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Our biggest engineering focus in the last 12 months has been to shift BigCommerce from a piece of disparate e-commerce software that businesses can use to sell online, to a true platform on which developers can build and integrate with existing software and systems.
Think Salesforce. Or Facebook. Or our friends at Mailchimp.
Our first milestone was version 2 of the BigCommerce API, which is RESTful and provides CRUD access to most resources such as orders, products, categories, countries, options, etc. Since our new API rolled out to pretty much everyone late last year, we’ve had tens of thousands of developers using it and millions of API calls have been made. The feedback from developers via surveys has also been incredible. We still have some improvements to make but we’re getting there.
Now that lots of cool integrations and web/desktop/mobile apps are being built using our API, we started to ask ourselves three questions:
- How do we get even more apps and integrations built?
- How do we reward developers for what they are building?
- How do we share the apps and integrations being built with our clients?
Our $2M Integration Fund
To answer questions #1 and #2 above, we decided to launch an integration fund, which is money we’ve put aside to fund the development of BigCommerce integrations and applications from third party developers. The idea here is simple: if developers want to build on BigCommerce, we want to reward them for their hard work with up to $20,000 per project.
Here’s a little more detail from our integration fund page:
BigCommerce integrates with over 100 of the most popular applications you already use, making it easy to update your orders and inventory, retrieve product details, automate your marketing and much, much more. Our $2,000,000 integration fund was setup to contribute towards development costs for companies interested in building integrations or useful web/mobile/desktop applications that make use of the BigCommerce API.
The great thing about our new API is that it provides deep access to pretty much everything in a BigCommerce store, so the possibilities around what to build are endless. Here are a few cool ideas we came up with:
- Build an integration with a popular inventory management system
- Create an iPad app that allows merchants to set time sensitive product discounts
- Create an Adobe Air app to ship multiple orders in a single click
- Build a web service that pushes new products to Facebook or Twitter
- Create a mobile app that lets a merchant take photos and assign them to products
- Build a web service that adds new customers to an email marketing system
- Create an analytics app to show drill-down marketing reports
If you’re a developer then go here to learn everything you need to know to build an application or integration and apply for a piece of our $2M integration fund. You can apply whether you are in or out of the U.S. Our integration fund will run for as long as it takes to pay our two million dollars, which could be a few months or over a year.
So, once a bunch of great applications and integrations have been built, how do we help drive what we call developer love? That leads me to answer questions #2 and #3…
Our Integrations Directory
One of the most important things we understand is the whole product offering, which essentially means that when you want to sell online, you don’t *just* need BigCommerce. You already have existing software and systems that need to “talk” to your online store for things like inventory, dropshipping, etc.
As much as we’d like to believe, we can’t build integrations into every piece of software all of our clients need, but we knew that by opening up our API to developers around the world, they could help us build the integrations and in turn we can give them lots of developer love (money, promotion online and through our now-quite-large sales and support teams).
So once a developer builds a great application or integration with BigCommerce, how do we share it with the world? We do that with our new integrations directory at apps.bigcommerce.com, which is of course now live.
Our website gets a tad under 1,000,000 unique visitors a month and the BigCommerce software itself gets tens of millions of visits per month, and both now include links to the integrations directory (check the Tools menu in your store – the update is rolling out over the next few days). This is guaranteed to drive at least a few hundred thousand people to the directory every month, thus providing a huge volume of leads, brand awareness and most importantly customers (for free!) to application and integration developers.
That’s what we call developer love.
So, developers. Do you have a great idea for an application or integration that you want to build? Apply now for your piece of our $2M integration fund.
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