B2C2B: Why API Companies Are Different

4 min read Michael Carroll on May 31, 2023

In today's interconnected world, application programming interfaces (APIs) have become a crucial component of modern business operations. APIs allow different systems and applications to communicate with each other, enabling businesses and entrepreneurs alike to create products and services that are more effective, efficient, and user- friendly.

APIs are often associated with business-to-business (B2B) operations, as they help software developers speed up their workflow, standardize data and processes, enable integration with other systems, and improve the overall end-user experience. However, APIs also often play a crucial role in business-to-consumer (B2C) interactions as a crucial link between organizations and product end users.

But what about APIs in business-to-consumer-to-business (B2C2B) models? Isn’t that basically how API companies operate? The answer isn’t exactly black or white.

In this article, we will explore how API companies play a pivotal role in B2C2B. Their influence is a whole lot broader.

What is B2C2B?

So what is B2C2B? Not to be mistaken with the similar acronym B2B2C (business-to-business-to-consumer), B2C2B is a business model that sees a company selling its products or services directly to consumers (B2C) but with the added intention of securing more business from the organization the consumer works for.

In a B2C2B model, the company or startup primarily focuses on creating products or services that appeal to end consumers but also recognizes the potential of its offerings to be integrated into businesses' products or processes. This integration may involve partnering with other businesses, providing APIs or other tools for integration, or licensing the company's products or services to other businesses.

A common use case of a B2C2B model is software companies that provide applications or services to individual users but also offer enterprise versions of their products that can be integrated into larger companies' IT systems. Once consumers have tried the offering (often for free), providing they have a good experience, there is a good chance they’ll advocate the product to their colleagues, bosses, and the wider organization.

Overall, the B2C2B model allows companies to tap into both the consumer and business markets, potentially increasing their revenue streams and expanding their customer acquisition and user base.

Why are API companies distinct from B2C2B?

While API companies may have similarities to the B2C2B approach, such as how they both focus on end users (developers in the case of API businesses) and strive to build ecosystems of partners, there are some important differences to consider.

Focus on technical integration

API providers are primarily focused on providing a technical solution for businesses to integrate with their products or services. They do not directly target employees of a specific company. Rather, they offer their services to businesses that can use them to create new products or enhance existing ones.

Wide range of potential customers

Unlike B2C2B businesses, API companies do not have to target specific companies or employees. Instead, they can offer their services to a wide range of businesses in various industries. This allows API companies to potentially reach a larger customer base and have a broader impact on the market.

Revenue model

B2C2B businesses typically generate revenue by selling their products or services directly to employees of a specific company. In contrast, API companies provide APIs as a service, with developers paying for access to the APIs. This model allows API companies to generate revenue while providing a valuable service to developers and businesses. This also means that API companies' revenue is not tied to the success of a single customer but rather the overall usage of their API across multiple customers.

Level of involvement

B2C2B businesses may have more involvement with employees of a specific company, such as providing training or support for their product or service. In contrast, API companies may have less direct involvement with their customers and end users as they focus on providing a technical solution for businesses to integrate into their products or services. Having said that, API companies work closely with software developers within companies, providing high levels of value in the go-to-market process.

Overall, while there may be similarities between API companies and B2C2B businesses in terms of connecting users with various functionality and services, there are important differences in their focus, potential customer base, revenue model, market strategy, and level of involvement.

Gearing your API offerings toward a new paradigm

API companies can play a crucial role in helping organizations leverage the B2C2B model by providing the necessary infrastructure, tools, and services to enable said organizations to build and deploy their APIs quickly and efficiently.

Here are some ways in which API companies can help organizations that want to leverage the B2C2B model in their roadmap:

  • API development: API companies can provide expertise in designing, developing, and deploying APIs that are well-architected, scalable, and secure. This scenario appeals to developers and helps organizations accelerate their API development process and reduce time-to-market.

  • API management: API companies can provide API management platforms that enable organizations to manage their APIs' lifecycle, including design, development, deployment, and monitoring. These platforms also provide features like authentication, authorization, rate limiting, and analytics, enabling organizations to secure and govern their APIs effectively. 

  • Developer experience: API companies can provide developer portals and tools that help organizations create a seamless developer experience for their API consumers. This includes documentation, sample code, software development kits (SDKs), and sandbox environments that enable developers to quickly and easily build and test their integrations. 

  • Integration support: API companies can provide integration support to organizations that want to integrate with third-party systems or services. This includes providing pre-built integrations, connectors, and APIs for popular platforms like Amazon, Salesforce, and Shopify, an e-commerce platform.

  • Monetization: API companies can provide monetization strategies and tools that enable organizations to generate revenue from their APIs. This includes features like usage-based pricing, billing, and revenue sharing with partners and developers.

Take your B2C2B efforts to the next level

In today’s on-demand economy, consumers expect an instantaneous customer experience whenever they are using apps, whether it be on their smartphone, laptop, or other device. Anything less, and consumers will look elsewhere for solutions that satisfy their needs.

If you are an organization that wants to engage end users to secure more business further down the line via the B2C2B model, APIs can play a crucial role.

With PubNub’s real-time communication platform, organizations can integrate real-time interactivity into their web apps, mobile apps, and IoT devices without needing to invest in all the associated infrastructure.

Sign up for a free PubNub trial today or contact our sales team to find out more.