“Change: The only thing that never changes. Everything else, including the best of the best, always keeps changing!”
Has your eCommerce business expanded its growth swiftly since the time you ventured out? The latest technological advancement brings us this one big question – does the existing online store possess the bandwidth to support the spurge of sales? Sometimes, the best eCommerce platform that was chosen a couple of years ago could actually hold you back from business growth and provide a better customer experience. It doesn’t matter how old or new your online store is, sometimes an upgrade might be the best solution.
Why You Should Consider Re-Platforming:
When you first thought of launching an online store – you could have either ended up building something internally or chosen to go with the pre-built eCommerce platforms. But the platforms were not really great a couple of years ago.
Now that we’ve learned there are things that are holding your online store from reaching better heights in the growing digital commerce industry, let’s see what things need to be considered and whether you really need a re-platforming.
Even the best-of-the-best platforms will become outdated if you’re a rapidly growing company, and every time you come up with something you just simply outgrow your eCommerce platform. But that doesn’t mean you’re all alone. Global eCommerce sales neared $2.86 trillion in 2018 (up from $2.43 trillion the previous year) and it grew 18% compared to 2017.
While your current platform can still handle some of your current challenges, it isn’t going to help in any way for your insane growth. Your product lines, SKU’s and transactions are going to increase tenfold as you grow, for which your platform has to support the growth rate and must scale with you.
Features and Technicalities:
The very first time you built this store, you may have ended up choosing a simple platform that had all the basic features you needed at that time, and the platform can be free/open source or inexpensive. Sometimes these beginner platforms can be outdated, may not have the latest apps/extensions, unstable under high traffic scenarios, and advanced features may not be available or take a long time to develop. The website’s performance and bad customer experiences are not a good sign of a growing brand.
A successful business is all about having everything tightly integrated, so you don’t have to manually handle things often. Let’s say, on instances like multiple channels, the order/inventory management will be handled on ERP and you need to ensure the ERP system is integrated with your eCommerce platform. The data has to flow back and forth and your systems will essentially need to talk to each other. Third-party connectors like CLORAS, which has a pre-built solution, will help you to connect your ERP and the eCommerce platform. Because of the outdated technology, you’ve been using you may not be able to take advantage of these modern connectors that can help your team to trim down the man-hours which can be invested elsewhere.
What truly makes for a good experience? Speed – Convenience – Consistency – Friendliness – and a human touch. It doesn’t matter how hard you’ve been developing/managing your eCommerce platform, after all, it’s all about the customer experience. If the end customer finds it hard to maneuver around your online store and if it’s just going to be a learning curve, then there is no point in all this hard work. The point of choosing the right eCommerce platform for your online business is to get the consumers what they wanted within the first ten-seconds of when they visit your website.
Research by American Express shows that 60% of consumers are willing to pay more for better customer experience. Nearly 80% of Americans say Speed, Convenience, Knowledgeable Help, and Friendly Service are the most important elements for positive customer experience.
A good customer experience overall minimizes the friction in navigating within the website and maximizes the efficiency. Experience is everything. Check-out the report by PWC here on how to get it right.
Being a responsible eCommerce store owner, it’s highly important for you to take care of the data security of your online store. Does your current platform provider offer timely security patches? Or, if you’re running a custom-built platform, do you constantly monitor the security threats and ensure the industry standards are met? How do you handle the data, where’s it hosted and is it end-to-end encrypted? These are some of the questions you need to be transparent on.
How well does your online store work on mobile?
Almost 230 million consumers in the US use smartphones and over 100 million use tablets. 79% of smartphone users have made a purchase through their phones. Well, the numbers are massive, and so is the mobile market. Other interesting statistics say, 40% of users are more likely to access your competitor’s site if they have an unsatisfactory experience in your store. No one would ever want that to happen – honestly, not in 2019!
Modern platform providers offer pre-built themes which offer a mobile responsive layout by default. Even if it is not already, it isn’t going to take a huge amount of time to convert it to a mobile responsive site. Whereas, in cases like a custom-built platform or an outdated platform, this could be an unwanted investment of man-hours which can be invested elsewhere.
