The rapid rise of influencers in fashion, beauty and food explains why e-commerce spending is also on the rise, with 43% of French shoppers saying they use social media to discover new brands. O increased online and omnichannel sales obliges traders to ensure that their stores, their online ordering systems, order processing and delivery the last mile work perfectly. This means unifying data across different physical and online systems to gain a 360-degree view of the customer, monitor operations and identify logistical issues that may impede an optimal customer experience.
To address these challenges, marketers are turning to application programming interfaces (APIs) and management platformsAPI to create the unified services and seamless shopping experiences consumers now want. Thus, APIs offer various services to retailers, whether it is linking product pages to social media platforms, offering personalized recommendations, or allowing customers to easily see if an item is out of stock online. Through three aspects of the customer journey, let’s see how retailers can use APIs to reinvent themselves in today’s omnichannel world.
Before purchase: provide real-time information faster?
Buyers are just as likely to look for theinspiration on social media than in a brand’s online store, distributors use APIs to inject the value-added information customers want, when they need it.
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This may involve linking product pages with social platforms of the brand, such as Facebook, Instagram, Youtube or pinterest, ensuring they are constantly updated, or using APIs to instantly provide shoppers with detailed product information. Linked to an inventory management tool, the APIs give buyers real-time visibility into available sizes, colors or models at a nearby store, or even to receive real-time alerts when stocks of the consulted items are low.
Some companies understand this well. For example, to target teenagers, advertisers will prefer TikTok and for mothers, investments will go to Facebook. Online advertising campaigns allow advertisers, in particular, to increase purchases on their website and/or encourage store visits. O APIs are critical on the device to ensure a great return on investment from these campaigns.
Likewise, giving customers the ability to create profiles and store wish lists throughout their long shopping journey doesn’t just benefit shoppers; traders also gain valuable information for future replenishment recommendations and decisions that they otherwise would not have.
Finally, using API-based applications can be a valuable forecasting tool. Indeed, the results of surveys carried out locally with customers at a point of sale or the recurring requests of customers in a store constitute a rich source of information that can be used by the sign to optimize decisions regarding the stocks of its points of sale.
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Purchasing: simplifying order management?
O consumers increasingly expect to create their own purchase journey, browsing through products on social platforms before finding more details on pricing and product features, either in an online storefront or in a physical store to see an item for yourself. But it is not the only fundamental part of the purchase decision process.
Consumers expect options such as store delivery, “Click & Collect”, or even order and pick up in store. Plus, they want to be informed every step of the way to know when their purchases will be available for delivery or collection. Using APIs to connect disconnected physical and digital channels so customers can “shop anywhere” and receive their purchases in the way that suits them best is just the first step.
92% of French consumers are looking for faster and cheaper deliveries. Merchants are leveraging APIs to streamline order processing for in-store pickup or delivery to meet consumer expectations. They can also use the APIs to connect and retrieve information from their logistics partners to use it to regularly update customers on the progress of their orders.
Here, it is in fact a matter of providing an excellent customer experience that allows companies to acquire an important differentiating factor vis-à-vis their competitors. Logistics has therefore become a major competitive advantage. Amazon pioneered this area with its Prime subscription which imposed the rule on e-merchants and retailers. But today the Uber, Deliveroo or even Carrefourthat deliver in 1 hour, completely broke the standards in terms of logistics applied to e-commerce.
After purchase: improving return processes?
Consumers now expect returns to be fast, simple and free. Merchants can no longer ignore this aspect of the shopping experience, so good returns management is now an important competitive advantage that helps build long-term customer loyalty.
O merchants can invest in APIs to streamline the returns process, which will allow them to meet customer expectations, but also get products back on sale faster for buyers. However, this is only part of that process. In fact, thanks to the APIs, customer service will have information about a customer’s profile and will also collect useful information about the reasons for the return – description or images found to be non-conforming, sending the wrong item, size error, item damaged during delivery, etc – so that we can reduce return rates in the future.
But that’s not all: simplifying and streamlining the return process reduces the carbon footprint, a new challenge for e-commerce. Veepee, 9th in France in terms of number of customers according to the FEVAD 2022 ranking, now offers its members the “Re-turn” service, a new concept “CtoC” (“consumer to consumer”). This is about buying or selling an unsuitable Veepee item directly to a member without going through the Relay Parcel box.
In conclusion, the APIs enable merchants to innovate and expand their omnichannel capabilities, whether it’s making it easier for consumers to initiate or close purchases through different distributors, or eliminating friction points that frustrate customers. The data collected at the various stages will enable merchants to more meaningfully engage with customers, optimize their operations and make better inventory management decisions.