by Laura Jones
If you own a physical retail store that is in a bad location, has a leaky roof and is costing you too much in rent, what would you do? You’d move, of course. So why should you put up with an eCommerce platform that is causing you similar levels of frustration and expense? You shouldn’t.
Replatforming is the process of moving from one eCommerce platform to another. While this kind of project can sound like a potential headache, working with the right agency can make it a simple task with endless benefits.
In this article, we talk through why replatforming could be the solution to your eCommerce woes, cover the potential risks involved and show you how to get started with taking the first steps towards a brighter future.
why do you want to replatform?
Perhaps your eCommerce store doesn’t have the digital version of a leaky roof. Maybe it works fine and you’re getting a steady flow of reasonable income from it. It doesn’t crash (too often) and you don’t get (too many) complaints from customers. But could it do better?
The world of eCommerce is always evolving, so standing still for too long means getting left behind. There are plenty of ways in which switching to a new platform can have a positive impact on your business.
Here are just some of the reasons why you might benefit from replatforming:
There’s nothing more frustrating in eCommerce than wanting to add exciting new functionality before realising your platform or agency can’t support the new addition.
It’s impossible to predict when choosing a platform what you might need in a year or two, so it’s important to choose a platform that can innovate and grow with you. Maybe it’s on the cards to expand into new markets, but if your platform can’t support this functionality, you either need to put them on ice or start looking for one that will.
Another way you can be held back by the wrong eCommerce platform is when it comes to scaling up. Even Amazon had to start out small but can you imagine if it was still running with the same technology today?
Your store might not be getting Amazon traffic levels but a sudden rise in popularity could see your existing platform overwhelmed by the volume. This leads to a poor user experience and slow loading speeds which puts users off coming back, wasting a golden opportunity for growth and conversions.
Even in quieter times, it could be that your store offers an underwhelming user experience. You need to keep up with the kind of UX that your competitors are offering their customers while making it unique to your brand and story. If your platform can’t compete with AR/VR or new payment gateways, people will be more likely to take their money elsewhere.
If you’re working with a legacy platform or one that was built bespoke for you, there can be issues with new regulations that have gone into force since your site was built. This leaves you open to issues with compliance that would be handled for you by a more modern and adaptive platform.
Another common issue with legacy solutions is that they often struggle to integrate with other systems. If your eCommerce store needs to work with ERP software or a PIM solution or an EPOS system, you may find that it’s not possible or doesn’t work as smoothly as you need. Again, this can hold back your growth and cause lasting headaches for your team.
You might expect some resistance to replatforming because of the anticipated costs involved, but did you know you could actually end up saving money? This is because switching can involve removing existing technology that is expensive to maintain. For example, you might need an in-house team to manage your website but you could save on these costs with a fully agency-managed solution.
what are the risks of replatforming?
Of course, there are also risks involved with replatforming your eCommerce store and you need to be aware of these before making the decision to go ahead. Working with an experienced agency can mitigate many of these risks, but here are some of the potential challenges:
Replatforming is always intended to be as seamless as possible, but this can depend on the original site’s structure and coding. This can result in the potential for data to be corrupted or lost altogether. However, you can protect yourself against this possibility by implementing thorough back-up procedures, conducting extensive data testing and making sure the migration is performed by experienced experts.
downtime and disruptions.
One major concern you might have about migrating from one platform to another is that, at some point, your store might have to be made unavailable to customers. The longer this downtime, the more inconvenience to customers and the more revenue you are missing out on. If you have a high profile site, you could even suffer reputational damage on social media.
But this can be mitigated. Coming up with a comprehensive migration plan, scheduling the downtime for when you usually have low traffic and communicating the expected unavailability to customers will help avoid this being a problem.
Replatforming can also result in issues with compatibility and integration between the old site and the new one. But with the right planning and procedures, any bugs can be worked out with minimum disruption. This involves a thorough compatibility analysis and rigorous testing, conducted by experts.
Another aspect that needs to be factored into your planning is making sure your staff actually know how to use the new platform. After all, if they are unfamiliar with it, this opens you up to mistakes that impact customer service. Again, this can be avoided by working with an experienced partner agency who can provide training and get your team up to speed ahead of the launch.
A real risk from replatforming is that you can do damage to your existing SEO rankings when pages and site structure suddenly change. But with the right precautions taken through an SEO strategy and 301 redirects, you can ensure there are no nasty surprises for Google’s search spiders.
Big projects can have costs that over-run and this can happen with replatforming projects too, especially when there are unforeseen complexities or customisation requests. Again, this can be mitigated through preparation, like running a thorough cost analysis and feasibility study and creating a contingency budget. Working with an agency with a reputation for detail in their scoping and cost management is also crucial.
user experience disruption.
If you’ve ever spent time wandering your local supermarket looking for the sauce selection after they’ve moved things around on the shelves, you’ll know how disorienting it can be. This can happen in eCommerce too, resulting in frustration and confusion.
That’s why we typically advise against very drastic changes to the site’s design, but even these can be mitigated with proper UX and usability testing as well as gathering feedback to address any potential pain points.
platform (and agency) reliability.
And finally, the one reason that leaves people too scared to make big changes - what if you make it worse? Picking the wrong platform or the wrong agency can lead to an even more unreliable eCommerce site and more troubles than you had before. This is why you need to get these decisions right, conducting thorough supplier evaluations, reviewing any customer testimonials and case studies and finding an agency and platform with proven track records.
working with an experienced agency.
Each of the risks above should give you an idea of the challenges that come with replatforming, but none of them should put you off taking this step when the time is right. All of them are easily mitigated if you are working with the right platform and the right agency.
At Statement, we have years of experience helping clients replatform successfully for big name brands such as NEOM and Cloud Nine - you can read some of our case studies here. Why not get in touch, and see how we can help you take your eCommerce site to the next level?