The internet has revolutionized the way people shop. Most consumers find out about trends either through word-of-mouth or social media and they tend to use their mobile devices throughout the shopping lifecycle. Either when browsing the internet looking for deals or using an online coupon they got in an e-mail.
This new shopping behavior has created problems for companies that have been around for decades before the internet was fully in style. Their systems tend to be mostly siloed and there has been massive duplication across business units because systems were created to solve tactical problems.
As eCommerce became too hard to ignore in the early 2000s, retailers began to scramble to meet customer demand by deploying poor point-to-point integration solutions with no clear scalable strategy in mind. This fixed the problem in the short-term but left many struggling to support increasing customer demand on its online channels in the long-term. And when consumers hate the online shopping experience, that means big problems for Retailers. That’s when revenue starts to slip and the bottom line starts to shrink. The good thing is that there’s a way to correct this and adapt quickly to meet customer’s demands.
Customers interested in a product want to see the stores closest to them that have the product in stock.
Customers want to be able to reserve an item at the store that has the product in stock using their phone or personal computer so they can stop by to view, handle, try on the product before making the purchase
Customers want to be able to purchase an item at the store of their choosing that has the product in stock so they can quickly pick up the product at their convenience
To create truly distinctive experiences, retailers need to bring data from disparate sources to customers, suppliers, and employees. For example, the business team might want data on product availability both in-store and online to give customers real-time information.
The idea is to unlock and expose access to data via APIs to make an application network comprised of components that can be used as Lego bricks. This approach shifts the way IT operates by decentralizing access to data and capabilities while at the same time allowing IT to always maintain visibility and control.
Agility and flexibility can be achieved by adopting a multitier architecture containing 3 distinct layers:
This is the layer where all the core systems can be found. The APIs in this layer are meant to provide access to underlying systems of record and exposing that data. IT should have complete governance over these APIs as they represent core systems important to the business. For retailers the core systems could be their CRM, key customer and billing systems and proprietary databases.
These APIs perform a specific function and need access to core system data, however they also have encapsulated in them the underlying processes and logic inherent to the business. For retailers, an example could be a purchase order process that has some logic common across all channels. That process can be distilled into a single service that can be used regardless of product, geography or retail channel.
This the top layer where data is consumed across a broad set of channels but in a variety of forms. For example, POS systems, eCommerce site, mobile shopping applications. These applications all require access to the same data but need to be represented in a different format. These APIs are meant to be easily configured so they can be consumed by their intended audience in their desired format. There is one data source instead of setting up separate point-to-point integrations.
The application network provides an infrastructure for information exchange by allowing applications to be “plugged” into the network. Every node added to the network adds value to the network since that data and capabilities are easily discoverable and consumable by others. For example, a team can build an Order API that can be reused for the web and mobile apps. Or an API that gives customer service reps access to previous orders and customer data through the POS system.
This makes it easier for somebody in the organization to create a useful application, use of data, or an API with a particular experience, and then expose that value to the network.
Here at NEWTOMS, we can help retailers embrace digital transformation to the fullest, so they can effectively use technology to create a better experience for their customers. We help our clients bring together business and IT as strategic partners to achieve outcomes.
We are more than happy to discuss any use cases with your organization. Feel free to contact us at email@example.com. We respond to any request 24/7 because our staff is strategically located around the globe. We speak English, Spanish, and Filipino.
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Winston J Rivero Jr. graduated in two careers: Finance & Marketing from Georgia State University in 2012 – He's currently the Director of Business Development in North America and leads the Content Marketing Strategy for NEWTOMS