You may have outgrown your eCommerce platform.
Your once top-shelf eCommerce engine may have failed to keep up with the competition and moved to an archaic league of underperforming dinosaurs.
The current eCommerce solution may have proven beyond expensive to maintain.
Your marketing keeps blaming this solution for the substandard results when compared with the powerhouse of competitive marketing engines.
Whatever your reason behind the idea to re-platform your eCommerce store, once it dawns on you, the sooner you act, the quicker you will see the ROI from this executive decision.
The Zoolatech team is usually nerdly timid and anti-eloquent, unless we see an eCommerce development mission of the scale and complexity of re-platforming. This is where our grey matter gets so much adrenaline flowing at the sight of a much-coveted challenge, we don't need coffee anymore. We thrive on compiling long eCommerce re-platforming checklists that take into account every minor detail. We enjoy ticking off tasks on the Gantt chart. We take the mission of maintaining or bettering Google rankings personally.
eCommerce website migration requires A LOT of experience to:
- Maintain or enhance Google, Bing, Yandex rankings.
- Keep the ordering & payment processes flowing seamlessly pre-, during, and post- website migration.
- Prevent/minimize potential technical errors that lead to exponentially increasing lost revenue.
Let’s review all the pitfalls of website re-platforming, set out best practices, and arm you with insider tips that come from Zoolatech’s top tech talent.
What Is CMS Re-platforming?
CMS re-platforming is a multi-step process of migration of your website from current CMS to a new one in order to get access to a more advanced set of features and increase efficiencies across the range of KPIs.
The process sounds as complex and scary as it is, because depending on the volume of your daily sales, you may start losing tons of revenue in the case of some oversight, with no possibility of correcting it immediately.
The amount of nuance required to shift your eCommerce store to a new engine is overwhelming and there's no such thing as a minor detail. Nothing is a dismissble nuance, and you do want to go looking for a seasoned eCommerce development vendor to take care of it on the spur of the moment.
On the other end of this precarious spectrum, your company will see the great benefits of the positive shift sooner rather than later, provided you have done your homework and researched your options thoroughly enough.
To use a metaphor, imagine shifting your entire 7-person family from an old Beetle running low on gas to a spacious state-of-the-art RV with kitchen, stocked fridge, comfy beds for all and a tank full of gas – all while driving. Now you get the idea.
Reasons Why eCommerce Businesses Switch from one CMS To Another
1. Better, cheaper technology has emerged.
Shopify was founded in 2004, Magento in 2008, BigCommerce in 2009, and WooCommerce in 2011.
Currently, WooCommerce (mostly run on WordPress) is the eCommerce plugin behind 26% of the top 1 million eCommerce websites out there, with Shopify following closely at 21%, Magento at 9%, and BigCommerce 3%.
For a similar analogy, think about how people used to rely on horses heavily for transportation. Once automobiles and trains were invented, horses sighed with relief.
2. The technology you are currently using cannot live up to your ambitions due to niche specifics or other factors.
Some CRMs may have a specific, rigidly fixed set of features that would need expansive custom development to adjust to your ambitions. So it's easier to switch to another platform altogether.
3. Marketing automation integration possibilities are subpar while your business formula suggests an up-to-the-minute marketing tool suite.
Foolproof Indicators that It’s Time To Re-platform Your CMS
The red flags come in all shapes and sizes. It takes a trained eye to be able to see them early. This skill can save time, money, and human resources. Let’s train your eyes a bit here, so you can recognize those omens when you encounter them.
- Marketing signs that prompt the winds of change
Marketing is the mobile Perpetuum of eCommerce. If your newly arriving marketing team members complain that your existing CMS sucks compared to their previous experience, listen to them and listen carefully.
Marketing automation and marketing tools integration should be a walk in the park for any CRM. In fact, your CMO is the first person to double-check with, when it comes to choosing the new eCommerce platform.
Intuitive site search, sorting and filtering functionality, mobile responsiveness, tagging, and social media integrations all serve the common purpose of sales growth. If your current platform doesn't allow for these default features, your marketing can never be competitive.
- Technological signals
Technical issues start with slow page loading to a limited number of SKUs or poor performance under peak traffic conditions. If you experience downtime in any shape or form, or feel like your product lacks the space and media in the interface to be properly represented, you need to upgrade your technology.
- Financial concerns
If you believe your current plan is too expensive to maintain, your commission is prohibitive, and your talent for custom development is too expensive due to uniqueness and complexity, you might wish to consider more affordable options.
The rule of a thumb here is that any SaaS solution is going to be so much cheaper than an on-premise deployment.
Take These Aspects into Account When Migrating Your Website
Features & Functionality
Insufficient tools or features within your current CRM might be the reason why you decided to switch from one CMS to another in the first place.
Keep stock of what you like in your existing CRM, what functionalities you lack, and what you wish you had just like your competitors.
Inventory and enumeration of required features is a great starting point for a website migration checklist.
Ongoing Tasks and Requirements
Your daily routine checklist must be adhered to at every point in the migration process. Ensure your team is alert and ready to perform all regular functions and checkups according to daily, weekly, monthly, and annual routine procedures.
Consider Future Implications
The future can be best foreseen when looking at the past. During CMS migration, take into account how your potential vendor usually reacts to new technology. Is this a trend-setter in the industry that’s among the inventors or early adopters of novelties?
How about further expansion? Is this platform scalable? If you move your number of SKUs from 50,000 to 500,000, what’s your monthly plan going to cost? If you triple your revenues, will the payment gateway commission remain the same/be competitive?
Once you have courageously decided to take the plunge and perform a fully-fledged eCommerce data migration, you’d better spend time to choose your final vendor.
