Unified API platform vs integration marketplace as a service

Product integrations offer a wealth of business benefits, from improving customer retention to closing more sales. As a result, the question isn’t if you should provide them—it’s how.

You have several options at your disposal, including using a unified API solution or an integration marketplace as a service (iMaaS) 

Will review each product integration solution in depth to help you better decide which, if either, is right for your organization.


What is an integration marketplace as a service?

An iMaaS allows you to design and embed an integration marketplace—via an iFrame—into your application. That way, visitors can search for, discover, and implement integrations without leaving your application.

A screenshot of Gorgias' integration marketplace
Gorgias, an ecommerce helpdesk, uses an iMaaS solution to power their integrations page. 

Related: What is a universal API?

Pros of an iMaaS

  • Lets you control the the functionality and appearance of your marketplace
  • Offers pre-built connectors to accelerate integration development
  • Provides usage metrics for visibility on the integrations that are getting adopted and by which accounts

Cons of an iMaaS

  • Requires custom code to develop the integrations
  • Fails to offer a full suite of integration management capabilities
  • Forces you build integrations one at a time

Examples of integration marketplaces

What is a unified API platform?

A unified API solution offers an aggregated API. Once you connect to it, you’ll be able to access multiple integrations in a given software category (e.g. applicant tracking systems).

A visual representation of Merge’s HRIS Unified API 
A visual representation of Merge’s HRIS Unified API 

Related: An overview on API aggregation

Pros of a unified API

  • Allows you to take dozens, if not hundreds, of integrations live within a few weeks
  • Enables your developers to focus on your core initiatives—instead of building and maintaining multiple API connections
  • May offer robust integration management features that help clients identify and troubleshoot integration issues easily and quickly
A screenshot of an account linking issue in Merge's Integrations Management feature
Merge’s Integration Management features let you, among other things, automatically diagnose specific issues and then pass the resolution on to end-users with ease.

Cons of a unified API

  • May only provide one or two unified APIs, which prevents you from offering key integrations and expanding your integration offerings in the future
  • Could fail to provide comprehensive integration management features (e.g. automated issue detection)
  • A given unified API might provide a short set of integrations and use a common model that’s limited in scope (i.e. doesn’t account for many of the fields and objects you care about)
  • Some vendors use "manual unified APIs", which is essentially just a vendor responding to API calls manually (this naturally delays response times and increases the likelihood of human errors)

Note: None of these cons apply to Merge.

There’s clearly a lot to consider when evaluating the two platforms. To keep things simple, we’ll provide a concise comparison in the following section.

Related: The top reasons to invest in a unified API

Unified API vs integration marketplace as a service

The two offer fundamentally different approaches to building, offering, and maintaining product integrations. An integration marketplace as a service can be effective in distributing and monetizing integrations, but it’s generally worse than unified APIs when it comes to scaling and maintaining integrations.

Build best-in-class integrations with Merge

Merge, the leading unified API platform, offers 7 unified API categories (and growing), hundreds of integrations, and comprehensive common models—all but ensuring that you’re able to offer the integrations your end-users need. 

The platform also provides robust integration management features, advanced features for syncing custom objects and fields (e.g. Field Mapping), and enterprise-grade security controls, such as encrypting data at rest and in transit. Finally, Merge clients like Causal, Ramp, and Drata (among many others) leverage our platform to build world-class integration marketplaces.

To learn how you can build robust integrations at scale with Merge, you can schedule a demo with one of our integration experts.