Integrating APIs into online shops



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APIs and online shops Integrating APIs into online shops

Published on 12.02.2020 by Oliver Schmidiger, Digital Product Manager, Post CH Ltd

A standardized API (application programming interface) is used by online shops to communicate with internal and external systems in order to offer additional functions. It is important to pay attention to both the technical and functional connection.

With the Digital Commerce API, retailers can choose from a series of REST API interfaces provided by PostLogistics, enabling them to improve the customer experience in their online shops and to simplify their own logistics processes.

Technical connection

The Digital Commerce API is accessed using what are known as credentials, which are provided by Swiss Post. The API interfaces can then be called up via the endpoint. Here, the online shop sends a request for the desired information. Swiss Post responds to this request with the corresponding data. One example: all the shipping options available for a specific address are to be displayed in the shop. Swiss Post responds with a complete list of all the services available for this address. Local delivery and specifics such as public holidays are taken into consideration here.

Functional connection

Before using such an API, the issue of functional connection is generally overshadowed by how the technical integration procedure should run. It is, however, advisable to ask yourself the following function-related questions beforehand:

  • What is the ultimate goal here? What services are to be offered to the customer?
  • Which API interfaces can meet these requirements? It may be the case that there is a simpler solution, which doesn't involve integration of the API.
  • What adjustments need to be made during the checkout process and in the background? In other words, what changes are realistically feasible. The “deluxe version” is not always the best option.

Several interfaces only have a minor influence over the entire process, such as address verification when registering the order. Their inclusion, however, may result in the improved function of other processing steps. For example, a verified address leads to better delivery quality.

Other interfaces, such as shipping options, have a far greater influence on steps such as the checkout process. The data obtained must be interpreted and applied correctly. Next-day delivery may be permanently shown as a shipping option at checkout, for example. Same-day delivery will not, however, as this option is no longer possible at some point during the afternoon. In this case, integration of the interface will have an impact on posting. In many cases, same-day consignments must be handed over to Swiss Post earlier than next-day deliveries.

Consideration also needs to be given to the issue of storage. If individual items from external partners are sent from an external warehouse, the retailer has less influence on these products than if they were coming from their own storage facilities. In cases such as these, it may be advisable to omit certain options for individual products.

Every API interface presents its own challenges. If a customer wishes to collect their consignment from a PickPost point, the map selection must be integrated into the shop. With pick@home, it needs to be decided which customers will be permitted to return goods and whether or not the customer is expected to pay anything for the return shipment. 

If these functional aspects are taken into consideration before integrating an API, the entire process is generally completed more quickly and successfully than if the focus remains solely on the technical side of things.

Our Digital Integration Team (digitalintegration@swisspost.ch) will be happy to provide you with the necessary functional support. Should you have any technical queries, please contact Web Service Support (webservice@swisspost.ch).

Interesting

Oliver Schmidiger, Digital Product Manager, Post CH Ltd

Oliver Schmidiger is a Digital Product Manager at Post CH Ltd and has years of experience in the design and development of online services and customer interfaces. Prior to this role, he was responsible for various logistics products at Swiss Post International and promoted their digitization and incorporation into the online environment of Swiss Post.

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