Why success in retail is all about sharing

Today’s shoppers want to browse, review, buy and return their goods across a range of different channels, and retailers are all jostling to be among the first to offer their customers a truly ‘omnichannel’ experience.

There is already a vast and growing mass of data about customer likes and dislikes, purchasing habits and lifestyles, collected from and about shoppers in stores, as well as from their mobiles and laptops. The biggest challenge for retailers now is how to bring it all together and turn it into useful, actionable information. Key to the answer is a small piece of technology that isn’t even new: amid the latest behavioural data analysis applications, online shopping tools and in-store technologies sits the humble Application Programming Interface, or API.

APIs: enabling retailers to put two and two together

APIs, in their various forms, have been with us for years, enabling data sharing between two or more platforms, systems or applications. In retail, they serve a vast range of processes including product searches, submissions and recommendations. Perhaps the most important of these is the need to serve customers both on and offline. I find it incredibly frustrating to walk into a store and be told that a product is out of stock, but that I can order it myself – as long as I do this at home. A brand that can provide me with a way of doing this in-store would immediately go to the top of my list. And the evidence indicates that satisfying the customer demand for easy movement between physical and digital spaces is lucrative for retailers; retailers who empower…