Take My API—Please | InternetRetailer.com

By opening up access to product and pricing data, retailers spread their market wings

By Paul Demery

As good as BestBuy.com is at engaging and serving shoppers, it reaches only about 0.069% of the online consumer market at any one time. And though that puts the retail consumer electronics site among the top 50 retail sites in terms of traffic as measured by Compete Inc., Kevin Matheny, senior e-business architect for Best Buy Co. Inc., is hoping to at least double that percentage.

“Now BestBuy.com is all we’ve got, so if online consumers aren’t interacting with BestBuy.com they’re not interacting with Best Buy,” he says. “But if we can get consumers to also interact with us online outside of BestBuy.com, by giving them more places to do it, we hope we can see the time they interact with Best Buy on the Internet increase to about twice the time they spend with us now.”

To spread its wings in online retailing, Best Buy has opened up to software developers the application programming interface, or API, to its online product catalog. In the forefront of an API-sharing trend that industry experts say is growing among retailers, the retailer is enabling outside software programmers to develop applications, including new shopping web sites, that display product specifications, images and pricing from Best Buy’s back-end databases.

And because most developers build these new applications on speculation without a contract or upfront payment, Best Buy is often free of the financial risk it would typically take on with commissioned work for new applications, Matheny says.

John Thompson, senior vice president and general manager of BestBuy.com, says the API program, dubbed Best Buy Remix, will leverage the abilities of thousands of developers to come up with new ways to engage online shoppers beyond the confines of BestBuy.com. “It’s what we hope will be a new, fundamental way of doing business,” he says.

KDYKES: They go on to say in the article… “Over the next three years, we’ll see 25% to 30% of the top-tier retailers with API practices.” This shows the power of such an API program for online retailers.

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