Any company building apps or platforms to improve the consumer shopping experience knows that grocery product data is EXPENSIVE, costing $100,000+ annually to license. This data is often poorly structured and out of date, forcing those who purchase it to spend significant resources cleaning and restructuring it. Now, AisleFinder, a mobile app and website that helps consumers create a shopping list and identify their location in their local supermarket, is making that data available for free (for developers and hackathons) via their Supermarket API.
The company currently has product information from over 2,400 supermarkets and images for over 150,000 grocery products, including Whole Foods’, Trader Joes, Safeway, Cosco and Wal-Mart. The API allows companies to search by product name, item ID, city, state, zipcode, and store name. According to founder Curtiss Pope, the data is updated every two months to ensure it’s accuracy.
Why would they want to make this data freely available when it is so valuable?
Pope wants to engage the developer community and make it easier for them to start companies in the grocery space. Commercial ($99/month, $399/year) and educational ($45/year) licenses are also available.
It will be interesting to see how companies like Shopwell and Fooducate think Supermarket API compares to the grocery product data they already spend significant resources to license. Even more interesting is the potential impact this could have on the antiquated food data market- one that is ready for disruption.
I spoke with Pope to learn more about how he managed to get his data and why he’s making it available, for free, through their Supermarket API.
Curtiss Pope: The Foo Fighters. Them and wanting to have a platform that we can share with the developer community. We love that people can build on top of our platform, in anyway they want.
DG: A lot of companies have tried to get supermarket and grocery product data. How did you get 2,400 supermarkets to share product information and images for over 150,000 grocery products?
CP: A little bit of Secret sauce , however we initially make relationships with each and every individual supermarket to gather data. Then, we do a 3 minute interview.
DG: Who do you interview and how do you ensure the data is correct?
CP: Most of the time we interview store managers. We check the data every two months from the date of entry and keep checking the data to make sure it’s still accurate.
DG: Why are you open-sourcing the API?
Being a developer and designer myself, I wanted developers to have a real taste or what our platform offers. We also have some commercial, and educational options as well.
DG: How are people using the API?
CP: So far I have heard quite a few ideas and I think now we are giving the developers time to build. I have seen some interesting queries made so far, but I am not going to spoil it
DG: Who else has this data and why haven’t they open sourced it?
CP: Some big companies have this data, its like the holy grail, and none of them are giving it away as we have. They want you to pay close to $100,ooo a year just to have access. It’s ridiculous!
DG: What is your business model?
CP: We have a few ways that we are financing our business, so far: consulting, product analytics, brand promotions, and coupons.
DG: What’s next?
CP: Make more data available. Get more stores. Launch another API in the same space. Stay tuned