Tesco Promises 2 Years of Service for Their Grocery API

Adam DuVander, August 20th, 2009

TescoHow 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 Lansley has done in his recap of their first developer conference (emphasis his):

I am, by this message, stating publicly that we guarantee the Beta Tesco API’s existence and performance levels for at least the next two years. That is of course our ‘worst case scenario’ – best case is that we get the API into permanent production during 2010 so that the beta API is retired for the best of reasons: it’s then a reliable production application!”

It takes a lot of time to learn how an API works and to incorporate it into other projects. When a new API appears, especially one with the “beta” label, developers want to know it will stick around. Even the big companies discontinue APIs, so a public promise like the one Lansley has given goes a long way.

Nick Lansley (Tesco) at PDC2008

There were several other positive signs that came out of Tesco’s “developer jam.” For one, it included actual customers. Before developers arrived about 70 people convened to answer a half dozen “challenges,” such as visualizing social grocery shopping, or helping customers speed up their trips. The outcome was more than 800 ideas for applications or features, from the future users of those tools.

That huge list of ideas also gives developers a good place to start on a new platform. When they arrived, Tesco let them in on the API’s next version, so they could begin to envision how to make some of those ideas a reality.

In another sign of being customer-minded, Tesco is supporting OAuth. Since much of the API relates to accessing and storing information in customer accounts, it is important to protect login data. OAuth allows users to authorize specific applications, without giving away any passwords.

One upcoming addition where OAuth will be useful is to let customers keep reminders for future purchases. Rather than only using text to represent the reminders, Tesco is opening it up to all media. So, a customer could record audio (say, on a mobile device) that could later be played back. Or, instead they might take a picture of a brand of olive oil they saw at a friend’s house. These could be shown to them at a later date or automatically matched with an item in Tesco’s catalog.

Lansley also addresses competition from other grocery chains, essentially welcoming them to participate:

“Finally, I have assumed from ‘day-one’ of our API project that our competitors will look into the API concept. After all, it’s a natural extension of web services and I’m looking forward to seeing what API they offer developers. Perhaps they are watching our project to see what happens…”

Tesco may not just be creating the template for a grocery API. They’re a good example for anyone looking to cater to developers to create the applications the customers want.

Photo credit: MSDPE

Tags: Shopping
Both comments and pings are currently closed.

4 Responses to “Tesco Promises 2 Years of Service for Their Grocery API”

August 20th, 2009
at 6:49 am
Comment by: Your daily dose of social media required reading | CompareMobiles.com

[...] • Tesco Promises 2 Years of Service for Their Grocery API >> Programmable Web [...]

April 29th, 2010
at 6:36 am
Comment by: Helen Catterall

The online shopping experience with Tesco, for groceries, Tesco Direct and also the other company subsidiaries, is very impressive indeed. However, this should come as no surprise from the biggest retailer in the UK.

July 20th, 2011
at 8:14 pm
Comment by: shark steam cleaner

*I’d have to check with you here. Which is not something I usually do! I enjoy reading a post that will make people think. Also, thanks for allowing me to comment!

July 9th, 2012
at 3:28 pm
Comment by: Buy Direct

You know thus considerably in relation to this subject, made me personally consider it from a lot of varied angles. Its like women and men don’t seem to be interested unless it is one thing to do with Woman gaga! Your personal stuffs great. At all times maintain it up!

Follow the PW team on Twitter

ProgrammableWeb
APIs, mashups and code. Because the world's your programmable oyster.

John Musser
Founder, ProgrammableWeb

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