Rebuild, rebuild, rebuild! This is the alarm being sounded all over the ecommerce community as the online marketplace continues to grow and change at blinding speeds. As first generation systems struggle to keep up with the pace of today’s ecommerce landscape, many businesses are opting to simply start over on a brand new platform.
Why the Push to Re-Platform?
Each company has its own unique needs and requirements when it comes to ecommerce management, but here are the three most common reasons for re-platforming:
Losing customers and revenue
Your bespoke platform might have been a top performer in years past, but some systems simply cannot keep up with the short attention spans of today’s modern shopper. According to Kissmetrics, 40 percent of online shoppers will abandon a site that takes more than three seconds to load. And a report by the Aberdeen Group found that a delay of just one second in a site’s loading time can result in a seven percent loss of conversions. For a company making $100,000 per day, that means a total loss of $2.5 million in annual revenue.
The rise of mobile and social commerce
According to a report by Business Insider, retail sales driven by social media and referral traffic are rising at a faster pace than all other online channels. The report found that the top retailers in the U.S. earned $3.3 billion from social commerce in 2014, which represents a 26 percent increase over the previous year. In 2015, sales driven by social media reached $14 billion in the U.S. and $30 billion worldwide, according to an eMarketer report. With this trend looking unlikely to slow down any time soon, ecommerce sites are scrambling to keep up.
These days, any interruption in a customer’s experience of your brand can cost you in-store and online sales. In order to compete for the attention and loyalty of the modern shopper, it is absolutely imperative that you provide a seamless brand experience across all channels and platforms — from mobile apps to desktop to in-store.
Five Key Ecommerce Re-Platforming Tips
Re-platforming can be a costly, time-consuming process for both your ecommerce management and IT teams. Here are a few tips on how to get started:
Evaluate your existing site and go from there
In order to understand what you want from your new platform, it’s important that you and your team fully understand what’s missing from the existing one. So before you spend a dime on re-platforming, the first thing you should do is order a thorough review of your site. Go through your site from top to bottom, paying special attention to pain points visible in your analytics. Approaching your site through the eyes of a customer, examine everything from page loading times on both mobile and desktop to your payment process and cart functionality. Whether you do this in-house or hire a consultant, this step will give you a clear picture of your exact needs and requirements going forward.
Keep infrastructure in mind
Even if you upgrade your ecommerce platform to the latest greatest thing in omnichannel retail management, it will all be worthless if you don’t have solid infrastructure in place for hosting and maintenance. Whether you choose an on-premises, cloud, or hybrid cloud/dedicated hosting solution, make sure it’s compatible with your desired platform and that you have the right IT professionals in place to maintain it. If your platform and infrastructure are not properly aligned and maintained, you could end up overinvesting in capacity you don’t need or underinvesting, resulting in an expensively overhauled system that’s just as slow and clunky as the one it’s supposed to replace.
One common pitfall when it comes to re-platforming is getting stuck in a restrictive system that doesn’t allow for easy growth and adaptability down the road. After all, the rapidly changing, unpredictable nature of the online marketplace is the whole reason for your re-platforming project in the first place. No one knows exactly what the future holds, so it’s in your company’s best interest to look for open platforms that allow for as much flexibility, customization and control as possible. Otherwise, before you know it, you might find yourself in this exact same position all over again.
Set project goals
An enterprise level re-platforming project is a long, complex process with a lot of moving parts, so it helps to be realistic about your timeline. Set milestones for each phase of implementation. This will help align your in-house team’s goals with the requirements of your solution providers, so everything can move ahead smoothly. Being realistic about your timeline also means adjusting expectations. After implementation, you are likely to run into a few kinks and performance hiccups here and there as you settle into your new system. Full realization of your re-platforming ROI takes time.
Again, problems and glitches are bound to arise in the weeks and months immediately following your re-platforming project. Also, customers who are already familiar with your brand could be thrown off by your new platform at first. This is why many companies see a temporary dip in sales right after making the big switch. This is natural, but you can avoid making it worse by catching as many problems as possible before your new system goes live. So test and test and test again.
Changes in technology and customer behavior are pushing digital vendors to update their ecommerce platforms. But re-platforming needs to be approached carefully. Always remember to know your site well and to assess the type of upgrades you need from there. Think of the infrastructure you will need to support your upgrades, and be sure you have room to grow. Be specific and realistic about the milestones on your re-platforming journey. Finally, test and re-test your changes to be sure customers are satisfied and your revenue is growing.
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