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Understanding the Pricing Models of Premium Data Importers: An In-Depth Comparison of Providers

Dave Fort

Published July 12, 2023

Takeaways

  • Embeddable data importer pricing models differ in how they handle billing, upcharges, and customer onboarding.
  • Five of the leading data file import providers vary significantly in their pricing models. Some, like Dromo and CSVbox, offer more customer-friendly and flexible models, while others, like OneSchema and Osmos, prefer traditional sales-led models. Flatfile offers a mix of both.

The embeddable data importer industry is still in its infancy, so understanding the pricing models among different vendors can be a daunting task. In this blog post, we will explore the prevailing billing models and billing periods that you are likely to come across. We'll dive into how providers structure upcharges for premium features and examine how a well-designed pricing model can either facilitate or hinder getting started. We will then analyze the pricing models of five leading data import providers: Dromo, Flatfile, OneSchema, Osmos, and CSVbox.

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Key Characteristics of Pricing Models

Billing Model: Per-Usage or Flat-Rate

The two most common billing models in the industry are per-usage and flat billing.

Per-usage billing, also known as pay-as-you-go or metered billing, charges customers based on their actual usage of a service. The item being metered could be anything that is measurable within a billing period, such as the number of imports completed, the number of rows or cells processed, the number of unique end users supported, or the number of schemas managed.

This model can be advantageous for customers with fluctuating needs, as it allows them to pay only for what they use. However, it can also lead to unpredictable costs if usage spikes unexpectedly.

On the other hand, flat-rate billing charges a fixed amount, typically on a monthly or annual basis, regardless of how much the service is used.

This model offers predictability, making budgeting easier for businesses. However, it may not be cost-effective for those who use the service infrequently or whose usage is significantly below the capacity they're paying for.

A frequently misunderstood aspect of billing models is that true flat-rate billing is only possible from providers offering an unlimited usage plan.

If a provider does not offer unlimited usage, then by definition they are putting some cap on usage. Once a customer exceeds that cap, they will be charged more. A flat-rate fee with a cap may seem comparable to a true flat-rate fee, when sometimes it is really a per-usage fee in disguise.

The choice between per-usage and flat-rate billing often comes down to the predictability of your usage and your budgeting preferences:

  • If your usage is large or unpredictable, flat-rate billing can provide cost certainty and simplicity.
  • If your usage is relatively low, per-usage billing ensures you're paying only for what you use. However, businesses must monitor usage closely to avoid unexpected costs.

Billing Period: Monthly or Annual

The billing period, typically set as monthly or annual, significantly influences the pricing model of a service. Each option carries its own set of implications, and the choice largely hinges on a business's financial strategy and cash flow situation.

Monthly billing offers a degree of flexibility that is often favored by startups or smaller businesses operating within tighter cash flow constraints. It allows businesses to adjust their plan or terminate their subscription at short notice without a substantial financial commitment.

However, it's important to note that monthly plans are generally more costly in the long run compared to annual plans. Additionally, some providers may advertise a monthly rate on their website, but this is often the monthly price if paid annually. The actual monthly price, if you choose to pay month-to-month, is often 15-25% higher unless otherwise stated.

On the other hand, annual billing requires a more considerable upfront payment, which can be a hurdle for some businesses. But they often come with a discounted rate compared to monthly plans, rendering them more cost-effective over an extended period.

They also streamline budgeting and administrative tasks by reducing the frequency of payments, and some large companies prefer negotiating annual terms and paying vendors via invoice instead of allowing employees to manage their own monthly subscriptions, even if the upfront cost is higher.

While this model might entail a larger initial outlay, the long-term savings and administrative ease can make it an attractive option for businesses with more predictable cash flows and long-term service needs.

Upcharge Model: Pay-Per-Feature or Bundled

When it comes to pricing for premium features, data import providers typically adopt either a pay-per-feature or bundled pricing model.

The pay-per-feature model charges for each feature or service separately, offering customers the flexibility to select exactly what they need. This model can be beneficial for businesses with specific requirements, as they only pay for the features they use. However, it can lead to higher costs if a business requires multiple features, and the pricing structure can be more complex to navigate.

