Seattle, start your photocopiers
Nigh on 2 years ago, we launched the best URL-based product lookup ever built, capable of returning not only accurate product data from that page, but all other available competitor product data for price comparison.
The best part of this innovation was that URLs did not need to be canonicalized — i.e., they can be provided in any form, no matter if they include session IDs, tracking codes or any other parameters.
Additionally, using just the Product URL, you could not only pull rich product metadata, but also pull all available pricing history for that particular product, using our Offers API.
Well, that was 2 years ahead of our competitors :)
Today, we’d like to announce a brand new improvement in our URL-based product lookup: Get live prices using just a product URL.
That’s right. Live prices.
At Semantics3 we custom-make individual crawlers to extract factual data from online retailers. We do this to have finer control over which data-points to extract and to generally improve accuracy.
Typically we run these crawlers on a regular basis to refresh the prices in our database. We also work closely with our customers to perform custom price refreshes on particularly important sites. We even have a special Push API to alert customers when prices drop.
So where does the RealTime API fit?
To a certain segment of our customers, (particularly those building their own webstores), having live prices is incredibly important. You never want to show out-of-date prices on a product that’s been added to a cart, or is being viewed closely.
Or worse, show an out-of-date price that actually lower than the current price. That’s a big turn-off to customers.
That’s where the RealTime API comes in.
It works very similarly to the live price checks you see on travel websites
When your user makes a lookup on our API, the results and prices shown will be generally have a refresh rate of between 48–72 hours (or maybe longer), which is generally considered fresh (most Ecommerce products don’t change prices that frequently outside of shopping seasons or certain categories like electronics).
When you look up live prices, you would need to make a URL query into the RealTime API — this then performs a live crawl of the website, returning the live prices to your webstore.
Since this is a live crawl, response times are usually longer (as you may have seen on most flight ticket comparison times) and calls are throttled as well. Generally, its better to preload your product data with cached prices (as refreshed in our database) before performing a RealTime price check.
If you are using this API for an app, we recommend that this be done by adding a “check live price” button on your product page, with the RealTime API call being run behind the scenes when your customer clicks on this button. Additionally you could also do the price check during the add-to-cart process.