Application programming interfaces (APIs) are changing the ways companies do business. From integrating deeply with legacy backend systems to pulling in new data sources, organizations are finding new uses for existing data—and with it, more opportunities for revenue.
As the Internet of Things (IoT), omnichannel strategy, and hybrid cloud continue to evolve, APIs will be the glue that holds systems together and the key that simultaneously unlocks the door to opportunity.
Many organizations are looking to APIs to solve their integration challenges and move toward a more digital organization. According to MuleSoft’s Connectivity Benchmark Report, 72 percent of enterprises already have an API strategy−and generating revenue is the top priority.
As your organization moves forward with its own API strategy, it may help to draw inspiration from some of the most forward-thinking companies already leveraging APIs to better serve customers, employees, and partners—including the world’s most popular music streaming service, a logistics company that needed to serve a new market efficiently, and a retailer that needed to create better in-store and online experiences for customers.
Streamlining Infrastructure to Stream Upgrades to Customers
If you’re planning rapid growth in 60 countries, you don’t have time to integrate new partner systems manually into your existing ERP and data warehouses. As music streaming service Spotify continues its rapid growth, it needs to develop and deploy applications quickly, as well as integrate with partner systems to share information.
With reusable APIs and microservices, Spotify is better able to share information across the business, deploying applications faster and bringing new efficiency to its operations. It also is building an application network to support its rapidly growing customer base of 100 million users. It also plans to use APIs to connect to third party organizations and stakeholders to better deliver services to customers.
Onboarding Customers 3x Faster
Redwood Logistics, an integrated logistics provider that handles $500 million annually in transportation spend, identified an under-served market ripe for innovation: mid-market clients. However, the high cost of entry and service meant that Redwood Logistics would need to be as efficient as possible in onboarding customers and coordinating freight transportation.
That’s where APIs create differentiation. Redwood Logistics developed reusable API assets and a transportation management platform that rivaled those of large multinational corporations. The application network allows Redwood Logistics to reduce the costs associated with providing transportation services. Where it used to take six to nine months to onboard a new customer, it now takes 60 days.
Extending Real-Time Inventory to Retail Stock
One challenge inherent in omnichannel retail is knowing when a product is in stock in a particular store. For global fashion retailer GANT, with over 750 physical stores in 70 countries, its website only pulled in part of the inventory: that in the warehouse. Meanwhile, a particular product that showed up as out of stock would languish in a retail location. The disparate data sources lived in silos and were not easily accessed.
GANT created APIs to pull together stock data from its various retail locations, then integrate that data with the online stock inventory. The result is a seamless omnichannel experience that updates inventory in real-time. These APIs have been so successful that GANT has set up a division within the organization, the Center for Enablement, to create APIs for lines of business to self-serve, reuse, and innovate faster.
Providing Critical Tools to In-Store Employees
Customers need a good reason to enter a retail store today, what with the plethora of online options. Dixons Carphone, a European electronics and telecommunications retailer, found that its in-store associates faced product knowledge gaps, which made it harder to deliver the customer service that would differentiate it from online stores. It needed to build a platform to provide sales associates with the right information and help guide buyers through their purchasing journeys.
Using an API-led connectivity approach, Dixons Carphone built a platform that increased in-store sales by 36 percent. They’ve also been able to glean insight into global store operations in real-time. And the kicker? They built the platform in three months, instead of 12, thanks to the power of APIs.
These and other companies are leveraging APIs to deliver better customer service, deploy applications faster, and uncover new ways to serve their target markets.
APIs aren’t just a buzzword; they’re being used by real organizations everyday to improve business operations.
If you're just starting to learn about the role and benefits of APIs, be sure to check out our previous post, "API Basics for Business: What They are and Why They're Important." Stay tuned for future posts on APIs as well, as we explore topics like API Management, digital transformation, and more. In the meantime, check out the report below on how APIs and enabling digital transformation across industries.
Note: The companies profiled in this blog are not necessarily Lightwell customers. However, they use the same products that Lightwell leverages for its own customers. Visit the website of our partner, MuleSoft, to view case studies about these and other companies and their use of APIs.
About the Author
Lori Angalich is the VP of Marketing at Lightwell. She loves exploring new technologies and business models, learning how things work, solving problems, and developing new ideas with others. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and an MBA in Marketing, and she enjoys applying her knowledge from both each and every day. Lori has a passion for travel, art, wine, music, wildlife (including her two dogs, who are a bit on the "wild side"), and most of all, creating great memories with her family.