Shopify APIs: Types, Usage & Example Queries

on Shopify • October 27th, 2021

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Merchants worldwide use Shopify for its ease of access in setting up and running an online store. 

With the Shopify Store users get an Online Store, Inventory Tracking, Unlimited Product Listings, and Shipping, along with a few other features like an SSL certificate and customer service options. 

While creating a Shopify Store users can add as much complexity while improving customer experience through first and third-party apps.

In this guide, you’ll learn about Shopify APIs, their Key Types, Usage, and Rate limits. You’ll also see example queries for Shopify APIs. Read along to learn more about Shopify REST APIs!

Table of Contents

Introduction to Shopify

Shopify Logo
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Shopify is an E-commerce platform for businesses that don’t want to go through the hassle of building and designing a website. It allows users to build an online store and also sell offline with Shopify POS

Everyone from beginners to E-commerce experts will find resources and features to develop their Shopify store. Shopify offers a free 14-day trial for users to test out its features. During the free trial, users can build an online store and test out free Shopify apps. 

To cover the requirements of businesses of all sizes and scaling requirements Shopify offers various flexible pricing plans.

What is REST API?

REST - Rest API Model
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REST API is an API that follows a set of rules for an application and services to communicate with each other. As it is constrained to REST architecture, REST API is referred to as RESTful API. REST APIs provide a way of accessing web services flexibly without massive processing capabilities.

For an API to be considered RESTful it has to conform to some rules such as: 

  • Statelessness

Systems aligning with the REST paradigm are bound to become stateless. For Client-Server communication, stateless constraint enforces servers to remain unaware of the client state and vice-versa.

  • Cacheable

Cache helps servers to mitigate some constraints of statelessness. It is a critical factor that has improved the performance of modern web applications. Caching not only enhances the performance on the client side but also scales significant results on the server side.

  • Decoupled

REST is a distributed approach, where client and server applications are decoupled from each other. Irrespective of where the requests are initiated, the only information the client application knows is the Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) of the requested resource.

  • Layered

A Layered system makes a REST architecture scalable. With RESTful architecture, Client and Server applications are decoupled, so the calls and responses of REST APIs go through different layers.

REST uses HTTP verbs (GET, POST, PUT or DELETE) methods for communication, these methods are self-explanatory. In addition, REST architecture helps increase developers’ productivity, allowing them to display the information on the client-side and store or manipulate the data on the server-side.
Even though there is no comparison between API vs REST API, there are some parameters that help us choose the better API.

What is Shopify API

Shopify APIs allow developers to build and launch Shopify Apps to improve the lives of merchants and their businesses. It’s a tool that allows software providers to receive access to the data from Shopify-based online stores and use it for their purposes. Shopify API supports both XML and JSON, and works with HTTP requests such as GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE. Shopify API works with various methods such as Category, Customer, Order, Product, etc. APIs work with both REST and GraphQL.

Types of Shopify APIs

1) Admin API

The Admin API is useful for adding features to your Shopify store’s user experience. The Shopify Admin API is versioned and supports both GraphQL and REST. Apps have to request the relevant access scopes from merchants during installation explicitly. There are rate limits enforced on all requests, but the rate-limiting methods vary for GraphQL and REST.

You can use Shopify-supported libraries to build fast, reliable apps with the programming languages and frameworks you already know. A valid Shopify access token is required by all REST Admin APIs. Endpoints are chosen based on the requirements of the app. 

2) Storefront API

With Shopify Storefront API, store owners have complete creative control like modifying templates and accessing Abandoned Cart Recovery over their E-commerce website. Users can seamlessly choose and modify templates while also adding various elements to run their business smoothly.

Shopify Storefront API also gives access to built-in E-commerce features such as live chat support and a wide range of payment options. Storefront API is only available in GraphQL.

You can use Shopify’s officially supported libraries to build fast, reliable apps. There is no requirement for username and password since Storefront API is unauthenticated thus all the users have read-only access.

3) Payment Apps API

The Payments Apps API enables Shopify partners to access their Shopify Payments account and payments app configuration data. With this API, users can resolve or reject Captures, Refunds, Payments, and Void Sessions. It is only available through GraphQL, and there are rate limits on all requests.

In order to change a public app to a payment app, the payments app extension needs to be configured, submitted, and published for approval which involves several steps. 

4) Partner API

The Partner API enables Shopify Partners to access the data found in their Partner Dashboard. This access allows partners to scale their business effectively by automating their front- and back-office operations. With this API, partners can read transactions that impact earnings, Experts Marketplace jobs, and app events.

However, the transaction information available through Partner API is for analytics purposes only. In addition, Shopify Partner API is only available through GraphQL and enforces rate limits on all requests.

In order to use Partner API, two pieces of information must be included to successfully authenticate requests to a Partner API endpoint. GraphiQL can be used to query the partner API through Partner Dashboards because it uses the Partner API client to retrieve the requested information from your Partner account.

5) Ajax API

The Ajax API provides a suite of lightweight Shopify REST API endpoints for the development of Shopify themes. Some potential uses of the Ajax API include adding products to the cart and updating the cart item counter, suggesting products while typing in the search field, and displaying related product recommendations. 

Ajax APIs are unauthenticated and thus don’t require access tokens or API keys to access. The API responses return JSON formatted data and there are no hard limits on Ajax API. 

6) Section Rendering API

Using an AJAX and the Section Rendering API, users can request the HTML markup for theme sections. It allows store owners to update page content without reloading the entire page by fetching and dynamically replacing only certain elements. For example, You can use section Rendering API to paginate search results without performing a full page reload between pages.

The section query parameter can be used to render the sections, which are identified by their section IDs. The response includes pairs for each section ID and its corresponding rendered HTML and is a JSON object. 

