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How retailers can use APIs to reach ‘always-on’ customers

21st Oct 2014
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‘Always-on’ consumers, described as “a breed of fast-moving, tech-savvy and digitally-immersed shoppers, for whom a world of information and interaction lies at the fingertip swipe of a touchscreen”, are posing a unique set of challenges for retailers that are often only solvable through an Application Programming Interfaces (API) strategy, according to Intel.

In the report Catch Me If You Can: The Race To Keep Pace With Consumer Demands, Intel studies how mobile devices and apps are driving so many decisions for retailers, and how APIs fit in with future innovation in the field.

The report, citing Experian, places the always-on consumer falls into one of the following four categories:

  • Social butterfly: female, 18-34 years, uses technology for social networking, sharing and social shopping.
  • Working professional: usually male, 34-44 years, career focused. Four times more likely to read the news and three times more likely to send emails from their mobile than average.
  • Gamers: single male, 18-24, loves gaming via any enabled device but less likely than average to consume TV, radio or newspapers.
  • Everything tech: 18-34 years, likes to try new things first. 63% more likely than average to have used a tablet recently.

Part of the issue retailers have with marketing to always-on consumers is integrating multichannel campaigns and staying innovative in the digital brand experience being offered, something that often leads to cart abandonment and defection to competitors online.  

In reaction, Intel suggests that, “by connecting information and intelligence across people and devices, business-changing opportunities can be created through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and their management systems”:

“A basis for composite applications, APIs allow retailers to expand their reach across developing channels, without compromising security, data or brand message, while at the same time delivering a consistent user experience across all digital platforms,” says Joel Reid, sales director for Northern Europe at Intel Services. 

“APIs enable retailers to seamlessly enhance their digital strategy in response to consumer appetite, speeding up and simplifying innovation by eliminating technical debt traditionally involved with redeveloping apps or digital platforms from scratch…by embracing external API management systems, retailers can turn their estates into a platform, to leverage and control more opportunities than they can in-house.”

While Amazon is seen as the marque innovator in the API field, having built its whole Web Service business around sharing internal and external APIs, in the UK, Argos is also gaining credibility for its evolving mobile strategy, built on API development and allowing both internal and external developers to create new content that can be added seamlessly into its app.

Argos’ first transactional mobile app, launched this year (2014), has already been downloaded almost 2 million times by iPhone and Android smartphone users.

“Our APIs were initially solely focused on our mobile apps, but we soon identified unexpected opportunities for their use in other channels and by other parts of the business,” says Jeremy Gooch, Group Integration Architect at Argos parent company, Home Retail Group.

“Digital transactions account for 50% of our total business and APIs provided the data security, scalability and multi-platform innovation fitting for our brand as a top multi-channel retailer.”

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