ClickStop Wires – Building a mini Data API for ecommerce

That is one big ball of twine
That is one big ball of twine (Photo credit: Great Beyond)

What to do when you need more versatile data from your web application – but they are just not keeping up with modern web development?

Where I work (US Cargo Control – a division of ClickStop) we use an all-in-one system called Netsuite.  I’m not very happy with it, but my job is web development…and that is the worst feature of Netsuite.  The software controls all of our company, including: accounting, inventory, purchasing, merchandising, human resources, CRM and web development.  It honestly does very well with most of our business – but with our companies being very involved with ecommerce, we are competing with very big companies with very big wallets.

In comes Clickstop Wires.

When it was first conceived we called it the “Product Database”, but it was too confusing for people to understand   It is about products…but it is much more than that.  Its really a backbone into building onto the company.  So we thought it was a good idea to change the name – so we (and by we, it was kind of me) called it “Pipes”.  Yahoo was dying and they had a project called Pipes…so it wouldn’t be a big deal right?  Then I felt guilty – so while writing this blog post, I made an executive decision…we’ll call it Wires…ClickStop Wires.

What is Wires?

Well – its a business intelligence engine.  Say what – its a database that “listens” to our website. We will put a little bit of javascript at the checkout page (and maybe others too) and then let Wires listen.  We will direct that data into Wires and let it collect.  After a while – Wires will get very smart.  It will begin to “now” what products people buy together.  What things people buy over time and what frequency they buy these items at.  Its going to get VERY smart.

Hand truck cover – or dolly pad

You could call it a data api for ecommerce.

Why do we need a data api for ecommerce

Good question – because of things like this.  We sell thousands of products…but many of the product relationships need to be setup manually.  So if we don’t pick the right things – we lose out on potential sales.  Here’s an example – hand truck covers.

We have a product what is a cover for hand trucks – or some call it a dolly.  Either way – we had a whole list of cool products “you might enjoy” with this product…but not one of them was a hand truck.  Don’t you think this is something we’d want people to know about?

Good question.  Do we really KNOW if they buy them together?  Probably not – because we don’t have the data.  We can’t look at a Wires dashboard and find out if we’re missing opportunities.

Items without related products can cost us money…that is bad.

My friend Dave would be proud of me – we need to track and analyze the data to know for sure.  Heck, for all we know the people buying hand truck covers may want to buy an Open End Wire Lever Snap.  We just don’t know.  This is why we need Wires – this is going to be very cool!

Here is another example – we have hundreds of products with no related products – we need to have these relationships working.  We need to sell more stuff!

So – by building an API, we will have the ability to add more items to more pages.  This will, with any luck, allow us to sell more stuff.

The same applies to the checkout page – we can analyze the items they have in the cart, and offer them other items which are related.  Its a win-win.  Customers see products they may have forgotten, we have the opportunity to sell more stuff.

What does Wires “look” like?

The Clickstop Wires API

Wires will allow us to do many things – we’re get the information from the checkout page and then push information out to the different web properties.  This will kick-out data feeds to Google and Bing, it will supply related items to our product pages, it will allow us to have “people who bought this also bought this” lists on the checkout page and even power our own site search to allow people to find more things – faster.

How/when/where will we build this data api for ecommerce?

Not sure – we’re working on it.  Check back soon – we’ll keep you updated right here.

[box type=”note” size=”large” style=”rounded”]NOTE: If you are a experienced API/connection type developer, drop us a note.  We’re looking for a developer who can hit the ground running with this project and build a solid set of wiring for the future.[/box]


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