Tesco to open its website to third party applications

Tesco encourages customers to contribute to its digital strategy as it moves towards an open platform.

The grocery giant, which in April said it earned £1.9bn from online last year, wants developers to create new ways to sell across digital platforms and earn commission after opening up its API.

First revealed by new media age last October (nma 30 October 2008), the grocery giant has said it sees the future of its online offering as an open platform to which anyone can contribute.

Developers who create a new sales channels that is implemented by Tesco will earn commission from sales made for the lifetime of that application.

For example, a recipe app could be developed for a food site which places ingredients in your basket which can be ordered without needing to visit Tesco.com.

Tesco, along with its digital agency EMC Conchango, Microsoft and Nesta, is inviting developers to an open day – T-Jam – in August, to introduce them to the initiative.

Nick Lansley, Tesco.com head of research and development and head of special projects, told nma, “We’re opening up our affiliate programme to allow people to develop for whatever device they want – whether it’s a website, mobile phone or set-top box – and make money for each new customer that comes to us as a result.”

“The reason we’re doing this is that, although we have lots of ideas, we don’t necessarily have the resources to do them ourselves,” he added. “So the new API allows developers to write whatever they want, benefit us but also make money off the back of it.”

The announcement comes as Tesco prepares to move its web operations onto a new platform, two years in development and codenamed Project Martini, which Lansley said will provide a solid base for future online development.

“It’s allowing us to plug in new things that we could do in the future more easily, and opening up the API is a prime example of that,” he said.

“It’s not necessarily about new features – not initially – but about making it easier for them to be included in the future,” he says. “We want to stop having to say no when someone has a great idea for how to sell to customers; this means we can say yes.”

In April Tesco.com said sales increased by 20% year on year, as the supermarket posted record group annual profits of £3.1bn.

This story first appeared on newmediaage.co.uk

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