Preston Pilgrim
Author Preston Pilgrim
Digital Marketing PM
August 19, 2016
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Ecommerce is Constantly Changing — Is it Time For You to Replatform?

The growth in ecommerce has shown no sign of slowing down. Shopping online is the norm nowadays -- which means your ecommerce platform needs to be sleek, appealing, user-friendly, and simple in order to provide the best possible user experience.

The sad truth, though, is that most ecommerce websites don’t do this. They use platforms that can’t provide the full functionality that they need, so they are constantly adding quick fixes and trying to get by with a mediocre “solution.” This type of strategy might work for a while, but if you don't adapt (replatform), don't be surprised if your customers leave you for one of your competitors that did give the customers what they want.

Side note: When I say replatform, I don't necessarily mean you need to change your current ecommerce solution; I mean you need to find a way to enhance that solution and make it better. If you can't do that, maybe it's time to make a jump to a completely different ecommerce solution.

Why Do I Need to Replatform?

If you don't have an ecommerce platform that can create a great experience your customers expect, you're only hurting yourself in the long run.

Tons of big ecommerce brands are setting the tone for what a great ecommerce experience is.

Why would customers continue shopping with you when other brands are creating ecommerce experiences that your current platform can’t deliver? Your ecommerce platform needs to be equally as engaging, informative, simple, and personalized as these other top platforms because that’s what customers expect.

You're Not The Only One
There was a survey conducted that stated 40% of merchants agreed that they are not happy with the ecommerce platform they currently use. Are you part of this statistic? Are you doing something to change it?

Always Be Adapting
There is no such thing as plateauing. You are either falling behind or moving forward.

Have a look around, analyze what the best platforms are doing to create an amazing customer experience. What are your competitors doing? Can you do things better? Dive into your analytics and look at conversions, cart abandonment rates and other metrics. After analyzing all of that, can you come up with new ideas, strategies, and enhancements to create a better experience?

Even if you just finished replatforming, you should already be looking for new technologies and enhancements for your future replatform. If you don’t, other brands will, and they will leave you in the dust because they took the time to figure out what their customers want and expect. If you want to win in the ecommerce world, you need to constantly be moving forward.

When Should I Replatform?

If your business is growing year over year, a replatform is normally necessary every three to five years. That doesn't mean you should wait five years before you consider replatforming.  You should always be looking for new advancements and technologies to improve your site.

Here are some common signs that it may be time to think about a change:

Your Integrations Are Limited
There is nothing worse than not being able to reach your goals because you are using a platform that can’t integrate properly with other third party softwares and solutions. Those could be payment gateways, CRM software, shipping vendors, accounting software, analytics, shopping channels…or any custom integration you would want for your business. If you are being held back because your current platform can’t integrate with the third party solutions you need, it's time to replatform.

That is a big reason why we use Drupal Commerce at Acro Media. Having an open source platform to work with makes the potential limitless when it comes to integrations. If there isn't a Drupal module that integrates with a third party solution, we can easily build one!

Here are some custom integrations we have performed in the past:

Value Calendars: Custom Quickbooks Integration — Learn More Here

Bar Codes Talk: More custom integration than you can count on one hand — Learn More Here

Your Business is Outgrowing Your Platform
If you have a thriving and growing business, but you're using a platform that takes time away from important tasks that you should be focusing on, consider replatforming.

One example of this was our client Pro Vault Scooters. They run a very successful business, but were using a platform that did not automatically track inventory of their products. All that work had to be done manually. As you can imagine, this was a huge time suck. It only made sense for them to replatform and upgrade to a system that would solve this issue and save them the effort of manually tracking inventory. In this case, a replatform was totally necessary and will save Pro Vault Scooters tons of time and money in the long run.

Ask yourself if there are situations where your current ecommerce platform or solution just can't keep up with your current business growth. Are you being held back because of this? Would solving this issue save you more time and money?

You’re Falling Behind With New Technology
Personally, I think this is a big one. Technology is always changing. If you are using outdated technology and you can't create the best possible user experience because of this, you need to replatform.

You should be on the cutting edge, because if you aren't, your competitors will be. Have a look at the technology growth over the last few decades. It won't take long for you to fall behind if you aren't keeping up to date with new technology.


Your Platform Suffers From Lack of Support
I can give you a very recent example on this one. We use Drupal as our main platform here at Acro Media and in 2016, they stopped all support for Drupal 6. The only versions that have support now are Drupal 7 and Drupal 8.

Knowing this, it might not make sense for some of our clients to stay on Drupal 6 which is now an obsolete version of Drupal.  There is no more support. If anything goes wrong or they need help with something, they are out of luck.

Your Goals Have Changed
Do you have new goals and expectations for your ecommerce website? Maybe you want the fastest page load speed in your industry, or higher conversion rates, or lower cart abandonments, or a better content implementation, or higher security.

New goals will constantly pop up. As a business owner, you need to be ready to take action on these goals to not only set higher expectations for yourself, but for your customers.

How to Replatform the Right Way

Replatforming can be an intimidating task. Maybe you're not sure what you need in your new ecommerce platform and maybe you don't have the right processes for figuring it out. Here are some steps to make your replatforming experience a smooth and successful one.

