The only thing scarier than launching a new website is replatforming an existing one. As technology evolves, design trends change, and as user expectations shift, upgrading your eCommerce platform becomes a looming question mark over everyone’s heads. At the same time, it’s perfectly normal to feel uneasy about changing platforms (and the stress that comes with it). Digital commerce systems are complex and depend on multiple business processes to run smoothly. At first glance, there’s lots that can go wrong when migrating to a new platform, and businesses have lots of valid reasons about getting cold feet:
- The fear of the unknown. Without adequate research, you can never really be sure you need to replatform, or that’s it’s truly in the best interest of your business.
- The sunk cost fallacy. Your company might have outgrown your existing technology but it’s become obsolete or difficult and costly to update.
- The fear of losing time and money. A common (yet not completely unfounded) fear is that projects take longer than expected and go over budget.
- Concerns about existing processes. You may be worried about losing your SEO standing or the integrations with legacy systems that might need reworking.
Replatforming projects require resources – none of which you get back if your project goes down the tubes. We’re here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be this way. In this two-part series, we’ll first take a look at the signs it’s time for eCommerce replatforming and in part two we’ll share the good, the bad, and the ugly in our eCommerce replatforming checklist. In this post we’ll shed some light on what replatforming means to you and your company, the “red flags” to look for, and the risks to watch out for. We’ll also touch on the role of eCommerce replatforming consultants and how to carefully plan your project for a smooth migration.
What Makes Replatforming So Scary?
Want to make your CIO twitch? Mention that you think it’s time for replatforming. The tics and twitches will almost start instantly. Why is this?
Well, it’s because your existing IT architecture probably looks something like this.
Data and processes are intertwined into a mass resembling a big ball of spaghetti. When you make one change, it might snowball, and the unintended consequences may bring the carefully constructed architecture down as quickly as a house of cards. So, when you talk about eCommerce replatforming, you are talking about changes that affect more than just the webstore. And an eCommerce migration from one platform to another is filled with opportunities for something to go wrong. And in accordance with Murphy’s Law, it probably will. Now do you understand why just the thought of replatforming makes the CTO twitch?
But a legacy platform can hold you back and displease customers and employees alike. How do you know if that is happening? Just as Jeff Foxworthy can spot the signs you might be a redneck, the need for a replatform has distinct signals.
Customer Signals for Replatforming
When your forward-facing employees are handling more and more phone calls because customers can’t find information or complete a sale, you might need to start thinking about replatforming. If customers complain outright that they can’t use the site or don’t like how it functions, that’s bad news. But that bad news cloud does have a silver lining. Your customers care enough about your products to complain. Be thankful that they complained and listen carefully to them. A more subtle customer signal might be a spike in onsite search. This can also be a signal that something is wrong.
There are more obvious signals as well. If your pages are loading slow and visitors are bouncing with one page visited, it’s a clear sign they aren’t happy with your website. If your platform only supports a single channel and doesn’t give modern customers the omnichannel experience they demand, it’s certainly time to consider a change.
Like it or not, there are trends in web experiences. When your site falls short of the current design trends or the user experience visitors expect, it’s a signal that your company has fallen behind the change curve. That’s not a message you want to send. Most of the time it’s not enough to redesign your website, you need to start fresh. And if you are going to start fresh, it only makes sense to start with some resources on replatforming:
Operational Signals to Consider eCommerce Replatforming
There comes a point where system maintenance leaves the IT folks feeling like Sisyphus rolling the rock uphill only to have it come crashing back down on them. Every little tiny update takes ages, causes other problems with the platform, and over time there is less and less enthusiasm to install very necessary updates. What looks like a small update becomes ever more complicated when the integrations and plug-ins fail to integrate and operate after the update.
And speaking of integrations, if your current platform doesn’t give you the flexibility to connect with other systems, it’s time to replatform. If your platform doesn’t seamlessly connect to your CRM, ERP, PIM, and other critical business software then it’s time to stop building bridges and patches. At OroCommerce, that’s exactly what we do. You can check our marketplace to see how we utilize built-in connectors to integrate with ERP, accounting, payment, and other systems.
It’s time to replatform your eCommerce to a solution that works and plays well with the other software you need.
Are you missing out on the efficiencies of 3PL (third-party logistics) because your technology doesn’t easily integrate? If 3PL requires a host of manual tasks for order fulfillment, warehousing, and supply chain management you aren’t getting the most out of your 3PL or platform solution.
If your IT structure is already overly complicated by patches and processes that have been cobbled together to maintain integration, it’s time to think about an eCommerce migration to a more suitable platform. It’s that level of complexity that has the CTO twitching and a smooth migration to a stable environment just might calm things down!
Finally, if your tech department spends more time chasing bugs than the Orkin Man, you know your eCommerce migration is long overdue.
Rising Costs and Ebbing Returns Signal Replatforming is Necessary
If maintenance costs are rising and returns are ebbing, you might need to think about changing eCommerce platforms. If your current platform doesn’t give you the bandwidth to do what you need to get done it’s a clear signal that things must change. When software fees start to pile up, but you aren’t getting more from your solution, it’s no longer a solution. It’s a problem. For example, when you first started with eCommerce, a website built on a popular B2C eCommerce platform might have fit your needs. The learning curve was easy, and the fees didn’t seem so large at the time. But now that you are an established seller, paying up to 2% per transaction in addition to card processing fees and fees for plug-ins and add-ons to fill gaps in functionality that should be standard quickly erode your profit per transaction. When your profit center starts looking more like a cost center, an eCommerce migration to a platform that better fits your needs is in order.
