What are API integrations and how do they work?

By Danny Lawson, E-commerce and OMS Expert
Integrations 101 Blog Image

API stands for Application Programming Interface (API). It allows different software applications to share data or use the functionalities of each other via integration, essentially allowing automation of communication between the two. 


An API function is driven by a call and response. Calls are made by the application requesting the data or action types that enable different actions, the response is provided by the receiving application and could provide requested data or a confirmation of action. 


Mintsoft makes use of the 4 main types of API call: 


GET calls allow retrieval of information. For example, a list of products and inventory levels 


PUT calls allow the creation of new records. A good example would be creating a new order from a 3rd party 


POST calls allow existing records to be updated. Think of changing an address when an order has already been created. 


DELETE calls allow removal of records. This is seen when courier labels are cancelled via API. 


Calls are made using a specific template for the data to an endpoint to complete the action. Some companies offer test endpoints allowing you to perform sandbox operations over the connection without affecting live data. 


Some APIs make use of webhooks and are capable of making calls based on a change of data like product details efficiently syncing any changes to monitored fields without the need for a timed poll or user interaction. 


API function is secured, and you may encounter a few different types of security validation methods. OAuth is quickly becoming the standard; an authorisation request is sent and the user is directed to a URL provided by the receiving application to enter their login credentials. A security token is then exchanged and the connection is enabled. 


Other methods may involve the generation or API keys or require ID and password credentials for the connecting software. API documentation will normally inform you as to the security measures in use. 


As an additional measure only data and functions made available by the host may be accessed by connecting software. This can sometimes be the reason for differences in functionality between connections. 


Why are API integrations important?


API integrations can be extremely beneficial for businesses managing inventory. In our ever-increasing digitally-led world, consumer demand and expectations are at an all-time high. Integration capabilities allow you to be on top of your stock levels by providing real-time visibility across multiple marketplaces from a single point of inventory. From automated shipping to real-time updates and seamless order management, there are many benefits to API integrations for 3PLs, warehouses and online retailers. 


Integrations help to trim down complicated processes and automate time-consuming tasks and entire workflows saving time and removing the risk of human error. By integrating all your channels and platforms, the need to log into multiple platforms is removed, meaning more secure and faster data transfer too – putting both yours and your customer’s minds at ease.  


Ecommerce integrations also ensure you are delivering great customer experiences by keeping all your online shops updated at all times. After all, in an era where competition is high, customer loyalty is even harder to gain and something as small as a payment error, missed order or delivery issue can be enough to lose customer loyalty. 


Types of Integrations


Mintsoft contains pre-configured integrations to a wide range of order management, fulfilment, inventory and accounting solutions, allowing you to connect with your own sources, as well as your clients if needed. There are many different types of integration relevant to OMS and WMS systems including: 

  • Shopping Cart API – such as Shopify, Squarespace and WooCommerce 
  • Marketplace API – such as Amazon, eBay and Not on The High Street 
  • Inventory Systems API – such as Inventory Planner and Unleashed 
  • Courier API – such as DPD, Royal Mail and UPS
  • Multi Carrier API – such as Despatch Bay and
  • Accounting Systems API – such as Xero and Quickbooks 
  • Warehouse Systems API – such as Access Delta and SnapFulfil 


The ability to connect all your platforms and systems from one centralised place means that order management is made easy; no need to log into different platforms. Managing your orders from one centralised platform also means that the accuracy and speed of orders will be enhanced – saving both time and money in the long run. 


At Mintsoft, to aid our customers in their fulfilment journey, we continually add to our collection of integration capabilities, and aim to partner with the most popular services that online retailers and fulfilment houses use.  


For connections outside of our pre-configured options we offer an open API suitable for data retrieval and record creation and a shipping API allowing integration to third party couriers for label generation.  


Below is a list of our most used integrations and the key features that they offer:


Shopify integration

Shopify is one of our most popular shopping cart integrations which enables you to import orders directly from your Shopify platform for fulfilment.


WooCommerce integration

The WooCommerce marketplace integration makes managing your orders easier than ever. You can automate order imports and post-despatch updates to ensure you’ll never oversell again, as this integration will keep your store up-to-date at all times and customers notified about the status of their order.


DPD integration

The DPDcourier integration provides hassle-free shipment solutions. Key features of the DPD integration include automated label printing, trouble-free order tracking and the ability to manage shipments, returns and tracking notifications from one unified platform.


Royal Mail (via Intersoft) integration

The Royal Mail via Intersoft integration allows you to keep up with the demands of ecommerce and customer delivery demands. The integration works alongside many marketplace integrations,  taking care of all the time-consuming and technical aspects of shipping, so that you don’t have to. 


How to set up API integrations

There are a few steps to setting up any API integration which you’ll need to understand and follow:


1. Select an Integration


You may already have in mind which systems you need to integrate with i.e. your accounting system, your marketplaces or your courier partners. Identifying them and which data you require to sync back and forth is the first step. 


2. Get Security Credentials (OAuth, API Key)


For each integration, you’ll require either credentials for OAuth with preconfigured permissions or an API key, which is your unique identifier that indicates to the system your integrating with (i.e. your accounting system), that there is permission to request, share and sync your data between the systems. It works in a similar way to any login username and password you’d enter to access information. 


API keys should be accessible from the systems you’re wanting to integrate – you may need to request them and you will likely need to set up permissions based on the data you want to sync. Connections using an OAuth method can typically be enabled by either yourself or your clients to eliminate the need for account creation on their storefronts. 


3. Make the Connection


There are 2 options depending on whether the integration is pre-built or not. If the integration is pre-built, there will likely be a guided set-up process of where to enter the API key and how to set up the data exchange. 


If the integration is not pre-built, there will be additional development work and likely cost associated with setting this up. It’s not always possible to build API integrations between all systems, so this is something to bear in mind.  


What is the cost of using API integrations?


Some order management software providers may charge you to integrate with your chosen couriers, marketplaces and shopping carts. Some may even charge per integration, which can become very costly as your business grows. 


Not all API’s are free to use so, you may also need to pay a subscription fee to use them, and as mentioned, for integrations not pre-built, you may incur development costs for setting those up.  


How Mintsoft uses API integrations


Many order management systems, including Mintsoft, provide a number of pre-built API integrations to allow you to connect with your sales channels, courier services and other systems at no extra cost.


Mintsoft also offers a chargeable service to help customers connect with couriers that do not have pre-built integrations. 


Want to know more?

If you'd like to know more about Mintsoft and how it can help your business, why not book a personalised demo with a member of our team today? 


Updated on: 15/06/2023