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Pitney Bowes bets on digital logistics and APIs to move beyond meters

Clint Boulton | April 5, 2016
Like many companies of a certain age, Pitney Bowes is banking on software to bolster lagging sales in a world where ecommerce is gaining steam.

Using Apigee Pitney makes APIs for services such as location intelligence, customer engagement, and shipping and mailing available through developer.pitneybowes.com. There developers can add to their ecommerce apps the capability to rate a package, validate an address, refill an account or by a United States Postal Service label. They may also "geo-enhance" apps with location coordinates, place names, points of interest and time zones. Such features can reduce fulfillment shipping costs, accelerate the shipping process and help customers better track the status of parcels.

One advantage of using Apigee is that the APIs enable developers to stitch such capabilities into their apps in hours and days, as opposed to the weeks and months it would take building them on their own. "We can talk to our retail ecommerce clients about outcome problems they want to solve and bring services to bear to solve outcome problems very, very quickly," Fairweather says. "Its software-enabled commerce."

It can also be more cost-effective. Fairweather says that while Pitney has historically built and shared private APIs with some of its largest customers, such integrations are expensive and unwieldy. That won't cut it at a time when Pitney is trying to expose as much of its software as possible to its customers, which includes 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies, including 200-plus retailers, as well as 1.5 million small businesses. "Our goal was to make that capability come to life for our clients so they could build [software] on top of it," Fairweather says.

Embracing ‘adapt or die’ digital mantra

Narratives like that of Pitney Bowes are playing out in every business industry as established brick-and-mortar companies refashion themselves as providers of digital products, says Tom Weeks, Apigee's vice president of customer success and digital strategy.

Working with Apigee, pharmacy chain Walgreens created a developer portal that allows third-party mobile software to integrate with the company’s mobile application. Via APIs integrations, Walgreens customers can print photos from such brands as Facebook, Flickr or Instagram; order prescription refills through consumer health apps, such as Glow, WebMD and DailyRX,; and share health and wellness information from the likes of FitBit and RunKeeper to earn rewards points.

Such platform strategies have increasingly become a board-level discussion for CIOs, says Apigee CEO Chet Kapoor, who noted that boards now recognize that APIs are "not just a technical descriptor of what's in the back-end" but the lynchpin for a digital product or service. He says that 50 percent of Apigee's 260-plus customers are companies that are over 100 years old. "They have a mantra -- they may not say it this way -- but it's 'adapt or die.'"

 

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