Saturday, June 22, 2024

Unlocking data to accelerate growth in 2022

Australians’ appetite for retail shopping never left during lockdowns. However, customer expectations are certainly different now than they were pre-pandemic.

By MuleSoft Regional Vice President Retail Grace Micallef.

MuleSoft Regional Vice President Retail Grace Micallef.

Foot traffic is now just one of many sales channels retailers must cater to, in addition to satisfying their needs from anywhere, at any time, both online, social and mobile applications. Customers now increasingly expect the same quality of service from an online transaction that they do while buying something in-store.

Prepared with the right technology

During the pandemic, the composable business model rose to prominence as retailers sought agility and methods to create new solutions rapidly and empower staff to make these solutions themselves. Composable businesses utilise reusable APIs (application programming interfaces) to respond faster to changes in market and consumer trends, giving organisations the agility to impress customers however they choose to transact.

APIs allow disconnected IT systems to communicate and share information. APIs allow users to extract data from outdated or inflexible systems and transform it into a series of “building blocks” that can be reused across the rest of the business to create new solutions.

Perhaps the reason why retailers are turning to APIs for agility is in how they empower non-tech users to create solutions as well without needing any programming experience. Retail employee expectations have changed during the pandemic, just like customer expectations have. Staff increasingly expect their employer to invest in modern, user-friendly tools at work that makes their jobs easier to do, not more difficult. APIs do just that by providing a drag and drop interface akin to a consumer-facing product to create solutions without the need for writing lines of code.

Unlocking data to help businesses as a whole

APIs don’t work without data, so retailers must also ensure employees feel empowered and comfortable integrating their data sets with the rest of the business. Staff without programming or IT skills are often hesitant to use APIs, with close to three-quarters of business and IT leaders feeling that the risk of a security breach has held them back from integrating their data. Thankfully with low-code and no-code API platforms, these employees can use building-block like APIs to create new solutions on the product side and in the back-office. 

It’s no wonder that 96% of global organisations are using APIs in some capacity today, and 36% say their API approach is already mature. Because APIs can be used and reused repeatedly, retailers no longer need to partner with large marketplace aggregators like Amazon or eBay to establish a digital presence quickly. Every component of an online retail business can be bought off the shelf, whether it’s an online shopping cart, payments system, logistics or support. 

Ramping up to hyperautomation

We’re only at the precipice of what’s possible when a composable business model empowers retailers. Still, one trend that’s emerging at the intersection of composability, integration and API management is hyperautomation.

Businesses have been trying to automate as many mundane tasks as possible for years. Still, recent advancements in technology such as robotic process automation (RPA) have allowed these organisations to automate their business processes at scale. Whereas automation makes manual tasks easier and more efficient or removes them altogether, hyperautomation uses technology to scale up these processes across an entire organisation to automate everything that can possibly be automated. McKinsey estimates that businesses will automate up to 60% of back-office and administration tasks, giving staff time back to focus on their actual jobs instead of mundane tasks and slashing operational costs by as much as 30%.

The retail industry has shown remarkable resilience amid the pandemic, but the impact of the rapid digitisation of the sector is far from over. Retailers must seek agility from any avenue they can find, and there’s no better way to become more agile than empowering employees themselves to be agile. Retailers won’t be able to harness the true benefits of the composable business model without proper integration practices, API management, and eventually hyperautomation. Digital sales channels are now an integral part of every retail business. Without accepting and reacting to how customers’ appetites for digital services have grown, retailers will find themselves lost in 2022.

About Grace Micallef

Grace Micallef is the Regional Vice President for Retail at MuleSoft, based in Melbourne. She is a passionate individual with expertise in supporting customers to manage their businesses in an agile and ever-changing environment. Grace has over 20 years of experience in the technology industry, and is responsible for driving growth, strategy and building high performing sales teams.

About MuleSoft

MuleSoft, provider of the world’s number one trusted integration and API platform, empowers any company to quickly unlock and integrate their apps and data to create seamless experiences, faster.

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