The Commerce Graph

Welcome to the first unified API to connect Merchant and Channels seamlessly. But how do these two things connect, and why is important?

Graph Theory

Simply put, Graph Theory is a way to formally represent networks. One of the more popularized versions of this type of thinking was Facebook’s Social Graph, first announced back in 2007. This is the mapping of the different relationships of individuals to one another and other things. It is a powerful internet analogy to the physical world, and the basis for Facebook’s “special sauce”. Spotify has done a similar thing for music. It is this mapping overlay that provides transformative power. Built into the Commerce Graph is the relational nature of every core product (a “Parent Product”), a product that exists within that core product (an “Offer”), and all subsequent data about that product (the “Context”). From a graph perspective, these are the relationships product-to-product, store-to-product, store-to-store, and various contextual data points within.

In today’s world, the closest thing to this kind of a concept that exists is within a proprietary walled garden, which you all know very well as Amazon. We’re continually impressed by the innovation and speed at which Amazon moves. A lot of this is due in part to the access they have programmatically to access and analyze all the products at their disposal. This is a big advantage, and we want to provide that same ability to anyone selling a product on the internet. This is why we’ve built the Commerce Graph with an easy to use API.

Bridges Not Silos

In a material sense, a graph can look a lot like a net or a ‘web’. This is powerful, because we’re casting our net far and wide to bring together two worlds that are more accustomed to fishing with a pole than a net. Today, if you sell your product on the internet, you likely have your website on one of the top platforms out there. This gives you one single website (or store) that exists in a sea of more than 1.7 billion websites. Sellers, or “Merchants” as we call them, have to go fishing by spending money in all the different watering holes across the internet. They cast their pole and hope to snag a fish, pull into the boat, and score a sale. This works, of course, but it’s inefficient at best and painful at worst.

Part of the reason this is the case is because the world of ecommerce operates quite differently from the rest of the internet. It’s structured much closer to an ERP system than it is a dynamic web application. There’s a gap, and today, that gap is bridged with a long shot method of advertising and clicking out (see next post). We prefer to cast a net from one side to the other and bridge those two worlds. It’s also a lot easier to catch fish with a net, and we think it’s due time we rethink our fishing methods (insert cliche about teaching a man to fish).

Three Parts

This unifying net is one part “products”, one part “carts”, and one part “orders”. Each play a crucial and different role is allowing the Commerce Graph to create new experiences.

Products API

This is complete access to the VIOLET product catalog. Search for products, get data about a specific product, or leverage the power of categories. It’s clean, simple, and yet very powerful. The best part is, it’s the last product API you’ll have to integrate with.

Carts API

The Products API is not that useful without the Carts API. The Products API allows you to place a product in front of people in the case that they want to buy it. In order to facilitate the transaction, you need to create a cart and checkout. Not only that, it needs to be completely in sync with the ecommerce platform of record where the products are managed. This way the product is fulfilled in the same way it would be if someone bought the product from that merchant’s website.

Orders API

Every transaction that corresponds to your app is available via the Orders API. If a customer needs to find info on a past order #, or other details, it’s all available securely and in a partitioned way. You only have access to the orders that you’ve created.

This is commerce in full circle. This is the bridge we want to build. Our mission is simple: we want to connect people to products everywhere.

Welcome to the Commerce Graph.