What is Zapier and how does it affect your small business?

Those of you who have worked with us before will probably have heard us talk about an app called Zapier. We use it a lot on our projects and we love it! So what is all the fuss about and why should you be interested in it for your small business?

What is Zapier?

Zapier is a new breed of application which helps to stitch together data from various applications. Imagine you wanted to pass data from your sales CRM to your finance system, how would you do that without re-typing the information?

A few short years ago this would have been very difficult and costly. No systems were designed to talk to each other and very complex routines would be created to ensure this to happen. You could imagine working with an IT provider for weeks if not months to make the simplest integration work. Then along came API’s (Application Programmable Interfaces) which took a step along the journey to making it easier to integrate two of more systems.

What is an API I hear you ask? Simply, it is a form of instructions delivered with a software application which tells other applications how to communicate with it. Think of it as a food menu. You phone your favourite burger joint and choose something from their menu. If you tried to order something from a different restaurant using the same menu then you wouldn’t know what exactly you would get. It might be close but wouldn’t be perfect. When  we’re talking about software then we have to be absolutely perfect, close just doesn’t cut it.

However, even if the application you wish to pass data to has an API then you will still need a fair degree of coding knowledge to make it work – far more than the average business owner has (unless your surname happens to be Zuckerberg!). That is where Zapier comes in because it is a set of ready-made integrations between over 1,000 applications. These routines – or workflows – are called zaps, and they make our lives and your job much easier.

What can Zapier be used for?

Zapier can be used to pass data between two or more systems. You can see a list of the applications that can be integrated using Zapier by visiting here XXX. Once you have an account you can save the applications you use and see how they can be integrated. There are ready-made routines which you can use or you can create your own.

The applications with these routines include CRM’s, accounts packages, database products, office productivity suites along with a host of other types of products.

Zapier essentially takes the hard work out of passing information from one application to another. It can even perform complex and multi-point interactions across a range of applications. Here are some examples how Serene has used Zapier to solve our clients’ problems:

  • Using a Typeform online form with multiple options to send an email to a specific department alerting them to a potential problem with a tenant
  • Creating a Google Drive folder for every new row in a Smartsheet
  • Sending an SMS/text message to a nominated project manager from an entry in Smartsheet
  • Updating Copper CRM from a new ecommerce order in Magento

As you can see from these examples, the range of applications and processes available in Zapier is extensive.

Which Zapier plan is right for me?

There are three plans available with differing levels of functions – free, starter and professional. These are the basic features lists for all three:

Free

  • Zero cost (as the name suggests!)
  • Zaps run every 15 minutes
  • Maximum number of 5 live zaps at any one time

Starter

  • $20 cost per month
  • Zaps run every 15 minutes
  • Use premium apps (Salesforce, Stripe, PayPal, Zendesk etc.)
  • 20 live zaps
  • 1,000 tasks per month (the total number of times your zaps run)

Professional

  • $50 cost per month
  • Zaps run every 5 minutes
  • 50 live zaps
  • 3,000 takes per month

The free version is a great way to get started. It allows you to test Zapier and use it on some live processes, with certain restrictions.

This all sounds good – are the any alternatives?

So you like the idea of using Zapier to manage some of your processes and workflows, but are there any alternative solutions you should consider? Well, yes there are! Whilst Zapier is probably the most well established, flexible and powerful integration platform available with the widest range of applications it can integrate, sometimes an alternative is required. It might be that Zapier doesn’t integrate your specific application or you need a feature is simply doesn’t have, one of the other solutions might be the answer.

Some of these alternatives include IFTTT (If This Then That), Huginn, Automate.io, Skyvia, and Integromat.

Of course, if none of these options are suitable for your needs then you can fall back on the traditional integration process of using the API’s at both ends to send and receive data. Although more costly and with a longer lead time to implement, it does mean that you have a bespoke system created just for your needs.

How does Serene help?

A large proportion of the work we undertake is either the creation of business applications or integration of two or more systems. We have a great deal of knowledge of working with Zapier to create these integrations, easily and quickly. You will be amazed at what we can achieve in a short period of time.

You can find out more about what we can do with Zapier by contacting us and outlining your needs. We will get back to you with an estimate of costs which can be turned up into a fixed price quote once we know more about the project. You can be sure of a quick turnaround and quality delivery whether Zapier or one of the other solutions is used or not.

Why should small businesses be aware of this?

We often find that small business owners undertake lots of manual process within the operation because they are not aware of the options open to them to link their systems together. They think that is either too expensive or simply isn’t possible to integrate their systems and so don’t fully investigate.

Serene can remove the need for this manual labour – and reduce the chances of errors being made – for a very small investment. For instance, we recently worked with a company who sell beauty products through their website. They were taking online orders in the Magento e-commerce platform and then manually adding the orders into their CRM. Not only was this taking at least two hours a day, the error rate was very high and extremely costly. It only took us half a day to understand their needs and create the required process to replace the manual data entry. It was developed, tested and deployed within four days of them first speaking to us and saves them over 80 hours a month entering the orders and fixing the errors.