Do you ever wonder how information travels from one point to the next? Or how your business or favorite retail store receives your online order, processes it, and ships it to your door? Well an API (Application Programing Interface) is a messaging format that allows data to be transmitted from one system to another in near real time, allowing for smoother application integrations, faster decision making, and better business insights.
Think about the API as the waiter in a restaurant waiting to take your order to the kitchen. API is that messenger (The Waiter) that connects you (The Customer) to the kitchen (The Retail store or Data Center) to which they then receive your order and send back with the waiter the information you have requested.
APIs Impact on Your Business
Now, you must be wondering why do you care about API. Well, here are 6 reasons why you should leverage this tool in your business which can put some of your limited and valuable resources back in your hands.
- Transparency - APIs can link shippers and 3PLs directly to carrier online services, allowing them quick and easy access to tracking information, proof-of-delivery, and accurate up-to-date rate information.
- Operation Efficiency- APIs can also enable shippers and 3PLs to query multiple carriers to determine their most cost-effective routing options in real time. This is far more efficient than going to each site manually.
- Mobile Device Integrations- APIs allow for quick and easy mobile integration, which means that application data and reports can easily be ported to mobile devices as needed.
- Billing Management- APIs can allow for automated billing between carriers, shippers, and 3PL partners. This reduces errors and helps ensure timely payments.
- Legacy Technology Compatible -APIs are useful when there is legacy technology in play. Networks and web applications built up over many years might not lend themselves easily to 3rd party integration, especially when it comes to mobile apps. APIs allow for an abstraction layer that can mediate different existing networks whether internal and external.
- Customization- APIs allow a new level of customizability. For example, SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) applications might not have the exact interface needed for a given business case, but using the API would allow for a custom solution to be built quickly and easily.
Curious to know what more technical pieces are associated with APIs? Want to learn more? Check out our Business Case for APIs. Learn more about the history and business impacts API has had over the past few years and how to best inform yourself and identify when it's time to expand your tool set for your business.