Interface, integrated or standalone webshop?

Sometimes you hear a term such as an integrated webshop or an interface and even standalone. But what does that actually mean?

A standalone webshop is a webshop that is not linked to other systems, it runs completely on its own. You add the products and product enrichments here, prices and orders are placed. How you process this order financial and logistic is done manually or with an export to Excel, so  you can import it in your ERP / Accounting system and otherwise you can type it yourself.

An Interface / API webshop is in fact a standalone webshop that is linked by one or more interfaces with other systems, such as an ERP, Accounting system, product information management (PIM) system etc. An interface is a link between systems, whereby data transferred from one system to another. One system requests data from the other and the  data is sent back in a message and picked up by the system that needs the data. For example, by loading products , you can maintain them in one system and still use them in the webshop.

Integrated webshop is a webshop that uses code in a system, for example calculates a price in the ERP system. This is actually different from an interface. An interface requests  data on “the price for product x” an integrated webshop calls up code in the ERP system that calculates the price (eg Incl. Discount, customer-specific price, etc.) in the ERP system and then returns a calculated price. This uses the business logic in the ERP system. In this option each system works from its own strength and no double code is needed to perform a price calculation, for example. If there are 2 systems that perform a complex price calculation with customer specific prices, volumes and discounts, there is a risk that there are rounding differences. With low numbers this is often not even visible, but with large numbers that are ordered this can become a problem.

When do you need a standalone interface or an integrated webshop?

If you are starting a webshop and you have a small range of a few 100 products, not that many customers and few orders, then a standalone webshop is great to start with. An example of a standalone webshop is Woocommerce, which is very easy and quick to add as a plugin to your WordPress site.

If your company has a large assortment or (do you expect) many orders, an interface webshop is a better solution. When selecting, it is important to see which other systems you have that you want to link to, so that you have to transfer as little data as possible manually or via Excel. Manual data transfer is very sensitive for type mistakes and takes a lot of time.

Pay close attention to which webshop software has which standard links, so that customized interfaces are prevented. Customization is expensive, takes time and money before it is developed. You could say that an interface webshop is a good solution for B2C and B2X shops. An example of an interface webshop is Magento or Shopify.

For example, if you have a complex price structure or complex stock registration, an interface webshop is actually no longer an option.

Why not? If 2 systems do a price calculation separately from each other, there will always be differences (eg rounding differences, VAT differences, etc.). Correcting afterwards is a difficult job, takes time, money and frustration. And apart from the fact that having to program a calculation twice also costs a lot of time and money.

It is better to use the system where the calculation belongs, so the webshop uses the same code as the ERP system. An integrated webshop also has disadvantages if a webshop peaks with many visitors. Think of BlackFriday, then performance can become a problem. The site becomes slow, ERP system collapses etc… What some integrated web shops do to prevent this is caching (storing) prices and stocks that they first calculate in advance. An integrated webshop is especially powerful for a B2B or B2X shop. An example of an integrated shop is Sana Commerce or DynamicWeb.

A tip: If you are going to start with a (new) webshop or link, make sure you have a good plan in advance. Research the possibilities and go for the best solution!