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Carl W Crawley
Carl W Crawley

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eCommerce and Data APIs

This resonated with me because it is the focus of a number of projects we are working on here at Hippo and as a result we are seeing a trend towards what we think will be a major shift in the coming months.

For many years, an eCommerce site meant a website built in something such as WooCommerce, Magento or PrestaShop with it's own back-end data management. Typically, these platforms were bloated, full of functionality that was either not required, and often needed additional custom work as well as making you fit your product or service into their own definition of what that should be.

As as result, this usually meant custom work was required and without a large investment, never really gave you everything you needed or wanted ending up with a solution that had a jarring experience for you and possibly the customer.

Nowadays, eCommerce means so much more. Whether you’re talking about smart wearables, Google glass, augmented reality or mobile shopping, it not just about your website.

Monolithic platforms are traditionally built systems which handle everything in one place. Billing, Log-in, customer data, cart, shipping, payment. Historically, this was only for one facet of the business, such as a website or a mobile application and gave clients a sense of security. Each transactional layer of the business (POS / Mobile Application / Website) had its own monolithic structure, which often contributed to a duplication of data, time and effort and increased the risk of user error.

These duplicated monolithic systems are now making way for β€œheadless environments”, where the data layer is separated from the presentation layer using technologies such as EDI or API’s (Electronic Data Interchange / Application Programming Interface) in, what some are calling β€œCommerce-as-a-Service” (CAAS).

Clients are now becoming more and more savvy and are starting to understand that eCommerce is simply just one facet of the entire product/service ecosystem and as such, technology should be used to bring them all together and this needs to be managed from a central system.

I'm now seeing more and more clients looking at connecting to and providing automation to/from their transactional side of the business (POS, mobile application or eCommerce site) and migrate them onto centralised CRM or ERP platforms (Customer Relationship Management / Enterprise Resource Planning) which feed 'microservices’ with the necessary information.

Providing clients the ability to maintain their customer database in a central CRP/ERP platform connected to their product inventory, customer activity and communications allows them to alleviate duplication of data, achieves GDPR nirvana and enables them to become more proactive and responsive when it comes to after-sales care.

By treating their product information as pure data, the ability to run multi-channel sales efforts is achieved with minimal client fuss and reduces the risks of data-inconsistencies. It allows clients one-click updating of their own eCommerce site, mobile application and social media presence as well enabling them to connect into eBay, Amazon and a plethora of other sales platforms.

Through a series of interconnected API’s, clients are able to connect their CRP/ERP and transactional engine to a multitude of payment gateway providers, drop-ship courier services, warehousing applications, social media platforms, mobile applications, communications frameworks and centralise all of this data.

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