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What is ecommerce replatforming? Key steps for a successful migration

Ecommerce replatforming and migration are a reality that many businesses will have to face at some point with their technological ecosystem. Amid fierce competition, ecommerce sales continue to grow rapidly globally – from $5.5 trillion in 2022 to a projected $7.3 trillion by 2025.

Brands doing e-commerce must keep up with demand and, in many cases, that means moving to a modern, more scalable and robust platform.

It is a very relevant decision. The platform you choose for your ecommerce business will have a direct impact on your site's uptime, user experience, scalability, and the ability to make improvements and changes in a timely manner. If your platform doesn't fit the needs of the business, or if you're spending more time and money maintaining your current website than you should reasonably allow, then now is most likely the time to make that decision.

Historically, ecommerce migration has been considered a costly and time-consuming burden. And without the right execution plan and strategy, it really can be. In this article, we'll share how to effectively navigate ecommerce migration and replatforming so you can set your business up for sustainable success for years to come.

Let's get started!

ecommerce replatforming

What is ecommerce replatforming?

Ecommerce replatforming is the process of selecting and switching to a new ecommerce platform. In general, online retailers migrate to new platforms to improve the functionality, performance and customer experience of their ecommerce site. Switching platforms can mean moving to a third party or creating an eCommerce solution in-house.

At its most basic level, the concept involves the migration of data from one online store to another. For most businesses, this process includes comparing platforms, installing the new system, transferring data, and setting up the new eCommerce site.

Some of the most common reasons to start an eCommerce migration include:

  • Improve site performance and speed.
  • Add new features and functionality that are not available on the current platform.
  • To experiment with new business models or ecommerce infrastructure.
  • Add more elements to the customer experience, such as localization or personalization.

Switching platforms doesn't always mean moving your eCommerce store from one service partner to another. In fact, many store owners move from a SaaS platform to their own internal infrastructure, or vice versa.

In general, there are three types of ecommerce platform migration and change:

  1. Platform to platform. This includes moving from a monolithic ecommerce solution to one that offers more features or integrations. This could be a shift between cloud, SaaS, or on-premises solutions. For example, migrating from software like Shopify Plus to Magento (now Adobe Commerce) or BigCommerce.
  2. Phased migration. This could include transitioning your store in different stages, rather than all at once. For example, you could transition to a different CMS and, at the same time, retain some elements of your existing technology stack.
  3. Monolithic to microservices. This is a plug-and-play technique that allows you to overlay third-party platforms and applications to cover different parts of the customer or product journey. This could be a consideration for ecommerce stores that operate under a headless commerce.

The truth be told. There are many variations of the three types of migration we mentioned above. The truth is that each project is different and will require a unique plan to ensure that it meets all platform change requirements and of course, the company's business objectives.

Some statistics about ecommerce replatforming

In Deloitte's 2022 Retail Industry Outlook survey, 67% of respondents said ecommerce and online shopping platforms were a top investment priority for their company, citing ongoing issues with old and outdated platforms.

This sentiment is supported by an IDC report which found that 67% are considering at least changing their trading platform in the next three years, but almost the same number (61%) said the cost of implementing new technology will be high.

This growing sense of urgency to migrate to modern ecommerce platforms (a market expected to reach $7.4 billion by 2023) directly correlates to the growing percentage of internet users who shop online regularly. By 2022, 58.4% of global working-age internet users will buy something online every week.

To keep up with this demand, businesses are looking for cloud and SaaS ecommerce solutions that can help them improve scalability, user experience, payment options, conversion and checkout rates, site speed, and overall ease of maintenance. And no wonder. All of these factors have a significant impact on overall customer loyalty and sales rates.

Mobile devices account for 61% of ecommerce, but most sales are still made on desktop computers. This means that ecommerce businesses must use a platform that allows them to provide an optimal user experience on mobile or desktop devices, and that makes it easy for users to shop on any device.

In 2020, digital and mobile wallets accounted for 45% of global ecommerce payment transactions, a figure that is expected to grow to 50% by 2024. Digital wallet is by far the most popular online payment method worldwide. If your current eCommerce platform can't accept digital wallet payments, you're likely missing out on potential sales.

Cart abandonment will continue to be a major problem for eCommerce companies. This year, the average reported cart abandonment rate is 69.99%. 17% of users surveyed cited a "too long or complicated checkout process" as a reason for abandoning the service, and 16% cited "website errors or glitches." Slow loading websites also increase cart abandonment rates by up to 75%.

