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eCommerce replatforming: A short introduction.

January 26, 2021 By: Alex Torres

It’s safe to say that there is never a perfect time for launching your eCommerce replatforming project. Unlike brick-and-mortar stores, eCommerce sites and online stores never close. 

For some retailers, the rise in online shopping that resulted from the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed their current eCommerce platform to the edge. Mounting tech debt, poor platform functionality, and the inability to scale are common complaints among retailers that want to replatform.

Maybe heavy traffic spikes on major shopping days like Black Friday or Cyber Monday are negatively impacting your conversion rates and revenue. Perhaps the pandemic-fueled boost in website traffic means you’re facing more security failures than ever before. Or maybe your current, outdated platform requires so much maintenance that innovation is out of the question.

Your team shouldn’t be spending their time constantly addressing small fixes. Instead, they need to be innovating based on customer feedback and data so that your organization can remain competitive in today’s digital-first economy. 

If your organization is struggling to keep up with the latest technology, then it might be time to ditch your legacy application system for a new one. 

Unfortunately, the decision to replatform comes with its own set of challenges. As your team transitions from one platform to another, online shoppers will continue to make purchases. This will inevitably add to the pressure of launching and maintaining a new website. 

To help make the transition smoother, we have put together a brief guide so that you can make the decision to replatform with confidence.

What is eCommerce replatforming? 

eCommerce replatforming is when an online retailer builds a new technology or selects a third-party service that offers a different or updated eCommerce platform. 

The process might require moving from one third-party service to another (e.g., transitioning from Shopify to Magento 2). Or it might mean building a custom, in-house solution from scratch.

Occasionally eCommerce replatforming involves switching from an in-house solution to a third-party service, like WooCommerce, or vice versa. Both of these paths usually lead to significant changes in a company’s operational model.

In general, enterprises need to find an eCommerce platform that integrates almost seamlessly with their current tech stack, including top priority third-party plugins. 

Most retailers avoid building their own platform, unless there is a demonstrable cost advantage. In fact, some organizations simply need better implementation and configuration to optimize for the current platform’s capabilities.

Convincing your team to replatform.

When organizations launch an replatforming initiative, there will be conversations surrounding sunk costs, including the time, energy, and money that the organization has previously invested in building and maintaining the current eCommerce platform. 

The replatforming process can lead to confusion regarding the project scope and timeline. In fact, many will fear that replatforming might actually hurt the business, lower conversion rates, and damage SEO rankings. 

How long does an eCommerce replatforming take? 

eCommerce replatforming can take anywhere from 8 weeks to well over a year, depending on an enterprise’s rollout strategy. Scope and complexity may vary, but the overall process remains the same. 

If a smaller enterprise selects a Shopify platform with a pre-existing theme, for instance, the process can take just 8-12 weeks, depending on the level of customization and the number of third-party integrations. 

For larger enterprises, the process inherently requires extensive customization, since the pre-existing systems are more complex. This means the process can potentially take over a year to complete. 

When should an enterprise start replatforming? 

eCommerce replatforming should be a business decision, first and foremost. 

Some legacy platforms lack the agility to deliver changes fast, while other platforms rely far too much on integration and extension partners. Meanwhile, many legacy systems still can’t integrate with newer financial tools such as Stripe and Apple Pay. 

Here are some key reasons why eCommerce companies and retailers should consider replatforming.

    • Bounce rates are up, pages are slow, and conversion rates are down
    • You’re hoping to decrease your company’s cart abandonment rate
    • Customers, even loyal ones, are complaining about the website’s user experience 
    • Your eCommerce site routinely takes more than 3 seconds to load 
    • The admin panel makes it difficult for your team to perform everyday tasks
    • The cost of maintaining the platform has become cost prohibitive and is no longer sustainable
    • The platform is not up to par with top competitors 
    • Certain platform features are becoming obsolete
    • Technical errors and UX design flaws are negatively impacting your conversion rates 
    • The platform is slowing down the website and damaging search engine rankings
    • Tech debt keeps increasing
    • Your organization is paying for unused or irrelevant features
    • There are gaps in the existing system
    • You want to move to a hosted, SaaS platform over self-hosted, on-premise systems to improve security 
    • You want to downsize from your legacy system to save money
    • Your legacy systems can’t integrate with new plugins, and adding extensions is becoming too cumbersome 

It goes without saying that online retail is evolving. Replatforming is basically a requirement to keep up with market trends, industry changes, and customer demands. 

