Best Buy just launched a Recommendations API, the latest in the retailer’s API catalog. The Recommendations API was designed to enhance the shopper's experience using a series of endpoints tailored to a particular user. Prior to launch, ProgrammableWeb caught up with Best Buy’s Kristen Womack to learn more.
First, Womack explained why Best Buy created the Recommendations API:
Most immediately, we want to help developers leverage our recommendations for their audience. Best Buy has some valuable data about what consumers are interested in, and we think sharing this data can help us achieve our higher-level goal of spurring innovation around how people shop for consumer electronics. To do that, we believe that working collaboratively with developers is key to surfacing ideas.
Our hope with the Recommendations APIs is to spur new ideas for product discovery and unexpected and delightful combinations with apps and services. Developers are creative. We look forward to seeing how the community reimagines and innovates with these APIs.
The API is aimed at mobile app developers, as Womack explained:
Developers, especially mobile app developers. We love the idea of recommending products in a contextual way. For example, if you are using an app that is centralized around something like smoothie or juicing recipes, why not be able to see relevant appliances that Best Buy sells — we have the products, we will match prices and we have the customer reviews to help navigate what is the best product for you. You will see more of this in the next phase of the recommendations APIs when you can get recommendations by category; we plan to release a lot of cool stuff in the recommendations family.
Best Buy’s go-to-market strategy for the new API will start with a beta launch. Currently, interested developers can request a team through the API catalog site. After the beta period, the API will be available to anyone interested. One partner has already integrated the Recommendation API to personalize emails. Anyone who has seen a Best Buy email has seen this app in action.
Womack provided some use-case scenarios, where the API might be deployed: “When a customer is viewing a product, we are able to show them similar products to that driver SKU. This is particularly useful when the driver SKU is out of stock. Another use case is to use the trending endpoint to see what products are trending and presenting those products to a customer as 'hot items' of interest.”
Best Buy has a number of goals for the API; thus, success will be measured by various metrics, as Womack described:
With specific integrations, we are measuring to see if there is higher conversion on the applications that implement our recommendations APIs. As far as measuring innovation, we track the number of apps submitted to us and hackathon winners that use these APIs. These are the main measurements at a high level, but of course we have a great deal of metrics and tracking that show us themes and trends as a feedback loop to inform our next APIs.
As the app economy continues to grow, pinpointed advertising and custom shopping experiences continue to improve. Best Buy’s Recommendations API should offer developers more tools to create a world-class online shopping experience.