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ASOS Hackathon fosters internal innovation using the ASOS API 

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On the 16th December 2011 ASOS held a “hackathon” during which all of IT in collaboration with teams from across the business, were challenged to develop something using the API (application programming interface). The first hackathon using the ASOS API.

Traditionally 24 hours, developers hack through the day and night to produce a working concept. The ASOS teams were given only one working day and were kept energised with beer and pizza over lunch. In a concept familiarly known inside the industry as ‘eating your own dogfood’ the teams consumed and experienced the API as any external party would, from registering and requesting an API key to referencing the full documentation and communicating via the developer forums. As a result of the hackathon, various enhancements are already underway to ensure that this portal delivers the best experience for external consumers who come to ASOS to build apps, services and platforms using the detailed catalogue of retail products, search and “add to basket” functionalities.

The hackathon, organised by API Product Manager, Marie Hamblin fostered creative thinking and innovation across IT. Self organising teams, consisting of Developers, User Experience experts, Application Support Analysts, Business Analysts and Solution and Data Architects were given free reign with only one technical restriction – you must use the API. Given the time restrictions, the output was significant with working prototypes of a Social shopping app, ASOS search button for integration into other sites, an online fashion trading game and a Twitter search bot, all contributing to the API’s goal to lead back into ASOS and offer a brand experience outside of the main site.

The winning idea by the Renegades Team was an RSS integration which enables customers to discover, save and consume any part of their ASOS experience through readers such as Feedly and Flipboard at the touch of a button. A special commendation goes to the team that created the ASOS search button for integration into other sites - The team consisted of only three members of the application support team. Guest judge, James Hart, Head of E-commence, was so impressed with the hackathon outputs that he’s committed to sponsor the further development of all ideas into launchable apps/experiences. Hart said he hoped that opening the API would help transform ASOS into a fashion platform, becoming a “way to discover fashion online” and that the hackathon had shown the incredible potential of the ASOS API.

Congratulations to the winning team; Renegades. Consisting of: Peter Kapitsa; Anton Georgiev; Mark Gebbet; Lewis Holmes; Olatunji Ajibode & Richard Fletcher Concept: Simplified RSS feed for integration into readers such as Flipboard and Feedly

Runners up: SlyDogs. Consisting of: Johan Bjerling, Daniel Sim, Mark Conway, Jonathan Welch, Paul Zarb & Rowena Parsons Concept: Social shopping experience.

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