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As eCommerce-Aholic says in their YouTube video: 5 reasons to choose BigCommerce over Shopify, when deciding whether a SaaS ecommerce platform is right for you, you have to consider APIs.
What does this mean for you?
Because more often than not, you don’t have access to the underlying code fuelling your ecommerce website.
This is where APIs come into their own.
In short, API stands for 'Application Programming Interface.' This enables two apps to communicate with each other. As such, this is what allows you to extend the overall functionality of your chosen ecommerce platform.
With that in mind, let’s delve into this subject a little deeper.
BigCommerce's API coverage is incredibly impressive. As is the number of API calls that BigCommerce can process per second. In fact, it can handle 100 times more API calls per second than Shopify Plus!
Shopify limits you to just two API requests a second, or four API per second if you’re a Shopify Plus user. Whereas BigCommerce can handle a whopping 400 API calls per second!
How Often Will You Need to Hit an API Call?
Let’s take synchronizing your entire stock list with BigCommerce’s Catalog API as an example. This API enables you to integrate your BigCommerce store with your POS and multiple online sales channels...so that you can handle everything from a single platform. Needless to say, this makes selling on popular third-party platforms like Amazon, Walmart (Jet), Wayfair, Best Buy, Houz, etc. a breeze!
So, suppose you’re running a large enterprise and have thousands of items to synchronize (or have tons of different product options). In that case, 25,000 products could take over four hours to sync on Shopify! Whereas, with BigCommerce, that same volume of merchants would take around a minute.
Following this same logic, if you're syncing multiple systems with your ecommerce store, you’ll be thankful that BigCommerce handles so many API calls per second. After all, there are only so many hours in the day!
The biggest perk?
But, that isn't the best thing about BigCommerce's APIs. In fact, it's the real-time information your shipping and logistics partners feedback to your store that's of the most value.
Of course, this also has a knock-on effect on the quality of your customer support. Slow and unreliable API calls adversely impact your store's inventory levels and shipping updates for customers.
While we're on the topic of customer service, just think of the kind of high-quality customer support you could provide, using one of your many APIs to connect your BigCommerce store with Gorgias.
You'll be able to offer all the following at lightning speed:
- Real-time live chat (you can even trigger automatic live chat campaigns depending on your visitor's web page).
- Centralize customer communications - social media, email, phone, etc. You can answer all pending support tickets from the convenience of one dashboard.
- You can create template answers to respond faster to FAQs - just write your response once and save it as a macro. Then you'll be able to reuse it automatically.
- Utilize machine learning to detect what customers will ask - shipping updates, refunds, exchanges, etc. Then, you can send laser-targeted automated responses to proactively answer their questions.
How to Utilize API Calls
On top of the obvious benefits listed above, you can also use BigCommerce's API points to create mobile apps using data retrieved from your online store. Not only does this make app development much easier, but ultimately, it'll also provide a seamless experience for the end-user. Win-win!
For the sake of ease, we've listed some of the different kinds of BigCommerce APIs you can use and how they could benefit your online store. Hopefully, this provides some much-needed inspiration for making the most out of your abundance of APIs.
Storefront APIs: This enables you to manage customer carts and checkouts (from the client's side and your back end). For instance, you can add products to a shopper’s cart, gather and display customer order info, update billing addresses, and erase current e-shopping trolleys.
GraphQL Storefront API: Similar to above, you can also use this API to access your customer's product info and modify customer details and orders. But more unique to this API, you can build frontend apps. This permits you full control over the look and feel of your brand.
Scripts API: You can insert any scripts for analytics, single-click apps, live chat, support plugins, and theme extensions for any apps or integrations you’ve downloaded, so you'll no longer have to manually paste code into your control panel.
Widgets API: Here, you can create modular blocks of content to reuse wherever you want. Similarly, you can also develop tools to empower non-techy users to manage your content. Trust us, your team will thank you for not making them go to the trouble of modifying the theme files.
Payments API: As its name so aptly suggests, this API facilitates the acceptance of customer payments. You can create custom checkouts either using a Server-to-Server Checkout API Orders endpoint or via the V2 Orders endpoint.
Getting Started with BigCommerce APIs
First off, you need to obtain the API credentials.
From there, you can experiment with your APIs using BigCommerce's in-built 'Request Runner.' Here, you just copy and paste your store_hash, client_id ID, and access_token.
Then once you've done that, hit 'Send.'
Alternatively, you can use the REST Client extension to make API requests, using the Visual Studio Code. Once you've installed this extension, you'll need to create a new file called BigCommerce.http.
Then you'll need to paste the following:
@ACCESS_TOKEN = your_access_token
@CLIENT_ID = your_client_id
@STORE_HASH = your_store_hash
Now, hit 'Save.'
This should trigger a 'send request' link to display above GET. Click 'send request,' and the API response will appear in a split window.
There are other ways to start using BigCommerce APIs, but we don't have time to go through them all in this article. Hopefully, this has been enough to help steer you in the right direction. For more information, take a look at BigCommerce’s API documentation.
Are You Ready to Start Using BigCommerce?
We hope having read this article, you have a better idea of what you could achieve with BigCommerce's generous API allowance. The BigCommerce API lets you sync inventory across channels, and locations, connect to apps, and offer exceptional customer support. How have you used the BigCommerce API?