Here in new Zealand, TradeMe constitutes an inordinate percentage of total internet time and traffic. Ebay may be huge in the US or elsewhere, but it’s not exaggerating to say that TradeMe created the inflection point of internet adoption in New Zealand. The number of people running businesses completely or partially on TradeMe is massive (hell, even one of my businesses does so).

So when TradeMe announced the release of their API recently, those of us who know what this really opens up were pretty excited. As SciBlogs said:

[with the API] creative people will make new web and mobile applications that work with Trade Me’s data and services to do useful and clever things. Second, there is an opportunity for people interested in data visualisation. Trade Me has become an important aspect of our collective consumption habits. The API opens a door to this data and I hope we will see inventive mash-ups and visualisations over the coming days and weeks.

As an aside, it’s really interesting to read an old post from TradeMe alumnus Rowan Simpson about their reasons (previously) for not having an API. specially telling is a comment on that post from Nat Torkington who suggests that:

A cynic might say that the real reason you don’t have an API is because you already own the sector. Why spend money to develop something? So people will find it easier to list more items? They have nowhere else credible to go. You have a shitload of business. There’s no pressure to wring more out of the customers you already have. The hell with it, make ‘em use the damn HTML form and they can be happy about it!

Perhaps, despite still very much “owning” the space, TradeMe is starting to realize that heir is competition and the value to be gained from an API is sufficiently compelling to be a drawcard away from TradeMe should other vendors start to offer one.

Anyway, I digress. Saasu, the Australian based SaaS accounting vendors, has just announced a connector that integrates their accounting application with the TradeMe storefront. So… what does this mean for TradeMe users? In one word, efficiency. With this integration,  transactions and buyer information is automatically transferred into Saasu – thus removing a real data entry burden and automating order flow and accounting.

On the side I’ve done a reasonable amount of TradeMe selling, and the lack of integration with the accounting applications I use has, frankly, been a pain. This integration may be a minor development, but what it does is show Ma and Pa businesses, not usually au fait with the power of the cloud, the value in having a connected application set.

Of course the main question for businesses down here in new Zealand is what our own home-town hero is doing in this area. I poke with Tony Rule, head of the API team at Xero who told me that:

We know of some third parties working on an integration between Trade Me and Xero. It’s just too soon to say any more on this just yet but stay tuned… We’re also working with some developers from abroad who have expressed interest in developing integrations between eBay stores, Amazon WebStores  and Xero.

In other words… yes, it’s coming and watch this space.

I’ve been working of late with organizations looking at how to move their traditional desktop applications into a cloud-enabled and cloud-connected world. Often I hear that the marketplace isn’t ready, and that people don’t really understand” “this crazy cloud stuff”. Au contraire – once people start to see the value and efficiency to be gained by integrating apps quickly and easily, the change will happen more rapidly than we can imagine.

Saasu and TradeMe are but one example – but they’re a good lesson in why seismic shift is occurring in our industry.

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Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.


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