A Comprehensive Guide on eCommerce Migration – Types, Considerations & Process

A Comprehensive Guide on eCommerce Migration – Types, Considerations & Process

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eCommerce replatform, also understood as eCommerce migration – it can be likened to a stage in a business’ journey where there’s a bittersweet feeling about what’s gone well in the past and what can’t go a certain way in time yet to come.

Replatforming does sound like a major undertaking, and well, it simply is. But that shouldn’t dissuade you from ruling it out altogether. Just consider the benefits – an opportunity to reset things, make significant changes in your business, drive expected outcomes, and all of a sudden, replatforming starts to make sense.

Through the course of this blog, we’ll dive into various facets of eCommerce replatforming/migration, what situations necessitate it, what are some of the best practices if you’ve got your mind set upon it, and what can be expected at the end of a successful operation. Without further ado, let’s get started.

Table of Contents

eCommerce Replatforming & Different Approaches

eCommerce replatforming is a process where you migrate out of your existing platform to another that’s more aligned with your needs. Reasons for such a move can be anywhere from operational efficiency, introduction of new features/functionalities currently incompatible/unsupported by the existing platform, switching to a new business model or upgrading your customer experience stack with more utilities.

Replatforming, as is often assumed, isn’t just a B2B transition, where you migrate from one third party service to another (eg. Shopify to BigCommerce), it also includes third-party to an in-house platform migration and vice-versa. That said, there are multiple approaches to replatforming. The key ones are highlighted below:

Traditional Approach

In this approach, a company migrates from one monolithic platform to another monolithic platform with extensive feature and plugin support. This can be referred to as the most comprehensive form of replatforming, as the entire application/website gets replaced in one go.

Modular Approach

In the modular approach, transition happens in modules, where the most important updates take precedence. For instance, if your primary concern is an outdated payment management system, then you’ll look for alternative technologies to handle your payment system and subsequently try to get the most suitable one incorporated into your existing platform/tech stack.

Based on how this modular shift impacts the experience, you can decide if you need to change additional components of the application in the same way.

Monolith to Microservice

This third approach to replatforming involves moving from one monolith to microservices. Now, in a microservice architecture a single application works as a suite of several small services, each operating its unique process and communicating with lightweight mechanisms (HTTP resource API) to cater specific business use-cases/problems.

This approach practically eliminates the interdependency between front-end and back-end. You’re free to customize the front-end, while specialized tools take care of the underlying infrastructure.

As you begin to consider different options to replatforming, it’s vital that you understand your existing platform/technology well, the degree of scalability it allows, integrations and customizations it can support on the go.

We’ll shift our focus now to the reasons why replatforming is considered in the first place.

Possible Scenarios to Consider eCommerce Migration

Most ecommerce websites begin their journey on WordPress or Shopify. They rely on these platforms’ vast plug-in ecosystems to manage everything from payments, user data, inventory, orders, shipping and much more. This serves the purpose in those seminal years when the load on the system isn’t too demanding. But as websites mature and begin to deal with 7 figure revenue, their needs outgrow the capabilities of these platforms.

Additionally, you might have some future projections and it’s unlikely that your current system will help you get close to them. It could also be that your conversions are slumping, or your cart abandonment rate is continually on the rise. These are great reasons for replatforming but as we’ll see in this section, they aren’t the only ones:

To Tap New Markets & Attain Scalability

As businesses evolve, their appetite for enterprises and foraying into new markets also increases. The challenge that confronts them is that of offering additional value without negatively affecting the existing customer experience level. If your system is a hindrance to your scalability, your need for replatforming is quite evident.

To Reap the Benefits of Optimization

Optimization of both the front-end and back end experience is one of the major reasons why businesses feel the need for replatforming. This way, they’re able to get hands on better reporting tools for business and lay the groundwork for improved eCommerce websites.

Specialized tools enable you to make dynamic adjustments (customer pricing, number of forms in checkout process) to facilitate user journey. Optimizations like this contribute to increased conversion rates. Moreover, optimized websites can look to leverage upsell/cross sell opportunities, provided they have the right eCommerce platform.

To Get Hands on Advanced Data Analytics

It’s not enough to simply create marketing campaigns aimed at attracting or retaining customers. You need to have some sort of tracking mechanism in place to measure the outcome of such campaigns.

That’s where the need for an eCommerce platform that offers robust analytics capabilities becomes paramount. Analytics helps you get vital stats about key success metrics like average order value, conversion rate, revenue per person and so on.

Based on this data, you should be well placed to take necessary steps to improve lead conversions, lower abandonment rates, set ideal product pricing and allocate accurate budgets.

Steps Involved in a Migration Process

We’ve looked at the different ways to approach replatforming and also considered some key scenarios where replatforming becomes an absolute necessity. We can shift our focus now to the replatforming process with all its internal and external processes.

1. Getting All Stakeholders’ Views on the Table

eCommerce replatforming is a major undertaking that has ramifications for the whole business. It’s best then to get all your stakeholders on board before making the shift. There should be absolute clarity among your team on the goals, objectives, timelines and key reasons for replatforming.

