How to Plan for an E-Commerce Replatform
When things are going well, nobody undergoes an e-commerce replatform. Nor should they.
As the saying goes: if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. A solid, trustworthy e-commerce ecosystem empowers your digital team to focus on marketing your products and growing your sales. But if your e-commerce technology is too cumbersome, fragile, or inflexible, you are setting your digital marketing team up for failure.
Reasons to replatform your e-commerce experience
- Your existing platform has become too expensive to maintain
- Your brand ecosystem is changing: you may be preparing to launch a new brand, or have been involved in an acquisition or merger with another brand, and need a more modern and scalable technology
- Your current technology may no longer be supported by the developers, creating security and uptime risks
- You want to launch new SKUs or product categories that your current data architecture doesn’t support
- It takes too long to develop new features, and your backlog for development tickets has become unmanageable
User Experience Issues
- Your e-commerce platform has become unstable, bloated, or slow, resulting in a poor user experience
- Customers are demanding a more modern user experience because your current platform may not be optimized for:
- Mobile Ecommerce
- Integrations with sales on social media
- Integration with digital payment platforms like Apple Pay and PayPal
- Your retail brand is expanding their DTC offering, and this may be the first time that you’re integrating with a data management platform to take full ownership of the customer journey.
- Your traditional retail brand is scrambling to adapt and adjust your business model by going directly to consumers as Covid-19 accelerates the growth of online sales.
Any combination of these concerns means that it’s likely time to replatform, and the urgency of the transition will depend on the needs of your organization. “Too fast for comfort” is a relative concept, but the reality is that nearly every project comes with a timeline that feels fast-paced. Taking a few moments to consider the process before moving forward will help keep your team focused and organized, and save significant time in the long run.
Key steps for migrating to a new e-commerce solution
1. Define Your Success
Everyone on your team should have a clear understanding of what you’re trying to achieve with this e-commerce project. Create both long and short-term goals, so that expectations are clearly set about what’s needed now, and what the vision is for the future.
2. Audit Your Current Website
Establish an objective understanding of what’s working and what’s not on the current site. Ask yourself: what is falling short for our customers and business stakeholders? How is our existing data structured, and how will that translate into the new architecture?
3. Define Your Requirements
In order to achieve the successful outcome you defined in step one, your team will need to get into the weeds and define new requirements for your site. Since it’s very natural to create an abundant wish list during this process, it helps to use a simple ranking system for each feature. For example, “optimized for mobile” may be a critical priority, while “interactive 3D product imagery” may be something that can be added after launch.
4. Choose Your Technology Solutions
Once you have defined what your current website and data structure will look like and have a roadmap for what you need to achieve with your new platform, you can start evaluating technology solutions. This is not one-size-fits-all, and the right choice will look different depending on your organization. Full custom builds often have tremendous technical overhead, and are a significant time investment. Consider if an off-the-shelf SaaS theme can meet your needs, or if a hybrid solution is the best fit.
5. Create a Migration Plan with Timing and Milestones
Now that requirements are defined and the technology has been identified, it’s time break down and assign tasks to teams and individuals. Some aspects of the work may be completed concurrently as separate work streams, while other tasks may have dependencies that are best broken into sprints. While it’s tempting to approach this planning with an optimistic, “best case scenario” mindset, it’s best to leave some room for minor setbacks and problem-solving sessions along the way.
6. Find a Partner
While your organization may have the resources to take on this project in-house, most will hire an outside expert, agency, or technology partner to help guide them. Look for a partner that has: experience with similar projects in the past, a firm understanding of your goals, technical capabilities that align with your chosen platform, and a skilled project management team that will make the transition to a new e-commerce solution as seamless as possible.