Ready to get started with ecommerce replatforming? We’ve got the keys. Ecommerce replatforming is a hefty undertaking. It can be an excellent opportunity to make some significant changes, but the task can be very daunting if you’re unsure where to start. And a simple Google search will produce many results on all the steps you need to take, including many extensive guides and checklists. Nevertheless, it can be overwhelming.
But if you’re ready to get started and you’re not sure where to look, either way, we have a good place for you to start, with a simple guide to everything you need to be on the lookout for when you begin considering your ecommerce replatforming project.
What is Ecommerce Replatforming?
Before you understand what replatforming is, let’s take a look at what an ecommerce platform is. Your organization’s ecommerce platform is the application that provides all your ecommerce functionality, such as the checkout or your online shopping cart.
Here are some of the ecommerce platforms that you might be considering:
Replatforming involves so much more than deciding to move to another platform. You need to consider many things, especially since you might be updating a legacy system, which comes with its own set of complications.
Let’s dig in with where to start, what to consider, and why you may or may not need to replatform.
Why do Companies Implement Ecommerce Replatforming?
Maybe you’re thinking ahead to the future, or maybe your current system is just not cutting it anymore. Perhaps your conversion rate has been slumping, and it’s time to optimize that. You’ve noticed that more and more customers are abandoning their carts instead of purchasing. All of these are great reasons for wanting to change; however, if we dig a little deeper, you might find we’re only scratching the surface.
Meeting Your Customer and Business Needs: Scalability on All Fronts
As your organization grows and evolves, so do your needs and the needs of your customers. A poor customer experience can lead to cart abandonment, bringing revenue down. Suppose you’re considering expanding your business into different markets or adding additional products or services, like a subscription service. In that case, your customers will need many options, including purchasing in their preferred language and currency. Being able to quickly scale your business and ebb and flow with your customers is paramount. You need something that will easily allow you to leave a disconnected process behind and move to a more unified approach to bring clarity to your business and happiness to your customers, especially when you’re starting to scale your business.
Updating Your Legacy Systems: Moving to a Fully SaaS Platform
With a legacy system, your system may not be performing as well as it should be. For example, perhaps your site isn’t loading as fast as it should – even 11 years ago, Google was recommending a 2 second load time, and in late 2020, SEMRush, a well-known SEO platform, was recommending a 1-2 second load time. In fact, according to the Baymard Institute, 12% of US adults abandoned their carts during online shopping because the website had errors or crashed.
Updating your legacy systems to a fully SaaS platform can help fix these speed and overall experience issues, giving you the ability to take a fresh look at your cart, forms, and every other part of the unoptimized customer experience.
Going with a SaaS solution will help lower costs, help you scale, and overall, SaaS offerings are easy to use and learn. IBM has some more great reasons why you should be considering going complete SaaS with your ecommerce platform or any software your business is looking to implement.
Leaning into Optimization: Checkout and Ecommerce Site Optimization
Speaking of optimization, many companies move forward with replatforming to gain better optimization of their front-end and back-end experiences. It offers better reporting tools for the organization and a better ecommerce site for their customers. With tools that lend themselves to optimization, you can make adjustments on the fly to tweak anything from customer pricing to the number of forms customers need to fill out at checkout.
Optimizations like this for customers can help reduce cart abandonment and keep them from getting frustrated with slow load times (assuming you’ve optimized for that!). A smoother website also means you can optimize for both desktop and mobile, use personalization, create urgency with flash sales, and upsell — as long as you have the right ecommerce platform.
When You Should Not Consider Replatforming
Most organizations consider replatforming when they have several issues that need to be corrected all at once, or they’re scaling, introducing new payment methods, regions, or products. But, if you just have one service, like payments, billing, or shipping, that needs to be addressed, it’s probably best to look for a specialized software solution. Instead of migrating your entire ecommerce platform, which is not just time-consuming but also requires a lot of internal resources, some of which your organization may not be able to spare.
If a Specialized Solution Can Help
As mentioned above, if your current ecommerce solution lacks one cog that a specialized solution can fix, you should seek out that specialized solution first. It will be so much easier just to pick that solution versus replatforming your whole ecommerce solution.
For instance, you can use Chargebee to manage subscription service, Stripe for payments, and Shipstation for shipping. However, if all three areas are issues or have massive cart abandonment issues or website loading times, it might be time for an overhaul.
If You Have Limited Time or Resources
My grandmother used to quote French actor Maurice Chevalier: “If you wait for the perfect moment when all is safe and assured, it may never arrive.” While this certainly is true, time is a primary consideration and resource, even in business (maybe especially in business). Replatforming is a major organizational shift and requires time and effort – everyone from finance to marketing will need to or want to be involved.
And making sure that you retain your team, which will have to learn an entirely new platform which can complicate things if the core team working on the migration doesn’t stay on board.