Marketing is definitely the key to any online growth. It’s all about promoting the products the way you want your customers to know and purchase.
Brand awareness is the top goal to focus on first, followed by the rest.
- Content – Focus on your customer’s goals, how much time they really need to spend on your website and what they’re going to gain. Eventually, the content has to be tailored around these areas.
- Social Media – Gary Vaynerchuk says, there is no better way to grow than using all the freely available social media platforms. Spreading the word through social media will help you to create brand awareness, create new visitors/leads, and eventually more sales. The more active you are, the more people you’re going to reach.
- Companies like Chobani (an American Food Brand) sells just a single product: Yogurt. They run their marketing campaigns with delightful pictures of the yogurt.
- PPC – Pay Per Click – Paid Search Advertising is one of the effective B2C eCommerce Strategies to attract buyers prior to building the SEO score for your store.
- Email Marketing and Loyalty – A sweet and short email can ignite your customer’s emotions. 82% of B2B and B2C eCommerce companies are using email marketing. Check out these 19 examples of brilliant email marketing campaign templates by HubSpot. It’s very easy to generate business from existing customers rather than always focusing on new customers. 67% of existing customers spend more than new customers. You need to understand the power of loyalty programs and generating sales through it from the existing customers. Creating the right loyalty program can help you increase sales tenfold within a couple of months.
So, ensure your eCommerce store has the ability to run these marketing activities without breaking your head.
Finance and Maintenance
A successful company always needs to monitor the cost, starting from allocating the budget to where your money actually goes. Some of the major spendings to run an eCommerce store goes to hosting, subscription, security, managing the dev team and finally maintenance. How much time does your dev team spend time on maintaining your eCommerce platform? Let’s say, if they keep on fixing bugs – this is going to cost you both time and money. Yes, sometimes things break, but the website should work the way it was intended. Monitor your monthly spending based on all these criteria, and if you think you’re burning the cash and at the same time not spending time on how to grow your business, you should seriously consider moving to a better platform.
On-Premise vs SaaS vs CaaS:
Now that you know what it takes to run a successful online store, if you think your store has fulfilled almost all of the checkpoints, you can stop right here and you don’t really have to consider re-platforming.
For the rest of you – Go ON!
By now, you figured out what’s wrong with your current platform, so the next step is to really figure out which direction you want to go – On-Premise, SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) eCommerce, and CaaS (Commerce-as-a-Service) eCommerce and then the platform selections accordingly.
The eCommerce platform hosted on your internal network is called the on-premise. So, ideally, when you go for local hosting – you need to take care of uptime, bandwidth, CDN, Security and PCI compliance.
- Some of the on-premise platforms include Oracle Commerce, Websphere, Magento Enterprise, etc.
Before we begin, let’s keep in mind – SaaS and CaaS eCommerce are not the same.
Instead of managing it yourself, SaaS pretty much removes the complexity by just renting out the platform. Considering the development cost in open-source this is cheaper. To sum it up – hosting, product updates, security, and PCI compliance will be managed by the SaaS provider. This gives you more room to spend quality time on something else.
On the downside, lack of flexibility and customization due to the closed-off portion of the code often concerns the dev team. However, APIs will help you ease this process.
- Some of the SaaS eCommerce platforms include BigCommerce, Shopify, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Netsuite, etc.
If you’re using content-driven methods of selling products (blog posts, videos, and active in social media), and are looking to offer both the rich content and a robust eCommerce platform – then CaaS if the right solution for you.
CaaS gives you flexibility, content management, delivery, SEO, speed and intuitive design to power remarkable online experiences.
What else you can do with CaaS?
- You can update the front end without touching the backend infrastructure.
- If you’re migrating – you don’t have to create custom integrations or have to sit and port the content. The whole migration to a more robust commerce platform shrinks substantially.
- CaaS is all about decoupling the shopping cart from the CMS. A/B testing can sometimes affect the website performance, you can simply decouple it to prevent the problem.
