Over the years, many axioms have become truths in the world of data integration. Integration, to Merchants, is often a mysterious process, poorly understood and an afterthought in more cases than not. At VL OMNI, we see the consequences of this daily from frustrated Merchants who are riddled with manual data errors and need agile integration to grow at scale.
So, what axiom are we talking about? The cost of data integration and the time it takes to go live.
Too often Merchants come to find data integration solutions as part of a larger project where the role has not been adequately defined. Data Integration experts are brought in by the web agency, the web platform, or the ERP vendor long after decisions have been made and assumptions created. The Merchant engages and then questions our role in data integration and wonders why they need to be involved at the micro-level, creating confusion.
Data integration is the critical missing link between the front-end and back-end and a key facilitator of the overall customer expereince. Due to its intangibility, it sounds like a mysterious black hole to merchants. Data integration is not fancy. There are no flashy screens or cool graphics. Much like the water flowing through your pipes at home, it’s not something people spend a lot of time thinking about. It’s just there and it works. And if it doesn’t, you have big problems.
Solution Vendor Overselling
Solution vendor overselling is generally a constant. Salespeople often say whatever is needed to close the deal, sometimes it’s what the customer wants to hear. The customer is relieved that they have one less technical thing to worry about and have “one-throat-to-choke.”
In the world of sales, overselling is a persistent problem. Why? Often the Merchant doesn’t have the skill set to delve into the proposed solution to determine if it is a fit for the functionality they are looking for. When they are told that some of the functionality is not there or what they want to do can not be achieved either one of two things happens:
- Merchants become incredulous and disengage because of what the oversell has promised them.
- The brand ignores the strategy issues at hand and has overestimated the ability to provide a perfect solution.
Neither of these approaches allow for a successful launch and the result is often a dumbed-down solution that compriomises the ability of the Merchant to grow at scale.
Avoid overselling by making sure integration planning is an essential part of the overall business solution planning.
Allowing data transformation to have an adequately defined role from the beginning of the project scope to make sure expectations are adequately measured and the integration wants are practical, possible, and achievable with the technology the Merchant is using and the budget they have to create it.
The Devil is in the Details
The devil is always in the details when it comes to integration. Most people approach integration as a technical exercise. You cannot under any circumstances, ignore the business and operational aspects of what data integration does. The data integration process must be a part of the overall business strategy from the beginning.
It takes time for experts to understand how your business, the business rules you have that make your brand unique in its operations, and how that data integration strategy is designed to fit your business needs, rather than forcing your business to meet the limits of an external box.
Do Your Homework
What are things you should keep in mind when solution planning and keeping data integration front of mind?
- Don’t take things at face value, reevaluate your options carefully.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Data integration is technical and complex, make sure you understand what your business needs.
- Ask for API documentation – this is key to good data integration. No APIs? The integration will be much more difficult or impossible.
- Documented the workflows you wish to implement and how they will impact the customer experience. This way you can ask the hard questions to your data integration providers to see if there is a fit
- Make sure they explain how they will do your integration rather than just saying they can. Ask them to take you through the technical processes of how that would work within your specific business.
- Seek out experts who can look at the proposed solution for fit.
In Sum, Experts Have Your Back
Data integration doesn’t have to be a mysterious, nontechnical exercise. Data integration really is the bridge between the front-end and back-end and the actual key to ensuring a smooth customer experience. Having a beautiful website and good product photography is not enough to impress your customers. Having data seamlessly integrated across your integration will result in you having visibility into their orders at any stage of the purchase process, allowing you to fulfill your commitment to your customers from checkout to delivery.
Experts in data integration like VL OMNI partner with you to create that seamless shopping experience. Strategic consulting with VL OMNI allows us to create a merchant-focused set of workshops designed by to help Merchants dig deep into their strategic integration vision, needs, and goals.
Mirror our onboarding process, our unique consultation service asks our Merchants to tell us their integration growth goals and we, in turn, spec out and technically go in-depth into their applications, data flow processes, and unique business rules to create a strategic, realistic integration action plan.