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When consumers want smartphones, clothes or collectables, they usually just go online to buy them. Consumers want to get as much information on products as they can. Also, consumers who bought items on an e-commerce website expect to receive what they have ordered in a timely manner. For this reason, merchants who are selling in an e-commerce website need useful and effective applications. These applications give product information to consumers, and help merchants handle orders and manage shipment effectively. Manually doing all these things is time-consuming and can lead to inventory errors. Using a Taobao API, however, can solve the problem.

Automating the Digital Business

The solution to automating business processes, such as management of orders and shipment, comes in the form of APIs. According to eCommerce Insiders, APIs or Application Programming Interfaces, are the ‘connector bits’ that allow e-commerce businesses to convert data into business intelligence. This is beneficial to both merchants and consumers. It allows for availability of product information through webpages and it helps merchants handle orders and shipment.

Taobao APIs

Taobao.com is a large e-commerce business. There are plenty of APIs in the Taobao website which allow for a smooth buyer-seller transaction.

The site search Taobao API, for one, enables buyers to easily sort through the many products on Taobao.com. A buyer can type keywords directly into the search box to find a certain product. He or she can also search a product by clicking on a product category. A product information API helps merchants in the Taobao to guide customers in making an informed buying decision. The purpose of the API is to give detailed information about a product, including specifications and correct product titles. The merchants are also free to post images of or related to a product. Taobao also allows developers to build applications to improve business processes. Furthermore, it enhances customer experience by providing Taobao APIs via the Taobao Open Platform.

Taobao Open Platform APIs

Taobao Open Platform (TOP) is an open platform that revolves around the Taobao e-commerce business. It is a source of raw materials that allow a Taobao partner (one who gives service to merchants), an independent software vendor or a merchant to build applications. The purpose of these applications is to cater to the needs of Taobao users. The platform also makes it possible for entrepreneurs to automate aspects of their business. The raw materials include Taobao API.

A developer must apply for a developer account before he or she can use the Taobao Open Platform. An independent software vendor (ISV), a Taobao partner, or a merchant can play the role of a developer. Once a developer has secured an account, he or she can log into http://open.taobao.com to start creating applications. Creating an app allows a developer to receive basic app details, such as the APP key and the APP secret. The APP key is the “unique identifier of the APP” and the “required parameter in every API request through http.” A developer needs the APP secret for encryption.

Order APIs and Delivery APIs

TOP makes available many Taobao APIs, including buyer API query, open account data, SMS verification codes, and so much more. These APIs are on the Documentation Center page of Taobao.com. The Taobao Open Platform APIs are useful in the Taobao Marketplace, which operates on a consumer-to-consumer trade system, allowing sales of product between people. Furthermore, the API also lend themselves useful to processes in the Taobao Mall (Tmall). Tmall, as many know, operates on a business-to-consumer trade system. The main APIs that cover the business of the merchants include:

Order APIs

  • trades.sold.get
  • trades.sold.increment.get
  • trade.fullinfo.get

The TOP Order API allows a developer to build applications that get order information a merchant or an ISV needs. A developer can create the applications in a way that they are fast, flexible and customizable. Doing so makes the applications useful in areas like order research and order synchronization. One Taobao API that focuses on orders is taobao.trades.sold.get. The API allows the retrieval of order information which have been backtracked for three months. The API takes a long time to process the orders for the past three months. For this reason, the API should only be used at the beginning of merchant application. After the initialization, the merchant app can use the taobao.trades.sold.increment.get API to retrieve incremental orders. The second Order Taobao API makes it possible to update incremental orders in the Taobao order system regularly. As a reminder, the APP should use the second Order API once all orders are in sync, through taobao.trades.sold.get API. The two APIs mentioned only return basic order information, however. So, the merchant APP needs to use another API: the taobao.trade.fullinfo.get. The Taobao API retrieves detailed information based on the Taobao Order ID specified in the API request.

 Delivery APIs

  • logistics.offline.send
  • logistics.orders.detail.get
  • logistics.trace.search

A developer also needs delivery Taobao APIs, which also called shipment APIs. These APIs are useful in querying logistic orders, and in updating shipment for a logistic order. The taobao.logistics.offline.send is only used by a seller who has his or her own delivery system set up. The seller must update the shipping information on the Taobao Open Platform with the Taobao API. Another API, the taobao.logistics.orders.detail.get, makes available a batch of logistic orders based on certain conditions. These conditions include a specified seller, buyer, time frame, or order ID. To make sure order delivery has been successful, it is important to track shipment information. The taobao.logistics.trace.search does the tracking based on a specified order ID.

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