Souq.com opens API to the public to spur MENA ecommerce

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Souq.com announced Friday that it will be making its API (application program interface) available to the public, allowing third party developers to access and embed ecommerce offers through their own websites or applications. Using the API, retailers throughout the region will be able to set up ecommerce sites using Souq’s existing infrastructure – for free.

On a Tuesday call, Souq’s CTO Wisam Daoud explained how the API will serve regional entrepreneurs: “If you’re a merchant with products to sell, you can list your supply on Souq.com [as usual], but through the API you can take your supply and present it on whatever front-end you want.” The system has already been implemented successfully with Toys R Us UAE, whose site is logistically integrated with Souq’s infrastructure, and yet remains fully branded as Toys R Us, Daoud says.

Further, if a developer or entrepreneur utilizes Souq’s API in a way that drives business to the company, “we’ll pay them for each sale they generate.” The corporate is already working with a team of developers building an outfit-generator app that will suggest clothes for sale on Souq to match certain occasions.

The API can potentially be integrated on web, mobile web, mobile application platforms.

The ecommerce giant also announced that it will create a seed investment fund, to launch in Q2 of this year, that will provide capital to teams and individuals building apps using Souq’s API. The company will provide selected projects with mentorship, unrestricted access to the APIs, and early access to new API releases.

So far “feedback has been good,” says Daoud. “We’ve had a bunch of signups already, and people are already asking for more.”

Ronaldo Mouchawar, Souq’s cofounder and CEO, hopes that the API and the fund will help develop the regional ecommerce sector. “We are keen to fund the development of a community of startups, application developers, and service providers that will help grow ecommerce in the region,” Mouchawar said in a press release.

Souq’s CTO concurs. “The core objective of the fund,” Daoud says, “is to help these people kickstart some ideas, and get them developing using Souq’s API. It’s our way to show the community that this is not just a PR stunt; we’re not doing this because we wanted you to write about us. We’re putting our money behind this because we have a vested in interest in this succeeding.”

The ecommerce giant is not the only regional startup offering help to entrepreneurs looking to set up ecommerce shops. ShopGo provides software, as well as integration with logistics and payment gateways to the region’s ecommerce sites. The Souq API “complements our offerings,” says ShopGo founder and CEO Moe Ghashim on a Tuesday call, and aligns with ShopGo’s goal of spurring ecommerce in the Arab region. If anything, “it makes us more attractive: you can create your online store with us and then we can help sell your products with Souq.” Ghashim went on to say that he and Souq leadership are in talks about integrating their products.

Learn more about Souq’s API and its potential uses here.

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