REST and SOAP APIs in eCommerce

The eCommerce industry is booming. It is not limited to online shopping anymore but is focused on providing exceptional experiences to online users. Considering the demands of online shoppers and the operations involved in managing an eCommerce business, the role of eCommerce software can be significantly realized.

However, it is imperative for such software providers to integrate with eCommerce platforms in order to allow e-retailers to manage their business seamlessly. Such integration is established with the APIs of those platforms, categorized into two — SOAP API and REST API.

The significance of the two APIs has been in discussion for quite a long time, and hence, we have gathered some important information to share with you.

What is API and How it Works?

An API or application programming interface is often termed as an intermediary that establishes communication between two different applications. To put it simply, API is a messenger that carries information from one application to another via typical request-response methods. The most commonly used APIs today include SOAP API and REST API, with each of them having its own significance.

With API, developers are free to reuse a piece of code for complex processes making the overall workflow a lot easier. The pace at which APIs help you develop applications is unmatched by the conventional methods of development.

The concept of API can be better understood by considering the example of Facebook. When you open Facebook on your phone and try to login into your account, you are basically making a call to the Facebook server through the app. You are asking the server to access your account. This call is known as an API request.

The mobile application contacts the Facebook app, which then connects with the Facebook server and asks for your account credentials. When the server returns all the details, the Facebook application returns the details to your mobile app. Such a process is known as API response.

If to talk about the eCommerce sphere, each of the shopping platforms has its own API. To be able to interact with any platform and access its data (e.g., order data, product data, etc.), software developers have to build the connection between their systems and the platform’s API. Without such integration, the automatic transfer of data between the software and the platform is impossible.

SOAP API: Meaning and Examples

SOAP API or Simple Object Access Protocol, as the name suggests, is a communication protocol that allows different processes using different operating systems to interact with each other with the help of HTTP. SOAP supports only XML data format. SOAP API is considered to be more secure than the REST API.

Using a SOAP API, the applications can easily create, delete, update, and recover custom objects in the software.

One of the best examples of SOAP API in the eCommerce sphere is Magento SOAP API. Magento SOAP API is a set of HTTP requests which delivers response messages to the calls received on the server. These messages are in the form of XML and several other formats. The API helps in managing the eCommerce stores on Magento by providing different types of calls to work with data related to products, categories, customers, etc.

REST API: Meaning and Examples

REST API follows the rules of REST (Representational State Transfer) architectural style. It defines a work environment for components, data elements, and connectors for using URLs and HTTP protocols. The following operations can be performed with the help of a REST API:

  • GET — retrieve data from eCommerce stores
  • PUT — update data on eCommerce stores
  • POST — create data on eCommerce stores
  • DELETE — remove data from eCommerce stores

Some common examples of the REST API in the eCommerce sphere include:

  • Squarespace REST APIs

Squarespace provides a group of APIs for eCommerce software developers to manage online stores built on Squarespace. All the APIs are designed using REST principles on HTTP. They are:

  1. Inventory API — allows to read and adjust product and product variant stock
  2. Orders API — allows retrieving order history and subscription orders and import orders from sales channels
  3. Products API — allows managing products along with their variants and images
  4. Profiles API — enable reading and managing customers
  5. Transactions API — enable access to financial transitions
  6. Webhook Subscription API — allows subscribing to site notifications
  • Etsy REST API

Etsy REST API provides a simple interface that follows all the REST rules and JSON-formatted responses to API requests. It gives both read and write access to users’ data, including listings, shops, tags, profiles, and sales information. When connecting with Etsy REST API, developers can easily access and manage their client stores based on Etsy.

  • WooCommerce REST API

WooCommerce API allows developers to build applications that can work with data-related orders, coupons, products, customers, etc., on all the stores built on WooCommerce. By default, it supports JSON format, but it can be changed to XML if required. It also works with four methods, including GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE.

  • REST API by API2Cart

API2Cart provides a unified API built on REST principles for eCommerce software developers to help them integrate their applications with more than 40 eCommerce platforms and marketplaces at once. The list of the supported platforms includes Magento, Shopify, Amazon, eBay, etc. Such integration helps vendors open new opportunities and helps eCommerce software manage their clients’ e-stores seamlessly.

Common and Different Features of REST and SOAP APIs

Despite being significant in their ways, both REST API and SOAP API share some similarities and apparent differences.

Similarities:

  1. Both REST and SOAP API follow HTTP protocol.
  2. They rely on a well-defined set of rules for information exchange.
  3. They connect to two applications with the help of server-side data, which is both human and machine-readable.
  4. Both REST and SOAP APIs utilize methods like GET, PUT, POST, and DELETE.
  5. Both of them understand XML and can use it in requests and responses.

Differences:

  1. REST is an architectural style, and therefore REST API has no official standard, but since SOAP is a protocol, SOAP API has an official standard.
  2. REST API can support multiple standards, including HTTP, JSON, XML, and URL. But, SOAP uses only two — HTTP and XML.
  3. REST API takes fewer resources and bandwidth as compared to SOAP which results in larger file sizes.
  4. REST API leverages URL exposure — @path(“/WeatherService”), whereas SOAP uses services interface — @WebService.
  5. REST API when doesn’t make any emphasis on standards results in a corrupt API. But SOAP API results in errors only since it defines too many standards for the implementer.
  6. REST API uses WADL (Web Application Description Language), and SOAP API uses WSDL (Web Services Description Language).

Conclusion

Both REST API and SOAP API are significant for eCommerce software developers to make their software fully functional. However, it depends on the platform on which your client has built their e-store. Hence, understand your client’s requirements and the compatibility of their eCommerce platform before choosing between REST or SOAP API.