What is Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software?

Demystifying APIs (Application Programming Interface)

If you’ve come across the acronym API, yawned and clicked off to another page, you are not alone.

This term is commonly misunderstood.

In this article we will break it down with examples so you will no longer be prompted to walk away when you hear or read something about an “API.

But What Does “API” Actually Mean?

API: Application Programming Interface

Application: A computer software package that performs a defined function.

Programming: A series of commands and instructions directing computers to behave a certain way or work together in a specified manner.

Interface: A program that connects up two points and allows them to communicate with each other.

An API is a set of commands that dictate the behavior between two or more units (computers, applications, programs) and allows them to connect up and accomplish the desired function requested by the user.

Are Applications Like PayPal and Stripe APIs?

That’s a good question and will lead to a simple explanation of how an API works.

PayPal and Stripe are both popular financial applications used daily by millions of people around the world.

We will use PayPal to illustrate this example.

When you log into PayPal, you are using it as service to connect your bank or credit card to a merchant.

Let’s say you want to buy a new stereo system from Walmart.com.

You have the money in your bank account.

In order to get that money from your bank account to Walmart.com, you choose PayPal to be your broker.

PayPal acts as the middle point to safely and securely take money from your bank account and transmit it to Walmart.com so you can get your stereo system.

The way PayPal does this is by using an API. This is a sequence of software commands that have been already pre-programmed by a software engineer and embedded into the PayPal application.

This sequence of commands (the application programming interface) directs the connection between your bank, PayPal and Walmart and allows the entire transaction to take place.

Are the Terms “API” & “UI” Interchangeable?

No, they are not.

They don’t mean the same thing.

When you log into PayPal, you are utilizing the user interface (UI). This is what allows you as a user to access and experience the application of your choice.

Most likely you will remember and go back to applications that have friendly and intuitive user interfaces.

And you will probably avoid like the plague applications that don’t.

User interfaces make an application or program inviting and simple to use. They provide you as the user with the ease and comfort of taking advantage of the services being provided by that company (PayPal, Facebook, Walmart, Amazon, etc).

An API is not something you as a user will see or need to be concerned with.

Normally, the only person who views the API is the programmer that constructs it in the first place. Or someone who is computer savvy and wants to get into making changes in the API or adapting it to fit specific needs.

Sequentially, you talk to the computer by logging into PayPal and putting your data in the user interface.

PayPal then takes the data and using the API transmits the information in order to talk to your bank and the merchant and complete the transaction.

All combined there is a series of actions and teamwork starting with you as the user and ending with the API executing the desired action.

Are You Lacking a Connection?

The field of APIs is one of unlimited potential and promise.

With technology increasing at breakneck speed and more online businesses being formed each day, the need for connections between applications and programs has never been greater.

Consider how many different platforms now need to be able to talk to each other electronically.

This number is only going to increase as time goes on.

To solve this and cater to the need, MindCloud has devised cutting-edge technology to solve all the connections you need.

Contact us today to find out more.

What is Business-2-Business (B2B)?

As a consumer, you are interested in the product you purchased.

You ordered your new smart phone and want that tracking number — now.

When you don’t get the service you paid good money for, it irritates you and makes you think twice about ordering from that company again.

This is a typical consumer to business relationship, also known as Business to Consumer (B2C).

So what is Business-2-Business and how does it apply to you?

What Qualifies a Relationship as Business-2-Business (B2B)?

Business-2-Business is commonly shortened and referred to as B2B.

When this term is mentioned, what’s being referred to is anything that leads up to the steps of the consumer purchasing the product.

Specifically, what it takes to get the product into retail stores and sold to the public.

Often times, multiple businesses and separate corporations are involved and working together just to get one product produced and sold.

When these companies work together and do business, it is referred to as B2B. Two businesses working together and having business relations in order to produce a specific product.

All retail stores minimally work with one supplier. The relationship between the retail store (take Walmart for example) and the supplier of those products (ie. Coleman) is a B2B relationship.

One retail store could have B2B connections with hundreds of different companies.

This network of relationships is the bedrock and foundation that makes it possible for the retail store to get out any products in the first place.

How Does Business-2-Business (B2B) Work?

There isn’t one set pattern that defines B2B.

B2B is a broad subject and category rather than a procedure or operation.

There are multiple ways that businesses operate and work together.

And there are several businesses and services that specifically specialize in B2B relationships to cater to all the intricate and niche products needed so that businesses can operate smoothly with each other.

Business-2-Business—An Example

Let’s take a common example with Amazon.

Amazon consists of thousands and thousands of individual sellers all working to get their products out to the world.

Every seller at Amazon is itself a business.

When an Amazon seller comes up with a product, one of the first steps is to work out where the product is coming from.

There are sites such as Alibaba that provide manufacturers who solely work with on-line sellers such as Amazon businesses.

Alibaba would be classified as a B2B service as they are connecting up two businesses to work together to produce and eventually sell a product.

Once the Amazon seller decides what product he wants to sell, he would then contact a manufacturer from Alibaba and put in a request for those items.

