by Fatema Mulla
Migrating your eCommerce store to a different platform can be a wise move. Whether you’re looking to gain access to more modern technologies, want to switch as part of a rebrand, or just require a new, more stable platform, replatforming can be a valuable exercise.
However, when a replatforming project is not carried out correctly, the process has the potential to become inefficient and overly complicated. When you’re relying on your eCommerce store for the core of your business, this obviously isn’t an option.
Without great planning and execution, deadlines can easily be missed and costs can spiral.
We’ve put together this comprehensive guide to help make sure your eCommerce replatforming stays viable, on budget and delivers a great end product.
Plan your Project
One of the first things you should do before embarking upon your replatforming project is to plan and define your objectives. Having a clear plan in place will help the entire process flow smoothly and efficiently.
Plan and set clear aims for all the different aspects of your replatforming project, from migrating data and content to integrating with new apps and plugins.
Consider the reasons behind your decision to replatform, and take into account all the different aspects of the project.
You’ll have to think about whether you want to refresh your design or keep it the same, what new features and functionalities you’d like to implement, and any optimisations and improvements you’d like to see after replatforming.
Be sure to carefully consider your new platform and ensure it is the best fit for your eCommerce store.
Replatforming is often a complex task, and you may still have a fair number of questions regarding the topic. We recently interviewed eCommerce consultant Paul Rogers to talk through some of the common questions merchants have about replatforming.
Set a Realistic Timeline
Once you know what you want to achieve, set a realistic timeline for your replatforming project. Liaise with your wider team chosen agency to understand how much work will need to be done, and the length of time that will be required.
This will then allow you to set out timescales for your project from a technical and business perspective.
Define deadlines for key aspects of your replatforming such as transferring products, shifting content, testing your new site and more.
You should also include a contingency in your timescales to allow for unforeseen circumstances. This will help protect your business and revenues if anything unexpected should occur that needs working around.
You will need to assign responsibilities and key tasks for each aspect of your replatforming project to the correct members within your team. It’s a good idea to liaise with your wider team on this so that you can assign individual tasks to the relevant person.
Knowing clearly who is responsible for key tasks will help ensure that nothing is overlooked and that your replatforming project stays on schedule. It also means you can personally assign tasks to the team member you know is best positioned to complete it efficiently.
Your agency will also need to be contacted so that, in the event that you need additional resource, they will be able to help you assign responsibilities and ensure your replatforming project is carried out to the highest possible standard.
Having a structured plan for who is responsible for what task, and having a set timeline for when all tasks should be done by will help your entire replatforming process flow as easily and quickly as possible.
Choose the Right Agency
Picking the right agency for your project can be the difference between a successful and ineffective replatforming project.
Working alongside an agency that is well versed in replatforming projects and has a wealth of experience working on your chosen eCommerce platform can be of huge benefit for your store.
Look out for agencies that are certified Shopify and Shopify Plus partners, as they will be able to provide exclusive resources, have world-class industry and platform knowledge and experience and much more.
Statement are a certified Shopify Plus Partner agency, and work closely with our clients to provide them with high level Shopify Plus training, resource and support.
The right agency will be able to tell you honestly what is achievable and what isn’t. They should be able to identify the best way of switching to your new platform and will be able to guide you through the process with valuable insight and advice at each stage.
From providing eCommerce consultancy to helping you find the right resources to complete your project efficiently, your agency is best positioned to keeping your replatforming project on track.
Work Alongside Your Agency
When replatforming, it’s a good idea to work alongside your agency at all times to ensure that you are receiving all the support and resource you need.
Your agency will be best placed to help you with all aspects of your eCommerce migration.
Your agency can help to recommend apps and integrations for added functionality, can help to provide guidance and consultancy and also assist you through the replatforming process.
Furthermore, your agency will be of great benefit to you even after the replatforming project is over.
Retaining your agency post launch will mean you’ll be able to receive ongoing support even after the project has been successfully completed. Read more about this here.
Review Your Existing Content
Before adding anything to your new site, it’s a good idea to review the content of your existing site and decide what you’ll transfer, and what you’ll leave behind.
Replatforming can be a good time to do some content analysis and determine what content is still relevant for your new site and what isn’t.
It may be that some content on your old site may no longer be suitable or relevant, so it could potentially be removed.
You’ll also need to think about how customers will use your new eCommerce store and how this differs from your existing store. You’ll most likely need to write some new content, so consider what you’ll use from your existing site and what will be new copy.
Work with your agency - or copywriters of your choice - to ensure that content is all of a high standard and is relevant and on brand.
Secure Data Migration
A key point in your replatforming project is transferring all of your products and data from your existing store to your new platform. This particular aspect is sometimes seen as risky, as it involves taking all of your data from one site and moving it over to a new one.
Getting this wrong can have huge implications for your project, so you should be aiming to transfer your catalogue as efficiently and cleanly as possible.
Formulate a plan for transferring products and import them logically and methodically - you will also want to avoid duplicate listings, bad formatting or missing information.
There are many apps and tools that can be integrated with your eCommerce store to help you safely mass import your product data from one platform to the other.
For example, if you are moving to Shopify or Shopify Plus from another eCommerce platform, you’ll be able to use apps such as Excelify, Transporter and more that seamlessly integrate with your store and allow you to move all your data easily and securely from one platform to the other.
Maintain Your Customer Experience
A vital part of any replatforming project is maintaining your customer experience throughout the process.
This means keeping your store downtime to a minimum and notifying customers if and when your store may be unavailable.
It also means transitioning smoothly from your old to new platform so that customers only see a great new store, not a half finished project.
You’ll want to set up page redirects for legacy pages so that old links find your new site, and so that your SEO remains intact. Ensuring that your customers can find your new site is essential; you don’t want to see a drop in traffic or lose long term customers.
Before launching your site, be sure to test thoroughly to ensure that all aspects of your replatforming have been completed effectively.
Quality check to ensure all elements and features function correctly and that no bugs, errors or even typos have not been missed.
You’ll want to pay attention to any new features or key aspects of your site and make sure that the customer experience is to a high standard. Your new site should not only give a great first impression to customers, but should also be able to fulfill your business goals.
Usability should also be tested, particularly if your eCommerce site has changed significantly from your old platform. This means testing things like advanced search and product filtering to iron out any issues and ensure that the experience is smooth.
It’s also important to take site speed into account. According to research by Google, "57% of shoppers left websites due to the site being slow." This indicates that site speed should always be optimised, and so it’s important to ensure you do everything you can whilst replatforming to keep your site running as fast as possible.
Our team carry out quality assurance testing on all of our clients sites prior to launch to ensure that it is performing to the highest standard.
Re-platforming is a big undertaking for any eCommerce business. It may be born out of dissatisfaction with your site or the general growth of your business, and choosing to move your store forward by re-platforming is a big decision.
However, if you follow the points in this article, you should be able to plan and execute your replatforming effectively. Choosing a modern, progressive platform like Shopify will certainly make the process simpler, allowing your new store to be built and content to be transitioned quickly.
Want to find out more about the specifics of replatforming and how Statement can help you with this? Just get in touch with our friendly team and we’ll be happy to help.