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Webhooks vs API: the Main Difference

api2cart profile image API2Cart ・3 min read

One of the biggest and most productive ways of purchasing goods today is eCommerce. Shopping online and ordering is quick and convenient for the customer. For online stores, things are somewhat more difficult since many eCommerce applications have to be used. All these applications often need to run all the essential functions of their online shops in real-time.

For that, both webhooks and APIs come in handy for transferring data. However, they provide a slightly different value to apps. In this article, we will discuss what differs webhooks from API, and why it is important to use them for efficient integration.

What Are Webhooks?

A webhook (also called an HTTP callback) is generally initiated by some kind of event. If the event occurs, an HTTP request to the webhook URL is made from the reference site. Users can subscribe to a particular event (e.g. order status updates) and get notified every time the event occurs (e.g. the order status updates).

A webhook is the best choice for circumstances where information changes less frequently. It is a waste of bandwidth to make API calls and continuously receive the same reply, so allowing the external system to inform your eCommerce software when necessary would be much more effective. With webhooks, consumers receive real-time updates and will not have to wait to receive API polling.
Webhooks can be considered as a perfect and often even necessary complement to any API integration.

What Is An API?

The ultimate objective of any API integration is to efficiently exchange data between your eCommerce applications to provide your customers with even greater benefits.​ An API defines how your eCommerce software components can communicate and enable different, independent systems to connect and exchange information with each other. When an API is available for an eCommerce software application, it can exchange data with any application which also has an API.
If you know that information will frequently change, but you don't need updates in real-time, an API could be the better choice.

APIs + Webhooks = Benefit

When eCommerce suppliers develop advanced SaaS software applications, they need easy ways to share information between them. The two major ways to merge systems and prevent content/information silos are webhooks and APIs, but each has its unique function, as we have seen before.
The best choice is to use both APIs and Webhooks together to create a scheme that can communicate the correct data types as necessary for your eCommerce application. With full implementation of APIs and Webhooks, data flows instantly between any eCommerce applications, increasing efficiencies and reducing manual operation errors.

Webhooks and eCommerce

As an eCommerce software supplier, you must plan to develop as often as possible and attract more potential customers. To do that, you must provide eCommerce online retailers with superior customer support and help them optimize their business processes and enhance the support they provide to their clients. You can use webhooks to extend your functional capabilities as an eCommerce application provider since webhooks are particularly useful for any eCommerce framework.

Webhooks, for example, provide major advantages over rivals in inventory management systems because of their ability to ensure stock levels are accurate and thus make real-time changes to online retailers. Webhooks thus makes it possible to cope better with unforeseen demands.

In particular, the key benefits of using webhooks are:

  • To ease your way of receiving updates;
  • To ensure the synchronization of data between various eCommerce applications;
  • To connect two or more eCommerce applications where an event at one will cause an event at the second;
  • To adapt the eCommerce application features to your specifications.

API2Cart provides a unified API for B2B eCommerce software providers through which they will be able to integrate with 40+ shopping platforms and marketplaces. It provides 100+ API methods and a range of webhooks to get notifications each time the product, order, customer, or category are added or updated. With a zero-minute delay and 98% of API calls saved fresh and accurate data delivery is guaranteed.

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