Replatforming eCommerce Websites: A Complete Migration Guide [+Signs, Steps, and More!]

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December 10, 2021
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Replatforming eCommerce Websites: A Complete Migration Guide [+Signs, Steps, and More!]
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What can be worse than creating an online storefront from scratch? Replatforming it. If only the idea of replatforming ecommerce sends shivers down your spine, we’re here to clarify some migration cues for you.

Ecommerce site migration 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 took about 18 months of meticulous work to migrate an enterprise-level store to Magento 2. But this long journey eventually paid off with a fast-load website and satisfied, loyal customers. 

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. What is ecommerce platform migration, how to recognize when you need to replatform (rather than to migrate, for instance), which platforms are best for data migration, and what an ecommerce replatforming checklist looks like — find more info in this article.

What is eCommerce Replatforming?

In simple words, ecommerce replatforming is the process of selecting and changing the technology (aka ecommerce platform) powering your online store. It’s a tedious process requiring time and money, so you should have a clear goal of replatforming in mind to turn ecommerce platform migration into a successful project.

 Replatforming ecommerce websites usually includes the following steps:

  • Decide why you need replatforming and what problems it will solve for your business
  • Compare the functionalities of the platforms you want to switch to
  • Install the system that will solve your current business needs
  • Migrate your data to a new system
  • Set your new eCommerce platform live
Replatforming ecommerce website - before and after
Ecommerce replatforming in action. Source: Txture.

Note: eCommerce replatforming differs from migration. The former is all about changing the platform powering your ecommerce store. Meanwhile, migration may imply just upgrading the store within the same platform (e.g. Magento 1 to Magento 2 migration) to improve its functionality.

Why Is eCommerce Platform Migration Important?

If you want to stay competitive and catch up with the market trends, you need to pivot. Replatforming is something bigger than changing the platform for the sake of better performance. Many ecommerce brands have noticed a significant increase in conversion rates and revenue after switching to a new platform. And here are the main factors that have contributed to such growth.

  • Increased site speed and performance

If your eCommerce store performance is unstable during peak traffic conditions, it will lead to high bounce rates, and, as a result, loss of customers. Sooner or later, your current platform will not be able to handle a large amount of traffic, that’s why it may be time to move forward.  E-commerce replatforming will provide your website with better speed, rich UI, responsiveness, and faster-loading pages. 

  • Ease of integrations

The functionality of your eCommerce store influences your customer buying experience. The richer your website functionality is, the higher the chances are to increase your conversions and improve customer loyalty. 

In 10+ years of ecommerce migration experience at Elogic, we’ve seen most replatforming projects take place from SaaS platforms where the website functionality can be extended only with plugins. Businesses that want to scale migrate to open-source platforms with flexible and free APIs for smooth integrations. And that’s the true value of eCommerce replatforming with regard to integrations.

  • Cost-effective maintenance

If your eCommerce business is based on an obsolete platform, it becomes too expensive to maintain. You need to install more plugins to extend your functionality, add custom security patches, solve the UI issues, as well as hire ecommerce developers to optimize your store performance. 

Insider tip: compare the cost you spend for maintenance to the one of replatforming eCommerce. If the result is in favor of the former, better migrate.

  • More personalization

A more robust eCommerce platform will provide you with the ability to scale your store with personalized features such as displaying tailored customer content, personalized pricing, product assortments, credit limit, order history, and relevant and personalized payment options for each of your customer segments. 

How Long Does an eCommerce Replatforming Take?

In fact, there is no single answer to this question. Replatforming is basically building a new store from scratch while preserving your order and customer info. The time of completion will depend on your store’s complexity, its eCommerce architecture, and your plans for future scalability. 

For example, if you need complex integrations and full customization of the platform, the replatforming process may take at least 6 months. And if you want to use a fully managed cloud SaaS solution like Shopify with an existing theme without any customizations or integrations, the process can take around 8-12 weeks.

