Commerce Integrations: Build vs Buy

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With the explosion of ecommerce platforms, marketplaces, accounting systems and payment processors in the last few years, companies building fintech and ecommerce enablement applications to serve SMBs & merchants had to face the big decision on whether to build these integrations in house or to use a third party API provider like Rutter to simplify the process of building these integrations.

This is a big decision for companies because tapping into new commerce platforms could be a huge driver of revenue and growth but there was always the challenge of having to invest engineering resources and several months to build and support integrations for these various platforms.  For example, several companies we speak with would start with a Shopify integration which would take several months to build. So they would then have to wait several quarters before they would have the resources to also support other platforms like BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Magento, etc.

We wanted to share some of the lessons from working with several fintech and ecommerce enablement companies on the build vs buy decision.

Cost

The cost to build and maintain these commerce integrations can vary across companies based on their engineering resources, the number of integrations their product requires and other nuances in their code base and product. Hence a lot of teams when thinking about the build vs buy debate need to take into account not only how long each API integration will take their engineers to build but also the opportunity cost as well.

If you decide to build your own APIs, you would have to consider the following:

  1. Building each API endpoint and the long tail of integrations - Today, there are over 100 ecommerce platforms, marketplaces, accounting systems and payment processors around the world and each of these platforms come with their own set of API endpoints, schema and nuances as well.
  2. Taking away engineering resources from your core product - On average, it can take 1 quarter and atleast 2-3 engineers to build 1 integration which means if you need to support several platform, the engineering resources needed can easily add up to several engineers and several quarters.
  3. Ongoing maintenance - this requires your engineers to constantly maintain your APIs as updates are made across new API versions of the various platforms.

Questions to consider:

  1. Would building API integrations in-house contribute to our competitive advantage?
  2. Could we build the API better than using a provider like Rutter?
  3. Is building these API integrations worth the products and features in our roadmap that we’d be giving up?

Speed to Market

One of the key questions a lot of teams ask them beyond the cost debate is around how fast they can go to market and launch. Given how fast the market landscape is evolving, this is a big question product teams always need to answer when launching new products. Being a month or two late can mean the difference between whether or not you’re able to successfully capture a segment of the market.

Going with an out of the box solution would allow you to not only move faster but would also allow you to gain access to your provider’s expertise having built several commerce integrations and having understood the edge cases and gotcha’s of each of these platforms.

Questions to consider:

  1. What is your target time to go to market?
  2. How much more business would having more of these integrations faster allow you to go after?
  3. Can we afford to sit on the sidelines and not work with merchants in these other platforms?

Why Choose Rutter

Beyond the cost and speed to market, companies choose to go with Rutter because of the best in class product we’ve built that takes into account the entire product experience of merchants and the various edge cases of every platform

  • Universal Schema - Rutter does all of the work of unifying the APIs and data stitching so that you can use one set of CRUD APIs for product, order, and customer data, without having to go into every platform and figure out how to use those APIs per platform.
  • Rutter Auth Flow Link - Every ecommerce platform, marketplace, accounting system and payment processor deals with third party authentication in a different way, whether it's OAuth 1.0, OAuth 2.0, with JWTs, or with API keys. Rutter handles every kind of authentication under the hood and gives the developer a single way to handle OAuth from every platform.
  • Historical Data Fetch & Webhooks - Every platform offers a different way for developers to fetch data and keep it up to date. Rate limits are different per platform, pagination is different, and rarely does the platform offer webhook updates, so for any event driven notification you'll have to implement your own polling. Rutter abstracts the different ways to sync data by handling rate limiting and pagination under the hood and delivering cached data normalized to our API. This provides the developer with a single way to access real-time data without having to worry about different fetching rules.

Summary

The decision to build vs buy when it comes to commerce integrations depends on your short term and long term goals, your product, your budget and your timeline.

At Rutter, we work with some of the largest banks, lenders, ecommerce enablement and fintech companies. If you’re interested in learning more, reach out to our team for a conversation about Rutter here.

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