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Best Buy API Aims To Expand Store's Reach Online 99

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the right-way-to-encourage-business dept.
surely_you_cant_be_serious writes "Best Buy has opened up proprietary product catalog data in its online store through an open API. Through the Remix API, Best Buy can track how many people are using its information, while users can check to see where a certain product is available without visiting Best Buy's site. Web developers and bloggers can also sign up to become an official Best Buy affiliate. If approved, they can get a small percentage of a sale if someone makes a Best Buy purchase through their site."
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Best Buy API Aims To Expand Store's Reach Online

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  • Old news? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Chabo (880571) on Monday January 26, 2009 @07:30PM (#26614969) Homepage Journal

    Sounds kinda like what Amazon did several years ago, so you can link to a specific product on Amazon, and get a cut.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I hope it doesn't suck like Amazon's did. Shortly after it came out you couldn't search line for products without finding hundreds of spammed sites all selling exactly the same thing at exactly the same price. For a while finding a non-Amazon affiliate was impossible. I assume it didn't pan out or Google found a way to remove that lame home made stores, but I don't want to see that again with Best Buy.
      • by Mr_eX9 (800448)
        Amazon affiliate stores are still around--I visited a site that ran one over last summer. Never seen the affiliates in a google search though.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by timeOday (582209)
      I sure hope that's not all it is. If one API for product info predominated across most companies, it would be great, basically froogle.google.com without all the heuristics of trying to find and parse the price out of a web page (since that would be explicit). You would hardly need ebay anymore, since the search engine would be the marketplace.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by larry bagina (561269)
        froogle used to have a format where you could provide all that information to them. Same with google base. (I think you could either provide them with a URL that generated the data or upload the data through their website).
        • by timeOday (582209)

          froogle used to have a format where you could provide all that information to them.

          That's interesting, but I don't think the technical spec is that much of an issue, rather it's the willingness of retailers to provide product information and pricing in machine-readable format. Since BestBuy is a huge retailer, that makes this a step forward.

          I would love if some format, any format, were widely adopted and used, but unfortunately I doubt it will be. From CORBA to XML, solutions to this issue (and more b

      • Retail companies have no reason to make that work though. If the information really was easy to consolodate, then they'd have to compete on price alone.

        On the other hand..

        What do we even need retailers for, anyway? With the internet, why can't we just buy everything right from the factory.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Affiliate programs like the one Best Buy is making are used by more than just Amazon. Most, if not all, major online retailers have one.

    • Re:Old news? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Brainiac4 (818236) on Monday January 26, 2009 @08:43PM (#26615791) Homepage
      It is like what Amazon did years ago. We're trying to learn from what others have done. Amazon has built a very successful web site and online business, and their web services are a big part of that. The point of Remix is not just to allow access to the catalog; it's to encourage people to innovate with it. - Kevin Matheny, E-Business Architect, BestBuy.com
      • Wow, I suggested this on my blog 9 days ago (citing Best Buy by name), and they did it! Congrats Best Buy! You made me look like a smart little bot.

        From my blog post:

        Let this be a call to every web developer in every major corporation! Build an API! You want to increase your online sales? Enable machines to be able to find your products or any other information that you have avaialble. Enable machines to be able to search for your products, and buy your products. Look to the Twitter API as an example of

        • by Brainiac4 (818236)
          You are indeed smart, but we launched this last September. You can be forgiven for missing it, since there's no link to it from the main site and we've done little PR while we are in beta.
          • by AmyIris (1460027)

            I wrote my blog post in January of last year, but you can be forgiven for missing it, since I did little PR.

            See, bots can tell jokes too!

      • Here's my blog post. [amyiris.com]

        and my twitter link. [twitter.com] Follow me!

      • Does this mean froogle.google.com will finally be able to index Best Buy's catalog?

      • If I may make a suggestion: The reviews are the most helpful. Amazon, newegg, buy.com, and bestbuy all have good product review systems. And I am one of many who will simply not buy a product without reading some reviews on the thing.

        If you could collaborate with those others to combine product reviews, so all reviews are available on any of your websites, it would help drive business. This would be especially helpful to BBY, since you tend to have fewer reviews.

    • If you compare the TOS of the Best Buy service with the Amazon service, you'll see that you have a lot more freedom with what you can use the Best Buy data for. The Amazon API is actually pretty restrictive in use although ironically richer in ability (from what I can see so far).

  • by Irish_Samurai (224931) on Monday January 26, 2009 @07:30PM (#26614977)

    Damn, I never thought a big box retailer with brick and mortars would ever get it.

