The decision to change your ecommerce platform may come from a sudden spark of inspiration or, just as often, from one too many frustrations. Regardless of why you need to make a change, decommissioning your current platform to move to another is not something you should jump into without thorough planning.
To ensure none of your company’s time or resources are wasted during the replatforming process, we’ve put together a checklist to walk you through the key components to keep in mind. Here, we call out a few of the most important.
1. Selecting Your Replacement Solution
Most likely your search for a new platform was initiated to eliminate one or more pain points that your current platform has been giving you. But your search for a new ecommerce platform shouldn’t end there. Today’s platforms have a multitude of options to choose from — as many as 200 to 300 features on some systems. Talk to stakeholders on your team as well as clients and suppliers to be certain you understand their concern and what they would most want to be made available. Then, as you review what’s out there, develop a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves to guide you in selecting the best fit for your business.
2. Identifying Platform Dependencies
Your ecommerce platform is at the center of your business and, consequently, is often the center of a web of technologies, processes and workflows that interact with it. You’ll need to develop a list of each of these dependencies to ensure they are not adversely affected when you make the switch. This may include more than just your staff and internal processes. For example, if you have connected your website to suppliers for real-time inventory and shipment tracking, you’ll need to ensure your replatforming process does not disrupt that process.
3. Reviewing Existing Contracts
Look at all your existing contracts to see how they may be affected by your platform change. This can include software subscriptions as well as technical support contracts. Contracts that are going to be affected should be scheduled for cancellation or updated to reflect the changes in your platform and, if needed, changes in your servers and network architecture.
4. Mapping Your Migration Path and Scenarios
It’s a common misconception that your website will need to go offline while migrating to a new platform. This won’t be the case at all, provided it is well-planned and then implemented by an experienced team. Migrations are a specialty and few in-house technical teams have the necessary experience to conduct replatforming seamlessly. Talk to an experienced ecommerce platform consultant early on in your planning to ensure you are set up for as little disruption to your business as possible.
Another misconception is that a new platform can’t duplicate your website’s appearance and functionality because it will look and behave differently, to varying degrees. You’ll need to know what can be reused, what needs to be modified and what needs to be replaced, including images, videos, content, content formatting, tags and redirect links.
5. Analyzing Costs and Building a Business Case
Replatforming costs money; however, the budget you have for the migration itself is only one part of the equation. Just checking the functionality of new APIs will need time and money for proper testing.
You’ll also need to examine how the new platform will affect your monthly operating costs and how it will allow you to increase revenue. Even if operating costs are higher, if you can, for example, track inventory more efficiently, add more SKUs to your catalog, increase response times on mobile devices and thus increase SEO, you should have a strong business case for making the switch. Again, this is where an experienced ecommerce platform consultant can help.
6. Developing a Customer Facing Communication Plan
Every positive change you make to your ecommerce business should be a cause to celebrate with your customers — and replatforming should be no exception. Include your marketing team in your planning so they can provide you with input on any opportunities to increase traffic throughout the process. These opportunities can range anywhere from a new logo accompanying a new website style, to announcing new features that your customers will appreciate in the new platform.
Replatforming your ecommerce business successfully takes a robust strategy and precise planning. If you’re looking to learn more about how your business can make the transition seamlessly, download our End of Life Playbook for our full ecommerce replatforming checklist and other crucial tips or reach out for a free consultation with one of our ecommerce experts today.