GORUCK sells what's called "rucking," something so unusual that one of the first things on its website is a link called "what is rucking?"
While it's totally cool with people not knowing what "rucking" is, GORUCK was concerned about people not knowing how to pay for rucking — a social fitness activity that involves walking while wearing a weighted rucksack — and how to buy the necessary equipment.
"We are an event company and we also sell gear. We want to be able to do both those things in the same checkout process, so someone can sign up for an event and buy stuff from the same place," said Andy Nelson, the content director at GORUCK. The company has used an application programming interface (API) to expand its business and more closely tie digital content, social tools and payments.
Nelson manages online and social network content for GORUCK, a Jacksonville, Fla.-based company founded by Jason McCarthy, a former Green Beret.
The goal of an organized rucking event could be fundraising, corporate team building, finding new friends or general fitness. GORUCK employs what it calls a "cadre" of event operators, or Special Operations veterans who guide participants through the use of encouragement and instruction.
The company also operates an e-commerce engine, selling rucksacks, clothing and other fitness and apparel.
The eight year old company had been using Web-based technology to manage its events and payments, but it determined that system was not flexible enough to support its geographic expansion.
"We had been using Web technology that was hard coded," Nelson said, adding load times for the old site averaged ten seconds, and its mobile phone content wasn't scalable. "There was really no way to edit the content or update sales or add promotional messages."
In 2015, GORUCK added technology from Mozu to enable the integration of payment functions into the Web content. This allowed people to pay for events from the same pages where they read about them, and in less than a year, the company expanded its online revenue 48% and its mobile conversions by two thirds.
"The API has helped with little things like making a sales page or a splash page and clicking straight to the 'buy' page without having to go through a developer to do that," Nelson said.
GORUCK's deployment included use of an API to upgrade and transaction technology.
APIs and software development kits, both versions of open or shared development techniques, are used by many payment companies to reach out to merchants. The technologies offer business owners tools to build their own e-commerce interfaces and integrate the payments capabilities with other online content.
Visa recently extended its API to outside developers and PayPal has made open development a part of its strategy since acquiring Braintree two years ago. Startups like Stripe also use this model to enable payments across e-commerce.
GORUCK is working with Mozu, which charges for its services based on a success metric negotiated with each client. GORUCK is using a multi-tenant software-as-a-service platform to tie payments to Facebook feeds and event pages optimized for either mobile or desktop computer interfaces, said Mike Haze, director of product management for Mozu.
"They're able to do 'drag and drop' type maintenance to update campaigns, or add new content or new events," Haze said.
The technology also allows merchants to reach consumers at the point where they are most closely engaged with the retailer, said Adil Moussa, a payments consultant.
"Retailers are interested in capturing new customers and converting them into brand champions," Moussa said. "So having an omnichannel solution is the way to engage consumers, to get them to buy while they are still interested and then have follow ups that are delivered to the consumer on their preferred model of communication. The challenge is to keep a balance between the ease of multi-channel access and still be relevant in order to win the user's adoption."