Webhooks or APIs?

E-commerce is not standing still, and, according to Statista, virtual stores will take over 25% of the total volume of global retail by 2025. To take a good place in the market, you need to improve and regularly update your project, as well as communicate with consumers and suppliers through your website. Online shopping is the most popular online activity worldwide that becomes easier thanks to client interaction systems.

Large marketplaces have a broad customer base and host thousands of products. Special interaction systems between WebHooks and APIs help simplify control over all this. There are disputes around them: what is more effective for the online market? Scallium experts talk about the features and benefits of each system.

WebHooks: Concept, Goals, Characteristics

WebHook is a service for sending data from one program to another immediately after an event. Often it is used as a messenger for small information amounts. This interaction way is based on the listener model. Communication is initiated not by the recipient of the information but by the app that sends them.

WebHooks were created to simplify sending notifications about various events. For example, notify about a new user on the website, a newsletter subscription, or a received message. In other words, when something important for the operation of an online business happens.

Strengths and Weaknesses

The main WebHook value is instant notifications of the desired events. It can also be used to clean and manage user cache, start a pipeline of continuous integration and delivery after updates, or create workflows with customer data.

The system also has other advantages that greatly ease the specialists' work in ensuring the selling platforms operation:

  • simple configuration and low resource consumption during integration;
  • fast synchronization of content for other systems integration;
  • lightweight solution for real-time data processing.

Despite the system's advantages, it has several limitations. The common belief is that WebHook is more error-prone. There is a risk of data loss during transmission if the receiving server cannot process it currently. The specialist responsible for the trading platform's functioning needs to create an API "endpoint" to avoid such troubles. At the same time, they will probably face a large amount of work, but in the end, all the information will be stored and processed.

Large marketplaces may face problems in processing large amounts of data. These sites usually feature many categories that require constant real-time updates. Without automated information exchange systems, a specialist can carry out these operations manually, which takes a lot of time.

What Is the Purpose of This Service?

To understand the WebHooks principle in detail, let's look at a simple example. The trading platform owner wants to receive notifications in the messenger from social networks when hashtags mentioning his outlet's name are published. The messaging app will request the information of interest, but it will not be able to do this all the time. Therefore, there is a risk of missing essential publications.

It would be more logical to set up interaction between apps so that the social network sends an alert when a new post appears. Then the messenger will not have to send constant system requests, and the owner will immediately know about the company's mention. It's the main purpose of WebHook – instead of repeated calls to other apps, the receiving party can "idle" but receive the necessary information without delay.

API: Concept, Advantages, and Limitations

API (Application Programming Interface) is one of the standard forms of interaction between apps. It provides broad opportunities for information exchange in both directions. Using the software interface, you can use SMS or email mailing services, integrate online payment services in an online store, and manage data collection in third-party systems. For example, when a customer places an order online on a trading platform, a message about the purchase status is generated. It is sent to the SMS mailing service through the API and then goes to the customer's number.

Benefits of the API

"Flexible" system configuration allows marketplace operators to set parameters in different categories as often as necessary. Meaning they can control when new notifications appear based on business needs. The API has other useful options:

  • allows to conduct transactions;
  • enhances the functionality of the app or system that manages the website;
  • makes it possible to receive important data according to a pre-created schedule;
  • provides two-way information exchange with clients and partner systems;
  • strengthens the safety and reliability of automated processes;
  • prevents information loss if the servers experience a connection problem.

Limitations of the System

API, like many systems, has its weak side – obtaining data speed. Information is not presented in real-time in the interface, as in the WebHook Instead, it may arrive several minutes late. The feature is not catastrophic, but it should be considered in further work on the online store functionality.

Webhooks vs. API: What and When to Use?

Both communication methods are designed to receive notifications about various system actions. In e-commerce, this is most often the order formation/correction, the creation/change of the goods, adjustments to the availability of products, and the like.

We observe almost one-way interaction when considering the WebHooks operation since the data goes only towards the client app. Thus, if the buyer needs to add his data to the program, you need to use the API. It is also more appropriate to use it to provide comprehensive system information. WebHook, in this case, only has point data, which may not be enough in certain situations.

Sometimes the user does not need to respond to all events, so periodic updates are more suitable than quick notifications. Nevertheless, WebHooks makes it possible to subscribe to up-to-date alerts independently.

To increase the power of marketplaces, operators need to learn WebHooks and APIs to use them in the right areas. For example, for operations on updating the product range, changing the order status, and similar situations, it's better to use hooks that provide information instantly. When data doesn't need to be processed quickly, APIs are fine.

Marketplace Solutions: API and WebHooks Integration

In creating an e-commerce system on your own, you can use the Scallium marketplace builder. Here, all the necessary transformation solutions are already integrated with each other. To effectively use important systems such as CRM, PIM, OMS, and others, developers need to combine them with data exchange services. It eliminates the need to upload and download information manually and minimize possible errors when copying it. Marketplace operators will receive up-to-date information from various apps automatically.

A simple example: using the API, you can set up a CRM system and link it with other software. So it will synchronize with the software on its own and save the employee from routine data transfer.

The marketplace builder includes Webhooks and API integration with other components to ensure maximum performance. After all, the information received at the right time contributes to well-coordinated work on internal processes and quick interaction with customers, suppliers, and sponsors.

What Is Right for Your Business?

Based on both systems' operation principles, it becomes clear that they are needed for information exchange. API vs. Webhooks – which option to prefer? There is no definite answer because if the first service fails at some points, the second one comes to the rescue and vice versa. It is essential to understand their features and choose what you need for your business exactly. These systems are more allies than rivals. They harmonize with each other and give freedom of choice when customizing processes depending on user requirements.

At the same time, the distinctive features of each program allow outlet managers and operators to expand their capabilities. For example, improve the customer service speed through instant messages from Webhook or release regular updates and maintenance based on API data. When choosing systems for your marketplace, you should also consider business goals and a further development course. It will allow you to design a productive and successful trading platform that will succeed for both buyers and sellers.
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