  • I'm torn (Score:5, Funny)

    by Bryansix (761547) on Monday January 26, 2009 @07:31PM (#26614995) Homepage
    I really am torn about this. On the one hand it is cool technology and it prevents me from having to actually go into a Best Buy and talk to one of the khakis pants army of morons who work there. On the other hand this means more revenue for Best Buy and that means they will expand and build more stores which will then cause me to vomit upon sight of said stores... I'm torn; really I am!
    • Re:I'm torn (Score:5, Informative)

      by Chabo (880571) on Monday January 26, 2009 @07:34PM (#26615023) Homepage Journal

      Like it or not though, Best Buy is still one of the best options if you need a computer part or accessory TODAY and can't wait for Newegg to deliver.

      • Re:I'm torn (Score:5, Insightful)

        by CannonballHead (842625) on Monday January 26, 2009 @07:46PM (#26615181)
        If you don't live on the west coast/near Fry's :)
        • Re:I'm torn (Score:5, Informative)

          by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Monday January 26, 2009 @07:58PM (#26615321) Homepage Journal
          Fry's [frys.com] is also the best place to find hobbyist stuff like kits, discrete components(though very expensive compared to wholesale), hardware, wiring harnesses for car stareos, and test equipment like power supplies and O-scopes.

          Plus, the psychedelic Lewis Caroll theme inside the large stores is pretty cool when you're high on dope.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by bastion_xx (233612)

            Oh, and the salespeople at Fry's are sooooooo much better than BB, CC, or any of the other shops.

            I love Fry's for variety (and that they finally take AMEX now), but the sales people are a horror to work with. One time I was buying memory and the sales guy wanted all my other purchases in my basket prior to giving me the receipt (so he could write them up for a commission too I guess)

            Having said that, I'll shop at Fry's anytime over the others.,

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Bryansix (761547)
              It's true I have to admit. One time I sat for an hour to talk to a supervisor about getting some "Cross-connect cable" and "Cross-connect clips" in a spool less than 100 feet in length. When the supervisor came in he had no idea what it was either. I mean it's just two pair copper cable. How hard is this to figure out. They didn't know what the clips were either.

              However, if you know what you want then Fry's still has a million times better selection then Best Buy on any given day.
            • by mcrbids (148650)

              I love Fry's for variety (and that they finally take AMEX now),

              But don't ever, ever, have to return anything at Fry's! I think their policy is to make returning anything as utterly painful as humanly possible so that you just leave in disgust when the $30 you would have had returned to you isn't worth the 3 hours you spent in line trying to get it.

              Never, in all my life, have I seen a return system so amazingly bad. I avoid shopping at Fry's whenever I can for the fear of getting a bum part.

              There are lots of

              • by DinDaddy (1168147)
                If you stay a little longer, you can watch them take the defective item you just returned and replace it on the store shelf for some other sap to buy. I have both witnessed that, as well as been the unfortunate subsequent purchaser of other retuned items.

                I do not shop at Fryes anymore.
            • I agree that the sales people are generally pretty horrible (and incidentally, usually don't speak English clearly). But the store is still quite useful.

              But hey, sales people online usually aren't very good, either ;) I go to Fry's because it's a ton cheaper to pick up a case, hard drive, or whatever I need "right now" there than Best Buy or whatever.

          • Wow, you guys must not have any NCIX or SMI's near you huh?
          • by Bryansix (761547)
            Actually each Fry's has its own theme. One is themed Space and the next Greek Architecture and the next Lewis Carol...
            • by AuMatar (183847)

              And the San Diego one has Home Depot architecture (as of 3 years ago it had no decorations, it was just a giant warehouse)

            • Alas, only about a third of them have themes. Of those, my personal favorite is the Burbank Fry's: Alien Invasions of the '50s. The one in the City of Industry is rather cool, too: it's designed to look like the inside of a factory.
            • Indeed.

              The one in North County San Diego (San Marcos) has more of a frankenstein type feel to it. It's actually pretty cool. Heh.

          • I'm a much bigger fan of Mouser Electronics [mouser.com]. Awesome selection... in fact, I'd go so far as to say amazing. Prices are very good as well (not always rock bottom, but damn close), and I've always received my stuff quickly from them without error.
            • Not to mention they have darn near one of EVERYTHING. I've seen bibles MUCH thinner than their catalogs.

