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App developers, retailers and others using Google’s Shopping API (s GOOG) will have to go without starting next week. As part of its big “spring cleaning” effort (the same one that shuttered Google Reader), the search giant said it would completely shut down its Shopping API on Sept. 16.
For e-commerce players, the API has provided access to product data like pricing, online availability, descriptions, photos, product codes and more. And, unlike many pricing and product intelligence services, it was free.
Companies interested in “softer goods” (like fashion, home and beauty products) may have found it lacking in high-quality images and information about higher-end goods, but other developers say it offered a broad range of product information.
If you’re looking for an alternative, here are a few options. And, as always, please leave your own recommendations and suggestions in the comments.
With a countdown to the demise of Google’s Shopping API at the top of its homepage, this Y Combinator-backed startup is clearly hoping for a boost in business next week. Semantics3 says its database includes 1.5 billion prices for 30 million products across 6000 retailers. Developers can access basic product information (without photos, historical pricing and other data) for free, but the company offers various pricing plans that range from $9 to $1499 a month, depending on the number of API calls and the kind of data they need.
Performance advertising network Prosperent says its product API could be used for shopping comparison sites, product review portals and other kinds of apps. And it says it provides access to data for 50 million products, including images, descriptions, pricing data and product codes. But it’s unclear if the API is open to everyone or just clients.
Factual’s focus is location-based data but it does offer access to a consumer products API that provides information on consumer packaged goods. It includes only 650,000 items and it won’t help those not interested in food and beverage, household goods and other CPG categories. But it says API access is free up to 500 calls per day.
InvisibleHand offers consumers a browser extension that alerts them to lower prices on products or flights that they’re shopping for, but it also provides developers with a product API, in beta. The company says it supplies real-time prices for tens of millions of products at hundreds of retailers. And it can enable developers to instantly discover who else sells a particular product and capture all the relevant product identifiers and codes.
Affiliate marketing company Skimlinks also offers a product search API, in beta, that aggregates product feeds from merchants and can be used for services in social shopping, product search and price-comparison. Developers I spoke with said its data is currently limited and the company says it’s optimized for technology and fashion verticals. It also seems like the API is only open to Skimlinks publishers.
Build your own technology
While many developers have found Google’s API valuable, others say it prioritized quantity over quality and had poor-quality photos and inconsistent descriptions. This option takes more work but could get you the more specific data that you need.