A Focus on the Hub-and-Spoke Model
Software is only as strong as its weakest parts.
Since the beginning of VineSpring’s history, we’ve stayed focused on our strengths, eCommerce, Clubs, and Allocations. We’ve been asked by clients and partners to build additional products—POS, email, tax tools, etc. But, we have continued to build in the area of our wheelhouse—being a powerful transactional platform.
There are entire businesses dedicated to email marketing, POS, and compliance who are focused solely on innovating and being the very best in their respective industries. They do one thing and do it well. We believe that once you try to do everything, you end up doing nothing well.
We understand that the pitch of the all-in-one is compelling. It can seem more convenient. But, in our experience, there are actually more benefits to using and pairing best-of-breed systems.
That’s why our approach is focused on enabling the hub-and-spoke model.
With this approach, leveraging webhooks and APIs—we’re able to provide our clients the flexibility they need to set their systems up however they want and reap long-term benefits from the community of companies innovating around them. VineSpring is the transactional platform that connects the spokes and enables that community of innovation.
The challenge we have when we go all-in on the hub-and-spoke approach is making sure that our clients understand the power of webhooks and APIs.
What is an API?
In technical terms, API stands for Application Programming Interface. In non-technical terms, an API is a method through which systems can send and receive messages to one another. For the user, it means that actions in other systems can be completed from within their system.
VineSpring’s API means that other software platforms, vendors, and developers, have the option to interact and integrate with VineSpring’s database of information and transactional capabilities.
For example, VineSpring has an API and MailChimp has an API, which means that these two systems can send information back and forth to one another, such as email and wine club membership information about your customers.
Cool, right? Our systems can talk to one another...but APIs aren’t the only way to accomplish that. We have yet another way for our systems to talk to each other and that’s called webhooks.
What is a Webhook?
A webhook is a mechanism that sends data to another system when a specific event occurs. The system “listening” for that data can then do whatever it needs with the data when it receives it.
For instance, if you are using VineSpring to manage your club and allocation members and, as soon as a new customer joins your allocations program, you want the data to be passed on to an external destination, like your CRM, you have a couple of options:
Two options that don’t involve webhooks:
Manually download the list and upload it to your system. This is time-consuming and opens up the opportunity for human error.
Set up an API that would request data at set intervals. This certainly works, but might require more development effort than is actually necessary.
The webhook is the third, simpler, and real-time approach. With webhooks, systems can pass and receive data as soon as it’s collected. This means you can react to customer behavior and data changes more quickly.
But wait, what’s the difference between an API and a Webhook?
With most APIs there’s a request initiated by a system, followed by a response from another system—a two-way communication path. APIs also typically offer the potential to create/update/delete information in the other system. They’re very powerful, but typically require a developer to set up. With a webhook, there’s no request required—it’s just a one-way communication path—the webhook just sends data when it’s available, and they don’t typically require a BS in Computer Science to create.
For example, you could use webhooks to send updates into your CRM system when new information is recorded for a client, such as a change in an email preference or a purchase in the tasting room. You could use APIs to build a fully-customized storefront for displaying your luxuriously personalized allocations and carrying the customer through check out.
Using webhooks opens up a whole new world of possibilities, especially if you’re connecting multiple systems to establish a central source of truth on your customers. This becomes even more powerful when we start thinking about the customer’s experience and your business’ ability to control and personalize that experience using webhooks.
This is the key to the hub-and-spoke model. If all of our systems are talking to one another, and each of those systems is contributing their industry best to the overall experience, we don’t need to sacrifice or settle as a result of your choice of systems.
The hub-and-spoke removes the reliance on all-in-one systems and provides your business the power to control and configure your ideal customer experience.
Our team is really excited about this approach and we have a lot more to share. Be sure to subscribe to be notified when we publish our next post on the benefits of the hub-and-spoke and use-cases for wineries.