2. Defining the List of Must-have Features

Replatforming should be pursued with distant aims and mindset. So as opposed to simply focusing on the essential features to drive your ecommerce application, consider the various accessory features that come with it. Indeed, it’s very much like the experience of buying a new car or a house.

As always, look to get your stakeholders recommendation about their key requirements. This way you’ll have a better understanding of the expectations and can take the right decision in the replatforming process.

3. Selecting an Ideal eCommerce Platform & Resource Allocation

This is perhaps the most crucial step in the eCommerce replatforming process. If you’ve been through the process of selecting a software before, it’ll seem quite straightforward. but if you haven’t, prospects can appear disconcerting.

Right away, there’s the discovery step, where based on your must-have features/requirements, you try to find the right eCommerce platform for your application. G2, Capterra and Gartner are some popular websites for software discovery, with exhaustive listings for all manner of industries and business niches.

While you’re at the discovery stage, it’s a good idea to do proper budget analysis and plan for resource allocation in your business.

4. System Migration – Setting Budget Timelines & Cost Estimates

It must be getting obvious that replatforming is one lengthy process, so it’s best to work closely with the deployment/implementation team on setting the timelines and more importantly, following it as much as possible. As a whole, replatforming can take anywhere between 8 week to 12 months.

Given how long it takes to complete deployment and the downtime your website will experience for that duration, it’s better to carry out replatforming portion by portion i.e. in small modules/phases over time as opposed to a massive shift all at once. This is a moderating and efficient way to website implementation.

Finally, as with time estimates, you should make sure your replatforming spends happen in line with your budget estimates. While the initial upfront cost may seem a bit excessive, you can consider the long term impact of replatforming on your business – less likelihood of further upgrades and dividends from improved website performance.

5. Data Migration – Ensuring Data (Customer & Product) Integrity

Data is of utmost importance to any business, so when making that major replatforming move, consider hiring a data migration service to ensure secure and reliable data transfer. Both customer data and product data are important. Should you lose customer data, your existing customers will have to create new accounts with all the relevant information to use your service. As for the product data loss, it can add unnecessary workload of entering every product and category in the system all over again, on your team.

Ideally, you can make data migration a strong point to your eCommerce platform provider.

6. Implementing Front End, Back End, Checkouts & SEO Audit

As data migration nears completion, the impact of replatforming starts getting palpable. Whether you’re going for a design overhaul or just have some minor design updates in mind, you can be sure that with replatforming your eCommerce website won’t look the same as it did before. Replatforming is certainly a good opportunity to work with your development team to give a new and unique identity to your branding.

Moving on, you’ll need to see that website’s front end, back end as well as checkout and other miscellaneous components are working in unison as you migrate.

Lastly, you can’t afford to neglect SEO in the whole replatforming process. It’s best to keep your SEO team in loop every step along the way. To ensure your website rankings don’t take a major hit, you’ll want to avoid content updates and 404 errors as much as possible. You should definitely consider an SEO audit prior to website relaunch.

7. Relaunch, Marketing & Customer Support

The last leg of this long process is the completion of data migration and eCommerce website launch itself. At this point, your marketing team can look to spread the word about the relaunch. Coupon codes/discount offers are some great ways to entice both new and existing customers to your website. With the eCommerce wheel spinning again after a long pause, you’ll want to keep testing the system to identify and react timely to any unexpected errors, which may have gone unnoticed in the pre launch testing.

Should you encounter any problems in this post-launch phase, you’ll know who to contact. Most eCommerce platform providers have a comprehensive knowledge base for general queries/complaints; if you can’t find an answer there, you should reach out to their customer support team to make sure you get a swift and satisfactory resolution to your request.

eCommerce Replatforming – A Thumbnail Sketch

1. Identify the limitations/drawbacks of your existing system and define the expectations from the new platform.
2. Get all the stakeholders on board with the requirements and get consensus on a time/cost budget.
3. Search for potential eCommerce platforms.
4. Schedule platform demo, discuss the implementation process and finalize a platform most suited to your requirements.
5. Securely conduct data migration from the old system to the new one.
6. As you migrate, continue to set up your back/front end and checkout page.
7. Connect all the plugins, integrations and extensions.
8. Perform a complete SEO audit; avoiding content updates and 404 errors.
9. Test the platform in its entirety – from design to performance, before launch.
10. Impart training to your team to get acquainted with the new platform and spread the word about the upcoming relaunch to your customers.

Closing Thoughts

As you migrate to a new and advanced platform, you can flex your technological muscle by adding new features/products and services thereby attaining scalability. All this lays the groundwork for a well concerted business growth.

If you’re still in the consideration stage, feel free to reach out to our support team. FATbit has a suite of ready-made solutions for popular niches like eCommerce, rental, eLearning, grocery, travel, and more all capable of catering replatforming needs of businesses.

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