The 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.