Boost Your Retail’s eCommerce Agility with MuleSoft amid COVID-19 Crisis

24 Jul, 2020 | 4 minutes read

As we are moving into the second half of the year 2020, we are getting accustomed to the “new normal” that we hear day by day on every communication channel. Needless to say new behavioral patterns have already been set regarding the coronavirus crisis. This means that we do not have a choice but to adapt to the changes.

The retail industry certainly needs to conform as retail sales crashed at a vertiginous speed, especially the most impacted ones – fashion, furniture, electronics, and automobile industries.  

One of the fastest-growing digital channels – the global e-commerce market is expected to reach $4 trillion and double its size by 2022. We might even see the first trillionaire on Earth.

As it is known, people nowadays, do not just buy products, they buy experiences – so it is really important to own up and support those experiences and achieve greater customer satisfaction.

E-commerce is a fast-paced environment, so being able to quickly adapt to the ever-changing conditions is of utmost importance. If a business lacks an effective digital commerce channel(s) and cannot reach its customers and digitally engage them, the downfall is bound to happen.

MuleSoft‘s API-LED Connectivity in service of eCommerce

Integration is a pivotal area in the eCommerce surroundings. It is the thin line between failure and success.

To address the challenges imposed by the fragmented environment, many organizations have implemented point-to-point integrations, without using an integration broker, by using custom integration code. But this kind of connectivity creates tight coupling and over time, managing, improving, changing, or maintaining this kind of structure becomes complex, unstable, and at a great cost.

Mulesoft’s ESB capacity enables easy building, scaling, and managing application network data through APIs regardless of on-premise or on the cloud.

The most influential companies in the industry put the integration middleware to good use, enabling rapid development and deployment.

API-Led connectivity is a methodical approach to integration that connects data through modern APIs, which are developed with a specific purpose. It offers the possibility to transform large monolithic lagging applications into reusable and composable assets within the retail supply chain. Using this model enables decoupling of the messaging processes from the business processes. This adds great value to the modern, agile, retail chain which means, for example, reducing the onboarding process of a new partner.

Retail chain for reducing the onboarding process of a new partner

API-Led connectivity consists of three layers of APIs: experience, process, and system APIs, whose role is explained below:

Experience API layer or Interface: Different experience APIs by channel, perhaps e-commerce, SaaS application, or data interface. Enables the data to be easily used by its audience – from a common data source instead of point-to-point integrations for each channel. It is basically the same data but in a format dependent on the consumer.

Process API layer or Orchestration: Different process APIs by a business process like executing a purchase order, checking inventory level, etc. The processes are separated and independent from the source systems as well as the channels of communication. These APIs interact and shape the data and provide specific functions.

System API layer or Connectivity: Different data access to source data – physical systems or external services.

The benefit of using the three-layer API architecture is decoupling the processes and creating a deft and innovative response to changes. Anypoint Platform’s ability to map dependencies automatically across all connections allows the companies to monitor and visualize their application network without using other tools. The companies’ e-commerce platforms can easily be extended with out-of-the-box connectors to Salesforce, Amazon, Commerce Cloud, NetSuite, Magento, and more.

How can the IWConnect team achieve this using MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform?

One of our clients, a large US retail company, delving into the eCommerce market, had a problem with data synchronization. The data was gathered via the legacy systems of various vendors and inserted into a database. The vast amount of data and the various vendor types imposed the need to ease the data synchronization. Our solution?

We came up with a solution to orchestrate the process into three types of APIs:

  • Non-real-time search APIs that query the database;
  • APIs that return live, concurrent data;
  • APIs that merge the result from both previous types of APIs.

Other than the APIs, we have implemented a suitable error handling strategy with no record loss and keeping track of the invalid data as well as sending status reports to the interested parties.

We have received return information regarding the impact of our solution on their operations, and we were thrilled to learn that the data orchestration and the whole middleware integration reduced memory usage by 45% which means exploiting fewer resources and saving money. The whole integration increased the overall processing speed as well as simplified the pairing process. At the end of the day, it disentangled the processes making the system clearer and easier to perform maintenance. But one of the greatest benefits was – the ability to include multiple new vendors without affecting the backend logic which is of great importance during these dynamic times, where everything is uncertain for the retail industry.

One thing is for sure, eCommerce APIs are crucial in maintaining the customer focus, developing new products and services, improving application and system integration, and sharing data and information. But most importantly, they save time, since this “new normal” environment just does not have the time for disjointed technologies and systems.