By Devin Partida, ReHack.com
Retail web application programming interfaces (APIs) can make a world of difference for businesses in several areas. In-store, online and behind the scenes, APIs help retailers offer a better experience for everyone. The features they unlock can even give retailers an edge over competitors and help them better serve their customers.
1. Simplifying Payment Methods
One of the most widely helpful applications for APIs in retail today is integrating payment methods. This applies both in-store and online. Customers want to be able to use various payment methods, from conventional cash or card to Apple Pay, Android Pay, or even Bitcoin. They’re more likely to return to a certain retailer if they know it’s easy to pay however they prefer.
APIs make it much easier for retailers to integrate support for today’s leading payment methods. Some of these payment methods, like Bitcoin, would be quite programming-intensive to offer without them. Retailers will need to add support for more payment methods as cryptocurrencies gain more mainstream popularity. APIs allow them to rapidly expand their payment method support as customer preferences shift.
2. Offering New Digital Features
A 2021 report from Google Cloud points out the prominence of retail APIs for personalizing customer experiences. There are virtually endless options for new digital features that retailers can offer with the help of APIs. For example, virtual try-on using customers’ smartphone cameras has become quite popular.
Other features, like product recommendations or in-store notifications for personalized products, also help create a unique, engaging experience for each customer. These APIs can have many spinoff benefits for retailers, as well. A virtual try-on API could collect data that informs them about the types of products people are trying on most often. It might also reduce returns and exchanges or eliminate wait times at in-store fitting rooms.
3. Streamlining Communications
Communication between customers, suppliers, partners, shipping partners, and online storefronts can be highly complicated. This is especially true for today’s customers, who want regular notifications about order updates. APIs are perfect for simplifying and automating communications, from the warehouse to the shopper’s doorstep.
For example, one retailer used a communications API to streamline communication between its collaboration partner, the Shopify store, and customers. It used the API to seamlessly offer timely order updates to customers as it received updates from its partner.
4. Improving In-Store Shopping
APIs are also helpful for brick-and-mortar retailers. For example, a report from IBM outlines applications for APIs in-store that create a “smart cart” shopping experience. Retailers can use APIs to help customers find products and make recommendations while they shop. This also opens up the possibility of convenient self-checkout, saving labor expenses.
There are countless ways retailers can apply APIs in-store, including some that will really stand out to customers. For example, a retailer could offer an API that provides fun mobile games for children to play while parents shop, significantly reducing stress for many customers.
5. Boosting SEO Performance
The main way people find retailers online is through search engines. APIs can help stores get better results by improving customer search queries. One of the most well-known search engine APIs is user location access. This allows websites to request access to a user’s GPS location so customized geographical features can be used.
The location API is common on Google. Businesses can use it to show potential customers physical store locations in their area. Other SEO API applications can automate and optimize tasks, such as collecting keyword research, tracking performance, gathering customer reviews, and managing domain and link information.
Innovating Retail With APIs
Retailers can use APIs to unlock countless new features, tools, and capabilities. They can completely transform retailers’ workflows and operations, from B2B communications to next-gen in-store shopping. Investing allows retailers to become industry leaders and innovators, offering a cutting-edge experience for customers, employees, and partners alike.
About The Author
Devin Partida is a writer and blogger interested in retail technologies and business solutions. To read more from Devin, visit ReHack.com, where she is the Editor-in-Chief.