Shopify offers developers and partners a whole range of Shopify APIs, which they can use to extend the integrated functions of the Shopify platform or add new functionalities and enable interaction with other systems and platforms. Depending on the use case, different API interfaces are used, such as the Shopify Admin API or the Shopify Storefront API. What does API stand for? Which API connection is exciting for Shopify? In the article, we would like to introduce you to some APIs and their use.
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API - What is it?
An API, or Application Programming Interface, is made available to developers in order to connect external systems and enable interaction between the two systems. From a purely technical point of view, an interface specifies how data is received and sent. This is done at source code level, for which the developers create a specific syntax including all relevant parameters.
The name REST API and GraphQL also frequently come up in this context. The biggest difference between the two is the way data is sent to the client. In a REST architecture, the client makes an HTTP request and the data is sent as an HTTP response, while in GraphQL the client requests data with queries. At Latori, we use the forward-looking ShopifyQL (or the Shopify GraphQL Admin API) in almost every client project. Read more in the Shopify Admin API chapter.
Shopify Admin API vs. Shopify Storefront API - What are the differences?
The most significant difference between the two APIs is the purpose they are meant to serve. The Shopify Storefront API is intended for developers who want to build a customized shopping experience for customers. It allows integrating Shopify data into custom front-end applications, mobile apps or other customer interfaces.
The Shopify Admin API, on the other hand, is for developers and store owners who want to make extensive customizations to their Shopify store and implement automated processes. It enables the connection of third-party tools and the automation of processes in the backend of the online store.
In the next section, we will go into more detail about the most important Shopify APIs and how to use them.
Examples of the Shopify API: Shopify API interfaces and their use
Below, we'll introduce you to the most commonly used Shopify APIs and their different uses in a little more detail.
Shopify Admin API
With the Shopify Admin API, one has the possibility to design the Shopify user experience according to one's own wishes. This way, existing Shopify functions can be extended with apps, inventory can be synchronized with other marketplaces and channels, data can be exchanged between the merchandise management system and the store, or extensions for products, orders, or shipping can be set. The Shopify interface supports GraphQL and also REST. We use this type of interface with our Shopify Plus customers in almost every project.
Reading tip: Looking for the best Shopify apps? Our article will help you
Shopify Storefront API
The Shopify Storefront API is the foundation for custom storefronts. It gives access to Shopify features such as displaying products and collections, adding items to the cart, or contextual pricing. This allows you to create unique shopping experiences for any front-end application, such as the store, a mobile app, or social media.
Shopify API usage by example:
For example, we used the Storefront API for the headless implementation of our customer Horando and for the development of GoTiger's smartphone app.
Read how GoTiger brings Asian food to customers with Shopify Plus and smartphone app in our case study.
Shopify Ajax API
The Shopify Ajax API is very commonly used to make adjustments to the shopping cart. Use cases would be, for example, that when adding products to the cart, the cart counter is updated or the display of relevant product recommendations in the cart.
Shopify Section Rendering API
In turn, you can use the Section Rendering API to update page content without reloading the entire page by getting and updating only specific elements. For example, if you have used the Ajax API to modify the shopping cart, you can use the Section Rendering API to update the shopping cart icon to show the correct number of products over the counter.
Shopify Customer Privacy API
The Customer Privacy API is very interesting when it comes to the topic of DSGVO and the mapping of cookie consent. With it, developers have access to cookies and can create appropriate consent banners.
Read our Case Study to learn how we created a Public App for Shopify merchants to use Usercentrics' Cookie Consent solution.
Shopify Function API
The Shopify Function API is still quite new and was introduced in the Shopify Editions Winter Edition. It allows developers to access and customize backend functionalities. This could be, for example, reordering payment methods offered to shoppers, special discounts in the shopping cart, or renaming delivery options available during checkout.
Shopify Multipass is an excellent way to implement single sign-on solutions. If merchants operate other websites (e.g. a forum) or a smartphone app in addition to the store, users do not have to register again and are logged in seamlessly with the same email address, provided a user account exists for the email. If no account exists yet, one will be created.
Shopify API usage by example:
Even with our customer Asphaltgold, users of the web store do not have to register again for the mobile smartphone app, but use the same login. Multipass can also be used for the migration of passwords and customer accounts.
Read how Asphaltgold creates a unique shopping experience with Shopify Plus Shop and smartphone app in our case study.
Step by step: Simply activate the Shopify API (instructions)
For example, to use Shopify-based data via an external application or to develop special Shopify apps, you must first enable the Shopify API. This step cannot be reversed.
Below is a brief step-by-step guide on how to activate the Shopify API.
In the Shopify backend, select Apps and then select App and Sales Channel Settings.
Click on the Create apps field at the top.
Confirm your entry and click the green Allow custom app development button.
Next, assign an app name and fill in the app developer field.
Now the Shopify API is enabled and in the next step the access areas can be configured, e.g. the Admin API or the Storefront API and an API key can be assigned.
Unfortunately, we cannot take up a detailed configuration at this point, as the setting depends very individually on the respective use case and should be made with extreme caution.
Whether you want to develop an app, intervene in the Shopify storefront, or exchange data between systems, the various Shopify APIs give developers access to each area. This way, you can create a distinctive shopping experience, increase the conversion rate and generate more sales.
If you need assistance on the topic of Shopify app or API, feel free to contact us.
Shopify API Frequently Asked Questions
What is an API?
An API or Application Programming Interface is a programming interface that is used to connect external systems and enable interaction between the two systems (e.g. connecting a merchandise management system to a Shopify store). Read more about the different Shopify APIs and their use cases in the article.
How do I integrate API key in my store?
Third-party connectivity in the Shopify store is done through Shopify APIs. To enable the Shopify API, we've created a step-by-step guide in the post that includes everything you need to know about each Shopify API and how to enable the API in the backend.
What types of Shopify APIs exist?
Depending on the use case, different types of Shopify APIs take hold. The most commonly used API interface is the Shopify Admin API, which can be used to connect third-party providers. In addition, there are also special APIs for the checkout with the Ajax API or for the front end of the store with the Shopify Storefront API. We have summarized an overview of the most important APIs in the article.
Can I use Shopify APIs for free?
To get access to Shopify APIs like the Shopify Admin API or the Shopify Storefront API, you need to become a Shopify partner. Then you can make use of all APIs for free.
How do I get Shopify APIs?
To do so, go to the "Apps" item in the Shopify backend and then to "App and sales channel settings". Click on the top field "Create apps" Then confirm your entry and click "Allow custom app development". Now assign an app name and fill in the app developer field. Afterwards you can configure access areas, follow the instructions in the Shopify backend.
How does the Shopify API interface work?
The Shopify API (Application Programming Interface) enables the integration of applications and services with Shopify, an e-commerce platform provider. It is important to read the API documentation carefully and ensure that your requests meet the standards in order to interact effectively with the Shopify API.
How do I connect third-party software to Shopify?
Integrating third-party software with Shopify is usually done using APIs (Application Programming Interfaces). The exact steps may vary depending on the specific third-party software you wish to integrate. It is important to read the documentation of both platforms carefully and follow the best practices for integrations.
What is the Shopify Rest Admin API?
The Shopify REST API (Representational State Transfer Application Programming Interface) is a programming interface provided by Shopify to allow developers to access and interact with Shopify store data and functionality. REST is an architectural style that focuses on the use of standard HTTP methods such as GET, POST, PUT and DELETE to access and interact with resources.