What Are API Integrations and How Do They Work?

9 min read
August 7, 2023

Businesses use numerous systems and applications for daily operations. From managing finances to processing customer orders, various applications make it easier to maintain efficiency and accuracy.

By connecting different business applications, you can streamline operations even further. Many organizations use application programming interfaces (APIs) to link separate software systems. The process can benefit businesses in several ways, such as increasing efficiency and improving customer experiences.

Learn more about API integrations and how they can impact your organization.

What are API Integrations?

What Are API Integrations?

Application programming interface integrations connect two or more applications, letting them share data. APIs are software forms that are programmed with specific standards and protocols. Their structure allows different applications to communicate.

API integrations sync your data automatically instead of relying on manual inputs. By linking separate applications, you can increase visibility, accuracy, and efficiency. Separate company systems seamlessly share data, increasing flexibility on all fronts.

For example, a supply chain organization could use API integrations to link an inventory management system with a customer-facing e-commerce website. The inventory management software tracks product availability and order location as they move through the supply chain, while the e-commerce shop displays available items for consumers.

An API integration could sync the separate systems, creating instant data exchanges between them. If a product runs out of stock, the system could relay this information to the e-commerce website. Visiting customers would see the updated product availability and not order the item. The connected data prevent customer confusion or canceled orders, increasing customer satisfaction. The integration process reduces manual data entry — instead of an employee manually entering that the product is out of stock, the connection provides the information automatically.

How Do API Integrations Work?

You can achieve API integrations with several approaches:

  • Custom integrations: You can tailor API integrations to meet the needs of specific applications and configurations. These integrations require hand-written coding and significant software developer knowledge, so they can become time-consuming. Custom integrations build precise connections between systems, creating the most accuracy possible. However, the ongoing maintenance and lengthy building process make them unattractive for some organizations.
  • Connector applications: Connector applications are pre-made integrations that link well-known platforms together. Connectors are usually easy to install and maintain because they have a simple format. However, they're only useful for organizations using popular and predefined applications.
  • Integration platforms: Organizations can also use third-party integration platforms to link applications. These platforms are dedicated to helping organizations establish API connections. You can work with service providers to link different applications and create the best solution. An API integrations platform can also offer ongoing support, helping companies maintain the API integrations.
Benefits of API Integrations

What Are the Benefits of API Integrations?

Installing API integrations can bring many advantages to your organization. Here are a few examples:

  1. Increased efficiency: API integrations move data between applications in seconds. Employees can access essential data right when needed instead of waiting for manual updates or switching between separate applications. The faster they can view information, the faster they can complete job responsibilities. You can also use API integrations to streamline tasks by connecting tools and software. Fewer steps let workers complete responsibilities more quickly, helping with overall productivity.
  2. Scalability: As your business grows, you need technology that supports structural changes. Companies might expand product inventory, offer new services, or broaden their online presence. API integrations grow with businesses, maintaining connections between systems as they grow. You don't have to start over when broadening your webpage or internal systems. Instead, you can scale existing API integrations to support the changes.
  3. Boosted visibility: API integrations build end-to-end visibility of all company systems. Immediate data transfers make it easy to access information in real-time. Employees can track and monitor data from all company systems, allowing for more informed decision-making. With improved visibility, companies can make more proactive decisions, limit negative disruption impacts, and identify improvement areas. Connecting applications prevents confusion and miscommunication for employees, shareholders, and other key figures.
  4. Improved accuracy: API integrations minimize manual data updates, which increases accuracy across all systems. The integrations sync data automatically, eliminating manual copy-and-paste methods. Human errors can cause significant setbacks and even financial consequences. For example, an incorrect figure on an invoice could have severe financial impacts on companies or consumers. By using API integrations, you increase accuracy on all fronts and decrease manual workloads.
  5. Enhanced customer experiences: In addition to internal benefits, API integrations also assist consumers. Automated data connections give customers the most accurate information about product availability, shipping updates, and other important order details. Updated information can increase customer satisfaction and encourage brand loyalty. Seamless online experiences can also attract new customers and inspire them to try your brand instead of competitors.
How to Use API Integrations

How Can You Use API Integrations?

Businesses can apply API integrations to address inefficient areas or aspects needing improvement. By learning how API integrations can resolve challenges, you can visualize the solution within your organization.

Here are three notable ways companies can use API integrations:

1. Connect Systems

API integrations help you connect separate company systems, improving efficiency. As technology advances, businesses might use many software forms, each with different ages and specifications. The more technology types you have, the more complicated it becomes to transfer data. Many businesses still use legacy systems, which are outdated software systems. Legacy systems can fulfill their original purpose but don't have any room for advancement. It's also more challenging to sync a legacy program with newer software.

You might hesitate to remove a legacy system because of familiarity and extended investment. However, if you're also interested in implementing cloud-based software or other advanced tools, you might wonder how to use both system types.

API integration platforms and solutions allow you to sync disparate systems. You can link older applications with newer systems, securing your data on all sides. By combining older and more recent systems, you build an optimized toolset to meet your company's needs. You can maintain your preferred systems while introducing more advanced options.

2. Onboard New Applications

API integrations also streamline the process of implementing new applications. They store pre-configured templates and existing information, then apply the data to new systems. This quick and seamless process improves efficiency across all departments.