These three issues (poor checkout experience, website uptime, and site speed) can be directly addressed by migrating to a modern eCommerce platform. In fact, eCommerce sites can see a 35% increase in conversion rates simply by optimizing their checkout design.

Despite clear evidence supporting migration to a modern ecommerce platform, only 25% of respondents in the Deloitte survey said they were prioritizing a migration in 2022. While everyone will have their own reasons for delaying a migration, there is one common variable on everyone's minds: cost.

Twenty-nine percent of respondents to the Digital Commerce 360 ​​report said they expect to pay between $100,000 and $500,000 to transition to a new platform. This is in addition to the internal resources and time commitments required to carry out the eCommerce website migration.

Migrating an eCommerce platform can be a costly and time-consuming activity. There is no doubt about that. But both cost and time can be adequately managed with a carefully thought out migration plan. This, combined with the future benefits of migrating to a new platform, should offset the initial costs. That is the proper analysis.

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The keys to an ecommerce replatforming

An ecommerce migration and platform change are two interchangeable terms that mean the same thing: moving your store from one platform to another. The scope of this project (including costs, resources, timeline, and steps) will vary depending on the size and complexity of your online business.

However, a successful migration will follow a fairly formulaic process that includes:

  1. Bring together all stakeholders
  2. Find a new ecommerce platform
  3. Plan the migration
  4. Design and development of the new ecommerce site
  5. Payment experience optimization
  6. Perform an SEO audit before launching
  7. Tests (and more tests)
  8. Website launch

Let's look at each step in more detail.

1. Bring together all stakeholders

At Orienteed we believe that the migration of an ecommerce is a collaborative process that involves both developers and decision makers. So we think the first step is to bring these people together and present the case for why a replatforming project is necessary.

If you find yourself in this process, remember to explain the following:

  • What you can't do with your current platform
  • What activities currently cost you the most time?
  • What could be automated to save time and resources?
  • Any recurring issues with the platform causing loss of revenue
  • An estimate of the waste of internal resources caused by these problems
  • Barriers to innovation, business growth, and positive customer experience caused by the current platform
  • How a different type of ecommerce platform can alleviate all of the above

Without a doubt, each case will be unique. Try to make as complete a list as possible that shows key decision makers why the current platform is not enough today and why that is a problem for the future of the business.

If stakeholders agree that a new platform is the right solution, the next step is to agree on what you are looking for in a new solution.

To do this, you must identify:

  • Must-Have Features, Customizations, and Integrations
  • Existing problems that you would like to solve and prevent
  • Features you will need in the future
  • Workflows that can be automated
  • Data that needs to be migrated (i.e. products, existing customers, orders, etc.)
  • Resource needs to support migration
  • The ideal time frame to start and complete the migration

An ecommerce agency is a very useful partner throughout this entire process and can help guide your conversations and decision-making from an early stage. If you need help contact us here to have a first conversation.

2. Find a new ecommerce platform

The next step is the search phase, in which you investigate possible new platforms. Sites like G2 Crowd, Capterra and Gartner are useful resources when creating your initial list of vendors. You may also want to consider submitting a request for proposal (RFP) with your list of requirements to help expand scope and reduce workload.

Make a short list of five or six ecommerce platforms you're considering and schedule exploratory calls with each one.

During those calls, ask questions like:

  • How much does the migration cost?
  • How long does the migration take?
  • What does the replatforming process entail?
  • How does your team support the migration process?
  • What type of ongoing customer support do you offer?
  • Can you share any statistics on the speed and uptime of your platform?
  • How effectively does your platform scale as more products, sales, and traffic are added?
  • How do you make sure my data is safe during the migration?
  • What type of security and compliance does your platform have?
  • Can you share a list of the out-of-the-box integrations you offer? What can we do if we need integrations that are not currently supported?

Don't forget to add any questions to this list that relate to your specific requirements. Track the answers to these questions in a shared document so your team members can effectively evaluate potential suppliers collaboratively.

3. Plan the migration

Once you've selected an ecommerce partner, the next step is to establish a realistic scope of work and timeline for the migration. In doing so, you must establish all the key milestones and the resources needed for each.

Most migrations will require you to plan subprojects to address the following:

  • Create a new site hierarchy
  • Migrate content
  • Audit and delete existing content
  • Front-end design
  • Back-end development
  • Pre- and post-launch training
  • SEO migration planning

Data migration is also a critical element in the planning phase. This is when it will be determined what data needs to be transferred and how it will be securely moved from one platform to another. Data migration can be completed using a third-party service, API plugin, app, or manual CSV transfer. Coordinate with your partner agency or technology solutions provider on the best option for your replatforming project.

