Patrick Hopkins | Inside Sales Representative
August 27, 2012

Illustrating APIs As Key To Your Multi-Channel Consumer Experience


Friday we reflected on multichannel expansion as a key business driver for retailers at eTail Boston this month, by comparing it to the technology recommendations of the analyst community. One fantastic point that Brian Walker touches on in his talk is that businesses in general cannot keep up with all of the emerging digital touch points in today’s market. Retailers are looking for strategies to reach customers across the rapidly growing array of channels most consumers touch daily: mobile, social, word of mouth, as well as traditional Web and traditional channels. The retail organization looking to cut time to market for a multichannel strategy has two powerful tools that we’ll illustrate using two real-world examples: partnerships and affiliates.

Best Buy and Citi Rewards collaborated to provide Citi customers a way to increase the value of a visit to Best Buy by integrating alternative payment methods into the Best Buy checkout process and curb showrooming. Using their BBYOpen API, Best Buy enabled customers using Citi’s Thank You Rewards mobile app pick an item up off the shelf actually purchase an item right there using their Thank You Reward points and take it home that day. This partnership is easy enough to imagine because its real power is in where it alters the consumer experience. By blending an instant gratification of an in-store purchase with the value of a user-defined reward purchase, the consumer who might pause price compare at the shelf has another price to consider: free. Integrating payment systems before the era of APIs could take years, while this one was guaranteed to change the retail electronics field in time for critical holiday shopping time.

Affiliates offer the opportunity to expand into existing channels and tap existing markets in exchange for sharing the benefits such a synergy can reap. Affiliate possibilities can be endless, but so can the process of maintaining them. APIs change that game by automating the maintenance of critical data like price, inventory and purchase information. Expedia is taking affiliate programs to another level by providing developers and affiliate partners access to their hotel inventory through their Expedia Affiliate Network, or EAN. Through Expedia’s Mashery Powered portal, developers have access to a wide range of Expedia’s hotel inventory and can pick components of the content that they’d like to implement into their own sites and apps. The possibilities for innovation don’t stop there as John Watton, EAN director brand and marketing, explains in an article with Travolution this past April:

“ Some of the more exciting innovations are coming in the mobile space, said Watton, with some major partnerships due to be announced soon with “leading edge” trip planning affiliates. “Not even a company like Expedia can drive all the innovation in the marketplace. We are thinking about what we offer with our API. ”

Expedia is an example of a retailer who has seized the power of the digital market, and has allowed partners and developers innovate, and reach consumers with an even wider range of experiences in the multi-channel atmosphere. That’s essentially tackling one of the most significant hurdles to being where your customers need you.