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The State of APIs in Retail

An analysis of billions of digital commerce API calls in the Apigee cloud
Jun 15, 2016

Leading retailers depend on APIs to create the seamless experiences that consumers demand. APIs open the door to the creation of a variety of advanced digital commerce services—they enable consumers to compare and review products online or check product availability on a mobile app before heading to a store to make a purchase. The way modern consumers shop and the shopping experience they expect is rapidly changing and APIs are the foundation on which successful digital commerce is built.

The State of APIs in Retail report, an analysis of billions of API requests in 2015 served via hundreds of digital commerce APIs hosted on the Apigee cloud, found that a majority of retailers still have a way to go before becoming true digital retail business platforms.

Digital maturity patterns

Two-thirds of retailers are still in the early stages of digital commerce maturity (they’ve deployed fewer than 30 APIs). Industry leaders, on the other hand, are expanding beyond core APIs to build out more robust digital commerce services, including loyalty programs, recommendations, and product reviews.



Distribution of retailers across stages of digital maturity

As competition in the retail space and pressure to increase revenues grow, advanced API patterns give retailers the ability to create more refined digital solutions while keeping their customers happy and increasing margins.

Retailers in the early stages of developing a digital commerce journey usually begin by implementing a set of core API patterns that facilitate the connection between mobile apps, legacy systems, and web applications in a standardized way. At the next stage of maturity, retailers leverage APIs to build programs that address some additional digital commerce use cases such as personalized engagement, flexible fulfillment, convenient payments, customer loyalty, or data security.

The most digitally mature companies have created platforms that include a broad scope of API patterns to address all aspects of digital commerce use cases.

Policy patterns

Retailers use API management platforms to secure, scale, manage, and analyze their APIs. Security and performance appear to be top considerations based on our analysis. Half of retailers use OAuth to authenticate users, while 20% employ caching to improve app performance. Transforming business entails unlocking data from systems of record and enabling new digital experiences to be created rapidly. APIs were used for optimizing legacy systems and creating and running new experiences in private and public clouds: we found that almost half (40%) of retailers are using APIs to connect to legacy systems.

How do you measure up?

Leading retailers are creating powerful customer experiences and growing revenue via API-centric approaches to their digital commerce initiatives. To see how you stack up against the world’s leading retail brands and companies, try the Apigee Benchmark for Digital Commerce now and learn ways you can leverage APIs to accelerate your own digital commerce initiatives.

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