This month we’ve been holding our own version of March Madness – Four51’s March Madness B2B eCommerce Features Tournament! After 16 years in the B2B eCommerce business, we’ve found that of all of the eCommerce features out there you think you need, there is a handful of features we find to be the most important to manufacturers, distributors and retailers of today. This tournament will reveal those top features over the course of the March Madness. Check out our blog posts to see the winners of the previous rounds: Round of 64, Round of 32, Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, Final Four

And, finally, the winner of the 2016 Four51 March Madness for B2B eCommerce Features is…API-First!

For businesses and developers alike, APIs are changing the way businesses can buy and sell online. An API-First platform, also referred to as “PaaS” or “Headless Platform,” creates a pathway for companies to support very unique business processes without having a strong reliance on any particular vendor. These create “best-of-breed” applications – giving businesses the best analytics, ERP, CRM, specific features, etc. that fits their unique processes.

In this championship game, API-First defeated Cloud-Based for one simple reason: Every API-First platform is cloud-based; while not every cloud-based application is API-First. Businesses with an API-First eCommerce platform get the benefits of the cloud, such as better scalability and greater cost savings, in addition to the flexibility and customization that their API-First platform provides.

API-First beat out every other B2B eCommerce feature in this year’s March Madness B2B eCommerce Features Tournament because of the power and flexibility it provides. Without this characteristic, other features are rigid and unable to be customized to a business’ highly specific functional requirements.

Very simply, APIs are the common language or communication protocol that entities use to “speak” with each other in software. When a platform is “API-first,” it is simply a combination of the back-end data model and business logic with a cloud-based infrastructure. In these platforms, the User Interface is de-coupled from the back-end of the application, allowing for limitless personalization and customization.

In The API Economy, the power of APIs are described as this:

“The opening of APIs typically enables organizations to innovate more rapidly and provide uniform data and transaction interfaces to internal and external developers, partners and customers, for improved data access and transactions. Such organizations can also develop software applications to access these APIs to create new functionality and value both for themselves and the wider world. The resulting economy enables many new classes of applications with the potential to transform the way business is done. (3scale)”

API-First platforms allow for the creation of custom SaaS applications at a fraction of the time and cost of any previous method. It provides speed, comprehensiveness and customization. The flexibility it gives businesses is immense, allowing for best-of-breed applications, faster than ever before. For these reasons, API-First takes the gold.

To learn more about APIs, download our free eBook, The API Economy, here.

How did your bracket hold up this March Madness? Let us know on Twitter. Until next year!

March Madness