Last month we talked about APIs and how they can be used to feed real time data between systems. Baker and Taylor is a case example of this (more are on the way).

This month I want to talk about how smaller suppliers who do not have APIs can also participate.

Small suppliers that do not have APIs can use the Circle platform to deliver information like price and availability to stores. The extent to which they use Circle ranges. Following are three case examples that illustrate the range of options suppliers are currently using.

The end goal is to give shops information at the point of ordering, i.e. when and where it is needed. When a shop looks up supplier options for a particular ISBN we search integrated distributors for the ISBN and list the supplier with P&A if they have the title.

So far we are doing this with Baker & Taylor, John Reed and PDL. They illustrate the various way integration can be achieved. They provide a proof of concept that we would like to improve on and add more suppliers.

An API is how we have done it with Baker & Taylor. In this case they do not use our systems at all, they simply provide an API that we call when we need certain information, i.e. the P&A for a particular ISBN. This suits where APIs are in place but many do not have them so we have opened up the Circle platform to bridge the gap.  Phaidon Press, Dunmore Publishing, PDL and John Reed are all using Circle in various ways to get better information to shops.

This group provides a good case example of how this can work. Phaidon and Dunmore are publishers so not where we can get P&A information but they provide the rich data needed to sell books online. In the case of Dunmore Circle is also their website so by updating their own website they are updating everyone that sells their titles. The Phaidon Circle site is not public but if you look at some Phaidon titles in Circle stores you will see that they have very rich data and often a number of high quality images. Phaidon put this data into a hidden Circle site purely to get the rich data out to where it is needed.

PDL and John Reed are distributors, the primary interest with them is P&A information. Both use Circle for their own sites which means anyone regardless of which system they use can get P&A information from them. The benefit Circle shops get is that P&A information can then be delivered into shop back offices where which is more convenient. Dunmore happens to be distributed by PDL, the work Dunmore does to make their titles look good thus also reflects on the PDL site and then onto shop sites. P&A information is the key thing we are after from distributors but doesn’t hurt to also have rich data around the stock levels.

No suppliers use Circle for stock control yet, they manually load or periodically export stock listings in CSV and ONIX and load them into the Circle site so it is not real time but this will come.

We are keen to get more suppliers on board, if you know of any that you think this would help let us know.

Warwick Schaffer
Founder, CirclePOS

See other articles on specific features and how they can help bookstores

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