When Your Grasp Equals Your Reach – It’s a Clear Replatforming Signal
With the right eCommerce solution, your reach should always exceed your grasp. Scalability is only an issue when you’ve outgrown your existing solution. But by the time scalability becomes an issue, it’s a huge issue. It’s a clear signal that it’s high time you replatformed when your current technology limits your ambitions instead of fueling them. For example, if your eCommerce site takes 5 to 6 seconds to load a page your visitors probably aren’t going to stick around. Web visitors, especially those using mobile devices want sites to load in 3 seconds or less.
As the number of SKUs you offer increases, database requirements change. Or, maybe your customers are looking for personalized catalogs and your website can’t deliver that functionality. You may want to add AI-driven chat experiences, but your existing technology just can’t deliver. Ecommerce replatforming can bring you the scale you need for faster load times, more SKUs, and improved customer experience through added functionalities. When your existing platform no longer delivers, it’s time to plan an eCommerce migration to a new platform.
Marketing and Sales Signals for Replatforming
When many sales and marketing meetings begin with “if only the website…” it’s a clear signal that it’s time to consider a different platform. If management has no clear view of leads, opportunities and sales, then a replatform of your eCommerce store is in order. If your marketing plans include custom prices and catalogs and custom product configurations but your website can’t keep up, migration to a platform that powers these marketing efforts is in order. If your website needs a complete redesign to meet the current needs of sales and marketing, it’s time to consider replatforming along with a new design to get your business ready for the future. Technology and design are so intertwined that any major redesign should begin with a look at the existing technology and consideration to migrate the site.
When the Signals Point to eCommerce Migration
When any combination of the above signals point to the need for an eCommerce replatform, you want to make sure you select a future-proof solution. After all, if you end up in the same spot in a year, you haven’t solved the problem, you’ve just kicked the can down the road a bit.
In evaluating the landing spot for your eCommerce migration, you need to look carefully at what was signaling the need for change and make sure your new platform meets your existing needs and future needs as well. If customers are demanding a better user experience, then your new platform should be flexible and powerful enough to keep up with consumer trends. If scalability is a problem, make sure that your new platform provides a solution that can easily scale as your company evolves. And don’t dismiss hiring an eCommerce replatforming consultant to help you along the process either, especially if you have unique customer requirements, complex processes, and large product lines. A replatforming consultant with experience in eCommerce will know the ins and outs of the ordeal, including unforeseen obstacles you may not be aware of.
Create Your eCommerce Replatform Strategy
Remember, the more you understand what you have to do in order to have a great replatforming experience – and the more effectively you can communicate it to your stakeholders, the better. The bigger your team is, the more you will have to work in order to get your ideas across.
- Create a plan for data migration, including all the tools and support to make it happen.
- Outline the scope of development work, including front-end and back-end design.
- Establish ample time and an approximate timeline for QA testing.
- Create a pre-launch checklist that encompasses your whole eCommerce store.
- Outline your system of pre- and post-launch training.
In this sense, partners are a great resources for eCommerce businesses because they may be used to a platform and have used a particular platform to realize other site launches. For example, if they are quoting you that it will take ten weeks, chances are, you can trust their claims.
Tools for Successful Replatforming Examples
When replatforming is on the horizon – you are probably searching for the ways and tools to perform the job. There are many migration solutions available in the market today that could facilitate the transition for you. One of the most popular ones is Cart2Cart.
Cart2Cart is an automated shopping cart migration service that has all the functionality required to transfer the store database across various shopping carts in a totally automated way. For simpler integrations of B2C eCommerce sites you may perform the switch by yourself with no difficulties just following a few simple steps. The list of their currently supported entities that can be transferred to another shopping cart includes:
- product categories;
- product descriptions;
- product attributes;
- images, etc.
At the moment the service supports migration across 85+ leading shopping carts (including solutions like Magento, Shopify, WooCommerce, PrestaShop, OpenCart, etc.) with new ones constantly being added to the list.
If cost is of concern, the Cart2Cart migration service is quite affordable and reasonably priced. It makes it possible to calculate the exact cost of your specific migration case via Migration Estimator. Just enter the number of products, customers, and orders and get the final price estimated.
Overall, the tool has proved itself as a good choice for small to medium e-merchants willing to focus on their business running instead of taking care of all the migration hassles.
Recognize the Risks in eCommerce Migration
When you begin to talk about an eCommerce replatform, your CTO isn’t the only one that will twitch. Marketing will probably express some concerns along with their excitement for a more powerful solution. Don’t be surprised.
It’s quite normal to feel queasy about replatforming. Sales might get twitchy when they find out that there’s a chance customer data may be lost in the migration. Same goes for your Customer Service reps, too. Moving your webstore to a new platform frequently can result in a loss of traffic due to decreased SEO. This drop off can be mitigated with automatic URL redirects and migration APIs that reduce the number of 404 errors that pop-up.
Just keep cool. Planning is everything. Chances are, there are technology partners or eCommerce replatforming consultants with experience in your industry who can help. Proper research and planning opens your eyes to possible problems, so that you’re better prepared for them if they do arise. That’s what we’ll cover in part two of this series. We’ll look at the things that can possibly go wrong with eCommerce replatforming and how you can be prepared for a successful eCommerce migration.
Our detailed guide will take you through every aspect of eCommerce migration from beginning to end. We’ll start by addressing all the fears, and end with a thorough explanation of how to plan and execute your eCommerce platform switch.