Nothing hampers growth like an eCommerce platform that’s too small. Like a pair of shoes that pinch your feet, the wrong fit with your eCommerce platform hurts. Buying new shoes isn’t scary, but eCommerce migration strikes fear in the hearts of IT and marketing professionals.
If your 2023 plans include migrating your eCommerce website, you aren’t alone. Two of the main 2023 B2B eCommerce trends are self-service portals and business process automation. If your eCommerce platform doesn’t support these functions, you’ll need to migrate to a new platform. Picking a new platform requires a look into the future. The solution you pick today must meet your needs three years from now. If it doesn’t, you haven’t picked the proper platform.
Migrating eCommerce platforms don’t need to strike terror in the heart of CMOs and CTOs. Especially when you’ve taken the time to strategize the move, call on the right partners, and have a detailed execution plan in place.
Good News! You can use this guide to identify signs it is time to replatform, bust a few data migration myths, determine if you need a consultant or data migration services, and identify costs so you can create a realistic budget.
eCommerce Platform Migration: When Does a B2B Business Need It?
A B2B business needs to migrate its eCommerce website when the existing site no longer meets the company’s needs or doesn’t support growth plans.
Your online business is only as strong as the underlying technology. This means your B2B eCommerce platform should be flexible and scalable enough to grow with your business. However, if your tech is outdated, maintenance costs can skyrocket as you are forced to create cumbersome workarounds.
Maybe you’ve grown through acquisition and need a way to bring two eCommerce sites together. Will you migrate one eCommerce website to the platform of the other? Or will the eCommerce website migration process bring the two different websites to a new, more robust platform that can support the growth of both?
What if your company has plans to expand into new locations where the language and currency are different? In that case, you’ll want to display web pages with text and prices that are appropriate for the new location. If your existing platform doesn’t support localization (functionality that supports personalizing the experience by the user’s location), then you’re faced with either setting up a completely separate website for each location or eCommerce store migration to a platform with localization capabilities.
A B2B business needs to migrate its eCommerce business to a new platform when the existing platform becomes a liability and not an asset.
How do you know when that happens? Read on to see if your company is experiencing signs that it’s time to change your eCommerce platform.
Signs You Need to Change Your Ecommerce Website Platform
Some signs that it’s time for an eCommerce platform migration are so obvious you can’t miss them unless you’ve purposefully placed your head in the sand. Others are pretty subtle and even savvy marketers and managers may miss them.
Slow load times
B2B buyers are digital natives with no patience for slow load times. If your site isn’t loading quickly because it’s built on old technology, it’s clearly time to begin planning eCommerce site migration.
What does load time have to do with site performance? Everything. Portent regularly samples page speeds and conversion rates across B2C and B2B websites. Their latest study found that 82% of B2B websites load in 5 seconds or less. That speed didn’t change from their 2019 pre-pandemic survey. But they discovered that the faster the load rate, the higher the conversion rate. A site that loads in a mere second has a conversion rate 3 times higher than a site that loads in 5 seconds. Big difference!
High bounce rates
What happens when a page loads too slowly? Visitors leave. High bounce rates can signal that it’s time to replatform your website.
According to Google, the probability of bounce increases by 32% as page load time goes from 1 second to 3 seconds.
When Google and Pingdom looked at load speed and bounce rates, they found that as load speeds rise so do bounce rates.
So, it’s no wonder that page load speed indirectly impacts SEO. Backlinko analyzed 11.8 million Google searches and found the pages at the top of the results loaded in an average of 1.65 seconds. Because page load speeds, bounce rates, and SEO results are so intertwined, if any of these KPIs are lagging, it is time to migrate the eCommerce website.
Not fully responsive for mobile
Google’s mobile-first indexing started rolling out in 2021 and wrapped up in 2022. That means Google uses the mobile version of a website primarily for ranking and indexing.
By now, every website should be mobile-friendly. If your legacy platform is holding you back, it’s time to cut loose and move to an eCommerce platform that renders fully mobile-responsive pages.
