Unleashing commerce APIs — your ticket to ecommerce excellence

Unleashing commerce APIs — your ticket to ecommerce excellence

Just about every commerce and marketing technology platform boasts about their APIs. From ERPs to CRMs, email marketing platforms to payment gateways, and of course commerce platforms all love to talk about their APIs.

That then raises a few questions — what are all these APIs for? How do I know which APIs are good for me and my customers? And why should I care?

What are APIs, and why should I care?

Let’s take a look backward

Application programming interfaces (APIs) have been in computing as far back as the 1940s, although the term was introduced around the ’60s or ’70s. Essentially, APIs were a way for your local software or applications to talk to each other.

However, with the proliferation of the internet, and then the advent of cloud computing, APIs have become the go-to method of communication between different services that don’t have to be in the same region, let alone the same server.

Why commerce APIs matter

Ecommerce never stands still — it’s always moving forward, adapting to changing customer expectations. This means companies need to constantly reinvent and improve the customer experience (CX) across both B2C and B2B to get an edge over the competition.

In the search for better and better CX, APIs have been used to deliver richer and more engaging experiences directly to the end users. That could be a faster loading and more performant website, unique features and functionality, or even integrating and seamlessly automating a best-of-breed back office.

The key to success is a commerce platform that includes a wide and varied selection of commerce APIs that support your brand’s vision out of the box and simplifies integration with APIs for other services.

Commerce APIs for all situations

The evolution of headless commerce

Headless commerce is the separation of the back-end solutions that power your business and front-end channels and customer experiences. This architectural approach can create significant value in the form of faster experiences that perform better and deliver higher conversion rates, unique and personalized content and features that differentiate the brand, and truly seamless omnichannel experiences — no matter which channel the customers are interacting with.

Beyond the obvious business benefit of headless commerce generating and capturing more revenue, headless commerce empowers you to be more agile with new feature development and maintenance, meaning faster builds and deployments across the board, and lower total cost of ownership (TCO). It's easy to see why headless is becoming the preferred way to build experiences.

However, to make headless commerce a reality requires highly efficient, flexible, and capable commerce APIs. The commerce APIs provide the points of integration for your various front ends (websites, native apps, and so forth) to connect back to the headless commerce platform.

Keeping up with customer expectations

Most companies feel the pain of trying to keep up with rapidly evolving customer expectations of what excellent commerce experiences look and feel like.

When we think about our recent shopping experiences, we can see why this evolution happens. It could be a brand that comes to you in the channels that you like to shop (social, in-store, mobile) instead of expecting you to go to them. Or a brand that made it simple to find everything you needed, and maybe something you didn’t even know you wanted, through relevant content and recommendations.

Think about the best commerce experience you’ve had online recently and what made it a good experience. Whatever made it great now becomes your expected standard for a good experience, and your expectations will only continue to rise. This is how things like personalized promotions, VIP sales, omnichannel returns, buy online pick up in store (BOPIS), and AI search features that were once nice-to-haves become the expected minimum standard.

To support these ever-changing requirements, your commerce platform needs to have rich out-of-the-box features and services that can scale with your customers expectation. It should also provide the flexibility to integrate and extend your other business software and services, allowing you to compose a unique commerce platform for your business and your customers.

To do this we need it to not only have strong APIs, but also to solve the problem of integrating and extending various platforms and services together through their APIs. Whether that is an ERP integration for inventory, orders and returns, or utilizing Adobe Commerce Product Recommendations for your in-store POS, all these customer experiences rely on quickly and effectively using APIs.

Comparing APIs and oranges

It’s clear that APIs are the future of digital commerce, and while all solutions have APIs, it’s far from a no-loss situation for merchants and brands.

Not all commerce APIs are created equal

Unfortunately, APIs can feel like a black box — you often don’t really know what is important or what you are getting. Here are some important questions to consider — how wide is the coverage of the APIs? How flexible are they? What is the performance level of the APIs? Are there usage limits or restrictions?

Questions to consider
What to look for
How wide is the coverage of APIs?
APIs cover as much functionality as possible across multiple technologies (REST, GraphQL).
How flexible are the APIs?
APIs are easily modified or adapted, ideally without any code.
What is the performance level of the APIs?
APIs can scale to support your growing customer demand and have fast un-cached and cached response times.
How is API usage limited or restricted?
APIs that can utilize your full platforms performance, without being rate limited or “fair usage” policies or throttling to high volume usage.

All these considerations have a big impact on how you drive customer experience and ultimately move your brand forward. Poor APIs can really slow you down, from adding extra work and delays to a new feature launch, to making it impossible for your brand to build the next game changing innovation or preventing you from scaling to support your growing customer base.

Your API checklist

Whether you’re just starting out with APIs, your current commerce platform already has them, or APIs are already a core part of your business, how do you know if you’ve got the best commerce APIs or even the right commerce APIs for your business?

