Waitrose invests in APIs to create apps that blend in-store and online shopping

British grocer Waitrose is developing apps to help integrate the customer experience online and in shops, with the help of API management tool Apigee.

The firm’s initial APIs are already live, and are expected to help developers create apps that will make it faster and easier to find, manage and buy groceries from Waitrose.

Employees can already gain mobile access to product information in stores, improving customer service in the aisles.

By bringing in the Apigee management tool, Waitrose hopes to develop consumer-facing mobile apps due to go live this summer.

Harry Strover, head of IT strategy and architecture at Waitrose, said: “Customers have a range of different requirements when they enter a store, whether it be looking for the latest product information, checking out the latest reviews and prices, or simply making a purchase.

"It’s vital that we integrate all of these activities and deliver a personal and relevant experience around them, helping us to establish deeper relationships with our customers and engage with them in the way that works best for them."

Using Apigee the firm can manage, secure, analyse and scale APIs and use its analytics feature to measure customer adoption and iterate according to customer experience in-store and online.

"Food retailers are operating in a time of great change in the UK supermarket industry, driven by the rise of convenience, online shopping, mobile and changes in shopping habits,” said Ed Anuff, vice president of product strategy at Apigee.

“They need to be able to adapt and innovate quickly, flexibly and efficiently in order to better engage with their customers.

“Mobile provides new opportunities for retailers to have more meaningful interactions with customers through services such as geo-location, personalised offers and loyalty programs. Waitrose is one of the UK’s most popular retailers, and we look forward to helping it deliver an even better experience for its customers and employees through digital.”

Other retailers including Marks and Spencers, John Lewis and Morrison’s (for its loyalty card scheme) are using APIs managed through the Apigee platform too.

Customer-facing firms are increasingly investing in API strategies. Customers "expect more than what you can offer", enterprise architect at GLH Hotels, Matthew Newton told ComputerworldUK recently; but simply pushing out apps is not the way to win them over, he added.

“Apps are fun. They are nice, they are tangible. But they always feel like an awful lot of work for something that starts to wither as soon as it goes live.”

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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