APIs: The Key to your Multi-Channel consumer experience
So, why APIs? For retailers, the answer is in your pocket. When was the last time you used a shopping app while inside a store? Or made a “spur of the moment” online purchase? Back in February, Forrester analyst Brian Walker laid this logic on retailers at eTail Palm Springs (Optimizing Your Business for the Era of Agile Commerce) in a message to retailers that: you have to go slow, to go fast. Cut to eTail’s Eastern sister conference in Boston last week, same message seems to be morphing. The question on retailers’ minds became how brands can provide a Multi-Channel experience to their consumer that gets their products and content in front their customers anytime, anywhere. This is wicked exciting because Mashery has been putting a lot of effort into educating retailers on using API platforms to give consumers brand access across several platforms. What didn’t make me warm and fuzzy was the knowledge gap many retailers might have walked away with about technology that is enabling brands to successfully reach the golden Multi-Channel status. What Brian Walker hit on is a key element of what makes commerce APIs so valuable: in order to provide your consumer with a true multi-channel experience you need to be able to build solutions for the different devices and platforms quickly, but this doesn’t mean tearing down your entire infrastructure and completely re-platforming in the next quarter, that would be daunting to say the least. The simple answer is that APIs can give you the speed, flexibility and scalability you need while you research, test and implement a new commerce platform over time. As I sat and listened to panelists dance around the questions targeted at their technology strategy, I could only think of Brian Walker’s talk at the Palm Springs eTail stop in February and his request of retailers to go home, look at your laundry list of projects that you have for 2012, take a few off and put APIs at the top. During the two Main Conference Days at the eTail Boston event APIs were not mentioned once in the context of solving the issues surrounding constructing a Multi-Channel approach. The reality is that APIs have been around for quite a while, and our clients Expedia and Best Buy (amongst countless other retail players) have implemented them to forge new partnerships, leverage talented developers and increase their revenue streams quickly. This weekend when you are out doing your errands with the family, or shopping with friends, pay attention to your behaviors when interacting with products. Do you reference a price checker when you see an item in a store to see if you could get a better deal? Did you see if you could get any perks from your credit card company? Come back next week and I will discuss some of the ways our retail clients are utilizing APIs to engage consumers across a multi-channel strategy to deepen their engagement and loyalty.