Conversely, bundled pricing provides a package of features for a single price. These are usually presented as separate tiers of service (e.g., Professional, Enterprise).

This model simplifies the decision-making process and can offer better value for businesses that will utilize most or all of the features in the bundle. However, it may not be cost-effective for businesses that only need a few of the features offered in the bundle.

For instance, Flatfile includes white labeling as part of its Professional plan bundle, which is a tier above its Free plan. If a customer only wants to enable white labeling, they are nevertheless required to pay for all the other features included in the Professional plan.

Some providers offer a hybrid model, combining aspects of both per-feature and bundled pricing. This can provide a balance between flexibility and value, allowing businesses to customize their package to some extent while still benefiting from the simplicity of a tiered system.

The choice between per-feature, bundled, and hybrid pricing models often hinges on your business's specific needs.

  • If you require a broad range of features, a bundled or hybrid pricing model may provide the best value.
  • If your needs are more specific, per-feature pricing can ensure you're only paying for what you use.

Onboarding Model: Self-Service vs High-Touch

The onboarding model of a provider can significantly influence the speed and ease with which a business can start using the product. Two primary onboarding models are self-service and high-touch.

Self-service onboarding models are designed to allow customers to get started with the product on their own. They typically include a free trial and transparent pricing, enabling businesses to test the product and understand costs upfront.

This model can significantly speed up the decision-making process, as businesses can quickly determine whether the product meets their requirements. Moreover, self-service onboarding builds trust between the provider and the customer, as it demonstrates confidence in the product's capabilities and value.

For example, Dromo offers a self-service model that includes a free trial, allowing businesses to experience its features and user interface firsthand. This facilitates a quick start, as businesses can immediately begin importing data and assessing the product's performance.

On the other hand, high-touch onboarding models involve a more personalized, hands-on approach. These models often require interaction with a sales representative to receive a customized solution and price quote.

While this approach can ensure a tailored solution, it can also delay the start time and add complexity to the purchasing process.

For instance, OneSchema does not provide transparent pricing on their websites, which means businesses must engage in a potentially time-consuming inquiry process to determine costs. Osmos lists some of it pricing tiers, but still requires talking to a sales rep to create an account.

  • A self-service onboarding model can significantly facilitate a quick start by allowing businesses to test the product and understand costs upfront, enabling them to make informed decisions swiftly and confidently.
  • Conversely, high-touch onboarding models can hinder a quick start by adding complexity and time to the purchasing process.

Comparing Providers

Now, let's take a closer look at the pricing models of our five data import providers.

Please note that this information is current as of July 12, 2023, but pricing models can change, and the details may not always be current. Always check the provider's website for the most up-to-date information.

Dromo

Dromo provides three plan choices: Free, Express, and Pro. The Free tier allows users to experiment with all Pro features, with the exception of production uploads.

With a hybrid billing structure, the Express plan starts at $50/month, includes 50 free imports per month, and charges an additional $2 for each subsequent import. Both paid plans have a 14-day free trial. A customer can create an account or subscribe to a plan online without the need to contact sales.

Dromo encourages new customers to experiment on the Free plan, then graduate to a usage-based plan that bills monthly (customers can cancel anytime).

When ready, users can upgrade to an Unlimited plan for an annual flat rate, to avoid any unpredictability in cost as usage scales or fluctuates. This includes unlimited imports, rows, cells, and schemas.

Instead of grouping advanced features into a higher-tier package, Dromo has a pay-per-feature model for its premium options, which includes Bring Your Own Storage, Headless API, priority support, and self-hosted deployments.

Flatfile

Flatfile's Starter plan is available for free, offering comprehensive developer capabilities and up to 50 files and 10 million Processed Data Values (PDV) per month. Costs are calculated on a per-usage basis, with fees of $2/file plus $2.50/10M PDV for usage exceeding the allocated allowance. As such, tracking and management of these values each month are essential to manage billing.

