The Shopify Storefront API gives store owners full creative control over their e-commerce website. As you may know, Shopify is an e-commerce platform builder that allows people to set up their shop seamlessly, by choosing and modifying a template and adding all the elements they need to run their business.
However, in some cases what Shopify lets you do with a particular template isn’t enough to call your online store complete. That’s where Shopify Storefront API comes in.
When Do You Need It?
Not everyone needs to know or worry about the Storefront API. It’s mostly useful when you want to:
- Sell products from a Shopify store through a non-Shopify website;
- Sell products through games or apps created with Unity;
- Create an app for a single merchant, while still using Shopify as the main e-commerce platform.
So if you just want a good store, with a product catalogue, add to cart button, and other essential features that come with a Shopify store, then you do not need the custom Storefront API. But, if your plans go beyond that, then you need to get familiarised with the Shopify custom API.
The Storefront API is great when you essentially need more than what Shopify has to offer through their templates. When the needs of your business go beyond the templates, but you still want to sell through Shopify to get those benefits, then you can build custom storefronts.
You should know from the get-go this is a very technical process that requires a bit of knowledge of the world of web designing. If that doesn’t sound like you, then you may want to consider bringing in a third party to help you set up your custom Shopify store, particularly if you want to launch the business soon.
Storefront API is available in GraphQL only, a query language and a runtime system. Clients form queries and mutations (known as requests) by using the GraphQL language, sends it to the GraphQL server, and the server side executes the request and returns the data. A GraphQL API makes all the data available at one single endpoint, unlike other APIs.
Here are other things you should know about the Shopify Custom API:
- It’s a versioned API, and updates are resealed quarterly;
- Apps need to request relevant admin API access scopes from merchants during installation;
- Apps that enable the Storefront API must authenticate as usual;
- The Storefront API gives users only read-only access, with no authentication required;
- It uses a “leaky bucket algorithm” to impose rate limits. The limit itself is enforced on the IP address of the buyer, and the merchant’s shop;
- You cannot duplicate existing Shopify functionality, so you need to check the API terms of service before you start.
Here are the steps you need to take to get started with Storefront API for your online store:
1. Storefront API Authentication
To authenticate, you need to get a Storefront access token with the unauthenticated access scopes. For private apps, the token can be obtained when creating the app in the Shopify admin.
If it’s a public app, then you need to use OAuth to get the token, an authentication protocol.
2. Make the first request
After you obtain the Storefront access token, you can start making requests to the API. Here’s some data you’ll likely want to retrieve:
- Create a cart and submit it to Shopify.
Some data is available, some not. To be sure, you should check the official API documentation provided by Shopify.
3. Build the custom storefront
Once you make your first request to the API, you can start taking the data you gather and actually use it to build your web app, taking care of everything from the user interface to the functionalities of the app, and create customer experiences that translate to purchases.
This is a basic rundown of that the process looks like, but if you want to go deeper into the subject, you can check Shopify’s Storefront API reference page here for free, and even learn with their Storefront GraphQL API explorer which lets you try it out on a demo shop.
Over to You
Are you looking to dive into the world of eCommerce? Then you need a good online shop, Shopify or not. Get in touch with Australian Internet Advertising and book a free 30-minute strategy consultation. Our Shopify Ecommerce Website Design experts will sit down with you and discuss at length about your plans to see what it takes to implement them.