From our CEO: An Open Approach To Local Commerce

LinkedInPost_Jed_ImageIt’s a great time to be a consumer. Thanks to the growing popularity of open APIs, businesses are finding ways to work together like never before in the service of providing a better user experience. Rather than trying to be all things to all people, companies can focus on what they do best while tapping into available APIs where and when they need them. As this new, collaborative marketplace takes shape, open APIs will be the keys to unlocking its potential.

Open environments mean greater reach. Twitter and Facebook’s SDKs have created ubiquitous points of connectivity into their platforms, and these shared platforms themselves are built on openness. Just look at how Twitter unleashed an army of citizen journalists on the daily news cycle; or how Youtube tore down the walls around content creation and distribution; or how Airbnb allowed for an explosion of new accommodations and income. Even Facebook, once predicated on and popularized by ostensible exclusivity, went from requiring a harvard.eduemail address for signup, to only requiring a .edu email address, to only requiring an email address. They recently announced that to use their Messenger app, all you need is a phone number. No Facebook account necessary.

And while the internet may have emerged as an engine of national commerce, its significance to local commerce is growing every day. Online food ordering alone constitutes less than 13% of the $70 billion US food delivery market, with $61 billion in delivery and takeout still happening offline, which is to say nothing of the enormous international market opportunity. Throw in other retail categories ripe for on-demand delivery, and the potential to harness the power of the internet as an engine of local commerce has never been greater.

In trying to tackle these new opportunities, companies need to ask themselves whether they want to go it alone, or else take an open approach by leveraging best-in-class solutions from others to augment what they’ve built. One company,Button, is already pushing the boundaries of cross-app capabilities by enabling connections between apps. Thanks to their platform, you can order an Uber ride within the Foursquare app, along with plenty of other deeplink integrations. The result is a welcome antidote to the increasingly fragmented experience of bouncing from app to app.

At, we’re focusing on technology and our own best-in-class capabilities to make on-demand ecommerce more readily available for both businesses and consumers. There are plenty of reasons why local commerce hasn’t already been conquered by a single Amazon-like company. It’s a tricky business. But our open APIs — including those for Commerce, Content, and Logistics — provide entry points for various players at every step of the local supply chain.

Using our Commerce API, companies like Yelp have integrated online ordering directly into their user experience, bringing added value to Yelp users, more demand to, and more business to the local merchant. With the Content API, Bindo, a point-of-sale and inventory management system, can send their merchant data directly to, instantly creating a digital storefront without any of the onboarding headaches that formerly came with the territory. And for the nitty-gritty of actual deliveries, our Logistics API connects last-mile providers with merchants that don’t otherwise have the logistical wherewithal to fulfill deliveries.

From lead generation to the last mile, an open API is what enables a marketplace business to extend beyond its own natural boundaries. We don’t have to be all things to all people. But working together, we can be everywhere.



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