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May 2 2023

Digital glossary: What does API mean?

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The term API is being a lot more widely used outside of tech circles, but what does the acronym stand for?

Ok, we get it. Here at b2b.store, we’re always working – and thinking – in the digital world and sometimes things can get lost in transaction.

For example, if you’ve read anything about our innovative B2B WhatsApp over the past few months, you’ll know we’re recommending the use of WhatsApp Business API to tap into the full power of the messaging system. We even succinctly explain why that is.

But one question still remains: what is an API anyway?

In short, API stands for Application Programming Interface and it’s a way for one computer program to communicate with another – defining how software components interact with each other. Developers use this capability to build software applications to adapt them to act in different ways.

APIs are used to build many different types of applications, including mobile apps, web apps, desktop apps and more. They are also used extensively in the development of cloud-based services to be tailored to a specific audience or use.

Using the WhatsApp Business API example, b2b.store has built on WhatsApp’s world-leading communication app to provide bespoke B2B tools – such as the ability to segment a group by region, or order products directly from a WhatsApp message.

APIs – such as those for social media platforms, eCommerce websites and mobile apps – can be publicly available, allowing developers to create applications that use data from other services, or they can be private, allowing internal applications to communicate with each other.

While that might sound great, to get the most out of API technology, it’s advisable to have somebody on hand who knows what they’re doing rather than trying to adapt the API yourself. 

A common question we’re asked is if customers could simply pay for access of the API themselves, but without developers on hand or a back-end system to integrate it to, it wouldn’t work.

Imagine you’re in a restaurant and you want to order some food. You don’t go into the kitchen and start cooking the food yourself, you simply ask the waiter to bring you what you want. That’s what businesses like b2b.store are doing with an API.

Now, what would you like us to serve you?