What can be worse than creating an online storefront from scratch? Replatforming it. If only the idea of ecommerce replatforming sends shivers down your spine, we’re here to help and clarify some migration cues for you.
Migrating to another platform is a serious step in one’s business, so it’s important to take things slow. No matter the size of your store, we always suggest our clients not to rush things: our latest replatforming project with Carbon38 involved so much customization and data migration that it took about 18 months of meticulous work. But this long journey eventually paid off with a fast-load website and satisfied customers to the brand.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. This article will narrate not about the rewards of successful replatforming, which are rather obvious, but about the signs you need it. How to recognize when you need to replatform (rather than to optimize your present webstore, for instance), which platforms are best for data migration, and what an ecommerce replatforming checklist looks like — find more info in this article.
All the reasons for replatforming can be summarized in a single phrase: too much effort. To maintain your store. To reach out to the customers. To spend on upgrades. You see that you’ve already outgrown your present platform, and upscaling becomes more and more difficult.
So if you were waiting for a sign from above to push you into ecommerce replatforming, here it is. Let’s walk through ten clear signs telling you need to change your platform provider.
Gartner reports that a minute of the website downtime costs a business $5,600 on average. This figure surely depends on the business size, with SMEs losing up to $427/min and large enterprises — up to $9,000/min. If your website can’t handle high-load traffic, especially during the holiday season which yields the highest sales, your downtime is increasing and you’re losing money. Now this is when the first penny drops and you know you should change platforms.
Every tiny update sucks an unreasonable amount of money from your budget. And on top of that, it takes ages to implement. The SKUs in your product catalog are filled to the maximum, and the backlog of your project is getting unmanageable. As time goes by, you feel less enthusiastic about installing an update thinking that it’ll be a waste of money anyway.
If this is the case, your website must look like a bundle of patches and processes that can’t be optimized in such legacy architecture. Replatforming is not only about changing the general view of your storefront; it goes much deeper reconstructing your store as a LEGO puzzle and helping you save on .
A logical outcome of the sign #2. Because the default functionality is no longer enough for your growing needs, you invest in custom-made modules and functionality which increase the operating costs. When analyzing the bigger picture of your business, you realize that your total cost of ownership (TCO) is far beyond your means.
Ecommerce replatforming resolves this problem. Many advanced platforms provide out-of-the-box features that are included in the platform license fees (so you won’t have to spend extra on operational costs) and can be applied to your store as soon as you migrate. As a bonus, your IT team will also get fewer headaches trying to implement new ecommerce solutions and upgrade your store.
It’s no secret that most of the customer conversions take place on desktop. But it’s also widely known that mobile versions of the website are bringing twice more traffic. Mobile website speed is also an important ranking factor in Google. So if your online store is not responsive and it’s almost impossible to implement a mobile-friendly solution, chances are you’ll continue losing your customers to competitors and stay invisible online until you replatform.
Not long ago, your customer information was being compromised. For the thousandth time in a sales season. Apparently, your current platform has security gaps. It might be missing out on password hashing, or vulnerability to XSS attacks, or PCI DSS compliance that makes payment card details leak. To fill in these gaps, your IT team creates and installs custom patches that have little effect on the overall security of your online transactions.
Customers overwhelm your support team with calls, not being able to use their promocode or make a purchase. Or even worse: they just abandon their carts and bounce after viewing one page with no hope of return. If your website falls short of delivering positive user experiences and fails to fulfill its main function — to sell and attract clients — that’s when you have to start afresh with your business.
Because your platform doesn’t seamlessly connect to a CRM, ERP, PIM, and other critical business software, your admin panel is a mess. It takes hours to edit and publish content on your website, there are no reports on your revenues and paid taxes, and you can’t locate that order number with the product that your customer wants to return to your store. You also have to assign repetitive tasks to your staff (or do them yourself) that slows down their work.
When the administrative processes become a burden and there’s no way to integrate third-party business systems, you know you should replatform.
Your sales and marketing team is blooming with creative ideas but always stumbles upon the same old disheartened phrase of yours, “Our website can’t do that”. No custom prices and catalogs; no product configurations and matching items; no sign up emails and pop-up messages before your customer leaves the website. Nothing. All because your platform provider doesn’t support such functionality and, well, because it’s too costly to implement sign #2 for that matter.
That big store with state-of-the-art website features has just stolen another customer of yours, while you’re still on the rack over your product catalog. And even if you haven’t noticed that, you know that your fellow competitors are performing much better on sales than you. All ecommerce businesses try to win the customers’ trust by improving user experience, and if your platform requires long hours of code to change what your competitors can do in a matter of hours, you’ll be soon out of the game.
Alright, this is the most obvious sign. The usual lifecycle of an ecommerce platform varies from five to seven years. It’s a natural process: unless vendors evolve and catch up on the emerging trends, they just cease to exist. Magento 1 and Drupal 7 are perfect cases in point.
When the vendor of your platform stops supporting it and releasing updates, you just have no other way out but to embrace the future and replatform.
Many of our clients migrated to Magento 2 for one of these reasons and were extremely happy with the results. Check our projects page for more info and replatform to Magento with us!
Recognized yourself in one of the abovementioned signs? Good, get ready to replatform then.
During ecommerce replatforming, you should keep your eyes wide open for data migration and web redesign issues. There’s a lot to go through, so the process involves a few risks that you need to keep in mind.
Be prepared if the initial project estimation timeline and budget don’t correspond to the real one. The team may always discover underlying data migration issues or some legacy software which cannot be integrated that easily. Try to set aside some budget for such unexpected pitfalls and ask your IT team (and their solution architect, in particular) how the deviation can be addressed in the shortest time possible.
But, please, don’t panic or change the vendor out of the blue: such a reaction often complicates things even more and halts the project overall.
You can be flexible with unforeseen project timeline; but when it comes to decision-making, you can’t afford losing valuable time on doubts. It’s true that everyone on your team may have different views on or concerns with a particular task, which calls for a discussion. But remember that rending tasks slows down the replatforming processes. The bigger the project, the longer this delay will last, and the more money will be wasted.
Be ready to see your store lose a few points in online ranking systems. Because you’ll be changing your website’s content and its whole architecture, your sitemap will change. Some page content might change URLs or disappear at all. To mitigate the risk, make sure to set up comprehensive 301 redirect maps, track 404 errors, and optimize the content for faster load speed.
Having assessed the risks, you might want to spend some time researching and choosing the platforms that you will replatform to. After all, you’re looking for a progressive, future-proof solution that won’t let you down like your existing platform.
Ideally, your choice of a vendor will be guided by
Ecommerce replatforming is costly and complex; however, with well-defined goals and objectives, you can choose the right platform for your future business. Here are a few ideas of where to replatform depending on your business needs.
Replatform to Shopify or BigCommerce if
Replatform to Elastic Path, Oracle, Salesforce, or any other enterprise ecommerce platform if
Remember how we said that the key to successful ecommerce replatforming is to keep things cool and slow? Choosing the right platform is only the first step in this process followed by five blocks of actions:
The aforementioned processes are general and can be broken down into smaller steps. If you’re a process freak like us and want to follow the migration in detail, here’s an idea for your ecommerce replatforming checklist:
Ecommerce replatforming can be daunting but will secure the prosperity of your business in the future. Approach the process with a cool head and weigh your options well.