|EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2142 - October 21, 2009 - ISSN 1539-5065 2 of 4|
Bonanzle has launched an API program to encourage the creation of tools to help sellers be more efficient. Marketplaces such as eBay have created APIs to allow third-party developers to access their sites on behalf of users in a stable and efficient manner. For example, third-party vendors use eBay's API to provide inventory management software to help sellers post listings and manage post-transaction activities.
Bonanzle founder Bill Harding said he envisions tools that can help sellers launch listings to the Bonanzle site and help them manage inventory across marketplaces, including sellers' own websites.
Acknowledging that there are many existing seller tools for eBay, the Bonanzle API documentation states, "Rather than reinventing the wheel, we made the choice that, as much as possible, we would implement our API in a way that minimized the effort needed to make an eBay application become a Bonanzle application."
AuctionBytes interviewed Bonanzle founder and CEO Bill Harding via email about the new Bonanzle API program.
AuctionBytes: Tell me about the Bonanzle API program.
Bill Harding: The Bonanzle API is our way of opening up the Bonanzle marketplace to third-party developers who can make money by building applications that tie into Bonanzle. In keeping with Bonanzle's theme of "relentless simplicity," we have made every effort to keep this API very easy to get started with. Using a modern programming language, a developer can be grabbing stores, items, or search results from our site literally within 15 minutes of being approved for an API account.
AuctionBytes: What is the purpose of creating APIs on Bonanzle?
Bill Harding: There are literally thousands of tools that we could build for Bonanzle to enhance the experience for our buyers and sellers. But we don't have infinite time nor creativity. By offering an API, developers can bring their most creative ideas to the table and build applications that extend Bonanzle beyond what we would have the means or talent to build.
Some examples of potential Bonanzle applications might include: an application that allowed sellers to import inventory from files, a desktop application to manage seller inventory, an iPhone application to find Bonanzle items nearby you, or a flash widget that scrolls through all items in upcoming Bonanzas. The possibilities are vast, and opportunities for our developers to profit are numerous, through affiliate commissions, user subscription fees, and advertising.
AuctionBytes: This seems like an important step, how important is it for the vibrancy of Bonanzle to offer APIs?
Bill Harding: I just read a book called "Web 2.0 Heroes" this weekend - the book was a compilation of about 20 of the "brightest minds of the web" giving their opinions of what "Web 2.0" meant to them. One of the first interviews in the book was from Max Mancini of eBay. In his interview, he repeatedly asserts his belief that one of the biggest opportunities of the "Web 2.0" movement is the ability for developers to tie into APIs and create better things than the web sites themselves can build.
I agree with Max that the opportunity is immense. And given the huge installed base of applications that are already setup to work with eBay, it was only natural that we would build our API in such a way that developers can port their existing eBay application to Bonanzle with little effort (link). Thus, we directly support the important API calls offered by eBay, but then we add on to them with functionality that only Bonanzle has, like the ability to search for items in Bonanzas.
AuctionBytes: Have you had requests from developers who want to create tools for Bonanzle buyers and sellers?
Bill Harding: Yes, ever since we launched. Most are from developers looking to build applications that will make sellers' lives easier, which is a perfect use of the API.
AuctionBytes: There's a lot of talk about mobile commerce and social shopping. Do you see any potential for third-party vendors to bring Bonanzle to new places?
Bill Harding: We don't have the resources to build applications for the iPhone, Android, or other mobile platforms. But there are already eBay applications for all of these platforms. Unfortunately for the application developers, their applications have to compete with applications built by eBay itself. Since this isn't the case with Bonanzle, we're optimistic that there will be compelling applications built over the next several months to make Bonanzle available through whatever means our buyers want to use it.
AuctionBytes: Can you think of ways that sellers' lives may be improved with the launch of APIs?
Bill Harding: Well, in addition to the improved inventory management and importing I've already mentioned, I'd like to see a Bonapitit application that could help sellers coordinate their inventory between their selling channels. With a suitable application, Bonanzle could become an inventory management system & shopping cart that ties into a seller's own website (Scott Pooler is working on something along these lines with Bonanzle Webstores). Given that Bonanzle's fees are lower than many services that provide only a shopping cart, this could become a popular means for sellers to let Bonanzle & the API developer take care of checkout, inventory management, and publishing to Google Products, while the seller takes care of running the more exciting parts of their business.
AuctionBytes: If I'm a third-party vendor, tell me why I should invest time and resources in creating tools for Bonanzle - how many registered users does Bonanzle have, and what are your plans to keep growing the site?
Bill Harding: In its first year after launch, Bonanzle has grown to more than one million unique monthly visitors and 10 million monthly page views, along with more than 100,000 registered users. We have been mentioned in more than 25 media outlets ranging from Business Week to Reader's Digest to CNN to Mashable. We have been discussed & recommended by many of the important figures in ecommerce, including Randy Smythe and Lisa Suttora.
But, more than anything, what sets us apart from similar marketplaces is our rate of evolution. In the last year, we've added an affiliate program, category-specific item details (possessed only by Bonanzle and "big boys"), full Facebook and Twitter integration, one of the most robust batch editing systems online, and pervasive real time interaction between buyers and sellers. And we have done this while scaling our server capacity by a factor of approximately "a lot."
Yet, despite our rapid evolution, we still don't have a decent WYSIWYG editor for listing items. And our inventory file importer leaves much to be desired. So I think for developers we're the perfect mix of "far enough along to offer a sizable user base for applications" yet "rough enough that it's easy to improve upon select aspects of the user experience."
Perhaps the biggest reason I think it makes sense for developers to get started with Bonapitit now is the "early mover advantage." Our first round of applications will be in position to establish themselves as the "standards," which will put them at an advantage as the number of available applications grows over the months & years to come.
Link to BonanzleAPI program
About the author:
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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