4. Design and development of the new ecommerce site

The design and development phase is likely to consume the most time and resources. This is where the designers and development team will work and create the front-end and back-end of your new ecommerce website. It's also where all the data you migrated will be loaded into the new site redesign.

If there are major changes you would like to make to your website's navigation, content, user experience, design, or back-end functionality, now is the time to do so.

5. Optimization of the payment experience

Depending on the eCommerce platform you have selected, you may also have the opportunity to customize and optimize the checkout experience. Connect any third party payment app you may be using in your current system to your new platform and optimize user flow as much as possible.

This is a good time to ensure that the new payment experience matches the best practices you defined at the beginning of the planning phase. The goal is to ensure that the new experience is fast, safe and efficient for your customers.

6. Conduct an SEO audit before launch

Changing ecommerce platforms is not without risks from an SEO perspective. Any time you move a website from one platform to another, you're likely to encounter a wide variety of variables that can negatively (or positively) affect your search rankings in the short term.

To mitigate that risk, make sure you:

  • Audit existing content and remove old and duplicate content
  • Create a detailed retargeting plan that maps pages one by one
  • Make sure any new web content is properly optimized for your keyword goals.
  • Migrate all metadata and schema markup from your old site (and optimize, if necessary)

Once you launch the site, continue to monitor organic traffic, search rankings, and technical SEO profile through tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs. Keep an eye out for things like 404 errors, site speed issues, and any other red flags that pop up that may indicate compromised performance.

7. Tests (and more tests)

Before launch, run several tests of the site navigation, checkout experience, front-end and back-end website functionality, and product selection process. The more scenarios you can test, the more bugs and hidden problems you are likely to discover. This will ensure that your new store is in the best possible condition on launch day A quality control team specialized in ecommerce is ideal for this stage.

When testing, run your site through a performance monitoring and auditing tool like Valid AI to ensure that all pages load and behave as expected. This will help ensure that there are no speed or usability issues upon startup. Valido AI to ensure that all pages load and behave as expected. This will help ensure that there are no speed or usability issues upon startup.

Depending on the size of your store, you probably want numerous people to analyze your site from a business and customer perspective. Ask your organization's internal stakeholders to work on the back end of your site and complete specific tasks. Do the same on the client side. You might even want to consider giving beta or early access to some of your most loyal customers. Gather all feedback and add it to final adjustments before launch.

8. Website launch

The actual launch of your website should be quite simple. Plan a launch window to minimize disruption for your customers. If possible, work with your agency or technology partner to create a launch checklist in advance so you can complete tasks in sequential order.

Ecommerce Platform Change Checklist: Your Migration “Shopping List”

As we have seen throughout this article, changing platforms is an exhaustive process that requires time and many steps. Generally, you'll want to follow the same process, completing the steps in a specific order. To make sure you don't miss any details, we've created a high-level ecommerce replatforming checklist.

  1. List the shortcomings of your existing eCommerce platform
  2. List the requirements and benefits you are looking for in the new e-commerce platform
  3. Involve stakeholders and teams in the platform change
  4. Evaluate the budgets of each team and the project as a whole.
  5. Research viable eCommerce platforms and create a short list
  6. Schedule demos or calls with the best eCommerce platform options
  7. Choose an eCommerce platform that suits your needs
  8. Backup eCommerce store data from old eCommerce store
  9. Hire a data migration service or download a data migration application
  10. Design an eCommerce site on a new eCommerce platform
  11. Migrate eCommerce store data
  12. Connect payment platform and optimize payment design
  13. Pair Integrations, Extensions, and Plugins
  14. Audit entire site for SEO, configure URLs and goals
  15. Test the entire store for performance, design and structure
  16. Train teams to use the new store manager
  17. Communicate the migration to existing customers
  18. Launch the new e-commerce store

Now is your turn!

As we have said, ecommerce replatforming is a process that can consume time and resources for your business. But it will be a project that will return the investment, through improving the customer experience, eliminating obsolescence, frictions that limit sales and facilitating fast, efficient and high-quality payment experiences.

By migrating your ecommerce you will get improved scalability, modern integrations and applications, better tracking and analytics, easier site maintenance and updates, and finally, better site and data security. In short, optimal ecommerce, for sustainable success in the coming years. Are you ready to take the leap?

Do you need to develop or migrate your ecommerce?

Contact us today here to start an incredible project together.