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10 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Data File Importer

Jeff Fiddler

Updated July 18, 2023

• 4 min read

When you partner with a vendor instead of building a data importer yourself, you expect a seamless product and great service, so you can focus on the hundreds of other items on your to-do list. But with so many vendors out there, it can be difficult to choose one that balances service and features with affordability and flexibility. To help you with your selection process, here are 10 questions to ask:

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Pricing

Because you want a data importing vendor whose pricing is straightforward, transparent, and affordable.

How much does your service cost? 

Many companies lack transparency when it comes to pricing, and nothing feels worse than sitting through a lengthy sales process only to get derailed by sticker shock right before you make the deal official. By choosing vendors that publicize their pricing model upfront, you can avoid being blindsided by high costs.

Bonus question: What happens to the price in year two? Once you know your rate for year one, ask what will happen in year two. Some vendors offer a steeply discounted introductory rate, then double or triple the cost once you've committed.

Do you charge extra for white labeling? 

Just like you're carefully researching multiple data importing vendors before you make a choice, your customers carefully researched your company and purposefully chose you. That means they don't want to see some unknown vendor's branding splashed all over their user experience.

Unfortunately, the most aggressive data importing vendors upcharge you to white label their service. Instead, look for a vendor who white labels by default.

Do I need to commit to an annual plan to get started? 

Sometimes, the best way to choose a vendor is to test the waters with different importers and experiment with a prototype. If that's the case, start with a monthly plan that helps you avoid spending thousands of dollars upfront.

Confirm that you don't need to commit to an annual contract and look for a low-cost, low-commitment way to get started.

Security

Because you want a data importing vendor that puts security first and takes all necessary precautions to safeguard your data.

Where is end-user data processed and stored? 

Depending on your company's security requirements and risk tolerance, you may not want end-user data to ever transit your vendor's systems.

If that's the case, you need a vendor that offers the option to process most data entirely in the web browser and store it within your cloud rather than processing and/or storing it on their servers.

Do you have SOC 2 certification from an independent auditor? 

Every vendor in the data import sphere is going to tell you they take security seriously. And if that's the case, they should have the papers to back it up. An independent audit, like SOC 2 certification, is the best way to check if they're actually doing the work to safeguard your data. Upon request, your vendor should be willing to share their audit and security reports.

Are you using our data for your own purposes? 

As with all things in life, read the fine print when it comes to your data importing vendor. If there are any clauses in their Privacy Notice or Terms of Service asserting a right to use your data for their own purposes, such as training algorithms and monetizing data in aggregate, ask for additional clarity.

Features

Because you want a vendor with the customization, integrations, and support to build a data importing flow that works for you and your customers.

Can I easily customize the import experience? 

Every customer has their own use case and unique requirements, and that's why you need the ability to customize the import experience. You want a vendor that prioritizes your specific needs by allowing you to define custom validation logic, customize your importer's styling, and choose custom language for the user.

Some vendors require you to select from their pre-existing options–or use a cumbersome workaround.

Can a user complete the import offline?

Some vendors require your end users to complete the entire import in one session, which may not fit their needs. The best vendors allow users to download a richly formatted Excel error report mid-import, so that they can make the finishing touches offline.

Service

Finally, you want a vendor that puts your needs first and picks up the phone when you call.

What is your average turnaround time for support tickets? 

Some vendors are 100% focused on building and selling data importers. They have dedicated corporate support teams composed of operations and product experts. Others are generic development shops that include a data importer as one of many offerings. These offer little to no support. You can guess which one is more helpful when the rubber meets the road.

What impact is the downturn in VC funding having on your business?

 During the peak of the last funding cycle, some vendors raised money based on lofty growth projections while still unprofitable. If disruptions to the market make it harder to secure additional financing, some vendors may be at risk of underinvesting in customer support, raising prices, and firing employees,