A few weeks ago, I found myself at IRCE, standing in VL OMNI’s allotted space and welcoming by passers — partners and merchants alike — to take a much needed seat to rest their feet. Since VL OMNI’s always stood on our laurels of genuinely wanting to help businesses and the people who work tirelessly to make them successful, our booth spaces at all shows have a different feel: namely, we’re not going to force a sales-driven conversation on you. If you want to chat, we’re happy to chat. If you want to talk about how VL OMNI can help your business run more smoothly for the long-term, or get into deep technical conversations about strategically arranging your applications to maximize agility and efficacy, we’re more than happy to chat about that, too.
This takes the pressure off the conversation, and as a result, the conversation flows naturally. People tend to open up a bit more when they see you’re not just trying to close a sale, but that you’re instead honestly interested in what they have to say.
It turns out, when you’re ready and willing to listen, you’ll learn something new.
People just want their lives back.
This year at IRCE, as I welcomed people into our booth space and offered them a bit of rest (if nothing else), more than a few merchants opened up to me. Many already understood the value in VL OMNI’s particular approach to data integration. And surprisingly, many of those merchants levelled with me: they didn’t really care about our price tag. They already saw the ROI on implementing scalable and robust data integration that matched their business right from the outset (instead of forcing their business to change, like many other solutions do). They understood the tangible value of VL OMNI.
But I discovered that there was a considerable amount of subtext to these conversations. What these merchants really wanted most from VL and our Connectors was much more important to them on a personal level. These merchants wanted their free time back; they wanted to be able to go home in the evenings and spend dedicated time with their family and/or friends. They wanted their weekends back; they wanted their holidays back. They wanted, above all else, their lives back.
Data Integration = Freedom
Today’s world is a world of trade-offs. People are willing to exchange x for y, so long as the perceived benefit to themselves is something of equal or greater worth. We already see this in the world of social media, where users continually cross-evaluate the value of their personal data and privacy against tangible or intangible offers and their values.
In the world of data integration, merchants are more than aware of the benefits of automating key data flows, we’ve found. For SMBs and small enterprises experiencing growth, this awareness is heightened: these merchants are quickly moving up-market in the technology powering their ecommerce or multichannel business, and they know they need a data integration solution that matches.
But the problem is that data integration solutions that serve this segment of complex and unique merchants are hard to find. Many integration solutions themselves are still negotiating this ever-changing segment and simply aren’t serving it to the expectations of the merchants. In the end, this leaves merchants desperate for any solution that seems like it might work, even if it’s just for the interim. Everything from overpriced DIY integrations, to cobbling together plug-and-play integrations that barely work and create more of a mess over the long term than they solve.
Why? Because the value of automating data persists over all else. Maybe the merchant hasn’t figured out the exact right integration partner to help their business over the long run, but in the meantime, they’re willing to throw anything together just to free up resources and time during already crammed days.
Even if it’s reclaiming just a little bit of time, scaling merchants see data integration as completely worth it, but they know deep down that there’s an even better way that can give them even more.
Freeing Up Time Beyond the Work Week
Even if you’re using the most mediocre of mediocre data integration solutions out there, if it’s installed and works even just a little bit, merchants are hooked. They begin to think…if this temporary solution works at even the most basic level, and even if it still leaves me with work because the solution isn’t fit to my exact needs, what could a full-blown solution do for me?
And that’s what brings these merchants to VL OMNI at shows, through partner introductions, and directly to our doorstep. This is the conversation I had many times at IRCE this year:
“I don’t care what it costs,
I want my evenings and weekends back.”
It’s clear from the last editorial article we posted on what data integration should cost that some merchants are willing to shell out the big bucks on the promise of efficiency. But for owners, C-Suites, and upper management, the clock doesn’t stop at 5 PM: if there’s more work to be done beyond the standard workday, someone has to pick up the slack. A poor data integration solution and strategy still leaves you with work.
So when I have the chance to speak directly with merchants who desperately want not only efficiency, but room in their lives for themselves outside of work, I like to tell them a story about one of our amazing customers.
This company is privately held, and the owner is absolutely dedicated to their business. A few years back, they were moving up-market from basic accounting software to an ERP, and the ownership was aware they needed a new data automation and integration solutions to round out their latest big step forward in their growth arc. By the time this merchant was introduced to us, they had already tried at least half a dozen other integration solutions that did not meet their needs, wasting precious resources in the process (but learning a ton along the way). Poor integration solutions left the owner spending around 80% of every day managing orders and order data.
After VL OMNI finished implementing our data integration ecosystem for this merchant, the owner was able to do the same amount of work in roughly 10 minutes of each morning. That’s the difference between great data integration that looks at your business holistically, understands your business’ needs and strategy, and deploys a solution to match your needs. That’s the power of VL OMNI: automating data in meaningful ways to free you and your resources to grow your business, but that also allows you the breadth to enjoy life outside of work should you wish to, too.
Great data integration has both tangible and intangible ROI, and merchants are seeing the light