Before proceeding to replatforming, the development team will create a list of functional and non-functional requirements for eCommerce websites. It will help understand your business needs and you will be able to receive the project budget & scope and adjust it to your objectives and priorities.

When Do You Need to Replatform? 10 Telltale Signs for Ecommerce Replatforming

All the reasons for replatforming ecommerce 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. 

If you were waiting for a sign from above to push you into ecommerce platform migration, here it is. Let’s walk through ten clear signs telling you need to change your platform provider.

Sign #1: Your Store Can’t Handle Traffic Spikes

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.

Sign #2: New Store Features and Updates Are Hard to Implement

Every tiny update sucks an unreasonable amount of money from your budget. And it takes ages to implement. 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 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 store features.

Interconnected business operations -legacy architecture.
Source: ElasticPath.

Sign #3: Your TCO Grows Day by Day

A logical outcome of the sign #2. Because the default functionality is no longer sufficient 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 solutions 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.

Sign #4: Your Store Isn’t Responsive

It’s no secret that moEven though most customer conversions take place on desktop, mobile versions of the website are bringing twice as much traffic. Besides, mobile website speed is 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.

Shre of traffic and sales by device
Source: SaleCycle.

Sign #5: Your Platform Provider Fails at Security

Imagine if your customer information is being compromised for your platform security gaps. It might be missing out on password hashing or PCI DSS compliance that makes payment card details leak. To fill in these gaps, your IT team must create and install custom patches that will most likely have little effect on the overall security of your online transactions.

In fact, security concerns were one of the main reasons why Magento 1 reached its end-of-life and made many merchants migrate to Magento 2. Read more on this issue in our Magento security guide.
Guides & Advice
Magento Security Guide: How to Secure Your Website from Hackers

Sign #6: Your Customers Keep Complaining About Your Website Usability

Customers overwhelm your support team with calls, not being able to make a purchase alone. Or even worse: they just bounce after viewing one page and abandon carts 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.

Sign #7: Your Admin Panel Functions Poorly

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, there are no reports on your revenues and paid taxes, and you can’t locate any order numbers to manage customer returns.

When the administrative processes become a burden and there’s no way to integrate third-party business systems, you know it’s time to undertake an ecommerce site migration project.

Sign #8: You’re Compromising Your Sales and Marketing Strategies

Your sales team is blooming with creative ideas but always stumbles upon the same disheartened phrase of yours, “Our website can’t do that”. No custom prices; 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. See sign #2 for that matter.

Sign #9: Your Competitors Outshine You

That 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. Even if you haven’t noticed that, you know that your fellows are performing much better on sales than you. All businesses try to win the customers’ trust by improving UX. If your platform requires long hours of code to change what your competitors can do in a matter of minutes, you’ll be soon out of the game.

Sign #10: Your Current Platform Is Obsolete

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!

Outsource Magento development services

Give a new look and feel to your e-store!

Replatform now

Steps to eCommerce Replatforming

Recognized yourself in one of the abovementioned signs? Good, get ready to replatform then.

To simplify the process of replatforming an eCommerce store and make it less overwhelming, you need a plan. Or rather an eCommerce replatforming checklist. It will help you understand the main steps it involves and make sure that replatforming will not affect your SEO rankings, content, and conversion rates.

We have prepared an eCommerce replatforming checklist that covers everything you should do to make your replatforming journey smooth.

Analyse Why You Need to Replatform

As we’ve already mentioned, every replatforming project has an objective. Do you implement eCommerce migrations because of your legacy system? For security reasons? Or because of the extra integration potential? Whatever your reason, just don’t replatform because everyone’s doing it. 

Replatforming is a complex process that is associated with a variety of risks (cost overrun, drop in SEO rankings, etc.). Don’t waste your resources. Before replatforming, remember to write the requirements for your eCommerce website to better understand what you aim for.

