insights | 22.03.2023

5 steps to consider for the perfect eCommerce replatform

Re-platforming hero
Article topics
  1. Put together a business case?
  2. Choose the right platform
  3. Plan the migration
  4. Start the replatforming process
  5. Evaluate the final result

Your old website is running slowly, looks awful, and costs more to maintain than ever before. It might be time to move to a brand-new platform.

Replatforming your site can lead to many benefits for your eCommerce business, including more money and happier customers. However, it’s essential to be prepared.

If you’re thinking of replatforming your online store, here’s how to ensure your migration runs smoothly.

It might be that you’ve already got the signoff from your CEO or MD that it’s time to replatform. If not, you need to convince them that replatforming your site is the best way forward for the business.

If you’re looking to get buy-in, here’s what you need to consider:

  • How your existing site is performing when it comes to page speed, downtime, and general usability
  • The current capacity of your site. For example, how many orders can it process in a day and is this enough?
  • Your current and future business goals. How is your current site hindering you from achieving your company objectives? What will happen if you do nothing with your site? Are there any viable alternatives to replatforming, for example, a simpler rehosting?
  • The features the new site should include. Which elements are essential, and which are ‘nice to have’?
  • How much you estimate the replatforming to cost and the time it will take to complete. You might not have a definitive answer at this early stage, but a rough indication is useful
  • The return on investment of a new site. How much revenue will a brand-new site bring in?

There’s no one-size fits all solution when it comes to a business case, as every eCommerce business is different. However, your board will likely be interested in the bottom line. How much will a new site cost, and how much money will it generate in the way of new sales?

2. Choose the right platform

So you’ve been to your MD and convinced them that replatforming your site is the right solution. The next step is to choose the right platform for your needs.

There are a range of different eCommerce platforms out there, and it’s essential to choose the one that best suits your business requirements. Otherwise, you may be stuck with an unsuitable and unusable website for the next few years.

Here are the factors you need to bear in mind when picking your platform:

  • Cost. There are two different types of eCommerce platform. The first is a SaaS model where you pay a monthly or annual charge for everything, like Shopify. The second is an open-source platform like Magento, which is either free to use or has an upfront cost. Bear in mind that even if it’s free, you’ll need to pay for things like SSL certificates and hosting
  • Ease of use. Some eCommerce platforms have a steeper learning curve than others, so you will need to take the needs of your developers and site administrators into account. Will you need to invest in training?
  • Integrations. You’ll want a platform that integrates seamlessly with your business tools, like your email marketing software, payment provider, and CRM system. Don’t forget to consider tools and platforms you want to use in the future too
  • Functionality. Different platforms have different benefits and features. You’ll need to make sure the features you need and want are available. If they are available, is there an extra charge?
  • Customer support. It’s likely that when you first set up your site, you’ll need to contact customer support a lot. What channels can you use to reach out, and what are the response times?
  • Any limitations. Some platforms (especially the free ones) may limit SKUs and orders per day. You’ll need to make sure this will not hinder your eCommerce store, either now or later
  • Futureproofing. Will your new platform scale as you do, and will it still be suitable for use in two years? For example, you might not want to implement headless architecture now, but it’s something you may consider soon

Most SaaS platforms offer a free trial, so you can test your potential platform and see if it’s right for your business needs. Alternatively, you can use a tool like Visual Studio to trial your open-source platform before you commit – your web or IT team will be able to advise how best to do this.

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3. Plan the migration

You’ve agreed on which platform you want to use. Now it’s time to plan the migration. How will you move everything from your old platform to your new one?

Here’s what you need to think about when getting organised:

  • When you want to launch. It’s always good to have a launch date in mind, which you can work back from. However, remember that you need to be flexible; there’s no guarantee you’ll go live on time!
  • How your new site will look. Whether you’re keeping the same design or renovating the look and feel of your site, you’ll need to wireframe and design brand-new templates
  • What pages will be moved over, and to where. You must either ensure your pages maintain the same URL or put redirects in place to preserve SEO. Will any pages be removed or consolidated?
  • What data needs to be moved. All your data, documents, and information must be migrated across so your new site can function correctly. Prioritising your data is vital – what needs to be there when you launch, and what can wait until later?
  • Who needs to be involved. It’s likely that a lot of people, both in your organisation and outside your organisation, will have tasks they need to complete. It’s important to let them know their role now, so they can schedule time to help
  • How you will communicate the migration to customers. If downtime is inevitable, you must inform shoppers, so they aren’t inconvenienced. Conversely, if you’ll be introducing new website features that customers can take advantage of, why not tell them, or offer an incentive to check your new store out?
  • What you will do if there is a significant problem. You need to have a contingency plan in place so you can keep operational. For example, how will you keep customers in the loop if the site goes down completely? Who will be involved if there is an issue outside of working hours?

A Gantt chart is a great way to plan and manage your replatforming project. You can see how long the work will take, who needs to do it, and which tasks are dependent on other tasks being completed. You can then recalculate the final launch time if there are any issues.

4. Start the replatforming process

Now comes the exciting part! It’s time to start the replatforming process.

Having a detailed plan will help here, so everyone knows what they need to do.

It’s essential to regularly check in with the people involved in the process, either individually or as a group. This will help you see how things are going and if any potential issues need to be addressed. Of course, your board will likely want to be kept in the loop too!

It’s also critical to test everything as you go. This ensures everything is working perfectly when your site goes live, and you can continue to offer a stellar user experience.

Things to check include:

  • Page speed and loading time
  • HTML and CSS code
  • Navigation and site search
  • Appearance and functionality in different web browsers (while you might be using Chrome, some of your customers may be using Edge)
  • Workflows and automations
  • Mobile responsiveness (test your mobile-friendliness on different phones and tablets)
  • Internal and external links
  • Content for readability, SEO optimisation, and spelling errors
  • Checkout and payment process – carry out a few test transactions
  • Tracking and analytics code
  • Legal stuff like a privacy policy, terms and conditions, and cookie warning

We recommend having a ‘snagging’ list that everyone on the project can access. This list will show what errors need fixing, whether the errors are high or low-priority, and who is accountable. You can then see at a glance what needs to be done and how things are progressing.

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5. Evaluate the final result

Everyone has worked hard, and it’s time to launch your freshly replatformed website! However, this doesn’t mean you’re finished just yet.

You need to test and tweak your site to make sure your eCommerce platform works as it should. After all, some things, for example SEO, can’t be checked while the site is still being developed.

Things you need to keep an eye out for include:

  • Buying patterns. For example, if some SKUs aren’t as popular as they used to be, it might be that there are issues with accessing a specific product page
  • Keyword rankings. If you’re no longer ranking highly for a specific keyword, you may need to reoptimise your content or check to ensure you’ve not received a manual penalty in Google Search Console. Alternatively, two pages may be ranking for the same keyword, effectively cancelling each other out
  • Website analytics. If page visits have dropped or bounce rate has increased, you need to identify the cause

Download your free eCommerce replatforming checklist

We hope you found this comprehensive replatforming guide useful. Replatforming your eCommerce website may seem daunting, but by being organised and planning ahead, you can move across with minimal disruption to your customers.

We’ve put together a free migration checklist you can use to make sure your replatforming project is as efficient as possible.

If you need extra help with your new website, we specialise in replatforming solutions. Our experts will help you plan your project, choose the right platform for your needs, and thoroughly test it, so you have peace of mind that it works correctly.

Contact us today to take the hassle out of replatforming.

Need help with your next big eCommerce project? Find out how we can support.

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