Groupon Opens API to Help Developers Share the Wealth

Groupon, which calls itself a "social commerce site," is one of many online services that help consumers pool their buying power to get great deals. However, few companies can share Groupon's experience of attracting $135 million dollars from the same venture capital funds that helped grow Facebook and Zynga. Groupon's success is based on a simple business plan - advertise a daily, discounted offer from a local business, with the catch that the offer is only valid if a certain amount of users purchase it immediately. If enough users accept the service at the advertised price, businesses are guaranteed customers, while Groupon collects a small slice of the revenue.

Groupon provides many ways to alert users of new deals, but both consumers and businesses benefit by having discount specials advertised in as many ways as possible. To help third-party developers and affiliate members get the word out about its daily specials, Groupon has released a publicly available API.

The Groupon Public API actually supports two different resources. The first is a Divisons API, which provides information about all the cities where Groupon offers deals. This Resource is currently based around metropolitan areas, but Groupon expects to expand regionally in the future. Groupon's other resource is a Deals API, which provides information about the current daily deal in a particular location. Developers can choose to receive data in either XML or JSON format, and need to sign up for an API key. More details at our Groupon API profile.

While the API itself is relatively simple, Groupon does a few things behind the scenes to help streamline development. For example, Tagbulb simplifies tag search by aggregating content from developers are not required to provide geolocation information to the Deals API, in which case Groupon will try to return local deals based on the caller's IP address. This might be helpful for mobile app developers who want to provide their traveling users with local deals wherever they happen to be.

So, what will developers be able to do with the Groupon API? Ken Pelletier, Groupon's CTO, posted these suggestions on the company's official blog:

You could use the API to put fresh deal content on your site(s), Facebook App, Smart Phone app, Social Game, kiosk, etc., tag the deal links with your referral code and watch the referral rewards roll in. We also have a growing affiliate program, if you’re interested in applying. Another way to get the Groupon word out and earn a little money.

Since Groupon essentially helps local businesses reach consumers, some of the most interesting mashups using the Groupon API might come from developers who combine geolocation services with "daily deal" information. Of course, we'll be covering future uses of the Groupon API on Programmable Web. The Groupon Public API is just one of many social and location-based shopping services available for developers to integrate into new applications. For even more ideas, check out our extensive listing of both shopping and social networking APIs!

Be sure to read the next eCommerce article: Zappos to Launch API For Shoes