How Y Combinator-backed Product Search API startup – Semantics3 is parsing e-commerce websites globally

E-commerce is pacing ahead globally; more and more merchants are moving towards e-commerce and marketplaces. As the number of online stores increases, one thing that becomes immensely essential for all these merchants is ‘making sense of the data’.

Making sense of the extracted data, which is immense, is a huge challenge. Semantics3 is trying to solve this problem for merchants with their product search API approach to make developers’ life easy. The challenge for merchants/retailers is not lack of data insights about customer behaviour and transactions, but to make use of that data into more actionable smart data.

What Semantics3 does?

semantics_logo

The major players in e-commerce always want to keep a check on their competitors pricing model to build strategies around them to improve their sales. It’s an interesting problem to solve, considering the massive number of datasets that need to be parsed and later processed to make sense out of it. Developers and merchants can search through database with product’s universal code for their online price, price histories and more.

Semantics3 organically crawls e-commerce websites, collects all the data and provides a robust product search API to developers and merchants to make use of this database. They have created databases that aim to track every product sold online. Their API provides developers access to this database.

NUS classmates Sivamani Varun, Govind Chandrasekhar and Vinoth Gopinathan alongside teammates Shawn Tan and Srinivas Kidambi started this product search data API startup, Semantics3 in Singapore. Now, it’s a 10-member strong team based in San Francisco and Bangalore.

This product data search API company has spent Winter 2013 at Y Combinator, making it the first Singapore company to join the accelerator program.

semantics3_yc

Currently, they are providing product feed data for over 35 million products and 2 billion prices across 22,00 retailers with a huge list of developers who are using their product search API. They are trying to help merchants by parsing datasets and trying to bring out value of that data. It has built a custom, high-powered data-parsing system that processes close to 500GB a day on 250 nodes with more than 800 live instances. The team is focused on providing merchants a tool to analyse datasets spread over several e-commerce sites.

Developers-centric approach

Their API helps developers to use these datasets for various use cases. Few are using for building product price comparison engines while others to make affiliate e-commerce stores. Developers can build a layer over these datasets and build various products like price comparison engines or affiliate e-commerce stores. Their API gives developers and merchants access to product data, including name, price, brand, model, color, size, UPC code, images, dimensions (width, height and length), weight, purchase links, search and filtering on all the parameters above.

Currently, they follows a freemium model giving a free plan option to developers for 1000 API calls per day. Their basic plan (US $499 per month) permits developers 25,000 API calls/day while pro plan ($1499 per month) permits 100,000 API calls/day.

Along with their API, the team has also developed a ‘sales rank’. This ranking for every product is calculated for figuring out what products to sell.

Competitors

Big Data is the global trend with enough players trying to prove their worth to understand it. But in the game to make sense of the e-commerce datasets, Chennai-based Indix is a close competitor for Semantics3.

On top of its product database, Indix offers customized app and API for retailers to tap into the platform and gain real-time insights based on their preferences. The Indix app is facilitating customer’s existing enterprise applications that offer analytics.

Semantics claims to have an edge here as it has one single API for their vast database over Indix’s customized APIs and different product datasets for retailers.

semantics3_price

Even Google was its competitor, before it shut down its Search API for Shopping a few months back.  Semantics3 team helped developers who were relying on Google Search API for Shopping to migrate to their API. It went totally unnoticed; this is what Google had to say about it,  (from official blog post)

“We’re deprecating our Search API for Shopping, which has enabled developers to create shopping apps based on Google’s Product Search data. While we believe in the value this offering provided, we’re shifting our focus to concentrate on creating a better shopping experience for users through Google Shopping. We’ll shut the API down completely on September 16, 2013.”

There are few other product search API providers trying to address this market but with a different approach. Factual is focusing on location-based data along with its consumer products API that provides information on consumer packaged goods. InvisibleHand along with its low price alert plugin for customers today has a product API.

Future prospects

Where the world is considering data as the ‘new oil’ and ‘big data’ is the most talked about term these days; it’s becoming more and more important to understand data usability. There is huge potential for data analytics based startups, which are trying to understand datasets and make sense out of them.

Semantics3 will strive its best to provide e-commerce and retailers a way to make sense of the data. A product search dashboard with real-time analytics could probably be the next logical step for them but lets wait and keep an eye on their next update.

One can confidently bet on this startup going after something huge and we won’t be surprised to hear amazing updates from the team in near future.


Subodh Kolhe