The Amazon seller might be happy with the way the products are in their basic form on the Alibaba site or might want some revisions.

These would all be finalized between the manufacturer and the Amazon seller. Once finalized, these products would be produced.

The Amazon seller would then need to start a new B2B relationship with a shipping service to get these items sent to his country of location.

Depending on how he wants to store his merchandize, he would then need to begin another B2B relationship with a third-party logistics company to store his products. Or he could chose to store the product in an Amazon warehouse which would mean needing to form a B2B relationship with Amazon to sort out the logistics of that.

Each new product the Amazon seller adds to his store could further result in additional B2B connections.

Soon this would be quite a network of relationships that needs to all be managed and tracked.

Don’t Get Lost in Your Own Network

A lot goes into putting a product into the hands of a desired public.

As a consumer, it’s easy to forget that.

As a business owner or executive, it’s difficult not to.

You are faced with the daily challenge of maximizing your bottom line by devising intelligent ways to economize on all the steps that come before.

Many businesses fail before they even get started due to administrative failures in managing their network of relationships.

At MindCloud, we’ve taken this into account in order to maximize your B2B relationships and the way you operate your network.

Find out how we can help raise your business to the next level and set you apart from your competitors.

EDI Explained — Do You Need It?

If you are involved in any aspect of Business-2-Business (B2B) relations, you have most likely stumbled across the acronym EDI.

Possibly you’ve even attempted to have EDI explained.

In this article, we are going to clear up exactly what EDI is so you can determine how and if it applies to you.

What is “EDI”?

EDI is separated into three words you most likely know and deal with on a regular basis:

Electronic Data Interchange

Much, or all of your business communication is done electronically either by email or some sort of message or chat system.

When you communicate and deal with other individuals you are interchanging data between yourself and the receiver.

The receiver then replies and originates data back to you.

Simply put, you are involved in some sort of electronic data interchange every time you send an email.

When we refer to EDI, however, we are referring to the interchange of data that happens between computers alone.

Sending an email or inputting some data yourself and sending it to another involves manually inputting and sending data.

This is entirely a human process. With you removed from the equation, the work would never get done.

With EDI, everything is electronic and done between two or more computers.

Whether you show up that day or not, the computer will still do what it has been programmed to do.

Additionally, when these computers speak, they must speak the same language. It would be pretty hard if you were speaking French and someone replied to you in Hungarian.

The same thing goes for computers.

Whenever you are dealing with EDI, you are dealing with a specified format that is being used by both the sender and receiver in order to properly exchange the data and receive exact duplication amongst all units concerned.

A Non-EDI Example

First, let’s look at how a business transaction could be done manually without EDI.

Let’s say you worked for Joe’s Shoes.

In this example, Joe’s Shoes is a large distributor that places shoes in online retail stores and caters to sellers from around the world.

Your position is Orders Manager at Joe’s Shoes.

An order comes in from Heels-by-Holly, a small online store specializing in high-heel shoes.

This order comes to you via an email alert.

You check the email and see that she wants to order 50 pairs of hot pink high-heel shoes.

The orders manager at Heels-by-Holly sends you the payment.

You are ready to fulfill the order.

In order to fulfill this order, you place an order yourself with your own supplier — Everything Feet.

This order gets sent to Everything Feet and the orders manager there takes your order and ships the product directly to Heels-by-Holly.

Everything Feet also sends you a tracking number which you provide to the orders manager at Heels-by-Holly.

Heels-by-Holly receives the 50 pairs of hot pink high-heel shoes.

After confirming with Everything Feet that they still have additional hot pink high-heel shoes in stock, you then update your own inventory to reflect the recent purchase so the next person interested in this item can go through the same cycle again.

There are quite a few moving parts involved in just one order, right?

You can also see how any number of these points could easily break down due to human error.

How Does EDI Work?

Let’s take the same scenario above but place it in the hands of computers.

Heels-by-Holly makes an order for 50 pairs of hot pink heels.

This order is electronically submitted to Joe’s Shoes.

The computer at Joe’s Shoes accepts the order, the payment and transmits the order to Everything Feet.

The computer at Everything Feet is in sync and talking to the computer at Joe’s Shoes and accepts the order, processes it and ships the 50 pairs of hot pink heels to Heels-by-Holly.

A copy of the tracking number is automatically sent directly to Heels-by-Holly and also to you at Joe’s Shoes.

Heels-by-Holly receives the product.

The inventory is automatically updated and properly reflected at Joe’s Shoes as well as Everything Feet.

A bit simpler, right?

What are Common EDI Problems?

The above scenario is how everything should go with a perfect EDI system that’s in complete harmony with each segment of the process.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always go that way.

EDI is known for being over-complicated and problematic.

Just as humans make errors executing daily transactions, the same errors can be programmed into an EDI system. Missing fields or omitted commands can wreak havoc.

There could be scenarios where the recipient doesn’t understand the originator. The language being used to link the two could be out-dated and not compatible with components within your overall system.

There might be security issues or breaches that occur during data transmission that puts your clients or your business at risk of being exposed.

