Eggs, Milk, Bread – the World’s First Grocery API

Adam DuVander, July 14th, 2009

TescoThe third largest retailer in the world, Tesco, a grocery-and-more chain largely in the UK, will soon unveil a REST API for its online store (Tesco API profile). Developers will be able to search products, as well as get nutritional information, such as how many calories are in a serving of crisps or biscuits.

The most innovative part of the upcoming API is its authentication of customers, providing developer access to a virtual shopping cart. Included are the customer’s favorites, which could be used for recommendations, or a quick ordering interface.

For the last six months Tesco has been beta testing a limited API with about 150 developers. Last week, Tesco’s Nick Lansley announced changes based on feedback. The results are just about everything one would want in an API: no rate limits, a RESTful interface and an affiliate program to make developers money.

To get a sense of what sort of applications the folks at Tesco envision developers creating, check-out this video from last year’s Microsoft Professional Developers Conference (PDC):

In fact, Tesco’s committment is so strong, they’re inviting developers to an open innovation day on August 5. Developers, customers and Tesco employees will join in London to improve online grocery shopping.

This sort of API should be a no brainer for companies already doing business on the web. Expect even more retailers over the next few years to cater to developers, because the return on the minimal investment has the potential to be huge. Trailblazers often set the standard. So, even if you don’t have a Tesco near you, pay attention. Someday your grocery store’s API could look just like theirs.

Tags: Shopping
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18 Responses to “Eggs, Milk, Bread – the World’s First Grocery API”

July 14th, 2009
at 3:11 am
Comment by: stoimen

It’s great how the web APIs can grow to such an extent. Lovely article!

Best regards.

July 14th, 2009
at 8:04 am
Comment by: Danvers

“So, even if you don’t have a Tesco near you, pay attention”

- Erm, I though the entire UK was never more than 6 feet away from a Tesco shop.

July 14th, 2009
at 8:31 am
Comment by: Tesco API coming soon! | Good Times & Happy Days

[...] nutritional information for products, processing customer logins and virtual shopping carts, the information in here will be just for you! Spread the [...]

July 14th, 2009
at 9:36 pm
Comment by: links for 2009-07-14 « Blarney Fellow

[...] Eggs, Milk, Bread – the World’s First Grocery API (tags: food web) [...]

July 16th, 2009
at 3:01 pm
Comment by: Adam DuVander

Yes, Danvers, Tescos are all over the UK. I’m in the US, as are a few other readers. :)

July 17th, 2009
at 11:02 am
Comment by: Friday Blog Scan: Things We Liked from the Week That Was | Clean Slate

[...] It’s been sort of quiet these past months on the technology front. Not a whole lot of innovation going on inside real estate. But outside the space, the API space is on fire. Tesco, a grocery-and more change from the UK is about to unveil an API for its online store that allows developers to search for nutritional info and more. Programmable Web has it here: Eggs, Milk Bread – the worlds first grocery API [...]

July 29th, 2009
at 1:00 am
Comment by: 4 New APIs: Tesco, Dutch Parliament, SMS and WiserEarth

[...] The most notable of which comes from UK retailer Tesco which we covered in our report on the World’s First Grocery API (a story that was then picked-up by at The Guardian and later in a light-hearted post on the press [...]

August 20th, 2009
at 1:02 am
Comment by: Tesco Promises 2 Years of Service for Their Grocery API

[...] do you attract developers to the world’s first grocery API? How about by promising it won’t go away any time soon? That’s what Tesco’s Nick [...]

September 29th, 2009
at 6:26 am
Comment by: eTc :: El blog de Marketing en Español » Blog Archive » Comunidad en red: Las empresas y la innovacion abierta de las APIs

[...] por ejemplo, el gigante de la distribución Tesco, que anunció recientemente el lanzamiento de su API abierta, donde ofrecerán información detallada de los comestibles que distribuyen, incluyendo, entre [...]

September 29th, 2009
at 4:07 pm
Comment by: La sana fiebre del “API abierta” contagia a empresas e institucionesas em | Comunidad en la Red

[...] por ejemplo, el gigante de la distribución Tesco , que anunció recientemente el lanzamiento de su API abierta, en el que ofrecerán detallada información de los comestibles que distribuyen, incluyendo entre [...]

October 8th, 2009
at 2:47 am
Comment by: 82 Shopping APIs

[...] number of new shopping APIs have shown up this year, as well. Most intriguing was the world’s first grocery API. You can also now connect to handmade goods with the Etsy [...]

November 16th, 2009
at 12:05 pm
Comment by: BigOven Bakes Recipes in the Cloud

[...] and add items to grab at the store. It’s easy to see how this could be mashed up with the world’s first grocery API from Tesco. Related ProgrammableWeb Resources BigOven Recipe [...]

November 16th, 2009
at 3:05 pm
Comment by: Steve Murch

This is great!

Just a note — here at, we’ve just gone to invitation-beta with our REST-based API to search 170,000+ recipes, plus manage a grocery list in the cloud. There are obvious mashup possibilities here…

February 18th, 2010
at 1:24 am
Comment by: Sears, the Oldest Retailer in U.S. Has Newest API

[...] grocery delivery service, MyGofer. That makes it only the second grocery API we know of. UK-based Tesco launched the first last [...]

June 17th, 2010
at 5:29 am
Comment by: Mary-Ann

iPhone grocery shopping app ‘WhatDidI’ For launches v1.2 on the
iTunes store.

‘What Did I’ is the first iPhone/iTouch application for grocery
shopping. The application exploits the local storage of an iPhone
application to allow the application to operate with no wireless coverage
and also to personalise product searches by merging recent purchase and
offer information, in addition to the expected full access to online
shopping basket, in-store offers and favourites.

Where the application is not connected to Tesco it will automatically save
all changes and later synchronise with The local storage allows
shopping list additions and changes to be made exceptionally quickly as
there is no need to wait to login to Tesco. Together this makes the
application ideal for shopping using iTouch and iPad in addition to iPhone.

“WhatDidI” for features:
* Fast start
* Works even when connection lost
* Fast update
* Background synchronisation
* Barcode scanner
* Running price total
* Keyword search by name, category, brand or description
* Search Offers, Favourites or Recent Purchases
* iPad and iTouch Compatible

June 28th, 2010
at 2:33 am
Comment by: UK Grocery App Makes Shopping Easy

[...] been nearly a year since Tesco became the first grocery chain with an API. Though we’ve been unable to test WhatDidI, it looks like just the sort of app that [...]

August 5th, 2010
at 9:32 pm
Comment by: Tesco Takes its Grocery App Mobile

[...] company that launched the world’s first grocery API now has a new mobile app, built upon its own platform. Anyone with a Tesco account and a Nokia [...]

May 4th, 2012
at 2:20 am
Comment by: help foreigners to buy cheap items from china

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John Musser
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Adam DuVander
Executive Editor, ProgrammableWeb. Author, Map Scripting 101. Lover, APIs.