The elegant simplicity of the SKUs API

Looking for raw structured product data from specific retailers? Use the SKUs API

Semantics3    3 mins

The elegant simplicity of the SKUs API

Looking for raw structured product data from specific retailers? Use the SKUs API

Beginnings are important. They form our inspiration, and guide our growth. They help explain the product decisions we make, and the choices we make in designing our products. Which is why I’m starting this post with a little origins story:

Semantics3 started out in 2012, with four guys and a couple of tables in a shipping container at the National University of Singapore.

I’m serious.

This is what our first office looked like:

Yup. Those are shipping containers stacked on top of each other (c) Google, Inc.

That is literally 4 shipping containers stacked together.

Meanwhile, this is what our first office looked like on the inside:

A tiny table in a corner of a room in a shipping container. Not seen: A desktop CPU under the table that served as our first product database server

These are the humble origins of Semantics3 — a small company of 4 guys huddled around a table in a shipping container somewhere in Singapore.

I wanted to start off with this little anecdote because it is our true origins: we’re a bare-bones, data-focused company that eschews gimmicks in favor of what matters most:

Good, clean, fresh product data.

We originally grew our revenue stream through one-off consulting projects. Over time, we observed that many clients wanted specific data extracted from sites of their choice, and were willing to pay for it. Eventually this settled mostly around Ecommerce pricing data.

Our Product API was designed mostly with this in mind. Many clients had a set of projects that were very similar in nature: get structured data from a range of Ecommerce sites.

Instead of performing these projects as one-off consulting gigs, we decided to abstract out these various jobs, and ended up designing a scalable database that anyone could access.

This database was primarily grown through crawling, extracting, modifying and enriching Ecommerce product data.

Our goal was very simple:

We wanted to reduce the costs of procuring structured Ecommerce data by abstracting away the complicated process of hiring a consulting firm, paying them a bunch of money and getting them to gather data for you.

We wanted everyone to be able to access this rich dataset. Why pay a tech consultancy a boat-load of money for a one-off job when you could get far better quality via our API for higher quality and a far smaller fee?

Which brings us to the SKUs API

At the heart of it, the philosophy of the SKUs API is very simple. Its entire purpose is to distill the expensive process of crawling and extracting a site’s Ecommerce data into a simple, easy to access API.

Some developers don’t need price comparison or product categorization for their applications (which is the main feature of our Products API).

Some developers don’t need unified product metadata (which is achieved by merging/disambiguating identical product data across retailers)

But almost everyone needs structured product data. The SKUs API provides just that — simple, unmodified structured data without the added complexities of standardized categorization, unified product metadata or advanced UPC or unique identifier look-ups (all of which are available on the Products API)

This is what an output from the SKUs API looks like:

Simple, unmodified data in an API

For comparison, here’s what the same query looks like in the Products API:

Simpler doesn't always mean less utility. Many developers prefer to build out their own categorization or search on top of raw data which is important if you want to create a unique shopping experience for your user.

The SKUs API gives you much more flexibility in determining how best to modify or enhance the data, by giving you exactly what you need — raw, unmodified data.

It can even be used in tandem with RealTime - use the SKUs API to pull raw data, then use the same product URL to fetch live prices.

If you’d like to read more about the SKUs API, checkout our documentation.

The SKUs API is available on the Growth Plan — check it out today!

Like what you read? Book a call with us today to talk about your data needs!

As always, lovingly crafted in San Francisco, Singapore, and Bengaluru

by Hari Viswanathan and the Semantics3 Team

Published at: September 10, 2015

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