How to Integrate with Shopping Carts

21 August 2017 |

shopping-cart-integration

Integration with shopping carts can be either a cornerstone of a system’s functioning or an enriching enhancement intended to make the functionality range more diverse and appealing to the customer’s eye. Whatever is the case, integration pains are always the same: 1-3 months of development work, further maintenance, and, of course, expenses. If there is no one to allocate this to, each integration will cost additional several thousands of dollars for agency service. To give numbers, multiply 4-12 weeks of developer work by $60 or £50 per hour.

If there is a need to connect to more that one shopping platform, there are two ways to go: separate and unified integrations. Let’s take a closer look at both.

Method 1: Developing separate integrations

1. Choose priority platforms.

Apparently, there are shopping carts that sellers choose more often, and so are those that different SaaS solutions want to integrate with too. The current tops on the market are Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce, and 3dcart.

2. Explore documentations.

Every platform has its tech documentation that describes the specific logic put into its architecture. This information is of high importance to solutions that want to integrate with the platforms because it helps to understand how the platform works from the inside. On the other hand, it does not give away too many details, but only those that are useful to developers working on integration with the cart.

To make integration easier, most e-commerce platforms offer APIs (Application Programming Interfaces). They define the rules of data interchange between the shopping cart and the system that wants to connect to it. Despite the common calling it “integration with platforms”, in practice, apps and services integrate with APIs provided by the platforms.

If the shopping cart does not offer an API, just like OpenCart does, its documentation is still a valuable integration helper because it explains the data architecture (i.e. how this data is stored and how it relates to other information in the store).

3. Determine integration patterns and get going.

Documentations describe what objects and how you can use for your app or system’s benefit. For instance, according to your business model, you might need to retrieve and manipulate data on products, orders, inventory levels, and shipments. Pick out the objects and fields relevant to how you intend your product to function, choose what HTTP methods (CRUDs) will take action on the resources, and build a mapping template.

Once you know what data will move where and how, think about authentication and event notifications. These are of critical importance to building a trustworthy product that many users will use because authentication is for account security and instant notifications are for hands-on convenience.

4. Maintain the connections.

Platforms release updates, so adding support for new versions is unavoidable. Unless you have a dedicated programmer, be ready to pay the agency having written the integrations their hourly rate for updating the code. If a new version that you want to support differs from the previous one significantly, it’s a new integration to suffer.

Allocating a dev team member could be a way out, but if you have tons of other tech work to do, it might be a painful experience. To give a heads up, the steady maintenance required for just three platforms could easily overwhelm a busy IT department.

Method 2: Developing a multichannel connection with many platforms

1. Reduce the number of connections to one by integrating with a unified API provided by API2Cart.

Just like in Method 1, you choose what shopping carts you want to integrate with. The difference here is that there is no need to build a queue of priorities because you can connect to many platforms at one go.

Other differences include the following:

  • one documentation to wade through
  • easier integration pattern building
  • maintenance off your shoulders (API providers usually take care of platform updates)
  • relatively modest expenses

1.1. Test the API.

Create a trial account to see what data and how the API returns. To make sure the outcome is adequate and as you need it, add your existing store and execute different API methods. Then compare the data from the response with that on the live store.

1.2. Start the integration.

If the API works fine, proceed with the integration development. Unlike shopping carts, we offer dedicated tech support and guide the responsible developers through the integration process.

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If this method is the one you would like to give a try to and you have questions about our API or how to use it in your specific business case, ask them here. In case you prefer live talk, schedule a quick call with our expert by clicking the button below.