The Last Stripe Webhook
Oct 21, 2023
The Marvel and Limitation of Stripe Billing
Stripe Billing has become the go-to service for managing subscriptions. It's not a mere CRON job at this point; it offers a complex array of features that have convinced many companies it's worth every penny. Features like variable intervals, prorations, invoicing, retries, and trials for SaaS platforms would be expensive and time consuming to replicate in a homegrown billing solution.
But the notion that Stripe Billing is a complete, one-and-done solution needs to be questioned. Herein lies the challenge: synchronization.
The Synchronization Conundrum
In today's dynamic SaaS landscape, billing isn't just a background operation—it's central to the user experience. Applications need up-to-the-second billing data to grant or restrict feature access based on subscription status. Add to this the revenue-optimizing features like trial banners, cancellation recovery, and upgrade offers, and the need for near-real-time billing data becomes non-negotiable.
One might think that API calls are the easiest way to fetch this information. Need to verify a user's trial status? Make an API call. Checking if they're eligible for a feature? Another API call. While straightforward, this method introduces speed as a bottleneck. Frequent API calls can cause latency issues, forcing your users to wait instead of actively engaging with your application.
Moreover, the API-based approach can be wasteful. Subscription details are most volatile during the initial phases of a customer's journey but stabilize as time goes on. Making numerous API calls within short intervals often returns identical data, adding unnecessary load to the system.
Webhooks: The Standard
Webhooks, with their ability to provide real-time updates directly from Stripe, offer a dynamic and efficient alternative. They have become a standard in the industry due to their simplicity and ease of implementation. Whenever an event occurs in Stripe, a call is made to your server, serving as a straightforward notification of the event.
Beyond Webhooks: The Utility of Edge Data
However, webhooks come with their own set of challenges, primarily in data management. Once you receive webhook updates, it becomes your responsibility to maintain two sources of truth: your application's database and the billing system. Any disparity between them can result in operational hiccups.
This is where edge data introduces a breakthrough. Rather than relying solely on central webhooks, edge data decentralizes billing information, storing it closer to the application's servers. This enables rapid fetching of up-to-date billing data, reducing latency to less than 80 milliseconds, delivering on the initial simple vision of calling out to the API whenever you need.
Through edge data, the real promise of Stripe Billing for SaaS companies comes to light: minimal complexity, accelerated data retrieval, and, above all, a solution that maintains its roots in Stripe's robust billing infrastructure.
Spackle: The Last Stripe Webhook
We built Spackle to be the last Stripe webhook. Once you connect your Stripe account with Spackle, our webhook handler shuttles data out to edge data stores near your application. Then all your application has to do is query it for the latest billing information for all of your customers. This allows you to focus on building your application. No billing specific database tables, extensive permissions, or webhook handlers (of course).