7) Customer Privacy API

The customer privacy API enables developers to read and write cookies related to a buyer’s consent to be tracked. It’s a browser-based JavaScript API that is implemented as a property on the global window.

You can use the customer privacy API to build consent collection mechanisms such as banners for General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance. For marketing and analytics use cases, you can use the API when tracking or exporting data about storefront visitors to cover GDPR compliance according to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

The  API is implemented as a property on the global window.Shopifyobject and is accessible to all Shopify online stores.

8) Messaging API

Messaging API is used to send messages to the Shopify Inbox which is a web, Android, and iOS App that allows Shopify merchants to centralize their business conversations from SMS and messaging apps like Facebook Messenger.

In order to get started with Messaging API, you need to contact the Messaging API team and set your Inbox callback URL. After that, you need to prompt the merchant to agree to the Messaging API access scopes and then use the merchant’s shop data with the Shopify Messaging API endpoints.

It is still in closed Beta and is not available to all partners yet.

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Shopify API Usage

Some of the key usage of Shopify APIs are discussed below:

1) Shopify API Authentication

When making API calls, all connecting Shopify Apps require authentication to keep all transactions safe and secure. You can authenticate apps and services with Shopify’s platform in one of the two ways: 

  • OAuth
  • Basic HTTP authentication

Users can access tokens in one of the two modes:

  • Online access: These are linked to an individual user on a store, but the access token’s lifespan matches the lifespan of the user’s web session. It’s used when a user is interacting with your app through the web. 
  • Offline access: These are meant for long-term access to a store, and no user interaction is involved. It’s ideal for background work in response to Webhooks.

2) Shopify API Access Scopes

In the App Authorization Process, users have to specify the parts that they require access to. An app can request any unauthenticated or authenticated access. All the access scopes are available with AccessScope resource, available through the Admin API in GraphQL and Shopify REST APIs.

3) Shopify API versioning

API versioning allows to continuously change the platforms by offering third-party developers a predictable path for feature upgrades and deprecations.

4) Shopify API Rate Limits

All Shopify APIs are rate-limited to ensure the platform remains stable and fair for all users. They impose various rate limits and employ industry-standard techniques for caching results, limiting calls, and responsibly retrying requests.

Shopify API - Rate Limits
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a) GraphQL API Rate Limits

For GraphQL Admin API calls, limits are based on calculated query costs, which means rather than considering the number of requests, users should consider the cost of requests over time. The rate limits are based on the combination of the store and apps, ensuring that even on the same store, calls from one app don’t affect the rate limits. Similarly, it ensures that even the same app calls to one store don’t affect the rate limits of another store.

b) Shopify REST API Rate Limits

The Shopify REST API calls are governed by request-based limits, resource-based rate limits, and throttles. Users have to consider the total number of API calls your app makes. They are also based on the combination of the app and store, and calls from one app/store don’t affect the other. 

c) Storefront API Rate Limits

Time-based limits govern calls to the Shopify Storefront API. Rather than considering the number of requests, users have to consider the time your requests take to complete.

d) Resource-Based Rate Limits

Both Shopify REST API and GraphQL Admin API resources have an additional throttle for a store with over 50,000 product variants. After stores reach this threshold, you can create no more than 1,000 new variants per day.

5) Pagination 

REST endpoints and GraphQL supports cursor-based pagination. This can be used to retrieve set of results from a connection. 

If you use a connection to retrieve a list of resources then arguments are used to specify the number of results to retrieve.

Shopify API Example Queries

Admin API Examples 

  • The following query can be used to create a customer and return their customer Id.
  • The following query can be used to create an automatic Buy One Get One discount that will be applied to a single product any time.
  • The following query can be used to create marketing events.

Storefront API Examples

  • The following query can be used to return the first two products as product variants from your store and specifies the ID as the payload object.
Shopify API - Storefront API Example
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  • You can use customerAccessTokenCreate mutation to create a customer access token.
Shopify API - Storefront API Example
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  • You can use the customerRecover mutation to implement a password recovery flow on your custom storefront.
Shopify API - Storefront API Example
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I integrate my app with Shopify?

The Shopify apps can be installed which can help you to build your business, integrate with external services, and add features to your Shopify admin. Most of the Shopify apps are built by third-party developers, not by Shopify.

What does Shopify API use to communicate with REST web service?

Shopify API uses pyactiveresource to communicate with the REST web service. It has to be configured with a fully authorized URL of a particular store first. There are several steps that need to be followed to obtain the URL.

How can merchant-branded themes be built?

Themes that are coded in the Liquid templating language to control the look and feel of the store are used by Shopify Stores. You can update the page content, customize Shopify themes, add dynamic elements to Shopify online stores, etc. These functions can be performed by using  Liquid, Ajax API, and Section Rendering API.

Conclusion

Shopify has been designed modular from the ground up, so it’s easy for users to set up their stores. It has plug-and-play new features with which merchants can customize their stores, improve the shopping experience for customers, and advance their marketing efforts. 

Shopify REST APIs allow developers to design integrations that will enhance the effectiveness of merchants’ online/offline payments, marketing, product management, and listing products on a global marketplace.

This blog introduced you to Shopify APIs and gives you an idea of how Shopify offers a suite of APIs that allow developers to extend the platform’s built-in features. 

We also discussed their types through which we got to know the usability of the different types of  APIs and along with it, we discussed rate limits with some example queries.

With default in-built tools you might not able to efficiently utilize the full potential of your Online E-commerce Store, and that is where Shopify Integrations like Facebook Channel, Infinite Options, PageFly, etc come in handy.

Here are some of the best Shopify Integrations which can radically further develop your Online Store proficiency.

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