This is the first of a 10-part series focused on helping ecommerce companies assess the necessity of, plan, and execute a website replatforming exercise.
You can successfully run an ecommerce business with the right team, a solid strategy, and a well-designed website. Unfortunately, not all websites are optimized to keep up with increased traffic or provide a friendly user experience. Knowing when it is time to increase the functionality of your website with new technology is key to success in ecommerce. Here’s how to implement the ecommerce replatforming process.
Understanding the Need for Replatforming
There are several scenarios in which ecommerce replatforming is needed, the most common being outdated technology. Over time, your platform may deteriorate in speed or performance and become limited in its functionalities. Consequently, these limitations can negatively affect your business. For instance, the bounce rate increases by 90% if a page takes about 5 seconds to load. While a few seconds might not seem like a crisis, it can impair customer satisfaction and, ultimately, your bottom line. To ensure you continue to give your customers the best experience, you should strongly consider ecommerce replatforming to achieve a flawless mobile experience, top-notch performance, and advanced functionality.
The replatforming process can involve moving to a new ecommerce platform, integrating various apps and 3rd party resources, and updating your UX/UI design. It is an intricate task that calls for time, resources, and a reasonable deadline.
Step 1: Assessment of the Situation
In the initial step of ecommerce replatforming, you need to decide if you want to move to a better platform by thoroughly reviewing the following:
- Technology: Red flags include instability in periods of high traffic, integration difficulties, and outdated design that makes it difficult to add modern features.
- Operational complications: These include an unprecedented order error rate, poor customer response time, consequent bad reviews (58% of customers quit ordering from a company due to bad customer experience), and general unsatisfactory server performance.
- Marketing and SEO: Is the marketing team encountering problems in generating organic traffic and running tests? Are you in need of new integrations related to modern functions such as social buying?
- Scalability: When the existing platform cannot keep up with business growth, expansion, and mergers, replatforming and expansion are necessary to accommodate the added activities.
- Security: If there has been a recent security hitch, the platform is vulnerable to malicious attacks or does not have modern security features to protect customer information.
Step 2: Discovery
Utilize the findings of the first step to establish what needs to be done. While you might be in a hurry to find a new ecommerce platform as soon as possible, you have to take this step seriously as it lays the foundation for all other processes. The goal here is to find a path to solve each of your problems. Some of the activities carried out during the replatforming discovery process include:
- Giving each assessment special attention and allocating the personnel needed for each to ensure sufficient input. This means defining the roles of marketing, finance, warehousing and inventory, and customer service departments, among others.
- Carrying out a complete audit of all platform functionalities.
- Establishing the goals of the migration.
- Creating a budget and timeline to achieve the set goals.
Step 3: Request for Proposal (RFP)
The discovery process has revealed all you need to ensure a smooth replatforming, including the budget, technical principles, and other business requirements. The RFP should follow, where you identify potential vendors and ask them to send you a pitch for your project.
Here is an outline of things you should include in your request.
- A project overview
- The strengths and weaknesses of the existing platform
- What to expect in the new platform
- A full-on migration plan
- A budget breakdown as well as a detailed timeline, including launch date.
To streamline the vetting process, it can be beneficial to use pre-made templates and guidelines prepared by replatforming ecommerce experts.
Step 4: The Pre-Check Phase
By now, the results from the 3rd step should have already led to a concrete decision about the next platform. In this step:
- Plan the design, including mobile optimization and UX specifications.
- Organize a plan for SEO strategies, review existing SEO, and tweak it for better results.
- Prepare adequately for data migration, keeping in mind that this is arguably the heart of replatforming. Sufficient preparation goes a long way towards facilitating a smooth transition with minimal business disruptions.
- Ensure every component of the ecosystem integrates seamlessly.
- Conduct a risk assessment to point out potential complications and correct them before they occur.
NB: In a case where you want to leverage headless architecture, you may need to consider using CMS or a framework (Vue, Angular, etc.). The former calls for fewer hosting needs, unlike the latter, which also calls for infrastructural attention and additional development to link to the platform’s APIs.
The Final Process: Build and Project Delivery
The execution process of replatforming needs a lot of precision and accuracy. Those working on the platform should come up with a priority scheme to set up the most important attributes first and the rest in order. This means arranging aspects such as products, currency, and language variants in a way that will minimally disrupt business. Here are some factors to consider:
- The build is something you could handle internally if you have the workforce, but if you are working with an agency, these guidelines still apply as long as you maintain a high level of communication. Remember that 94% of people don’t trust a website with an outdated design because it makes a business look disreputable or lacking in skill, so you need to prioritize a high-quality site with great functionality.
- Accommodate a certain level of flexibility to help tackle any arising issues and focus on streamlining core operations that will work together.
- As the process continues, there should be a team checking out the integrity and accuracy of all functions, ultimately confirming that the ecosystem is back and running smoothly.
If your business requires a faster and more scalable platform or added functionalities like social selling to remain competitive, you now know your options for choosing a new ecommerce platform. Replatforming is a complex process, but with a careful approach, the upside potential is enormous. When in doubt reference the above overview and be sure to follow up with your team to ensure your new platform is properly functioning.
In the next part of our Replatforming Series, read about the key drivers of ecommerce replatforming, including customer support, mobile integrations, maintenance costs, and platform scalability.