Welcome to BIC Realtime
Standards for Instant Business Message Exchange
About BIC Realtime – Summary
(For business leaders and non – technical staff)
BIC Realtime establishes a set of standard messages to enable computers to communicate with each other via the internet in real time requesting information and receiving an immediate response. This is for virtually all book businesses which hold databases of information (e.g. distributors, wholesalers and data providers) which could be of use to their trading partners (e.g. booksellers). The book trade is very familiar with EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) and the advantages of exchanging business messages electronically. But EDI is usually a batch transaction rather than a real time transaction. Now using XML communication over the Internet, businesses can communicate much more quickly, obtaining real time replies to their requests. This standard is recommended by BIC as the best way to implement these new messages between book businesses.
BIC is not suggesting that longstanding and highly effective EDI implementations should be replaced by BIC Realtime but that existing capabilities can be significantly enhanced by implementing these additional messages. In addition new implementations should consider using the BIC Realtime API’s as a modern, cost effective standards based alternative to EDI. For example, booksellers could find out the latest price and availability information, request a list of back orders and cancel what they no longer need, request a list of invoices and a specific copy invoice, and an online bookseller can implement a change of customer address details with a fulfilment agent and send a notification to release a CDF (consumer direct fulfilment) order to this customer. These transactions are currently only possible by telephone or email and they are slow and expensive for both partners. BIC Realtime enables businesses to outsource this information request and response, to a computer system instead of its customer services and credit control departments etc. A panel of book industry experts has overseen this development and the result is BIC Realtime, a suite of standard messages which are ready for implementation. Case study coming soon.
BIC Realtime Introduction
(For technical management and staff)
BIC Realtime is a suite of API’s designed by and for the book industry and covering a range of business requirements. The BIC Realtime standard details the API formats and their data fields and effectively provides a template for organisations wishing to share this data with their trading partners. Database holders can deploy BIC Realtime to enable their trading partners to request this information and receive an immediate response. This will improve their customer service and reduce costs, for example by reducing the number of calls and emails requesting a copy of financial documents or to release or cancel backorders – these functions are effectively outsourced to the computer system to deliver to customers via a BIC Realtime API. Giving customers access to this data in real time eliminates issues and costs caused by daily or weekly batch updates which are out of date as soon as they are produced. This BIC Realtime web service documents ( listed in the Table of Contents, below) contain links to a WSDL Definition for the SOAP protocol version of each message pair and an XML schema for Request and Response payloads in XML format. An Introductory User Guide and an Implementation Guide will be coming soon.
Why use BIC Realtime?
BIC Realtime is a suite of 18 standard business APIs: Human readable XML is easily understood Quick to install and test Far quicker and cheaper for ‘message requester’ to test and use Covers new business functions not addressed by existing EDI solutions BIC Realtime page source.docx Exchanging crucial information in real time with trading partners enables: more automation reduced costs in customer services, credit control etc. better informed customers more orders more accurate service more efficient transactions closer relationship with trading partners
Implementing secure communications with BIC Realtime APIs
Although not explicitly documented in the BIC Realtime specifications, BIC recommends that implementations should adopt HTTPS, the secure, encrypted form of the web communication protocol, in strong preference to the unencrypted HTTP protocol. A proposal to require the use of HTTPS, or equivalent encrypted communication protocol, will be considered at the next revision.
BIC Realtime – List of currently available APIs
Here is the full list of BIC Realtime business messages:
Note that each message is always a pair – a request message followed by a response message – which contains the requested information or in some cases a functional response to acknowledge the request.
Product Metadata APIs
Financial documents APIs
If you are implementing returns using BIC Realtime then you must implement both ‘Returns Authorisation and Despatch’ (14) and ‘Post Authorised Returns Advice’ (15), below.
Consumer Direct Fulfilment APIs
Future revision of the BIC Realtime APIs
The following suggested revisions of the BIC Realtime APIs will be considered at the next review:
- Changes to the way that prices can be expressed, to align more closely with the forms of expression of pricing information used in ONIX records, to support a wider range of trading models for both physical and digital books.
- Explicit support for the use of HTTPS, the secure web communication protocol, instead of HTTP . Withdrawal of support for the inclusion of client IDs and passwords in API request payloads, replaced instead with a recommendation to use standard web authentication methods.
- Explicit support for encoding request and response payloads in JSON, as an alternative to XML.
- Possible deprecation or withdrawal of support for the option to use the HTTP GET method for submitting API requests. An earlier review may be considered, if demand for these or other revisions becomes more urgent.
Submitting a technical question or request for changes
Submit a technical question or a request for changes with regards to BIC Realtime APIs.
BIC Realtime was developed by the BIC Realtime Task & Finish Working Group – now the BIC Realtime Review Group, which reports to the BIC Physical Supply Chain Committee.