Online shoppers are savvy. They have amassed a high level of expectations regarding their web-based shopping experience, which means they have become more demanding when it comes to your webstore. In short they want an engaging, informative and personalized event.
If you’re like many retailers, your current ecommerce platform is not equipped to handle these increased demands and the slew of new channels, from m-commerce to social media. That’s because most ecommerce platforms are a complex environment of multiple third-party and legacy applications that have been implemented over time to create a better online retail experience.
By re-platforming your ecommerce website, you can create a more stable, modern environment that allows you to improve online traffic, increase revenue, create targeted marketing campaigns, boost system performance and reduce costs. However re-platforming is a major initiative that will impact your entire business operations, from the front-end to the back-end. So carefully study your current environment before making the leap.
Deciding if the time is right
How can you tell if it’s time to re-platform your ecommerce website? There are a number of signs including:
- Your business is growing – Look closely at the cost/performance benefits of you webstore to determine if it can continue to meet your expanding needs.
- Technology changes and innovation – Technology changes at a rapid clip. Take an inventory of your platform and business needs to determine the functionality required to support your ecommerce goals.
- Navigation, coding and search capabilities – Evaluate your current navigation structure, URL syntax, coding and search functionality to better understand if you are providing your customers with the best possible online experience.
- Technology support model refresh – As your ecommerce site becomes larger, more complex and increasingly dynamic, you need the horsepower to implement changes and handle traffic. Determine the type of support you need, what type of platform would work best, and if you should move to an outsourced or SaaS model.
- More back-office integration – Integrating specific business applications with your webstore can streamline the order lifecycle and enhance personalized service while automatically adjusting inventory and decreasing costs. If back-office integration has been on the back burner, re-platforming provides an ideal opportunity to connect and reconnect with existing enterprise and third party assets, such as ERP, CRM and supply chain.
- New goals for your webstore – Whether it’s finding ways to speed page loads, increase your conversion rates or reduce shopping cart abandonment, your ecommerce goals are always changing. Does your current platform allow you to quickly respond to rapidly evolving business needs and a changing market?
- Security and compliance – Your webstore must offer the utmost in security, both for your business and your customers. Re-platforming enables you to upgrade your security functionality and ensure compliance with ecommerce regulations.
- The role of mobile devices – Customers want access to your webstore any time and from any Internet-enabled device. That means your ecommerce site must be able to meet the increasing demands of mobile commerce and be prepared to handle tablet commerce.
By replatforming your ecommerce website, you can create a more stable, modern environment that allows you to increase revenue, boost system performance and reduce costs.
The decision to re-platform your webstore is the first step – some might say that’s the easy part. Turning that decision into a successful implementation is more difficult. Here are some guidelines to help you scope out your re-platforming effort.
- Understand the technology touch points – Look at all front-end and back-end components to your ecommerce environment. That includes defining your technical requirements by literally illustrating the inter-dependencies between internal and external systems.
- Pinpoint the pros and cons – Take the time to document the good, the bad and the ugly of your current ecommerce platform so you know what additional features are required in your new platform.
- Determine which stakeholders should be involved – Decide which departments and business units have a vested interest in your ecommerce site. While sales, marketing, finance, customer support and IT are a given, consider other business and trading partners that should be involved.
- Create a clear resource and partner strategy – Determine which internal resources and external services providers will be responsible for what if you choose to outsource the work. By documenting responsibilities in advance, you will avoid duplication of effort and budget creep.
- Map out a SEO plan – Make sure you have an SEO plan that optimizes every one of your products, categories, landing pages and brand to minimize dips in organic search traffic. You don’t want to lose your ranking just because you have re-platformed.
Choosing the right partner
Re-platforming is a major initiative that will touch almost every aspect of your business operation and average as little as four months or up to nine months to complete. But you don’t have to go it alone. By choosing the right solutions integration partner, you can reduce the risks and increase the ROI of your re-platforming effort.
Choose a partner that offers experience with the various functions of the ecommerce platform as well as the complexities and intricacies of an online retail business. Also, because re-platforming requires moving applications and content as well as integrating your new platform with backend systems, you want a partner with the required experience in processes, database development, data conversions, multi-sales channels and information exchange between disparate systems.