What Should Data Integration Cost?

With the age of automation upon us in so many aspects of life, it’s no wonder why VL OMNI has seen an uptick in demand for our highly scalable and elastic omnichannel data integration platform. As multichannel and ecommerce pure-play merchants come of age, they tend to realize hand-in-hand that boxed integration products, plug-and-play integration, and/or custom coded (DIY) integrations aren’t all they’re made out to be on the surface. And many of these scaling businesses with complex and specific data integration needs eventually come to VL — either by hunting us out specifically or through one of our amazing partners — because they realize that the other solutions out there just won’t cut it.

And when these merchants do come to us for that first conversation — the ones who have been around the integration block before — we run into an interesting topic almost every single time: How much should data integration cost?

Well, we obviously know what our platform costs*, and those who use the VL OMNI Platform and Dashboard not only know the cost of having reliable integration, but also the value — AKA the return on the investment that partnering with VL OMNI brings to merchants. From getting your own free time and weekends back, to saving on charge-backs and penalties, to ultimately freeing your business from ineffective and inefficient integration alternatives and allowing your business to reach new heights and grow organically as per your strategy or goals, the benefit of great integration with VL OMNI is apparent to insiders.

But for those out there searching, perhaps for the first time, for an up-market data integration solution that fits their business instead of being forced into a box… what reference point do you have to work with for cost vs. value? What’s a reasonable spend for great data integration?

An interesting theme came out of our conversations with potential VL OMNI customers of late, and it came up multiple times this year at IRCE:

Not only are some incredible merchants overpaying for data integration,

They’ve only realized this after they’ve already overpaid!

That’s a terrible predicament to be in. After all, no one likes to overpay, but least of all when it’s a business-critical function like integration.

The worst part is many of the conversations we’ve had with these merchants (who often get introduced to us with glowing recommendations and a stamp of ‘trustworthy’ already preceding us, so they’re more than willing to listen to our 25+ years of expertise) get strung down this costly path for months, often left with no integration and a lighter wallet. The stuff of nightmares.

So while we’re not going to talk about what the investment in VL OMNI could be and what it could do for your business here*, we will talk about some horror stories we’ve heard directly from merchants so hopefully you won’t have to make the same mistakes.

Data integration should not cost $50,000 USD — especially when you have nothing to show for that investment.

This was a particularly painful story shared directly with us by the merchant. After a $50,000** investment in an integration solution and almost a year of development, the merchant still had nothing close to an integration solution in place.

They told us they were left with two choices: continue to be strung along with the hope that a complete solution would be ready at some point, or jump ship and move on. …They (smartly) moved on.

This is an expensive lesson. While we don’t have the full story on why this merchant chose this solution provider or what the project entailed, we can extrapolate a few things. First, since this was a flat-fee cost structure, we can assume that this is a static integration and possibly custom-coded for the merchant and their needs. Integration like these are also static in time — meaning this one wouldn’t have grown along with the company. It worked for the moment in time it was designed for, and that’s it. If this was a custom coded integration — the huge price tag certainly indicates that this is likely — it’s an integration frozen in time.

Second, the price tag also alludes to paying developers or programmers to build what is likely a one-off integration. When you see a price tag like this, rolled into a single lump sum with no maintenance structure or fees around it, you’re essentially paying someone’s salary to code the integration from scratch. Maintenance on these integrations is not part of the package, and if it is, you’re still paying a body to sit at a keyboard and manually maintain things. If your business changes, as businesses are wanton to do, you’ll have to go back and pay for more custom coding, which is both slow and costly.

Third, the fact that this merchant was willing to walk away from a $50,000 investment tells us that their integration partner was not truly a partner. True partners are in it for the long term, and want to see your business succeed — not take your cash and run. VL customers, for example, are on average with us for years — think 5, 10, or even 25 years. We’re in it for the long run and to help our customers do the best they possibly can.

Data integration should not cost $90,000 USD — and especially not when the integration is point-to-point and only works in a single direction.

If you thought the story above was bad… this one’s worse. This merchant had paid for a single point-to-point integration that only went from one application to another — and not back again! This is an unbelievable amount of money to pay for what we can only assume was another custom coded project where those dollars are being funneled into essentially paying someone’s salary. And for what? An over-glorified plug-and-play integration, which, for the record are either free as bolt-ons to applications you likely already use, or cost less than $100 USD on average.

We can only imagine what was said to convince the merchant that this was a good option. It’s likely a combination of not being an informed advocate for your business’ technology decisions, and being ‘sold’ by an unscrupulous salesperson who likely told the merchant this was the only way to get what they needed. This merchant spoke with me personally, and I have to say I nearly hit the floor when they shared this number with me. (And if that doesn’t tell you something about how VL OMNI’s point-to-multipoint, bi-directional integration Connectors cost, then I don’t know what will! Oh — maybe a conversation with us to find out for yourself!)

The cost of data integration should represent the investment you’re willing to make into your business in order to streamline processes, connect applications together in a way that’s meaningful for your business, and allows you to scale without hindrance. 

So even though VL OMNI doesn’t make our prices front-facing with good reason*, if you’ve been able to catch the hints dropped in this article, great data integration like what VL OMNI provides over 300 Merchants with doesn’t cost anywhere near $90,000 or $50,000**. Our iPaaS structure — a subset of SaaS for integration that simply means we charge a monthly fee — means that there’s no DIY coding, or even any custom coding. That’s just not how our platform was designed, and that’s not how the powerful technology we’ve build our platform on works. That means our Connectors exist already (we build these on our dime as part of our own strategy of what the market and our customers need), and our set up period is much shorter than custom coded projects because all we have to do is understand your business and configure the workflows around the Connectors.

Having a monthly fee that’s a fraction of these two prices also means that the maintenance of the integrations is on us. Our integrations are not static entities frozen in time. They’re elastic, they grow and expand with our customers’ needs, and most importantly — they work for the long-term. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t have customers with us for 5, 10, and even 25 years. And yes, those are actual customers who have actually been with us that long, and that’s not unusual at all.

So now that you’re a bit more savvy to what upmarket data integration should cost, you’re just that much more prepared to head out into the world and make the right decision for your business.

See what VL OMNI can do for your business

*VL OMNI does not publish our pricing, because we don’t force merchants into a boxed solution. Our sales process involves understanding your business and what’s important to you, and no two businesses are alike. Want to see what VL OMNI can do for your business? Start a conversation with us here.

**While $50,000-$90,000 is way too much to pay for a one-time spend on a single integration with basic functionalities, it is possible to reach these amounts over a period of months or years on some iPaaS platforms, depending on the merchant’s usage.