IoT in Retail: How Mulesoft Integration is Transforming the Industry9 min read
Retailers have long understood that ‘knowing the customer' is not just crucial but also pivotal for maintaining loyalty and standing out in the cut-throat competition. With the advent of the digital age and the dominance of eCommerce giants like Amazon, retailers are under pressure more than ever to leverage data for better customer experience.
That's where the Internet of Things (IoT) came into the picture. IoT refers to the interconnected network of physical devices, vehicles, buildings, and other items embedded with sensors, software, and connectivity which enables these objects to collect and exchange data. IoT has become increasingly significant in the retail industry as it allows businesses to collect data on customer behavior and preferences, manage inventory, and optimize supply chains effectively.
However, integrating a growing number of apps and data sources to automate business processes remains a major challenge for many businesses. Statistics from the 2022 Connectivity Benchmark Report indicate that integration hinders digital transformation for 80% of organizations.
There are a number of different data integration challenges facing organizations today. These include incorporating data-derived insights into user-facing applications (77%), moving data from source systems into the data warehouse (75%), and reusing data sources across different user-facing applications (72%). To overcome such challenges, businesses will need a future-proofed strategy that is supported by the right integration platform.
By using an API-led approach, Mulesoft has helped a great number of businesses eliminate redundant data silos and overcome connectivity challenges. MuleSoft's Anypoint Platform can help businesses integrate and manage data from various systems, including IoT devices.
The platform acts as a central hub that connects and brings together data from different sources, breaking down silos and making it accessible and usable throughout the business.
In this article, we'll see how Mulesoft integration knocks down data silos with real-world retailer successes.
The Role of Mulesoft in IoT Integration
Anypoint Platform™ by Mulesoft provides businesses and organizations with a unified solution to data integration that drives critical change by accelerating projects faster. On average, retailers activate projects 2.5x faster than using custom code.
An API-led approach for IoT integration
With an API-led approach, Mulesoft integration allows organizations to connect their applications, data, and devices efficiently by enhancing
- Data integration. MuleSoft can connect various IoT devices and existing systems, making it easier to collect, process, and analyze data.
- Security. MuleSoft provides security features such as encryption and authentication to ensure the safe transfer of data.
- Scalability. MuleSoft can handle large amounts of data and can scale as the number of connected devices increases.
- Flexibility. MuleSoft allows retailers to easily connect new devices and systems, making it easier to adapt to changes in the market.
APIs at their core allow different, scattering systems to communicate and share information that would otherwise be incompatible. The true value of APIs comes from how dissociating from an inflexible system generates insightful data for a retailer and transforms it into a series of interchangeable and secure “building blocks” that team members can use and reuse for other purposes, either customer-facing or for backend operations.
MuleSoft’s API-led strategy allows retailers to connect any on-prem and cloud system to create a single source of customer data. Regardless of whether your customer data is on-premises, in the cloud, or hybrid, customer data fields can be easily harnessed and orchestrated.
Retail IT teams get down to business faster without needing to start from scratch. This helps retailers save tremendous time and money, and effort invested in custom integration labor.
Furthermore, the secret weapon of Mulesoft's Anypoint Platform™ is DataWeave – a coding language developed by Mulesoft that enables seamless data integration. With the entire internet consisting of computers talking to each other and exchanging data, different data formats and handles make it difficult for IoT integration to happen.
DataWeave has been created to allow different systems to talk to each other within a MuleSoft application network regardless of the data formats handled. The combined power of DataWeave and Anypoint Templates has increased developer productivity and ensured data can flow seamlessly across systems.
A single management hub for retailers
For retailers, Mulesoft integration creates a central hub for IoT management, from customer profile data to inventory management.
Mulesoft offers retailers great opportunities to create seamlessly connected experiences for their customers. As customers complete new transactions, shop through multiple channels, and show rapidly changing preferences, Mulesoft's API approach can help collect data from various datapoints and present retailers with meaningful insights, all within one central view.
With customer data gathered and synced across different applications, retailers can
- Create connected shopping experiences for their customers;
- Better analyze and customize future customer interactions to increase the possibility of them making purchases;
- Simplify customer service processes to deliver a better customer shopping experience.
In terms of inventory management, Mulesoft provides retailers with real-time inventory by connecting disparate systems like ERP, OMS, and POS.
In most cases where retailers take other approaches to IoT integration, they rely heavily on back-end systems for purchasing and inventory tracking in multiple locations across distribution centers, fulfillment centers, and physical stores.
When these systems fail or get disrupted in tracking inventory from multiple locations, retailers will be unable to provide a customer with product availability. With Mulesoft integration using APIs, retailers can deliver accurate information to consumers, reducing consumers' likelihood to abandon their shopping carts for other retailers.
Benefits of Using Mulesoft for IoT Integration
In comparison to other approaches to IoT integration, Mulesoft integration for IoT stands out as a more cost-effective method in terms of efficiency, agility, and customer experience improvement.