If You’re Worried About Data Migration or SEO
Data migration is one of the biggest worries when it comes to replatforming, and with good reason. If you lose some of your data, especially customer data, it can be lost forever. In addition, the accuracy and time it takes to transfer not only the customer data but also product and category data vary significantly from business to business. So if you aren’t experiencing a large number of hiccups in your system, just need a specialized solution, or don’t have the time or money to handle data migration, it might be best to skip replatforming and focus on things you can fix instead.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is another concern – and likely, when you replatform, your SEO will take a hit. The SEO/marketing team’s work to drive traffic to your site might be lost during migration. Even if you can maintain your SEO value, you’ll have to be meticulous about redirecting all of the pages. As mentioned before, site errors were one of the top responses for why users abandoned their cart. So, if keeping your customers from experiencing this hiccup is a significant concern, you may need to reconsider.
If you do decide to take on this massive task, be incredibly mindful of how data migration and SEO should impact your timeline. We talk later on about discussing this with all stakeholders, but it is imperative that you keep marketing (ops and SEO especially), and sales in the loop of when you plan to migrate customer data and when you plan to replatform. We recommend that you do not replatform before the launch of a new campaign or during your business’ peak season as it could impact sales and your operational bandwidth.
Ecommerce Platform Migration Process
Now that you’ve thought about whether or not you should replatform, let’s look at the ecommerce platform migration process at a high level. We’ve got a small ecommerce replatforming checklist we think are must-dos when considering a new platform.
Some of these you need to work out before you start reaching out to solution providers, and some can happen during the process.
#1 Consider the Opinions of All Your Stakeholders
As replatforming is an organization-wide effort, ensuring that all of your stakeholders are on the same page from the beginning is paramount. So consider the opinions of all your stakeholders that will be involved in the process before even dipping a toe into the waters of a new ecommerce platform.
#2 List the Must-Have Features
If you’re getting a new platform, you might as well make sure it includes all the bells and whistles that you need or want – or maybe something you haven’t even thought of yet. Of course, like buying a new house or car, there will be deal-breakers and absolute must-haves. So make sure that when you’re speaking to the stakeholders, they give you a good idea of what their teams will need. That way, you’ll be able to keep that in mind as you move forward in the process of selecting the new platform.
#3 Picking a New Ecommerce Platform and Consider Ecommerce ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)
This step is perhaps the most important and one that will have a lot of time and energy placed into it. However, if you’ve selected a new software before, this step is relatively straightforward. Based on your needs and must-haves, you’ll go through the discovery process of finding the right fit for your business. G2, Capterra, and Gartner are all great places to start looking for solutions for your organization. We suggest making a shortlist and then scheduling demos with those top 5 choices.
This step will have many other, smaller steps involved, of course, but make sure you’ve already completed a budget analysis and planned for the allocation of resources within the organization when you’ve reached this step. In addition, making sure that you have a robust payment and billing infrastructure is paramount before you even start to consider what solution to select.
And if you’re introducing new software into the mix or replatforming the entire ecommerce system, you may want to consider enterprise resource planning (ERP). According to Oracle, ERP is:
A type of software that organizations use to manage day-to-day business activities such as accounting, procurement, project management, risk management and compliance, and supply chain operations. A complete ERP suite also includes enterprise performance management, software that helps plan, budget, predict, and report on an organization’s financial results.
If you don’t have an ERP in place when considering replatforming, there is no time like the present to think about this. Make sure you’re speaking with stakeholders about this and moving forward in a direction that best benefits your business, with or without an ecommerce ERP (though we recommend one.) The ERP you select can be an invaluable tool for your business.
Some ERPs on the market include:
- SAP S/4HANA
#4 Migrating Your Current System: Establishing Timelines
We’ve really driven home how time-consuming this entire process can be, so it is essential to work with the implementation team for the new solution you selected to establish timelines as soon as possible. According to QuantumMetric, a digital product design company, replatforming can take anywhere from 8 weeks to 12 months. Time is a huge variable, so it’s best to not only establish but stick to your timelines as much as possible.
#5 Data Migration: Customers, Product, and Category
We recommend using a data migration service here to ensure that none of your data, especially not any of your customer data, gets lost in the shuffle when you’re making this move. This is probably the most crucial step because if the information is improperly transferred, you may lose it forever. At the same time, this may be less of a problem (just more of a pain) for internal data like product and category. In addition, losing customer data that you and your team have worked so hard to cultivate can be devastating. It can also lead to frustration for your returning customers, who might have to create a new account or re-enter all of their information.
Some data migration services that enterprise organizations may want to consider include:
The best option for you is to work with your ecommerce platform to migrate the data or make data migration one of your must-haves. If you can get a solution that can also handle the migration process, you’ll be saving time and energy.
#6 Front-end, Back-end, Checkout, SEO, and Ecommerce Site Overhauls
While data migration is the most time-consuming external part of the replatforming process, the internal part will potentially redesign your entire online store or ecommerce site. A total redesign is optional, of course, but you more than likely will have to change the look of your online store, regardless of whether or not you’re going for a complete redesign.