For functionality such as white labeling, Flatfile offers the Professional plan starting at $9,588/year, plus additional per-usage costs above the allowance. This plan also includes a bundle of features like SSO/SAML, unlimited admins, and premium support, with extra fees for enabling collaborative project spaces or selecting the region where your data will be hosted.

Despite a quoted monthly rate ($799/month), a surcharge is required to activate the monthly billing option.

Enterprise-class features such as priority support, SLA, and customer success management are bundled into Flatfile's custom Enterprise plan.

While Flatfile does not offer an unlimited plan, it provides discounted rates for customers committing to a higher usage rate in advance. To achieve the best usage rates listed, customers would need to pay an additional $504,000 per year ($24,000 for 5,000 files/month and $480,000 for 100B PDV/month, respectively) on top of the Professional plan's cost.

OneSchema

OneSchema does not publicly disclose its pricing information. Because pricing is not transparent, each customer pays a different amount depending on their negotiation.

To receive a quote, potential customers are required to attend one or more meetings with the sales team. From recent customer feedback, OneSchema tends to offer flat-rate pricing with a usage cap, including additional fees for usage exceeding the cap, as opposed to an unlimited plan.

Osmos

Osmos uses a tiered pricing structure, with plans ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 per year, plus per-usage charges based on the number of records processed. The Basic plan includes one-click data transformation buttons and basic connectors. The Premium and Enterprise plans include additional features like AI-powered data transformations and enterprise connectors.

To create an account, customers must first contact the sales team. Osmos offers volume discounts but does not offer an unlimited plan.

CSVbox

CSVbox provides a range of plans, starting with a free Sandbox plan and extending to a Plus plan at $199 per month. The number of imports and rows per import allowed increases with each tier.

Signing up is straightforward and does not require contacting sales, as CSVbox operates without a sales team.

Summary

This comparison table summarizes all five providers, comparing their billing model, billing period, upcharge model for enterprise features, and onboarding model:

FeatureDromoFlatfileOneSchemaOsmosCSVbox
Billing ModelHybrid (Express and Pro)

Flat-rate (Unlimited)
Per-usage (Starter plan)

Hybrid (Professional)
Flat-rate with capHybridFlat-rate with cap
Billing PeriodMonthly (Express and Pro)

Annual (Unlimited)
Monthly (additional fee) or AnnualAnnualAnnualMonthly
Upcharge ModelPay-per-featureBundledBundledBundledBundled
Onboarding ModelSelf-ServiceSelf-serviceHigh-TouchHigh-TouchSelf-Service

This table shows that the vendors vary in their approaches to pricing and onboarding.

Some, like Dromo and CSVbox, opt for more flexible and customer-friendly models, while others, like OneSchema and Osmos, prefer a more traditional sales-led approach. Flatfile offers a mix of both.

Each approach has its own advantages, and the best choice depends on the specific needs of your business.

Conclusion

Overall, it's important to pay attention to the details and fully understand what each pricing model entails. Make sure to consider not just the price, but also the flexibility and features offered by each service. Your decision should take into account your current needs, but also anticipate future requirements as your business grows.

Regardless of the provider you choose, make sure to monitor your usage regularly to prevent any unexpected charges. Understand what you're getting into before committing to a contract or service, especially in the case of annual billing. And don't be afraid to negotiate if you're considering a high-touch onboarding model where pricing isn't transparent.

At the end of the day, the best data import service will depend on the features you need and your target ROI. Whether you need a basic option or a comprehensive solution with premium features, there's a provider out there for you. By understanding the different pricing models, you can ensure that you're getting the most value for your money.

Pricing and features are important factors to consider, but don't forget to evaluate other factors like the service's ease of use, customer support, ease of integration with your existing stack, and privacy architecture.

In an industry that's still developing, it's important to stay informed about the latest offerings and pricing structures. As more providers enter the market, competition will increase, potentially leading to lower prices and more innovative features. Make sure to revisit your choice from time to time and explore the market to ensure you're getting the best possible service.