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The growth of digital commerce and omnichannel interactions have forced retailers to further invest in digital transformation to meet the evolving expectations of their customers. However, building a fully connected and personalized retail experience is only possible with the support of IT teams — teams who are already spending more than $3.4 million annually on integration-related IT labor costs. 

Here are some steps your organization can take to leverage smart retail at every stage of the retail value chain:

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#1 Plan with data insights

Massive amounts of societal and technological change are reshaping the retail landscape. With buying cycles getting shorter, planning is crucial, so we view it as a key part of achieving business agility. Retailers cannot afford to lose any of their thin profit

margins, which is why data and accurate forecasting touches every aspect of a retail business. 

To plan effectively, you must establish a single view of customers and use all the data that each customer generates as the basis of their planning strategy. Leverage data and analytics to inform your planning cycle via an API-led integration strategy. This gives retailers the ability to unlock legacy systems and provide an infrastructure that adapts to growing technology systems and customer expectations. 

#2 Buy the right inventory

The retail ecosystem is complex and the buying process now expands across numerous global vendors and partners and is punctuated by competition. To make informed buying decisions, you need a single view of your inventory along with aggregated consumer preferences. 

By integrating different retail data sources, you can improve decision-making and focus on buying the right inventory. With an API-led approach to integration, disparate systems are linked and composed to create a single, real-time view of sales, inventory levels, and purchase order statuses. Sharing information and providing visibility into both front-end and back-end systems increases productivity and simplifies the buying process.

#3 Manage and move goods effectively

New customer expectations are driving operational shifts to increase speed and visibility across the supply chain. In response, IT teams often resort to time-consuming custom solutions to bridge the gap. That backlog of projects is so great that IT is losing the capacity to deliver solutions to the business on time.

As supply chain management becomes more international, complex, and dynamic — there are more tools and data than ever to help you move more efficiently. An API-led connectivity approach in the supply chain provides both the flexibility to work with different partners and easily roll out updates, while retaining control over core ERP systems.

#4 Sell with engaging experiences 

Digital transformation has drastically impacted the selling part of the value chain; its scope now expands to comprise not only store operations but eCommerce, marketing, loyalty, and service. With more digitally-enabled customers, there is a demand for greater, more personalized buying experiences.

With this shift in buyer expectations, you can no longer rely upon product transactions to build relationships with customers; rather, you must pivot to offer an experience that entices customers to enter your stores and engage with your brand. 

An API-led approach allows you to seamlessly connect both new and old systems to deliver an omnichannel experience and meet the customer where they are. By driving reuse of APIs, you can deliver consistency across channels at the speed that customers expect. 

Learn how an API-led strategy across the entire retail value chain can help you to create a seamless customer experience by downloading our eBook.