9 benefits of modern retail API integrations for merchandising

Ashish Keshri, Senior Manager, Functional Architecture - Merchandising | June 6, 2023

Automate business processes and integrate applications with REST APIs

Oracle Retail has recently announced major enhancements to its integration framework for Merchandising and Pricing Cloud Service to support these initiatives. A library of over 300 new REST APIs (an architectural style for an application program (API) interface that uses HTTP requests to access and use data) uses a modern ‘REST first’ integration approach with external applications and Oracle Retail’s cloud services.

REST APIs for Oracle merchandising integrations automate business processes and integrate applications. These improved data movements reduce the retailer’s involvement to a minimum. The integration between merchandising and the Order Management Suite has also been simplified, eliminating the use of the Omnichannel Data Store. In addition, the integration between merchandising and Store Inventory Operations Cloud Service is now supported without a need for any integration middleware and data replication layers using a direct table-to-table approach.

The REST-based integration methodology can ensure that retail applications across functions have relevant and timely data about customer behavior so that retailers can understand what they need and exceed their expectations. This framework also promises reduced operational complexity and faster issue resolutions, thereby assuring more time for employees to come up with innovative ideas to face current market trends to accelerate the rate of change in customer and supply chain dynamics. This change brings major incremental strategic and operational benefits to global retailers by enabling them to address key retail market trends.

Oracle Retail Merchandising is at the epicenter of all retail operations, and for modern global retailers, with a very large number of applications for various functions in their eco-system, it serves as the source for foundational data and the destination for all transactional data for financial reporting.

For a long time, its inbound and outbound integrations have been achieved through the Retail Integration Cloud Service (RICS) with its various components such as the Retail Integration Bus (RIB), Bulk Data Integration (BDI), and the Retail Service Backbone (RSB). In the past, this model has been very successful and serves well at various retailers with a large global footprint. However, to address the dynamics of modern retailing, Oracle Retail identified the need for an alternative, cloud-native integration method better suited to integrate merchandising with other applications at a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) and with less operational complexity. This new integration pattern is expected to provide immediate incremental benefits to retailers.

9 Benefits of the APIs Modern Design and Operating Model

  1. Optimizes system performance
  2. Enables faster implementations
  3. Provides lower TCO for retailers
  4. Shrinks testing timelines
  5. Eliminates configuration dependency
  6. Migrates data easier and faster (even bulk data)
  7. Reduces time spent mapping and troubleshooting
  8. Resolves issues quicker
  9. Reduces operational complexity

Features of REST APIs

  • Concise and relevant payloads: The payload contract for each API has been reviewed to trim irrelevant fields and renamed to more business-friendly terminology wherever needed to make mappings and troubleshooting less time-consuming. The existing RICS APIs served as the basis, so migration is also easy for customers.
  • Simplified configurations: There are UI-based self-service configurations to initialize and operate these APIs, eliminating a dependency on Oracle to configure.
  • Open API documentation – The APIs are documented in a Swagger-based tool that provides payload details, descriptions, and valid examples. Each API can be tested right from this tool, shrinking testing timelines.
  • Real-time requests and responses: Both inbound and outbound APIs provide real-time requests and responses, reducing chances of data latency/mismatch between applications and ensuring timely troubleshooting. Error reporting has also been enhanced to aid effective, rapid resolution of issues.
  • An abstraction layer: Pre-built JSON objects for outbound integrations. This avoids direct interaction with large database tables and ensures faster response times.
  • Flexible operations: The control of polling data from and publishing data to Merchandising lies with individual applications to make calls at timed intervals as needed. Further, UI-based configurations for selective API enablement and the ability to schedule underlying operating jobs helps optimize computing resource. This framework also allows retailers to use any middleware of their choice, not having to adopt an unfamiliar integration toolset.
  • Support for bulk data: The publish and subscription APIs support the transfer of bulk data using the same endpoint for the seamless operation of activities such as initial data seeding and data repair.

With innovations in integration, Oracle Retail can help retailers work more efficiently with data. Most often, retail applications use data that is generated elsewhere. For example, merchandising systems use sales data from a point of sale (POS) system for inventory and financial reporting or stock count information from a store inventory system to update inventory. Therefore, a robust integration between applications is vital for timely and informed decision-making. A good data integration strategy – informed rather than gut-based decision-making – differentiates a success story from an average one in retail.

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