And it’s not enough to be ready for mobile indexing, you’ve got to be creating a great mobile user experience. Good for mobile use and good for mobile indexing are horses of two different colors. A webpage may contain a text-rich PDF with tiny links that are hard to see. That’s a terrible mobile experience, but totally acceptable for mobile indexing.
No room for growth
To paraphrase the poet Robert Browning, a website’s marketing reach should exceed its grasp or it’s time to replatform. Well, that’s not exactly what Browning said, but the sentiment that a man’s grasp should exceed his reach applies to eCommerce platforms as well.
Your eCommerce platform should be a potent marketing tool. It should integrate with your social media marketing efforts, create bundles, buy-one-get-one offers, discounts, and localize with ease. Your teams should be able to create an infinite number of catalogs on the fly and easily handle tens of thousands of SKUs and multiple warehouses. If you’re continually working on workarounds because your platform didn’t scale with you, it’s time for a new platform.
High maintenance costs
When costs are rising and benefits are falling, it’s time to migrate to a new eCommerce platform. With every patch and workaround you create to keep a legacy platform limping along, maintaining the system becomes a little more expensive, and migrating that system is just a little bit harder. Then, when you factor in the costs of missed opportunities, you’ll see how much that legacy system is really costing you. Don’t consider sunk costs as those are unrecoverable.
If small updates aren’t made because of the time, effort, and cost involved, you leave your entire system vulnerable and your data at risk. That’s a clear signal you can no longer put off migrating your eCommerce website.
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The 3 Data Migration Myths
eCommerce migrations get a bad reputation because migrating to a new platform requires migrating your data. Data migration horror stories abound on the internet – go ahead, type that term in your search bar – there are over 3 million results. Because migrating data is complex, it is natural that myths abound. After all, what good is a horror story unless it reinforces a myth?
But data migration doesn’t need to be overly complex. And careful planning avoids those nightmare scenarios. We’re busting the most common data migration myths to take some of the fear out of the data migration associated with eCommerce site migration processes.
1. The eCommerce store is unavailable during the migration.
This myth generates the ultimate fear of missing out. That is the fear of missing sales never recovered. This myth assumes that there is a lapse in site availability between systems and there is no reason that should be the case. Your existing site should remain live until your new site is tested, debugged, populated with data, and tested again. The old site doesn’t migrate until the new site is ready.
A redirection plan should be formulated before the migration. Map every URL with a redirect and squash that data migration myth.
2. New stores require a completely new design.
Who told you that you couldn’t bring existing elements with you? Of course, you can. Now, it is true that replatforming is a perfect time to refresh the look, feel, and user experience associated with your site, but there’s no reason you must say goodbye to design elements that work.
It is possible to copy CSS from one site to another. You’ll need a developer with a track record of success, but it is possible. And, of course, your corporate identity (colors, logos, fonts) elements transfer as well. If product data resides in a PIM application, you’ll need a new integration, but you won’t need new data.
3. Replatforming causes a drop in traffic.
One of the biggest fears and myths surrounding eCommerce platform migrations is the loss of traffic, site authority, and search engine result rankings. This one is rooted in horror stories where a thorough redirect plan wasn’t in place before the migration. (See myth number 1.)
Every move, whether from one server to another or from one platform to another, requires scrutiny of the existing website structure and a comparison to the new website structure. The old site should be reviewed for broken links and existing redirects. Broken links should be repaired, and the number of times a single URL call should be limited. Safari, Chrome, and Firefox all kick out errors when a page redirects too many times.
Your redirect plan may be nothing more than a spreadsheet with existing URLs, a note of whether the page will migrate or not, and the new URL. Even if a page isn’t coming to the new site, it is important that the old URL redirect to a new page with content that’s as similar as possible.
For large websites, this may be a tedious process, but it is well worth it to retain your ranking, traffic, and site authority.
How to Migrate B2B eCommerce Site: Key Check Points for the C-Suite
A website migration ends up impacting all areas of the company. Because the website is the backbone of sales and lead generation, sales and marketing will be heavily involved in the project. Of course, IT will be involved, it’s their bailiwick. Operations will be concerned about integrations necessary for order processing and shipment, and finance will be on top of not only the financial obligation but how the new site will integrate with the ERP and accounting systems.