        • by Cowmonaut (989226)

          Fry's is *only* good in California. The one up here in Oregon is a complete and total rip off if you aren't buying a pre-built system or something harmless such as a computer case. If you want computer components or the like you're going to get ripped off. They put refurbishedd components on the shelf and don't label them as they are supposed to. Three of my friends, myself, two classmates and three co-workers of mine have all had the same experience. Pretty much if you want something right away its Be

          • by rk (6314)

            The ones in Arizona are okay, too. I prefer the one up on Thunderbird Avenue in north Phoenix, so naturally the one on Baseline on the Phoenix/Tempe border is much much closer to where I live and work.

            They put the returns right back out on the shelves, too, but they're pretty clearly labeled.

          • by ncc74656 (45571) *

            Fry's is *only* good in California. The one up here in Oregon is a complete and total rip off

            The one here in Las Vegas isn't bad at all. More often than not, I'll buy stuff there rather than wait for Newegg to ship it. It'll cost a little bit more and I'll have to pay tax on it, but I'll have it now and can take it back if it doesn't work/doesn't do what I want it to do (as with the soundcard I bought last week whose Dolby Digital Live functionality is implemented in the (Windows) driver and not in hardw

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by j1mmy (43634)

        It's also worth noting that Best Buy has decent prices these days. I picked up a new hard drive for the same price as newegg wanted for the same model. I would have paid shipping with newegg, but instead paid sales tax at Best Buy. The difference wouldn't have been more than a dollar or two either way.

        • Re:I'm torn (Score:5, Informative)

          by Thornburg (264444) on Monday January 26, 2009 @08:19PM (#26615559)

          Sure, for an HDD of a particular model on a particular day, but if you're looking for a graphics card, a power supply, or most other PC components (that BB sells), their prices are 2-3x what Newegg is. Really, honestly, more than twice as much.

          • by j1mmy (43634)

            I guess I should have said "decent prices on some things". I agree that some of their other hardware is overpriced.

        • Re:I'm torn (Score:5, Informative)

          by Korin43 (881732) on Monday January 26, 2009 @08:20PM (#26615571) Homepage
          My Best Buy is horrible. Every time I want something I go there, walk around, then go home and buy what I want on Newegg because it's twice as expensive at Best Buy. I'm not sure about everything, but here's some examples:

          2 Gb of memory: Best Buy [bestbuy.com] - Cheapest is $39 (note "Regular price: $144), Newegg [newegg.com] - Cheapest is $16.
          Not a fair fight you say? How about if we compare to Newegg's Kingston and PNY brands (the only kind my local Best Buy carries): Cheapest Kingston [newegg.com] is $18. The only PNY [newegg.com] is $20.
          Best Buy's prices aren't even close. If this isn't enough for you, how about how Newegg will sell you 4 Gb of "Corsair Dominator" memory [newegg.com] for $15 less than Best Buy will sell you 2 Gb [bestbuy.com]? And don't even get me started on their video cards..
          • by IronChef (164482)

            But remember, you have to pay a premium for the excellent customer serv--

            Oh, forget it, I can't even make that joke.

            When your business model is, "we're the store to visit when you are desperate or ignorant" you've got problems. That can be a great niche I guess, but in a pure price war online sure seems to have an unbeatable advantage. Retail will have to figure out something else to compete because consumers will only get more educated about their options over time.

            I have seen that 'something else' in smal

          • by Thelasko (1196535)

            Every time I want something I go there, walk around, then go home and buy what I want on Newegg because it's twice as expensive at Best Buy.

            That's because you're going to the wrong Best Buy website. [consumerist.com]

      • by Bryansix (761547)
        HAHA, NewEgg delivers NEXT DAY for FREE on almost all my orders! This is even when I choose the FREE shipping! This means I have a better chance of getting something then having time to get in my car and drive to a store. Plus the prices are better and the service is great. Most importantly you don't have to deal with Best Buy employees.
        • by Korin43 (881732)
          I thought Newegg only did free 3-5 day shipping. It's nice, but not quite next day.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by penguinchris (1020961)

            It depends on where you live - when I lived in New York (Buffalo) I usually got things from them the next day, because they have warehouses in New Jersey and processing time is quick. I live in Southern California now, and also get things next day, because I believe they're based here (which means I pay tax, but the shipping is usually free and I get it next day.)

            It's the same thing with Amazon - they say the free shipping will take more time, but in my experience it doesn't.

            If you live in the middle of the

          • by Chabo (880571)

            I think he's merely bragging that he's close enough to one of Newegg's distribution centers to have his products arrive the next day, even when he selects free shipping.

