What is an API marketplace?

Eren Camlikaya
Eren Camlikaya 22 August 2020
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Emails are everywhere, right? Business emails, advertisements, spams… Even today, emails are the primary tools to convey information between consumers and businesses. They are used in maintaining contact with existing customers and informing them about the news of your brand. Additionally, emails are the benchmark of online advertising to launch new campaigns and attract potential customers. Thousands of them are sent on a daily basis and it is quite time-consuming to monitor the process, to see whether you successfully communicate with the recipient.

Prompt API Marketplace

For example, you can buy products from Amazon and other marketplaces while selling your own products. Same logic applies to the API marketplaces as well. You can be an API provider and a subscriber to other services at the same time.

How They Work

Before describing the mechanics of an API marketplace we should underline the fact that an API marketplace is not the same with an API catalog or portal. Furthermore, not all marketplaces behave the same and there may be fundamental differences in how they operate. Selection process and hosting options are two key factors differentiating API marketplaces from each other.

First, an API catalog or portal is a list of APIs with links to related sites and may be provider information. So there is no transaction taking place in an API portal. On the contrary a true API marketplace has the required infrastructure for the developers to test and subscribe to different APIs from a single point. While finding the product and purchasing is at the application layer of traditional marketplace platforms, these operations are programmatically handled from the service layer in API marketplaces.

In order for an API marketplace to operate and to overcome the chicken and egg problem for any given marketplace there has to be API providers with fully functioning services. Independent of programming language, any developer can code an API from the comfort of his/her home and submit to an API marketplace with the correct requirements. While some API marketplaces list any submitted API on their platform, others such as Prompt API have detailed evaluation procedures to welcome only the best API available for a given topic.

In addition to the evaluation process early examples of API marketplaces focus on quantity rather than quality and list any API hosted by the developer without any uptime promise. In recent years niche API marketplaces with scalable cloud infrastructures started to host the APIs themselves to provide quality and uptime availability without relying on the API provider.

A code sample from an API Marketplace

Benefits for Subscribers

Single API Key

When the number of third party APIs that you need to integrate to your project exceeds a certain threshold key maintenance and getting support becomes a burden. A marketplace platform enables access to hundreds of API services via using a single entry point.

Let’s say you need local weather information for a mobile application or site you are developing. If you are an API marketplace subscriber you can easily switch weather API providers without changing keys or subscribe to new services like financial data to enrich your application.

Verified API Providers

Continuing from the previous example you also need email validation service and an image optimizer in addition to weather service. Instead of developing these services yourself, you choose to integrate with 3rd party services. Now, you have to search and find these different API services online and evaluate their reliability, performance and security yourself. Even after integrating separately to all of them you have to contact different support teams when you have questions about each of them.

A good API marketplace platform saves you from such headaches and allows you to focus on your business and project, as well as fulfilling all your needs from a single point. They take good care of hosting, uptime performance, scalability and security of the APIs listed on their platforms. State of the art platforms even give exceptional customer service and always handle the cases smoothly without any hassle.

Benefits for API Providers

Remove Barriers

Value creation might be the easiest part when earning money as a developer. In addition to software craftsmanship one should also deal with basic business needs such as creating pricing schemes, invoicing, receiving payment, API maintenance and customer support.

Especially at the stage invoicing is a real burden if you are not institutionalised. You need a company to issue invoices, integrate with virtual pos or payment services, and perhaps the most exhausting, produce counter measures against fake credit cards and similar fraudulent transactions, and monitor these situations constantly.

In addition to invoicing and payment related issues maintenance of the API is also tiresome. Hosting, auto-scaling, security are crucial topics which should not be underestimated. One needs to invest a lot of time and money to cover the operational costs of API maintenance. In recent years some niche marketplaces also provide the option to host the API themselves with higher commission fees. Although this might seem disadvantageous at first, the time freed for the provider to create better services with higher value with zero marginal costs is great investment.

Business Growth

Beside services described above an API marketplace also helps API providers grow their business. Digital marketplaces help the suppliers reach broader audiences regardless of the offering type. Since large amounts of suppliers list their products or services in a marketplace, a considerable volume of customers are attracted to the platform both organically and through digital marketing efforts of the platform. Being exposed to large masses is one of the most significant benefits of being a supplier in a digital marketplace.

When you try to build a brand for your service online, you have to invest in your website, social media, digital marketing, content, etc. Since each of these areas require a specific skill set to excel, asking to perfect these skills from an API developer would be too much to ask. In this case, it’s a much better option to promote your API in a marketplace by providing high quality APIs, receiving good reviews and always keeping your work up-to-date.

API marketplaces also solve the problem of trust for the API subscribers. In case of platform verification, a developer is only responsible for creating high quality work and doesn't need to convince a potential subscriber to trust the API. When the platform is responsible for curation and quality assurance of the offering in the marketplace conversion rates for the suppliers dramatically increase since there’s little cognitive effort during the purchase process.

For all the reasons described above Prompt API seems to be an excellent choice to list your API service. Providing highly curated API services, Prompt API is a boutique API marketplace with carefully selected and secure solutions. With a completely provider friendly approach Prompt API does not charge for listing and only takes a handling fee to cover expenses to continue to create value both for providers and subscribers.

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At Prompt API, we are working hard to build up the best API marketplace experience possible. If you'd like to check what we offer or want to share a word check here.

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Eren Camlikaya
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Eren Camlikaya

Designing marketplaces for almost a decade.