- The CaaS platforms are – using a combination of DXP (Design Experience Platforms), such as Adobe Experience Manager, BloomReach and CMS (Content Management System) such as Drupal, WordPress.
Roadmap to Re-Platforming Whitepaper
Your Step-by-Step Guide to an eCommerce Replatform.Download Now
The #1 reason brands migrate to a new eCommerce platform is brand building and scalability. You need a secure, scalable and highly reliable platform that can help you to grow bigger and faster. From simple to complex functionality your platform must support your business as you evolve. Below we’ve outlined some of the major eCommerce platforms that can solve some of your current challenges and help you to scale better.
Adobe Experience Manager:
AEM helps you to bring your Content Management System, and Digital Asset Management together in one place. The native connection to Adobe Creative Cloud is an added advantage over other platforms.
- The creative and marketing teams can work together to deliver better results with a native creative cloud connection.
- With the smarter digital asset management, you can now save time by editing, optimizing and delivering from one platform.
- Using AI/Asset automation, you can now automate the tagging, cropping, workflows, and distribution in minutes.
- AI and machine learning help you to engage more customers with rich media.
- Your content can now be consistent across multiple channels – online (both desktop and mobile) and in-store.
- Building lifetime value is now easy by driving demand and brand loyalty – keeping customers as the primary focus.
Learn more about Adobe Experience Manager here.
A growing headless commerce provider is BigCommerce – with highly flexible API’s, and considered an open SaaS platform provider. Keeping both small businesses and enterprises in mind, the platform offers uniquely sophisticated customization and flexibility. With more built-in features and being 100%, SEO friendly helps to keep the platform on the top of the charts against its competition.
Learn more about BigCommerce here.
Magento has been one of the leading open-source, on-prem and cloud enterprise eCommerce platforms for B2B merchants over a decade now. You can control pretty much everything in your online store. This is the key factor for any B2B retailers to choose Magento over the competition – The real 100% customization.
Learn why we say Magento is the perfect platform for your B2B business here.
Setting up the online store in less than 30 minutes is the key concept of running behind Shopify. With its incredible reach, Shopify almost doubled its revenue this 2019.
Learn how you can leverage Shopify for your re-platforming here.
Similar to what Adobe AEM offers, Bloomreach is the right solution if you’re looking for a headless eCommerce CMS solution. With its microservice architecture, they offer a solution to the complete omnichannel business. One central platform can now power the traditional site delivery, SPA’s, partial page rendering, mobile apps, IoT devices, and more – all through the same shared data to personalize the customer experience.
Learn more about Bloomreach and brX Bloomreach Experience here.
Successful Re-Platforming Examples:
- Jeep People: Migrated from Shopify to BigCommerce – 3x increase in revenue, and a 30% increase in AOV. Ref: Case Study
- Woolrich: Migrated from Oracle ATG Web Commerce to BigCommerce – 22% increase in revenue, an 18% increase in conversion rate, and a 60% reduction in the total cost of ownership. Ref: Case Study
- Bohemian Traders: Started on BigCartel, then migrated to Volusion and ended up on BigCommerce – 166% YoY growth, 309% customer growth. Ref: Case Study
- TRUE Linkswear: Originally launched on Shopify, then transitioned to Magento and finally migrated to BigCommerce – 520% increase in sales YoY, 73% of the total sales through the website, a 55% increase in conversion YoY. Ref: Case Study
- Casey’s Distributing: Migrated from Magento to BigCommerce – 8x increase in productivity (50K+ SKU’s and 2,000+ retailers). Ref: Case Study
- Thompson Tee Fits: Migrated from Magento to BigCommerce – 94% increase in ROI, a 24% increase in conversion rate, and finally, $82,500 yearly cost savings. Ref: Case Study
Now that you froze the eCommerce platform, next comes the Product Customization.
For starters, if you’re new to Product Customization and don’t really have any idea about what customization is all about, and if you wonder what custom products can do for your current online sales – check-out these blogs: 7 best product customization examples and the benefits of product customization and personalization.
