What is an API?
API stands for Application Programming Interface, which is basically a way for programmers to communicate with an application, without them being given access to databases and source code. An API enables developers to connect to applications and share or extract data as required, helping multiple software systems and applications to work together in a functional business ecosystem.
To be a little more technical, APIs consist of an exact specification produced by the providers of an application and/or service, which programmers have to follow, if they wish to use that service. This specification covers what functionality is being made available, how this functionality must be used, as well as the formats accepted as either an input or an output. In more recent years, as services have become more specialised, the term API has increasingly been used to describe both the specification and the service itself – for example the Google Maps API.
How do APIs work?
Every time a system wants to access a dataset from another application, it has to go through the API. This is because there is only a certain amount of data available to access and it must be requested in a very specific language, unique to each application. The API is a middleman of sorts, accepting requests and, assuming the request is allowed, returning the data to the system that requested it. It also tells programmers what they can request, precisely how they have to ask for it, and how to receive it as well.
Why are APIs important?
Most companies nowadays are running several software systems within their organisations. Accounts have one; Customer Relations have another; Sales another, and so on. Giving these individual pieces of software the ability to communicate with each other directly and work together is increasingly important for both financial and collaborative reasons. Often convoluted and time-consuming tasks can be streamlined into much simpler and easier to manage processes, making companies more efficient in the way they operate.
APIs can also be used to generate additional revenues and can even help to form the basis of entirely new companies. Uber is the perfect example of this, effectively using APIs to amalgamate Google Maps for mapping and its location services, Braintree for payments, Twilio for SMS and Oracle for its database requirements. APIs enable faster innovation, breaking down barriers to change and allowing more people to contribute to the success of a business. Unsurprisingly, many major companies are currently pursuing API strategies, including MasterCard, Unilever, Nestle, Tesla and BSkyB, to name but a few.
API for Peoplevox WMS
At Peoplevox, we realised the necessity of including an API in our Warehouse Management Software (WMS), which is why all major data required to operate your warehouse can be pushed to external applications via the API, including product data, sales orders, purchase orders and more.
This allows you to adopt a flexible approach to how you integrate your different systems. All you need is valid credentials for your Peoplevox installation and you can run system and user defined reports via the API, subscribe to notifications about important warehouse events - like changes to item availability - as well as choose the data you want to receive and the format you receive it in. Plus, we make continuous updates to our API as new updates are released on the Peoplevox WMS, so you will always have access to the data you need.
Find out more
If you'd like to find out more about what's possible for your warehousing needs via the API, request a call with one of our fulfilment specialists. They will be only too happy to help answer any questions you might have.