            However, even in this case, sometimes there's a situation that requires a replacement part NOW, and you can't wait even a day. Those situations are rare, but do occur.

      • by anagama (611277)

        Best Buy is still one of the best options if you need a computer part or accessory TODAY

        Are you kidding? I live in a town of about 80k -- 90 minutes from a big city with lots of farmland in between. If I need a part now, I can usually find it at one of two local shops I like. It's really nice to be able to go in, ask a question, and get a decent answer. It's extra nice to run in, ask to borrow a power supply for a few hours, and get handed one.

        There's nothing in the world I need so bad I'd shop at BB

        • by Chabo (880571)

          If I need a part now, I can usually find it at one of two local shops I like.

          That's good to hear, but my hometown had no specialized computer shops, so if I needed a part faster than I could get it from Newegg, then my options were Best Buy, Staples, or Office Max.

          • Your town is big enough to have a BB, a Staples, and an Office Max, and you've got no specialized computer stores?

            I find that very hard to believe.

            • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward

              Be surprised what big box stores can push out of the market.

  • Yay! (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by brian0918 (638904)
    Useless web tools + ridiculously overpriced hardware = win win for the consumer!
  • by Reality Master 201 (578873) on Monday January 26, 2009 @07:35PM (#26615037) Journal

    The one they'd show customers in store when they were doing a bait and switch? The one the CT attorney general was investigating?

    Just curious.

    • by CyberLife (63954)

      I had a similar issue with their systems. In the midst of the holiday rush, the public Best Buy site claimed Nintendo DSs were in-stock at my local store. Not able to find them once I got there, the associates in that department said they had none. The in-store kiosk said otherwise. They still insisted there were none. Asking in another department, the associate there checked the internal inventory system and discovered they had 24-units. The original associates still denied their existence. Customer servic

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The one where they show you the item is NOT on sale when you try to buy it at the online sale price?

    Fell for that twice until I read about it here.

  • spam submision (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 26, 2009 @07:36PM (#26615057)

    notice the referrer id in the affiliate link (using commission junction, a spammers haven) instead of a direct link,
    way to go with the quality articles Slashdot

  • That's one way to change the character of online comments. Watch for all the Best Buy Sucks comments to change to Best Buy fanboi-ism type of comments.

    When people are paid to do it, and when they can do so anonymously, they can say just about anything!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bugnuts (94678)

      Speaking of bestbuysucks.com/org/net/tv/co.uk/etc, has anyone heard of the disposition of those illegal detentions and arrests they made when people wouldn't show a receipt for their own purchased items?

      I remember a couple posted on slashdot a few years ago, and one was particularly egregious.

      • by ameyer17 (935373)

        I *think* the especially egregious example was a Circuit City in Ohio.

      • It's funny you should mention that. They just recently revamped and modernized their security system. Now if you don't show your receipt because the line is too long, now everyone, not just their security guards, are allowed to tackle you against your car and detain you on their behalf.
  • Wii Availability (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheSpoom (715771) * <[ten.00mrebu] [ta] [todhsals]> on Monday January 26, 2009 @07:49PM (#26615209) Homepage Journal

    Back in early 2007 when the Wii was out of stock absolutely everywhere, I setup a cron job to repeatedly check the product pages of the Wii console on Best Buy and other sites and email me when it said they were in stock. It worked surprisingly well and I got a Wii at retail price within about a week or so (with a well timed email and quick checkout) from Best Buy.

    This is a really good move on Best Buy's part as it will only increase people buying their items.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 26, 2009 @07:51PM (#26615231)

    if request.instorepricecheck()
    {
          return 2*item.price;
    {
    else
    {
          return item.price;
    }

  • API vs DYI (Score:3, Insightful)

    by astinus (560894) on Monday January 26, 2009 @07:54PM (#26615275) Homepage Journal
    From TFA:

    Vis-à-vis Wal-Mart, Best Buy can't really compete on price, but its value-added service offerings -- professional home installation of flat-screen TVs, for instance -- can be a significant differentiator, especially considering the coming digital TV transition.

    Well OK, but will these services be available for linking/displaying/reviews through this API? Will anyone actually link directly to these services, even if they are available?

    I'm sure there will be a hard upsell attempt once the customer clicks to buy the actual product, but how will they translate this services "advantage" into inducing people to link Best Buy products instead of the same product through, say, Amazon?

    When I went in to Best Buy to look at plasma TV's (nothing on the web beats a real-world viewing of a potential purchase), the salespeople were pitching all kinds of installation, delivery, warranties, and even an in-room color setting tuning. Amazon, where I eventually bought the TV from, had a handful of additional services, but got the purchase because they were $400 cheaper.

