Over time retailers have understood that knowing customers is essential to establish a loyal customer base and stand out from the competition. In the current age of online shopping, it’s more necessary than ever to access and use data for transforming the customer experience.
Almost 32% of shoppers purchase more from the retailer who offers a personalized experience over those who don’t.
The challenge for the retailers is to piece together the excessive customer data and deliver a personalized customer shopping experience. To overcome this situation, retailers have started investing in digital transformation initiatives which help create a 360-degree customer view. The initiatives are aimed to collect customer data in an organized manner so retailers can gain practical insights.
The Connectivity Challenge
The fundamental challenge in having a 360 degree customer view is the difficulty of maintaining the updated central data base in real time as the customers shop via multiple channels and portray frequently changing preferences. Manually updating data in a monolithic data warehouse is slow and error prone as it is unable to provide timely, accurate and consistent view of customers which retailers need to offer a personalized shopping experience.
About 56% of customers are of the opinion that retailers provide a disconnected shopping experience across channels.
The API Approach
For all those who are not into everything technical, some of the questions coming to your mind would be
What are APIs? How does it work? What are the benefits?
API stands for Application programming interface which is used to integrate two software components for sharing functionality of the data. API is more than a technical solution. It is something which you offer as a brand or service as well as means to integrate formerly unlinked data sets. APIs allow retailers to build new business models different from their original ones.
APIs in retail businesses include catalog, product search, order submissions, inventory and recommendations in addition to the existing retail specific business lines. When a customer is shopping online, he is using multiple APIs simultaneously.
Let’s know a bit about specific APIs!
When you search for an item online, you are using the catalog and inventory APIs. If you scroll the page and see the “items you may like” is all thanks to the recommendations API. When you choose the “place an order” option, its the order submission API which uses a geographical API along with courier service’s API to calculate the shipping fees. While entering the payment information, payment API is put to use which communicates with your bank to check for sufficient funds. And what’s more! All of this happens in nearly real time!
How about explaining APIs through an illustration? That will make life easier for you!
By now, you must have understood that retail API plays an integral role in increasing customer engagement and improving the overall shopping experience. We will take the example of a retail apparel store to explain how APIs work practically.
A customer walks in the store and after trying out various sweaters chooses a specific pattern. However, the color she chose was out of stock in her size.
You might be wondering how does API come into the picture here?
The customer will go to the self serve kiosks and get in touch with the retailer’s digital touch-points and access real-time inventory data. She can figure out that although the item is out of stock in the current store, it is available in another store located nearby. In this case, she has the option to get it delivered to her place but as she wants to wear it the same day going to the nearby is a more convenient option. In this case, the store owner also has the option of not providing all the access to customers and instead only to the staff members.
From the above instance, you can understand that how implementing APIs helps streamlining the business processes as well as give variety of options to your customers to shop as per their convenience.
MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform
MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform combines the existing platforms with additional capabilities for API creation, publishing and governance, basically everything that you need to connect the New Enterprise. Everything related to APIs can be done with MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform along with exposing enterprise data to mobile devices, web apps in a connected and secure way.
Here are some Interesting MuleSoft facts for you
1.MuleSoft’s Anypoint connectors are pre-built out-of-the-box connectors from MuleSoft’s ecosystem which provide quick connectivity to thousands of REST and SOAP APIs.
2.MuleSoft’s Anypoint exchange is the sharing and development platform which contains the complete list of connectors, templates, examples and APIs.
3.Each piece of MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform is designed to stand alone as opposed to being a feature in a giant stack. This means you can choose parts of the platform you want to use.
4.MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform will eliminate the struggle to access data, unlock it easily and quickly with built in integration which offers secure and controlled API access with one click policy.
5.MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform is the quickest way to build,compose and maintain APIs. Instead of days, design new APIs in hours, assemble mashups in minutes and make all the required changes in backend or front end with minimal impact on integrated systems and consumers.
6.With MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform you can innovate existing APIs with management and engagement layers, and turn the present assets into modular building blocks which can be easily assembled into new capabilities for future innovation.
7.MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform is created to take on any integration challenge, be it modernizing legacy systems, publishing device APIs or connecting SAP and Salesforce.
8.For years, businesses have kept some of their most valuable assets locked up in databases and applications. They have realized now that sharing data can generate new revenue streams. One of the easiest way to do that is MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform, which not only eases the process of API creation but also ensures that new APIs are found and used.
In today’s world, retailers need to meet customer expectations and empower their shopping experience, both physical and online to have an edge over their competitors. With technology improving each day, it is inevitable that the internal systems of the organization can share data now as well as in the future.