You’re going to want to make sure that the front-end, back-end, checkout, and all other elements of your site work well together and are operating correctly as you migrate. Many organizations use replatforming to introduce a new look to their site or work with developers to produce something truly unique to their brand.
You’ll also want to ensure that your SEO team is kept up to date and is involved every step of the way. Your SEO ranking may take a hit, but it will likely end up in a better position with your new site if your team is involved from the start. During this overhaul, you’ll want to avoid content revisions at all costs, as this will hurt your ranking. Have your team focus on one-to-one redirects, and reduce the number of 404 errors as much as possible. We also recommend doing an SEO audit before you relaunch your site, just to cover all your bases.
#7 Completing the Migration Process and Relaunching
The last part of replatforming is completing your migration and relaunching your ecommerce site! Communicate this with your existing customers (maybe even include a coupon code to celebrate the relaunch!), and continue to test the site to reveal any errors that you might’ve missed prior to launch. This should be relatively easy but will require some help from your marketing team to get the customers headed to the new system.
And make sure you know where to go, should something happen post-launch. Your new platform likely has a wealth of resources that can help you figure things out or a customer service representative that can make sure you’re getting all the care you need.
How Could Replatforming (Positively) Impact Your Business?
While we’ve discussed ways that replatforming can negatively impact your business, it can also positively impact your business and your customers. There are so many things to worry about; let’s just take a look at the bright side and what you can expect from a replatforming done right.
Increasing Product Data
With replatforming, your product, and category, perhaps even customer data should be abundant if you made this a priority when searching for a new platform. A new dashboard with better data that lends itself to data-driven product development, cross and upsell opportunities, and even a more personalized shopping experience for your customers.
Better Functionality for You and a Better User Experience for Your Customers
This is definitely the biggest positive (besides increasing revenue, of course). Being able to work with a more lithe, springy solution that can provide your customers with a smoother shopping and checkout experience is likely one of the reasons you moved away from your current platform in the first place. Now your customers can experience faster load times and a faster checkout experience tailored to their language, currency, and preferences.
You’ll be able to make more changes in order to keep up with demand, easily add products, and future-proof your site, especially if you’ve selected a SaaS solution, which we recommend. And more importantly, you’ll be able to implement full customization to your website and your entire ecommerce website.
Easily Launch New Features, New Products, and New Services (Like Subscriptions)
Having a state-of-the-art ecommerce site with a stellar platform to back it up will let you integrate new features and even new services fairly quickly and easily. For instance, if you’re looking to add a subscription service to your site, you can easily add Chargebee to your already existing infrastructure. And Chargebee will not only manage your subscriptions but also ensure a smoother checkout process and much more.
Hot Tip: Subscriptions hold the key to revenue growth!
UnivDatos Market Insights predicts that the global subscription ecommerce market is expected to reach $478 billion by 2025 (you can read the full article here). We know this is not just a trend, but a subscription revolution, with consumers spending more than $861 billion online with U.S. merchants, a whopping 44% jump over 2019.
Here are some great places to get started if you’re unfamiliar with subscriptions, but want to get the ball rolling:
- All You Need to Know About the Subscription Business Model
- Recurring Billing 101: What it is, How it Works, and Why Subscription Businesses Should Care
- Ecommerce Subscriptions: Pandemic-Induced Fad or Here To Stay?
- Three Biggest Challenges to Ecommerce Subscriptions and How to Tackle Them
With a new system in place, you’ll not only be able to add new services, but also new products and even new features. All of this lends itself to scalability, giving you and your organization the flexibility it needs to continue to grow.
Tools and Services to Consider
The list of tools to consider while replatform is pretty extensive, but we’ve got a few for you to check out. As mentioned before, one of the best places to start is with G2, Capterra, or Gartner. Some of the best ecommerce platforms to consider would be:
- Shopify – a leader in the ecommerce space, Shopify integrates with so many other platforms and is an ecommerce platform for both online stores and retail point-of-sale systems.
- WooCommerce – Designer for small to large merchants that use WordPress, WooCommerce is an open-source plugin for WordPress.
- BigCommerce – Another SaaS solution (that integrates with Chargebee and provides online store creation, SEO tools, hosting, and marketing for small to medium-sized businesses.
- Magento – Magento is another open-source software, but this one is written in PHP (a popular general-purpose scripting language). Owned by Adobe Inc, this is a good option for anyone that needs flexibility.
We hope this can give you the insight needed to get started with your decision-making process, whether you’ll be replatforming or not. Start with really digging deep into the root cause of your desire to replatform, and assess whether or not you need to replatform, then make a must-haves list if you do intend to replatform. Some research into what all the platforms available could do for you and your business is the best place to start your ecommerce replatforming journey. While it might seem like there is so much to do, we’re sure that you’ll be set up for success with these vital steps.