Integrations of Existing Tech Stack
In the best-case scenario, your admins will conduct an audit of the entire tech stack and check it for compatibility with your new potential vendors.
Vitality of Efficient Support
Support is pretty crucial during the process of migration to another platform, but it's also important during downtime, server malfunction, or peak traffic. For a bigger fish in the eCommerce pond, any delays or slowdowns in server time may cost tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Check the terms and conditions of what's included in your contract or package. How much support will you get for the monthly payment and how much is the hourly rate for any extra services?
Selecting A New Solution for Your Online Store
You will have known by now that the website migration process is painstaking. This is why you should do a lot of homework when you decide to take this vital step. The idea behind lots of investigation and search is to make sure that your choice is final ideally – or at least lasts you for a decade or so.
These are your options in terms of the extent of ownership of the technology:
On-Premise Deployment Solutions
The technology dates back to the pre-cloud era, so it is now seen as either a big-league or outdated solution. Not only do businesses need to maintain and service all the IT staff who look after the in-house servers with this technology, but they also face gigantic bills when it comes to server purchasing, maintenance, customization, etc.
Moreover, they face the predicament of being stuck with an old version of the software if they delve into customization too much.
Cloud eCommerce tech is a hybrid between on-premise deployment and SaaS.
Just like SaaS solutions, users don’t need to either purchase servers or keep a huge IT department to look after them because the servers are hosted by a third party in this case.
Just like in on-premise technology, your team is responsible for installing updates, ensuring PCI compliance, and tolerating downtime during version updates. Licensing fees need to be paid as well.
Software as a service (SaaS) business formula suggests the lowest price for the technology. There exist multi-tenant, single-tenant, and hybrid-tenant versions, with the hybrid-tenant formula combining the lowest pricing and greater flexibility that comes with open API.
The eCommerce platform SaaS solution pricing is per month and usually depends on the number of SKUs, traffic, or sales.
The Best eCommerce Platforms
There are big names and smaller brands, veterans, and new solutions, platforms great for small and medium eCommerce, and those that perform best for thousands of SKUs.
In 2020, these are the most popular eCommerce platforms out there:
How To Migrate Your eCommerce Store Step By Step
Website migration plan and all sorts of checklists are a Bible of re-platforming that helps to prevent lots of hiccups along the way. Let’s quickly glance through the major stages of the process of shifting your eCommerce to another engine.
Register Your Point A
Label your point A to be able to see how you progress to point B.
Ensure you conduct every possible audit and save every possible report on your existing website performance: screaming frog, google analytics, Google Console, Tag manager, and the like.
They will help you diagnose any potential failures in the process of migration later on.
Draft Your Ideal Website in as Much Detail as Possible
Research the best performers in your niche and eCommerce in general, in your state and worldwide. Note in a detailed technical task list the features your future website must have, better have, and better not have.
The clearer the idea you have about the priority features for your new site, the quicker and simpler it will be to carry out the mission for all parties eventually.
Research and homework may be mundane, but they are guaranteed to save you tons of money and time, so pay a copious amount of attention to this prep stage.
Choose the platform
Engage all the stakeholders, like marketing, finance, IT for this decision making. This decision will have a ripple effect for years to come and exhibit itself in market share, company growth dynamics, and more.
Design & Frontend
Design the UX/UI and frontend side of things based on your new vision and technological possibilities.
Backend development or migration will depend a lot on the platforms you are migrating to and from. Consult with your IT, and old and new vendors on how to best do that, and ensure coordination between parties at all times.
The bigger your checklist the better. Migration involves a lot of homework with servers, SEO, tagging, analytical tools integration, payment system flow, etc. The more experienced your eCommerce development company is, the fewer hiccups and collateral damage cost you will face along the way.
Check out this article for a detailed flow of the website shift process.
Post Launch & Monitoring for Errors and Dynamics
When the process is over, the main focus is to ensure customers can make their purchases as usual, and the second thing is to ensure SEO and marketing don’t take a dive as a result of the process.
Redirects, integrations, tags, website maps, URLs all need your thorough attention for a few months, but especially right after the launch, to address any major fails in a timely way. This is another handy checklist for the process you might want to check out.
Re-platformong In-House vs Using an eCommerce Development Vendor
Amazon has an army of IT people who implement all sorts of adjustments big and small to the system on a daily basis, and still sell millions of items a day.
Consider whether your eCommerce business:
- Is a significantly smaller company though (which nearly everybody else in eCommerce is), and/or
- has never re-platformed before;
chances are, you need extra help to minimize all the risks adjacent to the process.
From our extensive experience in custom eCommerce development, the amount of nuance in the process is overwhelming and the price for a mishap is insurmountable.
Re-platforming is one of those processes that don't top the list of the best learn-as-you-go activities because both the risks and the stakes are high.
We highly recommend you seek professional help, even if you end up choosing some other eCommerce website development studio.
How Zoolatech Can Help You to Re-platform Successfully
We hope our insider tips for eCommerce website migration will help you ease through this multi-layered process.
On the other hand, we will happily extend our site migration service, which is backed by Zoolatech’s profound experience in the realm of online sales software development, that is affordable due to our Kyiv-based tech team.
Our team has been providing remote dev services for a few veterans of eCommerce, like Nordstrom, so the team is well-versed in terms of what’s hot and what’s not in this domain.
With our head office in Silicon Valley, our partnership modus operandi is very much Westernized. This way our clients enjoy this win-win cocktail of affordable rates and top service.
Considering a switch in your eCommerce platform? Discuss it with us in writing or via voice call – free of charge. Let us provide you with even more of our insights, based on your specific requirements and wishes.