When one of the largest, most successful retailers on the planet makes a move, you can definitely consider it a confirmation of a trend.
Last week, the WSJ reported that Wal-Mart is opening smaller-format stores in new urban locations. Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke stated in their annual report that their growth will be driven by “innovated new formats”, which includes the smaller stores and stores with drive-throughs for picking up internet purchases.
Essentially, Wal-Mart is going to where their customers are…. taking their brands to different chnnels where customers spend their time, to be there when those customers want to buy.
What does that have to do with APIs? Everything.
Retailers as diverse as Sears, Netflix, and BestBuy are opening APIs to take their brands and their services to where their customers spend time. Those customers are on Facebook, on Twitter, on enthusiast sites, on their iPhones, iPads, Xboxes, etc.
As the image below from Sam's Web 2.0 talk depicts - you may have to connect to customers across many diverse channels, from smartphones to Xboxes to your car and kiosks.)
Getting your capabilities into these environments where customers are spending time requires that you fit into new formats… like an iPhone or Android app, or an iPad or Xbox app. You can’t possibly be an expert in the dozens (hundreds?) of platforms, sites, and devices out there. Developers can help you do that, if you have your catalogs and services exposed via web APIs.
By the way, we have a new whitepaper out on Retail 2.0 today, you can get a sneak preview here.