Retail Ecosystems Require Cooperation… and APIs

Retail ecosystems are likely to get bigger and more complex over the coming years and retailers simply cannot ignore them. The answer? APIs.

Oliver Guy Oliver Guy

A retail ecosystem exists when companies work together to satisfy the needs of consumers. 

What is a retail ecosystem? It is a vast, interconnected community of consumers, retailers and partners. These are becoming the norm in Asia, and will become an important part of the retail landscape in other markets in the years ahead.

Examples of these include:

  • A retailer selling another retailer’s products on their website; e.g. Amazon’s third party vendor platform Marketplace.
  • A retailer using a third party delivery or service company to help provide a total solution to the consumer. Examples include DPD package delivery, Instacart & Ocado grocery delivery, and TaskRabbit handyman service.
  • A retailer selling products in a country through a third-party retailer – just like Kiabi does. (Software AG helped Kiabi build its own retail ecosystem where creative use of APIs enabled it to sell across multiple new geographies.)

Consulting company Bain believes that ecosystems are well-placed to benefit both shoppers and retailers.

Ecosystems are likely to get bigger and more complex over the coming years and retailers simply cannot ignore them. 

This has not gone unnoticed by industry advisers and analysts – focusing on grocery McKinsey recently said “either go big or get out.”  Along similar lines, Gartner advised that competitive advantage in the retail marketplace depends on: “near flawless execution of customer-facing processes that increasingly span an ecosystem of partners.”

However, ecosystems will flourish only if relevant data can be shared.  This could be inventory, product specifications, customer orders or delivery capacity; all need to be shared securely, accurately and in a timely manner.  As a consequence of this, APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) are becoming a critical enabling tool and the management of these APIs will become a key success factor in maximising the value attained from operating within a given ecosystem. 

APIs are not just about integration; they are the key to monetizing and sharing the valuable assets that already exist in your organization. Manage the API lifecycle well and you can use data like a rocket engine to power innovation and growth in your organization. 

Whilst APIs have tremendous power – both internally and externally – many organizations have failed to exploit the value they envisaged.  In many of these cases, robust API management is often lacking.

I am very proud to work alongside some of the world’s leading experts on APIs and API management.  Their expertise is reflected in the success of Software AG’s customers – across retail and many other sectors.  Software AG’s pedigree in this area is also recognized by analysts like Gartner  and Forrester.

Find out how Software AG’s expertise could help you by clicking below.

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