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How Morrisons used APIs to build its price comparison and loyalty scheme for customers

Margi Murphy | Feb. 5, 2015
Morrisons' Match & More scheme, launched late last year, lets customers collect points, which can be exchanged for vouchers in store, as well as price match Aldi, Lidl, Sainsbury's and Asda – all from their mobile phone.

Morrisons' Match & More scheme, launched late last year, lets customers collect points, which can be exchanged for vouchers in store as well as price match Aldi, Lidl, Sainsbury's and Asda — all from their mobile phone.

The Match & More platform pools customer data from various sources to create a fully personalised, useful tool for customers who want to see offers based on their location, as well as compare prices with other grocers.

It does this using an Application Programming Interface (API) platform from Apigee, which provides a secure operability layer between disparate systems.

Data is sourced from Morrisons' tills, its on-premise Oracle estate (which stores the grocer's item and promotion data), the Ocado platform that stores customer information and core merchandising data, and Salesforce.com for its customer relationship data.

The Apigee tool, which runs on AWS, sits in front of these data sources and provides a single API. The site and the smartphone app can call this API to gather all this information — providing a seamless customer experience — securely, Tom Foster, Morrisons' head of platform strategy and architecture told ComputerworldUK.

The app also calls third-party price match data from competitors so the Match & More loyalty scheme can compare groceries customers are looking at or have already bought from Morrisons' competitors.

The scheme, launched in October, already has 120 million API requests a month, Foster said.

While rivals Sainsbury's and Tesco offer loyalty cards Nectar and Clubcard, Match & More is offering a truly personalised shopping experience, Morrisons claims. Using location data, it offers customers promotions relevant to their local shop and usual shopping basket based on their previous shopping profile stored in Ocado.

Enterprises are increasingly opening up APIs to external partners in a bid to foster creative applications that come from developers outside of the business.

Tesco recently launched its API wiki — a public portal, which explains how entrepreneurs can use its 19 APIs to use the retailer's data for useful applications.

Morrisons' API is currently private, but Foster said it was a route they are hoping to go down in the future, although no schedule has been set yet.

Geo-fencing

Foster said the retailer is also "looking at" geo-fencing as a way to use customer location to send personalised notifications while they shop, but would need to assess the feasibility of enabling wifi in every store and "trial carefully" to avoid being overly intrusive.

"There would be certain questions that would have to be asked," he added.

Assisting inventory — a side effect of the loyalty scheme

While pooling Morrisons', Ocado's and third-party data is useful for personalising a customer's shopping experience online and through their phone, it also assists with supply chain and inventory, Foster said.

The retailer can see how a promotion is affecting inventory in real-time, so it can order more products if necessary.

 

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