Contributed by David Chiu, Ecommerce Industry Strategist at Elastic Path
Here at Get Elastic, we’ve spent a fair amount of time exploring the importance of having a broad, consistent multichannel customer experience. Typically, we look at things from the consumer perspective, focusing on best practices in areas such as mobile optimization, usability and social marketing. But just as important as what you should be doing in these channels is how you should be doing it.
One of the hallmarks of today’s most successful online enterprises is that their customer-facing services reach far beyond traditional desktop websites to encompass everything from mobile apps and standalone hardware devices to purchasing features embedded within other pieces of software such as games and social networks. Labels such as agile commerce, multichannel 2.0, and the “internet of things” have been variously used to describe a new reality, where companies are expected to offer their customers a consistent, unified relationship experience while allowing them to conduct business and transactions seamlessly across a multitude of touchpoints. Anyone with IT experience will appreciate that this is a daunting scenario, but the ideal solution has actually been incubating for quite some time.
For many years now, good software architects have promoted the use of service oriented architecture (SOA), where building blocks of back-end functionality (such as catalog or cart features) are individually packaged and exposed for consumption by the delivery mechanisms that need to use them. But in the old multichannel paradigm, where revenue was attributed solely to “store, catalog, and web”, the idea of moving to a model designed to sell things across dozens of channels was usually a tough sell. For most organizations, it would have been difficult even three years ago to envision a plausible scenario where potential revenue from alternative channels might offset the cost and effort of migrating from a legacy system to service-oriented software.
Then smartphones, tablets, connected televisions, app stores, and Facebook happened. The explosion of potential customer touchpoints, along with the disruptive business models that often come with them, have once again propelled the SOA concept to the forefront of ecommerce thinking. Supported by technical advances in the design of REST web services that make it easier for potential channels to “plug in” and consume complex functionality, the notion of decoupling ecommerce functionality from a website and distributing it everywhere via a full-featured shopping API is finally an idea whose time has come.
Want to learn more about the next generation of shopping APIs, and how they can help future-proof your business? Join our guest speaker Brian Walker, Forrester Research Vice President and Principal Analyst, and Sal Visca, Elastic Path Software Chief Technology Officer, for a live one-hour discussion Shopping APIs and How They Future-proof Your Business on August 2, 2011, at 9:00AM PDT/12:00PM EDT.