This is the second of a 10-part series focused on helping ecommerce companies assess the necessity of, plan, and execute a website replatforming exercise.
Ecommerce businesses and teams can often be susceptible to what you’d call the ‘boiling frog’ phenomenon. Being confronted with scalding water straight away will trigger an immediate jump out of the current environment. However, and as is much more likely to happen, a gradual worsening of a given predicament will often be ignored or neglected until the situation becomes truly urgent.
Knowing when to bite the bullet and change your ecommerce vendor is half the battle in a replatforming exercise. This is because any thorough and systematically conducted assessment of your website’s productivity will yield not just a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to the question at hand, but will lay out a roadmap to implement the changes you need. For starters, it immediately tells you which product lines, departments, or geographies are not performing to their utmost potential. A cause and effect analysis will also help you understand whether this is a personal or technological issue, and therefore, what support integrations you should consider looking into for your new platform. Most importantly, it gives you a clear idea of your priorities and which core functions should be implemented first for the new platform to start delivering immediate value.
Any website assessment needs to fully take into account views across your company’s value chain. Getting a buy-in from all of your stakeholders, in letter and spirit, is critical to a successful website replatforming. Use this checklist as an overview of the things your various departmental stakeholders should be evaluating when considering a change.
Technology issues are often some of the most glaring problems you will face. If your site can’t handle peak hour traffic, your shoppers aren’t going to hang around. Site speed is an ecommerce must-have. Websites that don’t load quickly experience cart abandonment rates as high as 75%. Just as important is the capacity to integrate with third-party applications such as payment and shipping gateways. According to Statista, 62% of respondents consider free shipping as the most important factor when choosing a retailer. If your website assessment reveals that it’s difficult to integrate popularly used APIs, it’s certainly time to make a change. Consider also how easily you’re able to implement and trial new features and SKUs and respond to competitive changes.
A/B testing is a fundamental marketing requirement to maintain and maximize inbound traffic, user experience, and sales conversions. It’s also one that calls for frequent developer-led changes to the website. Without the trial data that these tests yield, your teams are functioning blindly. Your website assessment should question how responsive your platform is and whether it’s geared to perform in a mobile-first ecosystem. After all, mobile is expected to account for 73% market share of ecommerce by 2021 and is a key part of ecommerce SEO best practices. Also, investigate whether your platform supports the necessary mobile integrations to enable a uniformly personalized cross-platform experience for your customers. In general, when considering a website replatform, pay close attention to the ease at which your growth teams can adapt the interface to suit their needs.
Now, these are some of the hidden costs only a comprehensive website assessment will reveal. If you’re using legacy infrastructure that needs constant technical support, it can be a bit difficult deciding where to draw the line between hiring extra personnel and considering a website replatform. Other operational expenses include revenue leakages due to order picking errors and integration glitches with other systems like your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Warehouse Management System (WMS), and Product Information Management (PIM). If your ecommerce platform also locks you into a particular hosting provider (in most cases the platform itself), and their service proves to be unreliable, it should be a massive red flag in your website assessment results. Alternatively, if you seek to avoid maintenance costs altogether, you could consider migrating to an ecommerce solution provider.
Quality customer support and experience is non-negotiable for a successful platform. Efficiently responding to customer queries and processing orders, shipping, tracking, and returns is at the heart of any ecommerce business’ value proposition. This requires flawless integration with your logistics partners’ databases and your own CRM. 44% of shoppers say they didn’t complete a purchase because it wouldn’t arrive on time. Half as many said they didn’t order because the delivery date wasn’t precise. Your website assessment should dive deep into customer satisfaction and discovering common reasons for cart abandonment.
Significant security incidents usually prompt immediate website replatforming. Robust platform security tends to be one of the things customers usually take for granted in any viable ecommerce website. eBay’s massive data breach in 2014 that compromised all of its 145 million customers’ accounts inspired an incredible loss of worldwide confidence in the etailer, as well significant revenue downturns. However, inadequate security protocols don’t necessarily make their impact felt in crippling cyberattacks. They can handicap you in smaller ways that make traffic and business growth impossible for you. For example, platforms not compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), the internationally accepted security standard required for supporting major credit card schemes, will not be able to offer customers the range of payment options they’re used to, resulting in lost revenue. Security flaws should be one of the first things your website assessment aims to expose.
Is your ecommerce platform set up for omnichannel outreach? Not all your customers will buy your products off your website. They’ll shop on Facebook, Instagram, affiliate retailers, and other ecommerce chains for white-labeled merchandise. To remain relevant, you should consider establishing a presence on these other platforms and make sure your Inventory Management System (IMS) and connecting APIs can support future purchases. On average, 52% of online stores are geared for multichannel selling. Embarking on a thorough website assessment following a strategy and goal-setting exercise can be a great way to ensure that your business endeavors align with your ambitions.
Determining Total Cost Of Ownership (TCO)
How do you reliably calculate the cost of providing your service? It can be difficult to calculate such a cost, if you keep running into unexpected overheads, maintenance costs, time-revenue lost and integration delays. These unforeseen triggers can cause a domino effect to occur, hampering your business growth projections. This can also make it challenging for growth teams to confidently forecast the cost of introducing new product lines and brands. Sure, you can add more IT support staff, but commissioning a website assessment is what will get you the data you need to make a sustainable business decision.
Website replatforming isn’t something you should embark upon lightly, but neither should you seek to avoid it at all costs for the hassle it presents. Ecommerce is set to account for 22% of all retail sales by as early as 2023, and for 95% of all purchases by 2040. If there was ever a time to ensure your online store is future-proof, it’s now. If you have questions or feel the need to consult an ecommerce agency for your replatforming exercise, contact Coalition Technologies today. Keep following our blog for the rest of this series on replatforming. Up next, we’ll discuss the Discovery phase, with an emphasis on the customer experience and marketing audits.