Business models on e-commerce
Open APIs are upending the ecommerce business model and forcing developers to seek out more realtime tools to ensure a positive customer experience. Speaking with ProgrammableWeb at the recent API World conference in San Francisco, Tony*, a lead developer with an online retailer, discussed some of the unique impacts that face retail when using APIs to enhance content delivery.
“Open API is a new initiative to help major retail companies support their ecommerce domain, ” Tony said. “...and it has proven to challenge the current social norms in online retail.”
“In general, when you have an ecommerce platform, you don’t want browsing users’ traffic to hit your end resources/servers unless they are committing to add value to the company (for example, when buying products). That's why multiple caching strategies are implemented - to prevent unnecessary traffic taxing the company’s end resources. But the demand by consumers for the most recent information is exponentially increasing.
“Consumers don’t want to see out-dated and potentially misleading information. They want the most up-to-date information now. This empowers all consumers to make the best decisions. The more knowledge, the more up-to-date information the consumer has, the better shopping decisions they can make. So because of this realtime push, in online retail we need to move away from a paradigm of caching the data to help drive business advantage."
Research by LoadImpact into retailer expectations of site load times shows that almost half of all retailers surveyed believe that less than one second is an acceptable site load time, and across the board, both ecommerce and brick-and-mortar retailers recognize that a short response time is crucial for the online retail experience.
Retailers unable to get load and response times lower than one second may see less engagement from shoppers. “An individual's perception of realtime response is actually 600 milliseconds, ” Tony explained.
Tony cites the example of giving customers realtime information around product availability as being essential to an online shopping experience. To provide product data to online customers, an application may need to draw from multiple API data streams. For example, by accessing pricing and product information, and then cross-checking this with inventory data to know what products to display. This is further complicated if a product is not in stock, requiring more data to be calculated on the fly in order to make recommendations for alternative items that are available.