Without an integration platform, you must manually transfer relevant data into the new application. This time-consuming process would restrict employees from using the new tool for some time. An API integration allows you to sync new systems automatically and increase data accessibility.

For example, you might want to install a new application that allows electronic signatures. E-signatures let users sign documents online, removing the need for extra paperwork or scans. You could connect the new e-signature application with an existing file storage application through an API integration. That way, you can send newly-signed documents directly into secure storage. An API integration makes this connection simple instead of requiring workers to send documents to the correct storage location manually.

3. Improve Connection with a Collaborative Visibility Platform

You can also apply API integration to resolve limited communication. When you use multiple disconnected systems, losing or confusing data becomes easier. Manual transfers might result in inaccuracies, negatively affecting later projects or documentation. Separate applications also make communicating harder for employees — miscommunications are more common if each department uses a separate software tool.

Connecting your systems creates a unified, end-to-end solution for all workers. They can instantly access data from other systems, helping them minimize miscommunications. With all departments viewing the same information, teams can work more collaboratively. API integrations can streamline various communication types, from project questions to work anniversary congratulations.

Enhanced collaboration lets your company work more productively. Employees communicate more quickly, making it easier to find answers and resolve issues. It also becomes easier to communicate with suppliers, shareholders, and other leaders because you can access the most updated information possible.

API Integration Use Cases

No matter your industry, API integrations can streamline your daily operations. These are specific use-case examples of how different industries can apply API integrations:


The retail industry is responsible for selling goods and services to consumers. Brands use a wide range of systems to acquire products, advertise items, manage customer experiences, and complete other essential tasks.

One of the most essential aspects of retail is creating positive customer experiences. To remain competitive, retailer brands must connect with consumers and provide fast and accurate orders. Whether customers shop online or in physical stores, retailers constantly look for ways to improve these experiences.

API integrations provide a more connected and seamless experience for retail workers and consumers. You can link different retail technologies to make shopping easier than ever. For example, retail companies could use API integrations to:

  • Implement mobile-friendly shopping: Over 75% of American shoppers report using their smartphones to make online purchases, making mobile-friendly shopping opportunities an essential channel for retailers. You can use API integrations to create and maintain a mobile retail application. The integration connects existing data from your e-commerce site or other business systems, allowing you to get started much faster. Consumers' perceptions of your brand might improve when they gain an additional way to shop for your products.
  • Improve online presence: Many retailers use online platforms, like social media, to promote products and connect with potential customers. An API integration streamlines data sharing between different platforms, simplifying profile setup and maintenance. API integrations also assist with data collection, helping you analyze consumer engagement and activity when they interact with your brand.

Inventory Management

Inventory management is an essential aspect of supply chain operations. It helps companies order, store, and distribute stock to the most accurate extent possible. From warehouse management to transportation logistics, inventory management plays a crucial role in the success of many industries.

Inventory management officials can use API integrations to improve daily operations. Syncing different applications helps you improve experiences for employees and consumers. API integrations could allow for actions like:

  • Shipping updates: Connected APIs sync data from inventory warehouses and movements through the supply chain. You can increase supply chain visibility by linking all platforms within a supplier's ecosystem. That way, all workers can view real-time updates as a product passes from manufacturing to storage to a consumer's final address. API integrations also allow you to share these details with customers. They receive shipment updates as their order reaches various distribution centers, providing them with an accurate estimated arrival time. The increased information can improve a customer's overall experience with your brand.
  • Product availability updates: API integrations can also link e-commerce websites to inventory databases, reflecting the most accurate inventory availability. When consumers use your online store, they view real-time data about product levels, estimated shipping times, and other key metrics. If a product runs out, the data transfers immediately to your e-commerce website, keeping customers informed. This instant data sync keeps consumers from ordering out-of-stock items, which would cause more confusion and dissatisfaction later.

How to Get Started With an API Integration

If you're ready to implement an API integration into your business model, you can start the process at any time. The process differs depending on your industry type and your chosen installation approach. For instance, custom-built APIs have different implementation procedures than a third-party platform.

These are a few early steps to facilitate things:

  1. Consider your goals: It's best to start an API integration by considering your overall goals for the process. That way, you can choose the API connections that will bring your company the most change and benefits. Consider your current company areas that need growth or improvement. After identifying areas you want to improve, think about how an API integration could help you reach this goal. These considerations help you take a more targeted approach to the integration.
  2. Choose a development process: Next, you can explore various installation options. As mentioned, you could create custom-made integrations, use predefined connectors, or work with an integration platform to achieve your results. Consider the pros and cons of each option and whether one suits your company better.
  3. Explore and test your options: After you make a selection, you can explore the option and see how it benefits your company. For instance, many integration platforms offer free demos that exhibit how the solution would affect your company systems. Alternatively, you could communicate with software developers and discuss a custom-made API integration's cost and timeline. You can keep trying options until you find the best solution for your company.

Request a Demo From Osa Commerce Today

API integrations bring many advantages to companies, from increased visibility to enhanced communications. Companies can find API integrations that align with business goals and optimize their operations.

At Osa Commerce, we understand the importance of business efficiency. Our Collaborative Visibility Platform connects all company systems, providing an end-to-end solution. Improve your visibility with instant order updates and predict upcoming buying behaviors with advanced AI capabilities.

To learn more, request a demo from Osa Commerce today.

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