Choose an eCommerce Platform

Before choosing an eCommerce platform, you need to answer the following questions:

  • What is your business model?
  • What are the main channels you use to acquire customers?
  • What are the essential features you need in your eCommerce store?
  • What integrations do you need?

Try to compare the features of the new platform with your existing eCommerce solution, and choose the system that your business needs to develop, grow, and improve.

Create a Shortlist of Platforms & Vendors

After analyzing your future needs and possible solutions, create a list of platforms and vendors. Or better yet, send out an ecommerce RFP to start the bidding process with software vendors. It includes a list of questions companies have to answer for you to select the one eCommerce platform that will work best.

Schedule Demos

Having narrowed down the list of potential vendors, schedule demos to view a live demonstration of the platforms, their benefits, use cases, and restrictions. Choose a team that is open to communication and transparent when it comes to their work processes. 

This is our priority at Elogic: we strive for transparency of communication and good value for money and recommend you to choose the vendors who are interested in making your business grow.

Backup Your Old eCommerce Data

Protecting your current data is one of the most important steps in replatforming. In case something goes wrong during eCommerce migrations, you need to have access to all your data and make it easily accessible to all members. This way, you will rest assured that no data will be lost during the replatforming process.

Migrate Data to the New Platform

Data migration includes the following components:

  • Product, customer, and order data, store configurations, likewise promotions.
  • Extensions and existing integrations 
  • Themes and custom modules
  • Code customization
  • Plugins migration

Make sure that you migrate all crucial data for your business. Any mistake may lead to incorrect product mapping, product commendations, customer data, etc. Before choosing a partner, ask how exactly the catalog transfer or data migration will be done.

Check the SEO Optimization

Yes, replatforming will impact your SEO and will lead to a drop in rankings. However, following these Google tips, you will mitigate these risks and move your product data keeping the same search rankings you had. Also, it’s a great chance to review your website SEO, solve the errors, and improve it with new functionalities of your platform. 

For better understanding, read our Magento 2 SEO guide to take your SEO to a completely new, high level.

Test Your New Website

After replatforming, don’t rush to set your eCommerce store live. Spare enough time to test the functionality of your website and check the performance of each website page to ensure that there are no buggy features or errors. Verify that the site performs well in all its basic functionalities (loading time, mobile responsiveness, transactions operability) and that it provides a user-friendly shopping experience. For more info, read our guide on how to test an eCommerce website without leaving any stone unturned.

Launch a New eCommerce Site

Woohoo! You’ve done it. Now it’s time to show your brand new eCommerce site to the world. We recommend increasing the number of tests right after the eCommerce site launching to make sure each page functions as it should. Track your website analytics and analyze the behavior of users on your new website to find any errors and bottlenecks as soon as possible.

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 checklist.
Download a printable version here!

Inform Your Customers About Replatforming

Your website might experience downtime during eCommerce site migration, so it would be better to give your customers a heads-up. This way, you’ll mitigate the risk of losing sales and increase loyalty. Here is what you should do:

  • Emphasize with your customers and admit that the problem exists
  • Clearly communicate the issue
  • Give alternatives or backup options
  • Don’t use cliche phrases (such as “apologies for the inconvenience”) and create personalized messages.

For example, Slack has not just informed users about the troubles with one message but used several messages with relevant updates.

Slack communication during an outage. Source: Simpletexting

GrooveHQ has also prepared the whole blog post about the delays from their site with explanations on what to do.

GrooveHQ outage explanation. Source: GrooveHQ

Ecommerce Platforms: Compare Where You Should Replatform To

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 

  1. your own business requirements: there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, each platform has its features that may (or may not) fulfill your business needs;
  2. out-of-the-box features of the platform: the more advanced the platform’s functionality is, the less you’ll have to spend on website maintenance;
  3. third-party software integrations: with the platform offering smooth API-led integrations, you can automate and streamline administrative operations while actually focusing on running a business;
  4. scalability and security;
  5. marketing potential and SEO-friendliness.

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.