At this point in our ever-expanding technological age, EDI is considered to be a rather old technology. It has actually been around since the 70’s.

While it beats you manually processing all your orders, there just might be a better solution for you and your business.

EDI & MindCloud

If you are using EDI, we can work with you. We have solutions that integrate.

We also have solutions that solve what EDI attempts to solve but doesn’t always accomplish.

At MindCloud, we are working hard to remove complications from your business life.

We assume you already have enough to deal with.

Why bother with complex administrative procedures that can be dealt with by a pre-determined solution?

Get the data out of your head and move it into the cloud.

Let us help you by first understanding your basic needs and unique scenarios.

Once we know that, we can program the right system that works for you.

Solving Order Management

Home Grocery Delivery Companies Enter the Fulfillment Scene

You’re sitting on the couch. Dinner time is just around the corner. The grocery store is only ten minutes away.

But let’s get real: you don’t feel like getting up.  

Wouldn’t it be easier if someone could just bring you the food?


This is no longer “new” news.

Companies like Instacart, DoorDash and Grubhub have disrupted the food industry and caused a paradigm shift in the way we eat through our daily lives. 

You are no longer required to get up off your couch and head to the store. Home grocery delivery companies have got you covered.

Feel like eating out at your favorite restaurant? Have it come to you instead. 

The opportunities are endless.  You can pretty much have whatever you’d like, delivered straight to your door. 

And the past year with lockdown mania has amplified this with authority. 

In this post-pandemic world, what now is the direction these door-to-door food behemoths will take?

Home Grocery Delivery Companies: The Bottom Line

Being a consumer, we don’t normally think or care much about the bottom line of the company providing the food delivery service. All we do is pull up the app, load groceries in the virtual cart, check out and receive everything at the front door. 

As long as our ripe tomatoes, mozzarella balls and pizza sauce arrive, we’re good to go.  

But have you ever wondered what it actually takes for the company involved to make a profit for putting this food on your table?

This concern most likely hasn’t taken up many of your waking hours. 

On the other hand, I guarantee you that this thought is of paramount importance to executives at such grocery delivery companies. 

After all, they are the ones who have to hire the shoppers to cruise local aisles and bring goods to your door.

Once all the costs and fees are accounted for and totaled up, it can be quite a challenge for these companies to end up in the black. 

Follow The Leader

It probably won’t take long to guess the identity of the largest online marketplace. 

At the turn the century, most of us never would have expected a small online bookstore named after the largest river to now rule the online world. 

What sets Amazon apart and puts them strides ahead of their competitors? 

Well, a whole lot of things. 

But as a consumer and Amazon client myself, I can tell you what impresses me.


You order something and it arrives. Fast. 

You can buy something from Amazon days after you purchase something from another company and the item from Amazon STILL arrives first.

How do they do it?

Fulfillment Centers 

You may have heard people toss around the phrase “Amazon fulfillment centers.”

Simply put, this is a giant warehouse that holds all your potential stuff. 

You buy something on Amazon and the order gets fulfilled and shipped from these fulfillment centers.

By having full autonomy of their inventory, Amazon gets better margins and can exact direct control over delivery to their public.

Once your order is placed, as long as it’s coming from a fulfillment center, the shipping and handling is taken care of immediately. 

As a comparison, look at the way Instacart has been operating:

The shopper gets an order and goes to the requested store. 

On the way there, your diligent shopper wades through any traffic which exists at the time of your order.

The shopper then parks, navigates through the aisles of the store, scours the shelves to find replacements for missing items, checks out, gets back in the car and eventually makes it to your door.

What if instead of going to the store, all the driver had to do was show up at a fulfillment center and pick up a bag of groceries? 

And if before the driver even got there, the items were picked and packed by a team of robots working hard to pluck items off the shelves?

Enter the future.

These grocery delivery companies have taken a cue from their own service of “groceries made easy” and decided to see how to make the process a bit easier for themselves too.

What Does This Mean For You?

That depends on who is reading this.

If you are a consumer and regular user of such services, this might not change things a whole lot for you. 

Optimistically it could speed up delivery times and make grocery pricing a bit more competitive. 

Or maybe the local robots will mess up your order and pack two guacamoles but leave out the sour cream.

On the other hand, if you are in a business that is connected in anyway to home grocery delivery, you will want to take note and find out everything you can about upcoming changes in this field.

A Final Note

While this article is specifically about food delivery, it’s important to also isolate the ramifications of these changes.  

Major shifts in one industry cause ripple effects across the boards. 

As the old saying goes, “a rising tide lifts all boats.”

Just as long as your boat doesn’t sink first. 

Countless E-commerce and online ventures have been propelled by momentum from the giants.

Plenty of others have collapsed before even getting started.   

Those who make it are organized and have their administrative lines in.

Successful companies know their inventory, keep it stocked and instantly fulfill all orders received. 

The key is being able to track and control this process each step of the way.

Without doing so, you become lost in a sea of overdue and out-of-stock orders.

Find out what Connections by MindCloud is doing about this and how it could make or break your success.