Removing IoT integration complexities
IoT integration has been a major challenge for many businesses when transforming digitally. The core issues lie in the different coding languages and the growing number of in-use applications.
However, everything has been simplified with Mulesoft integration. By building a mutual connecting bridge – DataWeave, Mulesolf integration can handle with simplicity both JSON and XML, with all the complexities of the latter. The Mulesoft integration model is a canonical one that can represent any format, freeing developers from serialization concerns.
Adapting better with great agility
Mulesoft integration takes great advantage of event-driven APIs (or reusable APIs) that allow retailers to increase their agility and quickly respond to the market's growing expectations.
One important thing is not all APIs are the same. There are two different types of APIs.
The first one is RESTful APIs which are best suited for low-bandwidth web-based applications that don’t prioritize data transfer speeds. Under certain conditions, these APIs can be helpful but in today's retail environment where agility is paramount to success, they offer limited use cases.
The second one – event-driven APIs, on the other hand, are based on direct consumer input like a button press or card swipe to trigger a series of transactions to deliver specific outcomes, such as a credit card charge.
These APIs are reusable and can be integrated with a wide range of services and products. These APIs are more flexible than RESTful APIs, and they offer great support with real-time transactions that customers now expect as a standard.
With these reusable APIs being the core of the Mulesoft integration approach, retailers can ensure greater accuracy, completeness, timeliness, and consistency of customer data. Additionally, this also helps deliver customer insights that are easier to action and can be used to drive personalized journeys.
Creating a better customer experience
Mulesoft integration using API-led connectivity allows retailers to access a united 360-degree view of the customer – giving them a well-rounded portrait of their consumers via the seamless integration of data.
An ever-existing challenge in creating a 360-degree customer view lies in the difficulty of keeping a central database updated in real-time as customers complete new transactions, shop through multiple channels, and show rapidly changing preferences.
Most existing approaches involve pulling data manually out of silos and storing it in a single data warehouse, where a retailer’s customer data is pooled into a static domain. However, this method is incredibly slow and disruption prone, since there are too many systems housing customer data needing a constant update.
As a consequence, it is almost impossible for a monolithic data warehouse to transfer data at a speed that ensures an accurate 360-degree view. It fails at providing the timely, accurate, and consistent view of customers that retailers need to offer personalized shopping experiences.
However, with Mulesoft's APIs-led approach, retailers can gain access to data across cloud, on-premises, and hybrid environments, as well as the ability to connect to any system, device, or data source- all at a greater speed.
Real-world Case Studies
To illustrate, we have a few case studies where retailers succeed in growing their business when transforming digitally with Mulesoft integration.
Dixons Carphone – a leading electrical and telecommunications retailer and services company struggled when trying to compete with eCommerce vendors, drive consistent sales growth, and optimize the customer journey. They wanted to completely upend the customer experience to create a frictionless, seamless shopping journey.
To do this, Dixons Carphone used MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform™ to develop honeyBee, a platform that creates retail APIs as well as builds, delivers, and manages digital customer journeys. The platform enabled an engaging customer journey by allowing customers to navigate through a consistent experience alongside sales associates in stores––whether they were exploring purchasing options or comparing products. The platform resulted in a 36% increase in sales conversion, a 65% reduction in transaction time, and a 25% boost in customer satisfaction.
Revolution Beauty – one of the fastest-growing beauty brands in the UK wanted to improve its eCommerce platform to keep up with its fast-paced product releases and enhance customer experiences. To retain its market dominance, Revolution Beauty aimed to integrate its eCommerce platform with internal systems, creating a unified view of customers to improve service speed and provide customers with a hassle-free experience.
Its main challenges lie in the manual image-uploading process and the disparate customer data. Revolution Beauty used MuleSoft to build APIs that integrate Image Relay to Salesforce Commerce Cloud — automating the image uploading process. This ensures that product images are assigned to the correct SKU, in the correct order. The brands also adopted reusable APIs by MuleSoft for their contact center platform to get a 360-degree view of their customers. This Mulesoft integration ensures that teams can access accurate customer data for Revolution Beauty’s UK, US, and International sites.
With the successful implementation of Mulesoft integration, Revolution Beauty has been able to easily achieve a 300-400% growth in eCommerce volumes since the start of the pandemic.
In today’s fast-paced digital world, retailers need to reach consumers where they are and encourage them to shop and interact with brands across a growing range of channels, both physical and online. With Mulesoft's API-led connectivity and an appropriate API strategy, retailers can build a network for success while saving a great amount of expense on customization labor.
If you're looking for a professional and experienced team to help you with digital transformation and Mulesoft integration, our experts are here to help. As a leading provider of MuleSoft services and solutions, we help companies stay ahead of the competition by offering expert MuleSoft consulting services and dedicated teams to perform custom API strategies.
Our team of experts will work with you to understand your specific requirements and goals and provide you with a personalized road map that sets your business for success. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our Mulesoft integration service!