print on demand

APIs and Print on Demand

Written by Jason Groom
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Originally published
July 18 2018,
September 26 2020

There’s no such thing as a stupid question. Apparently. Though I’m convinced I’ve asked plenty in my time. Working in an industry that has become increasingly technical, we unintentionally use jargon and terminology that can baffle. So, when a customer recently asked, “What exactly is an API?”, it forced me to think about the best way to explain it, its uses, benefits and what it means for the Print on Demand (POD) process. Here goes: -

In a nutshell

An API (Application Programming Interface) is simply messaging software that acts as bridge for applications to communicate with one another.

How an API is used

This is how Prime uses APIs to work seamlessly with its customers: - 

  • Your own customer visits your website or app
  • They make a selection, choose/build a product and place an order 
  • Prime receives a message from the API to produce your print on demand item
  • We create and ship the order, as specified, directly to your customer


What are the benefits?

There are plenty. The main one being that using an API saves time because software, like the Internet (and unlike people!), works 24/7 and so the time-lag between ordering and production is slashed. Automating the whole process makes for faster results, quicker receipt of products and gifts, culminating in happier customers. Plus, no human intervention inevitably means no human error.

What’s the process?

If you’re keen to use an API to work with Prime, it’s very straight-forward. Simply,

  1. Create a free developer account
  2. Request a “token key”
  3. Choose whether you want to render your own artwork or would prefer us to do it
  4. Connect your app or site to Prime's print workflow using our API software
  5. Securely test how it works in the sandbox area before going live

We have integrated the most popular e-commerce platforms with our API, so that you can easily hook them up.

There must be downsides, right?

No, there aren’t really any. There is some technical expertise needed up-front and at one time that might have meant you’d require the services of a programmer or developer. Not so now as, if you’re working with Prime, we can take care of that for you. And, once the API is in place, it all pretty much takes care of itself.

Are APIs the only game in town?

For those customers that can’t or don’t want to use an API there is another workable option. That is, “Data-Driven Production”, which is where production relies on the supply of a data file for merging.  

Quality production standards and SLAs meant that the end-result will always be cracking but, less automation will inevitably mean that it will never be quite as fast or reliable as using our old friend the API!


Need answers, or better clarification? Give us a shout. Whatever you ask, we promise it won’t be a daft question.

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