Stakeholders should be involved in the entire process, from identifying needs to pre-implementation training. On the migration team, each team member’s role and responsibilities should be defined and shared at the beginning of the process. This lets people know the expectations for their performance.
At the C-suite level, key team members have additional leadership responsibilities for the success of the project.
It all starts at the very top. As the CEO, it’s your job to set the tone. By supporting innovation and technology aligned with business goals, you show the rest of the company what’s important. As the visionary, it is your job to communicate that eCommerce migration processes are vital to the growth and future success of the company. Your support shows the entire company that digital transformation is important, and technology isn’t just a cost to be incurred, it’s a tool to innovate, disrupt, and make a mark on your industry. While others will be responsible for the actual change management, your focus should continue to keep the project aligned with specific company goals, both long-term and short-term. These may be as varied as increasing sales by entering new markets or increasing profitability by increasing inefficiencies in workflows and processes.
As CMO, your deep understanding of the company’s marketing needs and the desired customer journey and experience make you a key player in the migration process. The eCommerce platform is just a tool in the hands of your team, so it is up to you to make sure the platform selected can support your marketing goals. Is the company transforming to offer an omnichannel experience? Then you must work closely with the CTO to ensure the platform selected enables ambitions, not inhibits them. For example, if future marketing plans include expanding to marketplaces, you’ll need that functionality to support the best B2B eCommerce marketplaces and websites.
The functionality requirements you define will be a defining element of the RFP that’s created. And when it comes time to compare and demo different platforms, you’ll want to validate vendor claims by seeing for yourself how a platform can help you achieve your business goals.
All eyes are on you as the commerce platform migration project takes shape. Your teams will be responsible for determining the integration requirements, identifying how data will be shared between connected systems, scoping the eCommerce MVP, and working with the CMO to create an RFP. As platforms are evaluated, you’re responsible for not only ensuring that the most favored solution can deliver the required functionality, but that it can work well with existing business systems. And when it comes to scalability and the ability to meet future needs, it is your judgment call. Of course, that’s all in addition to mapping data migration, validating the MVP, testing, debugging, and onboarding the rest of the company.
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Benefits of Working with an Ecommerce Replatforming Consultant
If you don’t have a strong in-house team, your project head may feel like they are herding cats. A consultant provides project management and much more. They also bring thought leadership. If your brand struggles with eCommerce, an eCommerce replatforming consultant will provide:
Agnostic perspective – Get an unbiased assessment of your existing architecture and point out areas for improvement that you might miss.
Outsider’s view – An outsider’s view of your business can help you re-imagine your marketing and sales strategies and how you execute them.
Better customer experience – A consultant may spot snags in the customer experience that you can’t see without fresh eyes.
Peripheral vision –Because consultants have experience with many industries and businesses, they bring a broad perspective to your project.
In addition, your consultant is well-suited to recommend the best platform to meet your goals and the best partners to implement your technology. They’ll know who to work with for data migration and how to retain rankings.
Before collaboration begins, make sure you have the right consultant for your company and your project. Look for broad experience. When you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If you select a replatforming consultant with extensive experience with only 1 or 2 platforms, don’t be surprised to find they recommend you use one of those platforms. Those platforms are the only hammers they have in their tool belt. For the best collaboration, find a consultant that has experience with successful projects across many different platforms.
Make sure their operating and communicating style is compatible with your company and team. Meet with more than just the sales rep from the consultancy firm. Ask for a meeting with the actual consultants that will be assigned to your project. It’s important that their style mesh well with your company’s philosophy. Beware of inflexibility or arrogance that can sabotage your results.
Ask for a roadmap of results Don’t settle for a list of deliverables, have them spell out how the newly implemented platform will help you achieve your business goals.
Take the MVP approach with your consultant. Scope out a minimum product and then implement and validate. This saves resources and helps test whether your consultant is the proper fit for a larger project with a longer duration.
Data Migration Services and Why They Help
All the data on your products and customers will need to find a new home in your new eCommerce platform. But how will it get there?