What are the steps to eCommerce replatforming?

There are a number of steps required to successfully complete an eCommerce replatforming, including:

  1. Comparing different eCommerce platforms such as Shopify, Magento, and WooCommerce
  2. Creating a shortlist of platforms and plan options
  3. Scheduling demos 
  4. Installing the new system
  5. Backing up old eCommerce store data 
  6. Transferring data from the old system to the new one using platforms like Cart2Cart, LitExtension, and Next-Cart
  7. Performing an SEO audit 
  8. Optimizing the checkout experience 
  9. Setting up and launch a new eCommerce site
  10. Communicating the ongoing changes and any site outages with existing customers 

When choosing a platform, it’s important to think about your team’s plan for deployment, maintainability, upgradeability, and the ease of incorporating integrations. 

Many retailers select a new platform that makes it easier to streamline analytics, such as collecting, measuring, and displaying customer data. 

As you start to think about replatforming, it’s important to consider the business impact, total cost, your current team’s skill set, the features & capabilities that your team needs the most, and potential future improvements. 

More importantly, you’re going to need to decide the best time to start the replatforming process. 

Comparing eCommerce platforms.

When comparing eCommerce platforms, you’ll probably look at Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento 2, WordPress, PrestaShop, BigCommerce, and Volusion. And if you’re not considering a third-party platform like Shopify or Magento, then you’re probably working with an agency to build an in-house solution.

As you sort through the options, you’ll also be thinking about whether you want to use on-premise hosting, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms, or cloud-based hosting.

Some common migrations include:

    • Shopify to WooCommerce
    • Shopify to Magento 
    • Magento to WooCommerce
    • WooCommerce to Magento 
    • Magento to Shopify
    • Magento to Magento 2.0
    • And many more… 

Throughout the selection process, it’s crucial to think about data migration options, front-end design, back-end development, database options, admin panels, quality assurance tools, and training for your team. 

Data migration options for eCommerce replatforming.

Before transitioning to the new platform, you should crawl your current site, catalog all existing content, and make a data migration game plan.

While small businesses with simple B2C eCommerce sites might be able to migrate data manually, larger organizations should consider hiring a third-party service or using a data migration application. 

Some popular data migration apps & services include Cart2Cart, LitExtension, and Next-Cart. These services allow organizations to migrate data for things like:

    • Orders
    • Customers
    • Product descriptions & categories
    • Images
    • Manufacturers

As you prepare for your data migration, it’s important to ask the following questions:

    • Is the data imported correctly?
    • Did we set up our collections properly? 
    • When is the best time to run the migration? (Hint: Probably not during the holiday season)

Our rule of thumb for eCommerce data migration? Migrate data when website traffic is at its lowest. 

eCommerce replatforming and SEO.

As you transition from one platform to another, your eCommerce site’s SEO ranking might take a brief hit. While SEO might be worse for a bit, it should return to its original position within a few weeks or months.

Here are some strategies for maintaining your current SEO ranking:

    • Avoid content changes
    • Don’t revise your content during migration
    • Spend a good chunk of time on redirects
    • Focus on one-to-one redirects, not too many many-to-one redirects
    • Use Migration APIs to reduce the number of 404 errors

eCommerce replatforming with Quantum Metric.

Replatforming is a big decision, and it shouldn’t be done without the proper data to back it up. 

If you’re planning an eCommerce platform migration, Quantum Metric can help your team to make data-driven decisions on what to prioritize during your migration, establish a baseline to compare performance pre- and post-migration, identify errors in quality assurance to minimize impacts in production, proactively monitor performance in real-time, detect anomalies, automatically quantify the impact of errors to speed & iteration, and more.

To learn more, watch a recorded 5-minute demo of our platform or request a live, personalized demo.

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