It's come a long way from the Sears and Roebuck mail order catalog. Yet, the new API might bring wrench and dishwasher company Sears the closest it's been to its origins in decades. Developers can now search the entire product database of Sears and Kmart (the companies merged in 2005).
According to the announcement post, the API has been used on several internal projects (like the prom site shown below):
Our APIs have been extensively tested internally to make sure they will work perfectly for you. Lots of our internal applications are today using our APIs. Check out our Interactive Baby catalog, our interactive videos on Kmartdesign, our partnership page with Preventure and our Prom Experience site to see some examples of the cool things you can do with our APIs.
The documentation shows search and details methods. The search allow you to dig by store brand (i.e., Sears or Kmart), vertical (such as appliances), category, sub-category, keyword--and several combinations of those types. Additionally you can filter and sort results, so that you are seeing the cheapest Whirlpool dishwashers, for example. More technical details at our Sears API Profile.
The mail order catalog that made Sears famous shares several attributes with this new API. It was intended to spread the word about what the company sold and for how much. Then, it helped farmers buy those goods. The API is just a modern day method to do the same.
Another interesting tidbit in the new Sears API is that it includes results from its grocery delivery service, MyGofer. That makes it only the second grocery API we know of. UK-based Tesco launched the first last summer.
Whether looking for apples or appliances, Sears may have a few questions to answer. Outside of the fun of a large dataset, it's not immediately clear why someone would want to access all the products in the catalog. Sears and Kmart both are part of the Google Affiliate Network, which pays publishers when they forward leads that turn into sales. Would developers be able to take advantage of that program through products from the API, as they can with Amazon's eCommerce API? Potential income would be a good motivator to encourage adoption. Even Mr. Sears and Mr. Roebuck would have to agree.