Retail
10
min of reading
January 6, 2022

APIs in Retail - Part I

David Roldán Martínez
Senior Solutions Architect
Expert in Open Banking, Open Finance, Open Data, and other Open Economy related sectors. I can help you to reach your business goals by assessing your IT processes and infrastructure and guiding you to improve and optimize them.
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Retail industry is looking for new ways to get profit from the use of their data and connect their systems together to enhance customer and employee experience, drive new revenue channels and gain a competitive advantage. APIs are the engine of this digital transformation.

In this series of two articles I will explain why and how retailers are using APIs to empower their competitive advantage.

Open APIs are suffering an exponential rise in the last 5 years. This is not random and it reflects that retailers are looking for new ways to explode the data they have to establish new disruptive ways of competing in the market. Major retailers are recognizing that the industry has become very competitive, partly due to technological disruptions, demanding customers, and changing shopping behavior. The ability of a retailer to adapt and respond to these challenges is key to survive in the industry. 

Supporting numbers are almost everywhere. A recent Deloitte report revealed that 60 % of purchases are impacted by digital interactions. Google’s “State of API Economy 2021” report showed that 32% of organizations reported increasing their digital transformation investments, while 16% stated they would completely change their strategies to become digital-first companies. Moreover, by early 2021, online sales (Figure 1) had already reached levels previously predicted for 2022, and APIs will become the foundation for business resilience and growth in retail over the next five years. 

Figure 1: Retail Sales Evolution from 2018-2024 (source: eMarketer)

The pandemic has also speeded up this digitalisation. For example, a global survey by McKinsey shows consumer and business digital adoption progressed five years in only eight weeks!. If there’s one thing 2020 proved, it’s that digital progress doesn’t have to take years.

Deeping in the more technologically view of this transformation, API and related techs are in the  center of this hurricane eye, as they allow retailers to innovate throughout the entire supply chain, across multiple systems and distribution channels so that modern digital experiences could be built from a variety of data and functionality by:

  • Investing in omnichannel retail strategies: omnichannel means to be able to support customer interactions (not only purchases although they are the main aim of the customer journey) whether they are mobile, web or presentially in stores, among others (see Figure 2).

Research shows that By 2030, each person will own 15 connected devices (these can include anything from light bulbs to coffee makers, headphones, TVs, security systems, wearables, self-driving cars and plenty more) and tend to consult most of them to make a purchase. Think of looking at an item on the multimedia kiosk located at one of coffees of the mall you’re visiting and then check on the smartphone social networks to get feedback from your friends, reserve that item from your laptop and finish the purchase on the store.

Figure 2: Digital channels and Customer experience evolution (source: Sensedia)

  • Providing a customized retail experience: customization involves retailers giving consumers suggestions based on their taste, location, order history, and previous searches using, for example,  technologies such as Artificial Intelligence.
  • Attending to the growing culture of immediacy: some studies say that expected response time after a consumer request has shifted from 10 days to 10 minutes. Being able to answer in that short period of time or even before is challenging and retailers must have an efficient supply chain to support some of these services such as presenting and updating inventory in real-time, restocking stock quickly, offering same-day delivery services, setting-up delivery-lockers, and providing scheduled deliveries. 
  • Embracing digital payments: the use of the digital wallet as a payment method demonstrates that there is growing consumer demand for flexible payment methods (see Figure 3). 
Figure 3: Evolution of Digital Payments (source PaymentCM LLP)

  • Expanding into emerging markets: technology has removed spatial barriers and made it easier for retailers to conquer international and emerging markets that, without following a digital strategy, would be difficult to reach.
  • Managing APIs: as API programs grow and start powering business-critical applications and front-end experiences with APIs, an effective way to manage and scale them is needed. This is where Sensedia can help.

This enormous amount of change won’t be possible without exposing hidden data stored in various systems and applications (mobile applications, inventory platforms, etc) and the natural way of architecting a digital transformation of this type is adopting an effective API strategy to increase engagement with customers, streamline business processes, forge new partnerships, and create new revenue channels .

What’s next?

In the next post I will describe some case studies of retailers that have embraced an API strategy. Stay tuned!

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References

“The new digital divide: The future of digital influence in retail“, available at https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/industry/retail-distribution/digital-divide-changing-consumer-behavior.html and last accessed 09/30/2021.

“State of API Economy 2021 Report”, available at https://pages.apigee.com/rs/351-WXY-166/images/Apigee_StateOfAPIS_eBook_2020.pdf and last accessed 09/30/2021

“US Ecommerce Growth Jumps to More than 30%, Accelerating Online Shopping Shift by Nearly 2 Years” available at https://www.emarketer.com/content/us-ecommerce-growth-jumps-more-than-30-accelerating-online-shopping-shift-by-nearly-2-years and last accessed 09/30/2021

“Consumer sentiment and behavior continue to reflect the uncertainty of the COVID-19 crisis”, available at https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/our-insights/a-global-view-of-how-consumer-behavior-is-changing-amid-covid-19 and last accessed 09/30/2021

“Top Emerging 5 Retail Industry Trends”, available at https://www.mulesoft.com/resources/api/top-retail-industry-trends and last accessed 09/30/2021

“The inevitable rise and rise of the digital wallet”, available at https://www.paymentscardsandmobile.com/the-inevitable-rise-and-rise-of-the-digital-wallet/ and last accessed 09/30/2021


Thanks for reading!