People talk a lot about how the internet and mobile technologies have profoundly altered modern life. And rightly so. These twin technology shifts have changed just about everything related to how we work, shop, and communicate. But there’s a third major shift that doesn’t get talked about as much, or maybe is just taken for granted, application integration.
Sure, computer systems have always had the potential to be integrated, but only recently has it become quick, inexpensive, and fairly easy for systems to share data back and forth leveraging something called an API.
What’s an API?
Application program interface (API) is a set of routines and protocols. An API specifies how software components should interact. Imagine that you have a house full of data. Someone knocks on the door and asks for some data. The API is the doorman. He decides if the visitor will get the data being requested.
Why is this so great?
Because it makes it possible for systems to easily share information back and forth. If you’ve got a great doorman, you can invite lots of people to knock on the door. You probably use applications that involved APIs every day. Embedded Google maps and YouTube videos are good examples. If your bank offers to show you your credit score, they do that with an API. Track the progress of your UPS shipment on Amazon? API.
How do manufacturing APIs enable seamless fulfillment?
Some manufacturers have come to realize that the old fashioned manufacturing model with many different vendors involved, is not well aligned to the way new products are brought to market today. These cloud manufacturers offer a turn-key service and handle everything from PCB prototyping, to order fulfillment. Kickstarter creators and small businesses don’t have to worry about sourcing, assembly, inventory or shipping.
Some of these full-service fulfillment services have the capability to use an API to connect their inventory management and order delivery platform to the ERP and ecommerce systems of their customers. That means that when a product order is placed, the vendor is automatically notified and the order can be packaged and shipped without the seller lifting a finger. No faxes or emails back and forth. Order placed. Product shipped. Boom. Done.
A manufacturing API is a small thing that delivers big convenience and efficiency. If you want to take the friction out of getting your products into the hands of customers, look for an integrated fulfillment partner with an API.