Note: The below list is focused on commerce APIs, but many of the questions can be applied across other solutions you work with.


  1. Do your APIs cover your common customer journey (CMS, category, product, cart, checkout, my account)?
  2. Do your APIs support personalization throughout the customer journey (product recommendations, AI search, customer segmentation, personalized content)?
  3. Do your APIs support your requirements across multiple brands, sites, stores, currencies, languages and geographies?
  4. Do your APIs support common backend integrations (orders, inventory, shipping, customers, product details)?
  5. Do your APIs provide coverage across REST and GraphQL?


  1. Can you tailor API responses based on the request (filters, structure, response payload)?
  2. Can you query multiple resources with a single request?
  3. Can you extend API data from the application admin (e.g., add extra data points)?
  4. Can you modify the APIs adding additional data and logic?
  5. Can you create your own API endpoints hosted within the same platform?
  6. Can you compose other services APIs into your own commerce APIs?


  1. What is the typical response time for the common customer journey APIs mentioned above?
  2. What are the typical capacity limits for the common back-end integrations mentioned above?
  3. What features are available as Asynchronous Bulk APIs for mass updates such as customers, inventory, products, and orders?
  4. What API caching features are available both in platform and within CDN or Edge network delivery?

Limits and restrictions

  1. How are your APIs requests limited (e.g., leaky bucket calculation of usage)?
  2. How are your API responses limited (e.g., number of product variations, page size limits, in a single response)?
  3. How are your API sizes limited (e.g., document size, field content size)?
  4. How do you handle errors with these limits being hit?
  5. How do you provide API observability and logging?
  6. How do you manage authentication and public versus private API visibility?

Achieving ecommerce excellence

At this point, we’ve covered what commerce APIs are, we know how they’re helping the commerce industry accelerate customer expectations, and we even know how to tell a good API from a bad API.

The next question is, how do we start driving customer experience and business value from these commerce APIs? Let's look at a few examples.

Integrating your business applications to meet customer expectations

One of the biggest solutions in a business is the ERP software. Businesses often customize and iterate on their ERP so much that it is barely recognizable to the original installation. With that customization comes a whole host of unique requirements that need to be integrated into other solutions like your commerce platform, to the point where standard integrations no longer exist.

The good news is, Adobe Commerce can help. With asynchronous bulk APIs in Adobe Commerce, you’re able to integrate all the customer, order, shipping, and inventory data from your ERP into Adobe Commerce quickly and easily. You're also able to make use of Adobe Developer App Builder and Adobe Commerce Events to automatically call your ERP APIs for things like new orders and B2B quotes.

This same principal helps you integrate all your key business systems to service the customers completely seamlessly. From customer service through to POS, and from your warehouse to your website and app, everybody has a great experience.

The next evolution of omnichannel

From the days of single- or multichannel delivery, where simple and isolated customer experiences were created, to the omnichannel evolution, unifying all channels has been great for businesses and customers.

However, omnichannel is not the end state. With too many channels to count, businesses can benefit from shifting the mindset from individual channels to thinking of commerce functionality as the underpinning of every channel.

All commerce is digital commerce.

It used to be simple — for B2C it was in-store and online, and for B2B it was wholesale and distributors.

We now have hundreds of channels that cover apps, social, marketplaces, voice, chat, IoT, VR and AR, popups, watches, and more every day. Also, look at the different mixed experiences we have now such as endless aisle, BOPIS, reserve online pick up in store (ROPIS), and buy online return in store (BORIS) — all created to help customers.

Some of these channels are owned, while others are external, making it even higher priority to provide them with a set of flexible and robust commerce APIs. Those APIs can then be supplemented with your own features and functionality to create a set of public and private APIs that are unique to your business.

With Adobe Commerce you’ve got hundreds of APIs across REST and GraphQL, plus an API orchestration layer that makes it possible to combine all your other services, third-party applications, or custom APIs into a unified API endpoint.

By composing all your commerce services together, Adobe Commerce empowers you to bring your full catalog, personalization, merchandising, and other commerce services to every touchpoint your customers have with your brand.

Starting your commerce API journey

Just as customer expectations accelerate, so too does the technology to support them. Adobe Commerce provides the rocksteady foundation for you to build and roll out digital commerce to your whole business — with proven technologies that support both the present and the future.

Adobe Commerce gives you everything you need to succeed and grow as a brand — whether that’s going headless, streamlining integration of business platforms, or composing your very own unique set of commerce tools and features.

If you’re ready to see what the future of commerce looks like, request an interactive demonstration to see how Adobe Commerce can support your business’s growth.

Jason Ford is a commerce and experience specialist with over 15 years of delivering the latest technology across B2B and B2C in nearly every industry vertical. With experience implementing digital transformation internally for brands, and as a trusted implementation partner and as a vendor with Adobe, Ford delivers expertise in commerce strategy and architecture as part of a business’s holistic approach to customer experience.