Data migration refers to the process of moving data from one database to another. It doesn’t matter where the source and where the target is located, get this wrong and your replatforming project will be a disaster. If your team’s data migration expertise is limited and the applications you’re migrating are business-critical a migration service makes sense. A database migration consultant can help you plan a cost-effective migration process that minimizes or eliminates downtime.
If your team’s data migration expertise is limited or your data requires significant transformation or multiple integrations will be involved, it’s best to rely on a company that specializes in data migration. Outsourcing your data migration may result in a more cost-effective migration process to minimize the time required for transfer.
This team will analyze your source data and compare it to how data will reside in the target database. The source may include fields that aren’t in the target and the target may require information that is not held in the source.
Once the data is analyzed and the structure is understood, the company will design a migration strategy, test for security, and build a migration solution. The solution will be tested and debugged with real-time data and the results analyzed.
As you can see, this portion of the replatforming process is extremely detailed, challenging, and very time-consuming. This is best left to professionals with the expertise and technology tools to move your data successfully.
Migrating Costs for eCommerce Platform Migration
The total migrating costs are more than just the cost of acquiring the new platform. In determining the initial cost of migration, you should include:
- The cost of new platform software and any necessary hardware
- The cost of development and implementation
- The cost of training employees on the new platform
- The cost of the migration consultant
- The cost of data migration services
To determine the total cost of ownership in eCommerce, you’ll need to add in maintenance costs, on-going license fees, any costs per transaction, hosting fees, 3rd-party app fees, and any on-going extension fees. You’ll need to factor in the site and data security as well.
If you accept payment for orders online, you’ll incur credit card processing fees. Instead of treating these as an expense that gets lost in a sea of fixed costs like rent and salaries, it is better to account for these fees at the top of the income statement as the cost of sales. Because they are not directly related to eCommerce migration, they shouldn’t be considered a migration expense.
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B2B eCommerce Replatforming in Action: Successful Projects
Ready to learn from others? Here are how a few companies navigated the platform migration process successfully.
Growing at Scale
OroCommerce was the only platform that allowed them to streamline their back-office processes, optimize their IT infrastructure, minimize their financial commitment, and get the benefit of a single platform able to operate multiple websites. Lawson Industries found OroCommerce could scale with them and not only solve their current problems but would provide the flexibility to continue to serve their needs 5 years from now.
OroCommerce allowed Gala Imports to create different experiences for each segment. From personalized catalogs and price lists to checkout workflows, the customer experience aligns with the customer’s expectations. The integrated CRM offers Gala new marketing opportunities while the company enjoys a 50% increase in conversion rates.
OroCommerce allowed them to smooth internal and external processes such as new customer onboarding while seamlessly integrating with their ERP and PIM. They now have a solid foundation to support eCommerce growth for years, no matter what direction they take.
Make The Right Moves During B2B eCommerce Migration
Migrating an eCommerce platform in 2023 may be necessary if you’ve outgrown your existing platform, if your current solution doesn’t support your marketing initiatives, and if you can’t provide the customer experience that modern buyers demand.
eCommerce migrations allow you to re-invigorate and innovate your sales and marketing processes, streamline back office activities for better operating efficiencies, and integrate business systems for better overall operations.
However, such a complex process requires careful planning. From new web design to migrating data and mapping URLs attention to detail is crucial.
Don’t go it alone. Look for consultants, integrations partners, and platform vendors that are committed to the success of your project.
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Questions and Answers
Why is it important to migrate your B2B eCommerce to a new platform?
As companies grow, they often outgrow their eCommerce technology. Moving your business to a new platform can allow you to take advantage of new features and functionality, increase site speed, and improve your customer experience.
How much does an eCommerce site migration cost?
The cost to migrate an eCommerce site depends on the complexity of the project and the amount of data that must be transferred. Costs generally include the cost of the new software; any required themes, plug-ins, and extensions; development costs; consultant fees; data migration fees; licensing and hosting fees; and onboarding and training employees.
What are eCommerce migration and replatforming?
The process of moving an existing website to a website created using different platform technology is called migrating and replatforming a website. The term migration refers to the moving of the site and data and replatforming refers to the use of new technology.