    How will directly linking to a virtual pitch of the same "differentiators" change decisions like mine?

    • When I went in to Best Buy to look at plasma TV's (nothing on the web beats a real-world viewing of a potential purchase),

      TVs of all kinds at Best Buy are a notable exception to this philosophy. Last time I was looking for TVs, the feed was a worse-than vhs quality, terribly grainy, dark live concert recording. Split amongst like forty screens.

      And as dark as the feed was, some of the TVs' settings were such that much of the frames were blown out.

      If Best Buy's display* were all one had to go on, one might

      • by astinus (560894)

        If Best Buy's display* were all one had to go on, one might be inclined to wonder aloud about what the big deal is with this newfangled high def that everyone's talking about.

        Maybe my BB was an exception, but their big screen TV displays were excellent. They had a demo running on Blu-ray on most of the screens, with frequent comparisons between regular and blu-ray picture quality, and even the difference between 720, 1080i, and 1080p.

        I also went to Circuit City at the time, which didn't have the demo but was running Transformers in Blu-ray across all the TVs, which made for an easy picture quality comparison between the 2 models I was considering. Plus more of their TVs were

      • by powerlord (28156)

        If Best Buy's display were all one had to go on, one might be inclined to wonder aloud about what the big deal is with this newfangled high def that everyone's talking about.

        When my wife and I went looking for an HDTV we checked out a few of the local "chain" stores and ended up getting it from J&R in NYC.

        They have a great selection, a good showroom devoted to TVs, and they seemed to have knowledgeable reps (they are paid on commission so they try real hard). You can even haggle a bit on price which ma

  • Could be good (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sircastor (1051070) on Monday January 26, 2009 @08:03PM (#26615363)
    The functionality of the API I think will determine it's usefulness. If all the thing does is give you a 400x400 ad for a BestBuy product, this thing will be worthless and BB will quickly learn that. If however, they offer a really flexible system which can deliver what a blogger wants, in the way that he wants, then this thing could offer a great integration point for BestBuy. Non-invasiveness is the key... as always.
    • by Brainiac4 (818236)
      It doesn't deliver banner ads at all, just product information (prices, online availability, features, specs, images), along with some store-level information (location). We have limited information on store-level availability as well, based on a nightly snapshot, so you can query for things like "Nikon cameras that cost more than $200 within 50 miles of zip 55119" and get a response. Hopefully that's useful and interesting.
  • Cool, now we shall get a whole new wave of DriveBuy Download commission stealing crapware for Windoze.
  • by PPH (736903)

    ...Best Buy is trying to hide their price data from 3rd party web search applications.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Brainiac4 (818236)
      How do you arrive at that conclusion? It's an open API; how could we possibly be hiding prices? Did you even look at the documentation?
      • by PPH (736903)

        Duh, oh! I read that backwards. Like they were providing a proprietary interface instead of access to their API.

        That'll teach me to watch pr0n and post to /. at the same time.

  • The mother of all Big Box Stores Wal-Mart used to have a modem connected network using MS-DOS software to track purchases and inventory control with its vendors. It was the big technical advantage that Wal-Mart had that nobody else has.

    Companies like Circuit City that lack such technology lose sales to Best Buy and Wal-Mart and Amazon.com that do have such technology.

    It is really basic Statistics using standard deviations to predict trends in inventory to let you know when the item is due to be shipped and

  • If you are made to WAIT or WORK just to PAY somebody for something, I'd say that somebody does not deserve your business. Move on. It will be better for Capitalism and free market competition in the end. The big business and corporations of this country have trained people to believe they actually have to suffer to give their hard earned money to a buy crap. In a real competitive market, if you walk in a restaurant and there is a line, you just go next door or down the street and the second place would be j
  • This opens up interesting possibilities. Does monoprice.com and/or newegg.com have a similar API? I'd love to see a page listing the prices at BestBuy.com compared to equivalent items at online retailers.

    Best Buy would NOT want to see their cable prices compared to monoprice.

  • They'd like the sales taxes for your regional affiliate/salesstaff.
    • by powerlord (28156)

      They'd like the sales taxes for your regional affiliate/salesstaff.

      Since BestBuy already operates in NY, its a moot point for them, they already charge sales tax on all on-line purchases.

      Likewise I bet they charge sales-tax for all purchases to all states, since chances are, they operate a brick and mortar store in all of them.

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