Shopify / BigCommerce / Other SaaS Solutions

Replatform to Shopify or BigCommerce if

  • you have no complex integration requirements and wish for an intuitive, easy-to-use admin panel;
  • customizations are not your focus, and you’re totally ok with pre-built extensions and apps from the official marketplace;
  • security is paramount to you: you seek a PCI-compliant solution and want your SSL certificate activated by default;
  • you’re tight on time and budget for ecommerce replatforming.

Adobe Commerce

Replatform to Magento if

  • you’re looking for a feature-rich solution with unlimited scalability options;
  • your storefront involves a lot of customizations, and your IT team requires access to the source code to fulfill your requests;
  • you have a lot of legacy software (like ERP, CRM, etc.) that should be integrated in a new platform;
  • your business requires B2B modules and functionality;
  • you want your website to be mobile-friendly;
  • tech support and a large community of users are important to you.

Enterprise Solutions

Replatform to Elastic Path, Oracle, Salesforce, or any other enterprise ecommerce platform if

  • your business is mature enough to try headless ecommerce;
  • you plan on implementing complex third-party integrations and creating API-oriented architecture;
  • your business is subject to thousands of transactions per hour, and your SKUs continue adding up;
  • you wish to try applying AI to your business.

Elogic proudly serves the brands trying to migrate to Magento 2 from various platforms. Take a look at our Shopify to Magento 2 guide and get in touch with us for a more detailed ecommerce replatforming consultation.

Elogic proudly serves the brands trying to migrate to Magento 2 from various platforms. Take a look at our Shopify to Magento 2 guide and get in touch with us for a more detailed ecommerce replatforming consultation.
Choose Magento
Migrate Shopify to Magento: We Have All the Answers

Importance of SEO for eCommerce Replatforming

If you don’t have a strategy, replatforming will badly impact your SEO. 

Search engines use different algorithms to determine your rankings. Your rankings are also influenced by such elements of your store as your content, UX, and site architecture. If crawlers notice any changes in your bounce rate or traffic, it will influence your position in search engine results. That’s why the truth is that replatforming will affect your SEO.

301 redirect from Page A to Page B and a Googlebot.
301 redirects as a search engine sees them. Source: Oroinc

However, you have the power to avoid SEO disaster by following these simple tips by Elogic:

  • Conduct redirects one-for-one
  • Don’t overdo with website changes such as alterations in design and content 
  • Regularly monitor duplicate content and use canonical URLs to direct search engines to the original content.
  • Track 404 errors and fix them as soon as possible
  • Optimize your store for mobile and ensure that it’s responsive on all devices
  • Optimize after replatforming and regularly perform SEO analysis with the tools like Moz, Ahrefs, and SEMRush.

Final Takeaways

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.

  • Keep in mind the emerging trends, but choose the platform based on your goals and needs. If it’s the first time you hear the term “headless”, you probably shouldn’t rush into enterprise ecommerce solutions for digitally mature guys on the market.
  • Don’t try to do everything at once and rush things. You constantly repeating “We must go live in December” won’t speed up replatforming if your IT team discovered hidden pitfalls during ecommerce migrations.
  • And most importantly: never do it alone. Even if you’re the best engineer in the world yourself, replatforming is never a work-alone project. Get a team with the necessary replatforming expertise for your chosen platform (consider Elogic!). Or at least hire an ecommerce replatforming consultant to guide you through the process and cheer you up if the project starts falling apart (Elogic can help you out here too!).
RFP is the first step of the migration process. Follow our guide, create an RFP of yours, and send it to us. We’ll be looking forward to becoming your technology partner and ecommerce replatforming providing ecommerce!
Guides & Advice
RFP for Ecommerce Website: Hunting Out the Best Vendor to Replatform

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Replatforming is a big task that will take time & effort. More than that, it will change your entire ecommerce site, including the design, admin navigation, functionality, performance, and much more. Replatforming needs to be done for the right reasons and at the right time for your business.

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