How to build an API for ecommerce sites to expose merchandise on a deal listing site


I am working on a project which involves some web development – which I am fairly new to. I was told that developing an API would be a great idea, yet it will still require dev work.

The idea is to list ecommerce items/merchandise from a company/site A on company/site B(wordpress).
The client wants to channel company’s mainstream products on their site. They don’t want to sell the product. Simply redirect the user back to the site/source which is selling it (to company A from company B) via this API.

The clients wants items to dynamically populate on their site(company B) as company A’s merchandise inventory is updated. Or at least the products they expose only for this particular API.

Perhaps I am taking the wrong approach with API. Which is why I would appreciate your input.
My client has a list of about 100 or so companies he wants to interconnect with. I assume that automatically populating merchandise from a company on your site in a “blog” fashion is no easy task.

However, if the client has the time and money, I am willing to commit to this.

Please give your 2 cents on what would require to develop API’s (assuming this is the right model) and target my clients needs. I probably left out plenty of details but will answer any questions and add thoughts I may have left out.
Who is Participating?

[Product update] Infrastructure Analysis Tool is now available with Business Accounts.Learn More

I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
What you have described is 'affiliate merchandizing'.  There is probably a Wordpress plugin for that already.  Your client will have to sign up as an affiliate with all of those companies or join and affiliate network like Commission Junction that connects 'publishers' with 'advertisers' or what ever they are calling them these days.
Lucas BishopClick TrackerCommented:
To build on what Dave mentioned above, a "datafeed" is a common component of an ecommerce company's affiliate program. The ecom company will provide all of their products to the affiliate network via datafeed. As an affiliate you pull the datafeed from the affiliate network and populate your site with it, however you see fit.

Here is an overview on how to find merchants that have datafeeds, inside of the Shareasale network. Pretty much every affiliate network has "datafeeds" as part of their merchant offering, so the process to hunt these down at networks like Commission Junction, Avantlink, etc. is the same.

Go one step further and there are companies that aggregate many datafeeds, so that you as an affiliate only need to access one interface to pull in datafeeds from a variety of different affiliate networks. Check out FMTC for this type of functionality.
tobe1424Author Commented:
Thanks for the feedback.

So you guys are saying that I should convince my client to convince his clients to join an affiliate network so that he can perform the affiliate merchandising?

Would joining an affiliate network expose my client’s clients to other affiliate merchandising web sites? Or the clients will be able to choose who “connects” to their data-feed?

I ask this because I assume my client wants to stick to a niche and not let too many others know. Even though these companies are on the public web, he doesn’t want lead his clients into a black hole where other affiliated merchandising sites go hunt for new data-feed streams.

A pure example of a site he wants to replicate is as you can see they have all sorts of cool gadgets and tier 1 items most people wish of owning. However, when you click on an items price you are directed straight to the manufacturer.

Dave, when you say there should be WordPress plugin for this…do you mean there is a plugin that  pulls data-feeds? If my client avoids the affiliate networks like CJ, would signing up as an affiliate with all those companies will make this plugin useful?
Amazon Web Services

Are you thinking about creating an Amazon Web Services account for your business? Not sure where to start? In this course you’ll get an overview of the history of AWS and take a tour of their user interface.

Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
Affiliate marketing links always go the manufacturer.  You should know that you don't get to make the 'rules' for this kind of marketing.  And if you 'replicate', you will probably get a 'cease and desist' letter from them.  I don't see how you will avoid affiliate networks since you get the 'affiliate' feed by signing up with the network and not the individuals.  At least that is what I have seen.
Lucas BishopClick TrackerCommented:
Just to clarify, it sounds like the setup is:

Your client = affiliate
Your clients client = advertiser/manufacturer

As an advertiser, you have the ability to approve who you want to have access to your program/datafeed/etc. Only allowing high quality affiliates into your program is a staple of good program management.

Now, using as an example, you can see they are affiliate for some of the links they are posting. Take this Amazon "buy link" for an example. When you click through, you'll see in the address bar "&tag=werdcom-20". This is their affiliate id, which will help them be credited with a percentage of any sales made through the link.

Meanwhile, when you see a post like this one, there is no affiliate link involved, as there is no affiliate program for Victory Motorcycles afaik. Perhaps this post has been paid for by an advertiser (Victory) or perhaps they just think these bikes are cool and they're posting about it to keep their readers engaged.

Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
tobe1424Author Commented:
Thanks again for the feedback!

I won’t exactly “copy” but use very similar concepts and design structure – use it as reference. I now have a better understanding of affiliate merchandizing after you pointed out a few examples from My client wants to do the same thing. Perhaps some merchandize my yield him soft profit. Yet, others are for winning audiences.

At this point I have talked to my client about the affiliate networking and he seems interested. However, I’m waiting for his confirmation.

At this point he wants to know what is the best affiliate network for the automotive industry. So now I am looking for the best ones out there. I will definitely check out the ones you guys highlighted on this thread.
It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today
Web Development

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.