According to a study, some 83% of French companies have noted an improved customer experience after implementing APIs. 

What about your company?

Do you like the idea of allowing your customers to download CAD models of your products in the format of their choice, but you are not sure how to go about it from a technical point of view?

Why not take advantage of the best that CAD content platforms have to offer, without your visitors needing to leave your website?

Everything is possible with APIs!

We will show you how integrating APIs in your website can quickly revolutionize the user experience on your product pages.


API: definition

API stands for Application Programming Interface.

An API is a programming interface that allows users to “connect” to an application in order to exchange data.

An API is open and made available by the owner of the program.

In addition, these programming interfaces can be used to enhance a desktop program, mobile application or Web application with functions and services from another system (software, platform, database, etc.) so as to provide more advanced features or import data that is pre-organized, processed and/or integrated elsewhere.

There are two ways of doing this:

Firstly, develop your own APIs or secondly, use APIs that are designed and published by third parties.


How does APIs work?

To access the data received via an API, you obviously have to send queries.

There are two major programming languages used for APIs: Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) and Representational State Transfer (REST).

Depending on the uses, the responses sent to the APIs will be either in XML or JSON format.

Integrating APIs in your website or your application requires a certain amount of technical skill.


Integrating APIs in your website or your application requires a certain amount of technical skill.


What points must you check before choosing APIs?

Before choosing an API solution, you should go through the following check-list.

  • When was the API developed? If it was developed recently, it is unlikely its reliability has been tried and tested on an industrial level.
  • How many “client” applications and how many end users already use the API?

    Even if an API has been around for a long time, it is not necessarily used very much, or is perhaps only used in a few applications with a small number of users.

    Make sure that you make the right choice by requesting specific references concerning the number of real cases of use (and the different areas of use).
  • How many calls can the API handle per unit of time (per minute, day, month)? The greater the number of calls that can be handled, the more robust and reliable the API is.

    The number of calls corresponds to the volume of information exchanged between the database and the client applications.

    For example, the TraceParts APIs recorded 24.2 million calls for the month of March 2018 alone.
  • Is there detailed documentation available and is there good quality technical support?

    The quality of the technical documentation (examples, illustrations, etc.) depends on the developer who created the APIs.

    It should be a genuine user manual for the API, which will help the integrator or your web team.


The benefits and drawbacks of APIs

Again, according to a study, some 92% of French organizations use APIs.

Here are a few of the key benefits of using APIs to make your products available on your website.

  • One of the main advantages of using an API is that it integrates the functions from one application into another, without you needing to re-develop them yourself.

    This saves a considerable amount of time for your web team or your integrator.
  • This solution makes it possible to totally customize your web interface.
  • You can group all your information together in one place
  • You can personally define the best user experience (UX) for the interactive 3D display, the configuration and CAD downloads of your products, and much more!
  • When the API is upgraded, you automatically get the latest version without needing to update it.

Even though the effectiveness of this solution is broadly acknowledged, there are a few drawbacks to take into account.

In particular (and this will come as no surprise), a lack of qualified resources available; this was noted by 37% of respondents to the study.

Implementing an API can be complex if the company does not have a web department or a person devoted to Web development.

However, the benefits outweigh the negatives.

Thanks to the use of APIs, French companies say they have been able to*:

  • 39% – Speed up processes and innovation;
  • 35% – Increase revenue;
  • 26% – Increase their agility.

*Source:  APIs: Building a Connected Business in the App Economy


An example of integration with APIs

At TraceParts, we are the primary users of our APIs.

Indeed, we developed them ourselves and we have been proposing them for many years to our customers (component manufacturers and distributors), to whom we also provide integration support.

We have our owne online documentation.

Here is an example concerning RS Components, a well-known distributor with more than a million customers around the world.

RS Components wanted to enhance its product sheets with an interactive 3D viewer and its suppliers’ CAD models.

The company’s objectives were to attract new users from the design sector, develop customer loyalty by providing a new high-added-value service and improve the user experience on its e-commerce platform.

And ultimately to increase its sales!


API integration for RS Components

Об авторе

Samson Simonian
Samson Simonian

Regional Partner, TraceParts

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