Some of the key benefits of product customization include –
- Customization can help you to stand out from the crowd and your competition
- Enhances customer loyalty and helps to build customer engagement
- Stimulates customer retention
- Personalized marketing strategy with a personal touch
If you already have an in-house custom-built product configurator solution or if you’re using one built by a third party customization solution provider – when re-platform, you also need to consider whether your current solution matches the latest trends.
Productimize, an Enterprise Product Customization solution, offers a highly scalable and reliable custom configurator solution for all the eCommerce platforms. If you’re currently using customization in your online store, check out our migration offerings.
Productimize Ultimate is the most scalable and robust custom configurator solution built for speed and reliability.
Re-platforming isn’t going to end without doing the data migration. Merchants generally overlook this major task – data migration. Below are some of the key steps to follow during the data migration process.
The key factor for any eCommerce store is to maintain the back-up appropriately. It doesn’t matter if you’re migrating or not, back-up has to be done constantly with a date stamp that can help you if something goes wrong down the line. So, before you start the migration process, ensure you have the proper back-up.
Form the internal team that is going to handle the data migration and come up with the list of fields they have access to. Once you’ve backed up the data, ensure you have a requirements document for the migration plan. Mapping out all the dependencies and hierarchies are the key factor.
Vet the data beforehand. It is really important that irrespective of what you’re migrating, all the data should be the latest. Some of the major things you need to consider are – data duplication, data completeness, and junk or outdated records. Let’s say if you have so many fields and only a few of them are in use, check with the appropriate team on what the actual use cases are. The individual team member has to identify the required data based on their needs – for instance, a lifetime value data may not be important for a customer support team, whereas it’s a key for the customer success team. Keep in mind, a small field can be interlinked to multiple data tables.
At this point, you have a clear outline of the migration process. Starting from the back-up, migration plan, and data inspection, you should have the records ready. Let’s proceed to the actual data migration steps now.
Before you even load the data, ensure the lookup is established to fulfill the data dependencies. Also, make sure the fields and the formatting is taken care of. An MM/DD won’t match if your new record says DD/MM. Before you Go-Live, do proper QA to ensure all the data loaded is true to the actual requirements.
Once you’re done with the migration, ensure your team is aware of the updated records and train all the users on proper data usage.
Did you know? We helped Bluesky to migrate 250,000+ records during their re-platforming – Magento to Shopify migration. Learn more on how we helped them to build an engaging Shopify store and boost sales by 20% here.
Re-Platform Strategy and Checklist:
At this point, you’ve read everything about the re-platforming. But one big question you may have is – How to do this re-platforming, is there really a process or checklist to follow? Because every merchant wants to ensure re-platforming doesn’t affect their SEO rankings or user experience or the security of the current store environment.
- Prepare an RFP for the discussions with the platform providers. BigCommerce has an RFP template that you can utilize if you don’t already have one. Some of the data you need to have ready prior to the RFP preparation is – unique visitors, average order value, conversion rates, number of transaction, gross revenue, gross margin, etc.
- If you’re looking for a list of migration questions – here is one.
- Create a three-year forecast plan so that you can come up with an investment plan on the total cost of ownership and how much returns you can expect in the next three years. Also, you need to allow a 3-6 month time buffer for the website to optimize post-launch.
- Outline the eCommerce features and functionalities, ERP and other integrations and third-party apps/or extensions that you’re running on your current store.
- Talk to the eCommerce platform providers to understand and get a demo of what their platform is capable of.
- Talk to the eCommerce agencies to understand more about how they handle the migration projects, and their discovery, proposal submission stages so you can plan your platform/vendor selection processes accordingly. Most of the agencies will even help you to connect with the platform providers since they may already have an established partnership which can also help you to have streamlined requirements gathering.
- Prepare a checklist from Strategy, Design, Development to Post Launch, so you can plan accordingly on various stages.
All said, re-platforming is not an easy thing and not going to happen overnight. You need to start planning at least 3-6 months prior to the project kick-off date. You need to understand that figuring out the right eCommerce platform for your business is a time-consuming process, but keeping the long-term business goal in mind, this is definitely going to be a worthy investment.