Tom St. Onge | VP, Business Development
June 05, 2013

APIs vs. The Myth of the Omnichannel Retailer


Yesterday’s article in the Wall Street Journal, titled “The Myth of the Omnichannel Retailer,” illuminated some startling facts about how many retailers are reaching their omnichannel potential. According to the a survey of 35 large retailers (more than $1B annual revenue) conducted by SD Retail Consulting, the gap between ideal omnichannel experience and execution is in reality still quite significant. Only 29% of U.S. retailers allow online orders to be picked up in stores; only 18% have mobile commerce; and 80% say they aren’t sufficiently training store associates to serve customers who purchase from multiple channels such as in store or online.

The road to retail omnichannel success has taken a few courses. Luxury brands such as Sak’s and Bloomingdale’s have had early success relying on customer loyalty to drive mobile channel success. Typically, these efforts are driven by APIs, as is the case with Starwood’s SPG app – which drives loyalty program members to book the same room they would on the website via mobile device for extra loyalty program points.

For non-luxury brands, it seems mobile coupons are the ticket to driving app usage. By 2014, the number of mobile coupon users is expected to increase to 53.2 million a year, according to an April report by Business Insider.  The report also finds that, at roughly 10%, the redemption rate of mobile coupons far outstrips that of print coupons, which hovers around 1%. This all helps retailers increase foot traffic into physical stores, and are a great way for them to collect data on offline purchases and close the mobile-to-offline purchase loop. The way, of course, to ensure continuity of experience betweeen a website, a mobile app and any platform used instore buy either a customer or brand associate is an API. 

According to the WSJ article, “One reason for the slow response is that many retailers are mired in antiquated IT systems and have been reluctant to commit to big new capital expenditures coming out of the recession.” However, industry analysts predict that 74% of retailers will somehow retool their ecommerce platforms in some way this year. APIs are the common thread between retailers’ mobile and in-store experiences, which is one of the compelling value propositions of having API Management capabilities in an ecommerce platform, such as Netsuite’s Mashery SuiteApp for SuiteCommerce, which allows SuiteCommerce customers to point any API to the Mashery solution in order to offer consistent data to developers, partners or internal app teams.

For more information on using API management as a component of your ecommerce platform to achieve omnichannel results, contact us today.