see, these are businesses in varying industries. It’s an excellent method to use whether you’re in retail, auctions, infrastructure, music, social media, SaaS, or marketing.
The key now is finding which APIs to use for your organization. You may find that it’s smarter (and cheaper) to go with APIs that are already out there and available for use, rather than building your own.
Just take a look at your current processes and services to see how you can enhance them using one or more APIs.
And if you’d like to update your business site with embedded forms and digital signature functionality, then check out eversign today!