Phase One: Pinpoint Your Requirements

Set Goals
This one should be a no brainer. What do you want your new ecommerce platform to accomplish? What do you want it to do?

Establish Specific Metrics You Want to Reach
Metrics and data are what help you conclude if something is successful or not. Here are some examples:

  • How many orders per hour can your ecommerce store handle right now and how many do you want it to handle after the replatform?
  • What is your ecommerce conversion rate at, and what do you want it to be at?
  • What is your cart abandonment rate at and what do you want it to be at after the replatform?
  • What is your revenue per order now and how would you like to increase that?

When you are considering a new ecommerce platform, or upgrading your current one, have a look at these goals and metrics and determine if your new solution is going to help or hinder the goals and metrics you set for yourself.

Collaborate As Necessary
Any department that is going to be affected by a new replatform should be involved in the decision-making process. Look at all the different departments you have: sales, marketing, inventory management…will any of these departments be affected? And is there anything they could suggest or provide to make the new replatform that much better?

Phase Two: Know Your Integrations

Replatforming is all about creating a smooth and delightful experience for both your internal staff and visiting customers. To do this, you need to have a system that can integrate with all the third party platforms and software your company may be using.  

You should map out all the integrations you need on your current platform and all the integrations you will need in the near future as well. You should be listing everything from the front-end components to the back-end software that you are going to need in order to make your ecommerce experience as smooth and automated as possible.

This can be one of the most tedious tasks when replatforming, but it will help guide you in the right direction when choosing an ecommerce solution. You will find out right away which ecommerce platforms can integrate with what you need and which ones can't.  

One of the main reasons our clients decide to work with us here at Acro Media is because we use Drupal. With Drupal being an open source platform, we can create custom integrations for just about any situation. You don’t want to use a platform that can’t integrate properly with the third party solutions you need to run a smooth ecommerce website.

To learn more about Drupal integrations, click here.

Phase Three: Is It Scalable?

If you are going to have a successful replatform, you need to have a vision for the future. Ask yourself the following question:

“Even though this platform might solve my problems now, does it have the adaptability to grow with my business in the future?”

You don’t want to make a change and then find out six months down the road that your ecommerce platform can’t grow with your business. This is a very common problem with SASS ecommerce platforms like Shopify, Magento, and Woocommerce. Because these platforms aren't open source like Drupal Commerce, it’s very easy to run into problems when your business starts to grow and you need to add integrations or custom features that these platforms just don't have the functionality to handle.

Have a vision for your ecommerce business and choose a platform that can grow into that vision.

Phase Four: Pick The Right Partner

At the end of the day, nothing else matters if you can't find the right agency to work with that can help you bring your replatform vision to life.

If you use an internal developer, you might not have to worry about this issue if he/she has enough talent to help you replatform. But if you are looking for an agency that can help you replatform, you need to make sure you are doing some due diligence. Here are some points to consider when choosing an agency/partner to work with:

  • Have they worked on a project like yours before?
  • What platform do they use?
  • Does that platform have the ability to grow with your business in the future?
  • Do you have any custom integrations and have they done anything similar in the past?
  • What is their reputation?

Phase Five: Don't Rush

We know replatforming can be a VERY exciting experience, but don't let that excitement get to the point where you are rushing everything. The last thing you want to do is push everything live without testing it properly or without making sure it does what it is intended to do. That doesn't look good for you and your customers won't appreciate it either.

If you are working with a good agency that is helping you replatform, you won’t need to worry about this. They should handle everything, have deadlines for the entire project and test everything before pushing anything live.

Just realize that patience is key when replatforming.

Wrapping It All Up

Replatforming is definitely not easy, but that doesn't mean you should avoid it. You need to be aware and realize when it's time to replatform.

Replatforming isn't for you -- it's for your customers. You replatform because you know you need to meet the ecommerce expectations that your customers have. Trust me, they will appreciate you for it and will reward you in the long run.

Our Clients That Have Replatformed

Bar Codes Talk — Bar Codes Talk is a perfect example of a business that is constantly on the cutting edge and evolving with the new technologies. We have done countless custom integrations on the Bar Codes Talk website and have performed three major replatforms for their business in the span of seven years. If you look at any of their competitors, none of them even compare to Bar Codes Talk. They are setting the ecommerce  expectations for customers and so should you. You can learn more about these projects here.

TELUS — TELUS had many issues with their ecommerce platform in the past and knew they needed to take action right away with a new replatform. Unfortunately, they used another company unrelated to Acro Media and their first replatform was a complete fail. They then decided to work with us here at Acro Media, replatformed again using  Drupal and have never looked back. You can learn more about their story here.

Value Calendars — Value Calendar is another company that realized they had an outdated website that gave a poor user experience. Value Calendars decided to work with Acro Media and Drupal to reach their replatforming goals. After completion, it was evident that the new replatform did what it needed to do. The user experience improved dramatically, SEO boosted, and they have a website that can actually integrate with third party softwares. You can learn more about that project here.

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