In the earliest days of e-commerce, shopping online was a generally more cumbersome experience for the customer than it is today. Making a purchase often required being rerouted to a separate website to enter in payment details, and the chances were that you didn’t necessarily know or trust that other website. Also, if there was any kind of interruption to your internet connection, the transaction could be disrupted. That all changed when APIs became available, and now the process is more efficient than ever for the customer. For the merchant, however, using an API can be a technical challenge, depending on the payment processor.
What is an API?
API is an acronym that stands for application programming interface, and that essentially means that it is a method of communication between different applications. From the average user’s perspective, this makes the digital experience easier and more enjoyable since applications that were once siloed can now share information easily. One great example of this is searching for a cheap plane ticket; sites like Expedia or Travelocity use an API to gather flight options and present them to you without you having to go searching each individual airline’s listings.
In the case of e-commerce, an API allows a merchant’s website to seamlessly communicate with a payment gateway; in other words, an API is what lets customers buy something from your website and have the transaction be processed without having to be rerouted to a separate payment site. One of the most common manifestations of an API in online shopping is the shopping cart; the shopping cart is a tool that gathers customer info, payment details, and order data and communicates the relevant info to all other applications.
Why are APIs Important for Merchants?
APIs are all about making a better experience for the customer, and that task is central to the business goals of any online merchant. In today’s online economy, where customers usually have many options to choose from, a clunky shopping or payment process can frustrate customers or even scare them away. So how do APIs help merchants?
- Speed: As noted, customers now expect every part of the online process to be quick, and they have much less patience for unnecessary steps or glitches. With an API, vital payment information can be transmitted in real time so that approval and transaction completion can happen faster than ever.
- Security: In addition to making the checkout process faster, the use of an API allows the relevant applications to interact more smoothly. These efficiencies make payments more secure in part because the customer’s data is never fully exposed to the other servers involved in the transaction.
- Aesthetics: For the customer, speed and security are expectations that they don’t think much about, but an API also allows for a more enjoyable user experience. This is most noticeable in terms of the graphical interface; the customer never has to leave your branded online space in order to complete a transaction. This means that as the merchant, you get to have full control over the user’s experience.
How Does PayCafe Support API Integration?
While other payment processors may provide an API, it can be technically complex for you to use with your system. PayCafe, as a part of their mission to make payment processing as hassle-free as possible, offers easy integration of their API into your website or platform and a series of related benefits:
- Relevant to Your Business: Just as not all businesses function the same way, the same needs to be true of API integration. PayCafe’s API matches your workflow rather than being forced into a specific type of workflow, as some other processors demand. As the merchant, you manage the process and make it work best for your needs.
- Merchant Support: As a merchant, you’re probably a whiz at your business, but you may not understand everything there is to know about web technology. PayCafe’s API is easy to integrate, but they also offer a robust merchant support system to help you with using the API or with any other payment-related need that may arise.
- Ongoing Development: Technology evolves at a rapid pace, and so PayCafe is dedicated to continually developing the features and functionality of the API so that it always stays ahead of merchant needs.
- Better Customer Experience: PayCafe has a fully customizable shopping cart with a responsive design so that the customer experience is enjoyable and seamless, but the API also allows the kind of flexibility that means you can always adjust to your customer’s needs and desires.
- Secure Transactions: Trusting PayCafe as your payment processor goes hand-in-hand with making sure your payment data is secure.