Flatfile Review: The Better Way to Import Customer Data

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As any business knows, importing messy customer data is time consuming, frustrating, and usually involves hours of formatting data in Excel. That’s why Flatfile is changing the way businesses handle customer data onboarding. The goal? To help companies spend less time wrangling data and more time using it. Flatfile’s flagship data importer, Portal, helps B2B companies provide an elegant import experience for its customers.

This is a sponsored article and was made possible by Flatfile.

Overview of Features

On the surface, Flatfile may seem overly simple, but that’s the entire point. The platform handles automatic column mapping, complex data validation, and provides an intuitive import wizard so your customers can import their data faster and with confidence.

I was provided access to Portal, Flatfile’s current product.

Portal can be integrated into any application in minutes, and just a few lines of code can provide a production-ready data import experience. There’s no need for lengthy development sprints or to build yet another CSV importer. Flatfile Portal imports Excel, commonly known as XLSX, CSV, and TSV files.

Portal is an advanced import wizard that’s an absolute pleasure to use. It automatically matches column data during an import, eliminating customers’ need to manually assign column headers. This is great for non-technical users. Portal even learns about the types of data customers import as they use the import wizard more. Portal can match 95 percent of imported column headers automatically.

Portal also bundles Data Hooks, which can be configured to format data automatically on import. Think fields like zip codes (that can sometimes miss leading zeroes, like the zip codes in northeastern cities in the U.S.), product SKUs, currencies – the possibilities are endless. Portal saves customers countless hours of manual data formatting prior to import.

Portal imports and validates mind-blowingly large Excel files. In fact, Flatfile’s team tested an import with 2,097,152 rows with absolutely no issues! I don’t personally have any files that big, but I did test the demo with a file that had over 600 rows and there were no issues.

Another impressive feature that makes email and many other collaborative tools more difficult to use is security. Since everything is done in your team or business’s own secure portal, you don’t have to worry about regulatory violations as you go back and forth importing and migrating critical data. Flatfile is already SOC2 and HIPPA compliant and also meets GDPR regulations. You can also request custom compliance specifications as needed.

Flatfile uses AWS S3 for encryption and storage. There are also on-premises and client-only installation options for more privacy and security.

The Need for Easy Importing

Data onboarding is a constant struggle for businesses. Usually it involves costly compromises that lead to corrupt or missing records, or businesses have to try to design a custom solution. Neither are attractive options.

In Flatfile’s The State of Data Onboarding, the company found 54 percent of respondents import data on a daily basis. This means there isn’t time to spend hours matching data types, formatting records, and verifying file versions.

Flatfile Review Stats

Speaking of the time commitment, the survey also found that 23 percent of respondents spend weeks and even months trying to import customer data. That’s not an efficient way to stay competitive. Even with internal tools, manual entry, and pre-built tools, 96 percent of companies still struggled during the importing process.

When asked how the data onboarding process should be improved, respondents listed the following ideas:

  • Make it collaborative
  • Control file versions
  • Ability for customers to import their own data
  • Easy to use and interpret

Flatfile works to deliver on all of this and more.

Flatfile Simplifies Data Importing

This isn’t just another pre-built data importer. Instead, Flatfile is AI-powered to automatically match and learn data types. This ultimately makes the experience of importing business data a delightful one for customers. You can also customize it to recognize your most common data types during the implementation process. By validating data during the process, your backend product will work with clean, ready-to-use data. This is leagues ahead of having a messy spreadsheet with columns and rows mixed up all over the place.

Portal provides an overview of all file versions that have been imported, file owners, and more. This helps you better control the data onboarding process.

Flatfile Review Validation

To better verify and validate information, Flatfile offers:

  • Data hooks – Real-time data validation
  • Lookup fields – Compare data against your own database or a third-party system
  • Webhooks – Use a webhook listener to pull Flatfile data into your system’s database

What’s impressive about this company is they haven’t just created a platform. They’re actively listening to user feedback and creating new features. For instance, header row selection has been a widely requested feature that’s getting attention from Flatfile’s product team.

Using the Platform

Flatfile Review Portal Demo

Using the most basic Portal importing options allows you to get started quickly. Alternatively, you can utilize the detailed quick start guides for setting up the Flatfile Portal framework for your system. Implementation can occur in just an hour.

Flatfile Review Guides

I took a tour of Portal and was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t complex at all. Simply upload a file, proceed through the wizard, confirm the matches, and submit to the Portal to use the file as you want.

Flatfile Review Portal Demo Column Matches

The dashboard isn’t cluttered. The focus on keeping the process simple and straightforward is what gives this platform a major edge over the competition.

Expect to spend far less time in Excel manually formatting and migrating data. You can let Flatfile handle it for you, saving you endless headaches.

I had the opportunity to take a deeper dive into the platform. Unlike other tools that make it difficult to implement, you’re guided through the process of setting up your importer based on what you need. This all starts by choosing your desired framework: Javascript, React, or Angular.

Flatfile Review A Better Way To Import Customer Data Framework

Based on the initial code snippet, you’re able to test exactly how your importer works using a sandbox tool, such as Codesandbox. Easily create custom validation rules to fit your data types. This is a welcome reprieve from preset rules that may or may not work with the data your business and customers use.

By setting your own rules and formats, data is automatically matched and formatted correctly. Even if you’re importing spreadsheets that don’t always have the same headings, columns in the same order, or formats that aren’t varied, your custom created importer brings it all together and makes sense of the chaos so you have data you can actually use.

Customization extends to how your importer app looks and feels. You don’t have to worry about it looking like a third-party tool. Instead, it’ll blend seamlessly with your business or brand.

Final Thoughts

Ready to simplify the data onboarding process? Give Flatfile a try. You have nothing to lose but stress, frustration, and countless hours wasted doing things the old way. Any developer that signs up will automatically be given a free trial. Those who are not developers can request a demo to find out more about Portal and pricing. Instead of building another CSV importer, take advantage of Flatfile’s platform.

Crystal Crowder
Crystal Crowder

Crystal Crowder has spent over 15 years working in the tech industry, first as an IT technician and then as a writer. She works to help teach others how to get the most from their devices, systems, and apps. She stays on top of the latest trends and is always finding solutions to common tech problems.

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