Technology buzzwords can present a stumbling block that prevents self-storage operators from achieving their goals. For example, many are confused by the concept of an API, or application programming interface. If you think it sounds intimidating, you’re not alone.
Fortunately, like so many other buzzwords, this one is nothing to fear. In fact, an API is something you interact with daily. At its core, an API is just a way for one system or piece of technology to talk to another. Once you see how often you encounter APIs, it’ll be much easier to understand the impact they can have on your storage business. Consider these five ways you’re already using them.
Do you regularly visit Google, YouTube, Wikipedia, or perhaps another website? Each time you visit these sites via a Web browser, an API plays a role. A remote server is necessary for a website to load properly, and an API is a component of that server.
2. iOS and Google Calendar
Does your doctor, massage therapist or car-repair shop give you the option to not only schedule appointments online but to automatically add them to your personal calendar? This automation is the result of API technology.
A simple change in the way your provider’s website responds to a form request results in your calendar being updated. If everything is set up properly, you don’t have to leave the website to make anything happen. Instead, the API quickly syncs with the website and your calendar.
3. Google Maps
One of the most powerful uses of API technology is to connect a feature from one website or app to another. Google Maps is a prime example. An API is what allows so many small businesses, like self-storage facilities, to add maps to their websites. Everyone from advanced programmers to people using simple drag-and-drop Web builders can take advantage of this tool.
Many sites and apps offer developer tools that enable you to add something to the existing platform via API. Facebook is arguably the most accessible, and it offers easy-to-follow tutorials for people who are new to coding. When you play a game on Facebook or link the social media network to another site such as Instagram or Twitter, you’re using an API.
5. WordPress Plug-Ins
WordPress is one of the world’s most popular platforms for building websites and blogs. Among the things that makes it stand out in a crowded sea of website-hosting companies is how easily it can be customized.
Plug-ins (APIs) available within the platform offer a wide variety of functionality, ranging from the ability to automatically filter out spam comments to the prevention of site hacks. Each of these features improves a website’s performance. The plug-ins result in increased visitor engagement and reduced bounce rates.
Now that you’ve seen how frequently you engage with APIs, the term is hopefully easier to digest. After all, APIs have changed the world for the better. Without them, the things we do every day, such as use Facebook and get directions from Google Maps, wouldn’t work the same. In some cases, things that rely on APIs wouldn’t exist at all.
Embracing APIs in the world of self-storage helps improve operation and cultivate a better customer experience. From mobile gate-entry apps to website rentals to payment processing, they can be leveraged to improve facility management. APIs allow these tools to send and receive your business data. They also remove manual processes and allow you to execute a multitude of actions in one place. APIs help self-storage operators of all sizes achieve operational excellence, and they’ll only continue to improve.
Christine DeBord is head of the marketing and the reseller-channel departments at PTI Security Systems, a provider of access-control and security systems for the self-storage industry. To contact her, call 404.649.5594; e-mail [email protected]; visit www.ptisecurity.com.