Bringing the power of the API Economy to IBM Websphere Commerce

10 years ago, any enterprise large (or) small that didn’t have a website was not seen as a legitimate venture. Today, the same holds true for the API Economy. The advent of Mobile and Social is churning together a new Digital Era where those who fail to innovate end up being disrupted.

APIs act as the digital glue that links services, applications, and systems together to create new business channels while simplifying the need to stay connected. Digital Applications need to be flexible to change and agile in nature while staying connected to their Enterprise roots. The API Economy helps them do just that!

Innovate with the governance of an Enterprise, but with the agility of a Start-Up!

REST APIs for IBM WCS v8.0

IBM WebSphere Commerce provides a set of in-built REST APIs, which allow developers to extend their Commerce Platform. These REST Services are JAX RS REST Services built on top of Apache Wink. The REST Services are primarily built to work with the Aurora Starter Store, and with Feature Pack 8 they are also customized for B2B stores as well.

IBM WCS also provides a live catalog of the REST APIs available on the test server via the web browser by using Swagger UI. It provides dynamic documents for the available REST APIs and allows developers to interact with the API composition and try them out as well.

Some of the available REST Services within WCS are the Cart API,

  • cart API for services to add, update and delete to the Shopping Cart
  • inventoryavailability API which delegates to the InventoryAvailability BOD Service
  • storelocator API which is used to get Store Details by delegating to the PhysicalStore and GeoNode BOD services

Is API Management needed?

Once you have the APIs, the next set of questions start creeping in? Who gets access to these services? How many times is the API being hit per day? How do I manage future versions of my API? How do I publish my API to the Developer Community?

These are all valid questions that need to be addressed for your organization to be successful in the API Economy. API Management Tools, like IBM API Connect v5.0, help Enterprises to publish and manage their API End-Points to maintain a level of governance over them.

Using IBM API Connect, you can publish your APIs to internal and external developers alike in a secure fashion. You can retain control on who has access to these APIs while being able to enforce policies on these APIs, create interactive documentation and view usage analytics. API Developers can also manage versions of the APIs while deprecating support for older versions as new ones come out. You can even limit the hit rate of an API per developer to ensure that you can get hit with a DoS attack?

Who are your API Consumers?

So who would consume your Commerce REST APIs? The uniqueness of the API Economy is that it provides a much more open and innovative approach to application development. Unlike tightly coupled services, developers now have the ability to create Enterprise API Mashups to suit their end goal.

Internal App Developers

The first step towards the API Economy that many organizations take is to start exposing their services-in-siloes to internal developers. This helps to bridge the gap between the organizational divides and drives new innovation through the combination of previously divided services.

Partner Developers

Partner Integration can be made seamless through the use of the APIs, by enabling Partner Teams to access your internal services in a secure fashion. This gives way to new business channels and partnerships through the API Economy.

The Community(External)

Organizations, which have gained maturity over their API Catalog, start to bring in the Community Developers to exponentially grow innovation. Hackathons are a common mechanism for organizations to gain insight into their API usage and use cases.

Commerce API Use Cases

The API Economy provides a unique opportunity for Enterprises to innovate with Internal Applications, Consumer-facing applications, and Partner Applications. The lightweight and loosely coupled nature of APIs help application developer to quickly access Enterprise Data and Services in their applications. The following are some API Economy Use Cases for Commerce.

Kiosk and Mobile Channels for Business

With Omni-Channel becoming essential for Enterprise to stay competitive it is essential for organizations to provide a consistent view across desktop, in-store, mobile, and kiosk-based Commerce. With Commerce APIs, you can now easily create and change Mobile and Kiosk Applications while providing access to Enterprise Services such as Carts, Catalogs, Inventory, and Promotions.

Internal Connected PoS Applications

Internal Developers can create Mobile Applications for customer representatives, which can help enhance the in-store experience for the customers. By using a Mashup of the store_locator, inventory, and catalog APIs developers can rapidly create a Mobile App which can help answer questions such as ‘What is the closest location where I can buy this product?’. Add in the promotions API and you have a set of very happy customers?

Partner-Based Business Channels

The API Economy has the ability to pave the way for new partnerships that can drive unique business value. With your REST APIs, you can easily expose your catalog, users, inventory and more to your partners to enable feature-rich partner applications that help streamline business and create new opportunities.

About the author

Chandra Sena Reddy Nuguri

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