Why retail companies need to unify their API and business strategies

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APIs play a major role in digital transformation for many businesses because they allow quick and easy access to the data, tools, and services necessary for successful innovation. 

APIs are particularly relevant to retail organisations because they give these businesses the tools to improve operations, enhance customer experiences, and stay ahead of the competition. An API business strategy can enhance in-store shopping experiences, create new digital experiences and even provide new payment options to broaden the accessibility of your brand.

If your retail organisation is considering leveraging APIs, you must align them with your overall business strategy.

How can you effectively unify APIs with the business strategy?

Unifying an API strategy with your retail business strategy is critical to getting the most out of these tools. A well-aligned API led strategy can help your business improve operations, enhance the customer experience, stay ahead of the competition, and grow the business. Here are some steps to get started:

1. Understand the business strategy

Before bringing APIs into the business, you need a clear understanding of the business strategy and its aims. Involve key stakeholders from different departments, such as IT, marketing, and inventory, to ensure that the API strategy aligns with the company’s overall strategy. It is important to ensure everyone understands the API strategy and its role in supporting the retail business.

2. Define API goals and objectives

Define what the APIs will achieve and detail how they will support the business. For example, if part of the business strategy focuses on improving customer experience, the API strategy might focus on providing seamless integration with customer-facing systems.

3. Assess API impact on the business

APIs can unlock new opportunities and increase efficiency, but they also come with risks that you must carefully assess. For example, looking at potential security and privacy risks associated with APIs is important. You need to understand the type of data shared, who can access it, and how secure it is. Any vulnerabilities in the API could leak sensitive customer or financial information, potentially leading to compliance issues.

4. Address changes to the customer experience

Retail businesses should focus on how APIs impact customer experience before deploying them because APIs have the potential to either significantly enhance or detract from a customer’s experience. For example, an API-enabled digital checkout process may be faster and more efficient than traditional shopping methods. Still, if it doesn’t work as expected or is not easy to use, it can lead to customer frustration. Therefore, you must evaluate how APIs affect customers when designing your strategy.

5. Continuously evaluate and adjust

You need to evaluate and adjust the API strategy to ensure it continues supporting the retail business strategy. As the retail business evolves, the API strategy should evolve to remain aligned with the company’s goals and objectives.

What are the benefits of unifying the API and business strategies?

Unifying the API and business strategies for retail can bring numerous benefits, including:

1. Improved customer experience

APIs can help your company provide a superior customer experience by creating a seamless, cohesive journey for customers. Integrating APIs into the systems allows your business to easily access data from multiple sources and create an experience tailored to the individual user. From customising recommendations based on past purchases to streamlining the checkout process, APIs make it easier for companies to offer a more personalised and effortless customer experience.

2. Integration between online and in-store experiences 

API-led data integration can have a major impact on the shopping experience for customers, both in-store and online. By connecting with customer data through APIs, retailers can better tailor their services and offerings to individual customers, providing a more personalised and engaging shopping experience. API technology can bridge the gap between in-store and online retail, providing customers with a unified shopping experience regardless of platform. For instance, many retailers now offer integration between their physical and digital stores through APIs, allowing customers to shop for items online or in-store using their preferred method and still receive the same level of service. This seamless integration between platforms can improve customer satisfaction and increase retailers’ sales potential by giving them more opportunities to reach customers.

3. Increased revenue

APIs can be a powerful tool for retailers to increase their revenue. By leveraging APIs, retail businesses can quickly and easily access customer data to understand consumer behaviour, optimise pricing strategies, and customise product offerings. For example, an API could help a retailer identify which products customers are most interested in purchasing and adjust prices accordingly. This could lead to increased sales and, ultimately, higher profit margins. Additionally, you can leverage APIs to create personalised product recommendations for customers based on their purchase history, which could further boost sales.

What do these look like in real-world use cases?

One of our clients, T2, experienced some of the above benefits when we deployed an API-led solution designed to unlock the data trapped in legacy technology and optimise their processes for fulfilment, inventory and delivery.

We worked closely with T2 to achieve:

  • An omnichannel shopping experience by unifying data on their eCommerce and physical stores. For example, APIs have integrated their e-commerce platform with their inventory management system, enabling real-time updates on product availability and streamlining the ordering process.
  • New in-store experiences included staff packing and shipping products from the store and allowing customers to click-and-collect or use self-service checkouts. For example, T2 uses APIs to integrate with payment gateways, inventory systems and shipping providers, creating a unified shopping experience for customers across multiple touchpoints.

The API strategy enabled us to create integrated sales experiences that allowed T2 to maintain competitive differentiation. As a result, their stores became a place to reinforce the brand and improve operations rather than becoming a liability during the pandemic.

You can read our customer success story for more details.

MakeSense can guide your API business strategy

Our API Program is the foundation for digital transformation strategies. We plan more than what you need implemented; we advise on fulfilling the purpose, known as the ‘why’ of a strategy, and how it impacts diverse stakeholders. 

Visit our Advisory and Consulting services page for more on our expertise and capabilities.

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