The Top 8 Things to Get Right in Replatforming Your Ecommerce Site
As an ecommerce professional, one of the biggest challenges – if not the biggest challenge – you’ll face is replatforming your company’s online store. As you get started, it can feel overwhelming. After all, the replatforming process will impact every aspect of your retail business, from how customers interact with your store to the sophisticated mechanics behind delivering their orders. There’s a lot on the line here.
Yet, with the right plan in place, you can oversee a successful ecommerce replatforming project. To help you bring this plan into focus, we created this list of the most important things for retailers to know before you begin.
Command C’s Top 8 Things to Get Right in Replatforming Your Company’s Ecommerce Site
1) First Things First: Do the Technical Discovery
Often when a retailer is ready to replatform, they have suffered through an outdated ecommerce system for too long. They cannot wait to get the new platform up and running. We understand. A successful replatforming project brings much greater efficiency, far fewer headaches, and room to grow into the future. (Among other benefits!)
But, before your team dives in, it’s crucial to fully understand your company’s needs through a technical discovery. This may feel like an extra step when you’re ready charge forward, but we disagree. It lays the groundwork for every other action on this list. The process allows your team to examine all of the possible solutions for your company for the long term. It’s the blueprint for the ecommerce house you’re about to build.
As your company prepares to replatform, the technical discovery will inform the optimal solution for all of the following steps below. It’s that important.
2) Define the Data that Needs to Migrate to Your New Site
The three main components of data for online retailers are customer data, product data, and order data. (But there are many more – see #3 and #4 below.)
As you plan your replatforming project, what data needs to transfer from your company’s historical site to the new one? There’s a lot to consider. For example, legacy data will likely slow down the new site. At the same time, you might sell a product line where customers often want to refer back to their previous orders. Maybe you sell hardware or electronic equipment with detailed specs that people need to refer to when reordering. While many retailers may not need to migrate order data, in this case, the merchant would want to consider it.
Before you replatform, you want to deeply understand what data you and your customers may need to access from the new site. (This is one of the reasons why starting with a technical discovery is so valuable.)
3) Confirm a Data Migration Plan
Transferring company data from one platform to another is not as simple as flipping a switch. It requires planning. Often times, especially if the data from an outdated or in-house platform, your development team will need to create a program to “translate” the old data to be read by the new system. This is just one example of many reasons why the data may require careful scrutiny before you move it.
No matter how your data is configured, it’s crucial to address data migration from the very start of replatforming. This is frequently where companies hit obstacles. But with thorough planning, you can keep your project on time and on budget.
4) Steer Clear of the Common Data Migration Pitfalls
Speaking of those obstacles: We mentioned the three core components of retail data in point #2. But there are more. And it’s these other data points that can seem like an afterthought that will become your *every* thought if they are not properly handled. The best way to plan for this is through a technical discovery.
There are several common pitfalls in data migration. For instance, gift certificates may seem like a small matter. But, on the contrary, gift cards to your store are a declaration of customer loyalty. Plus there are usually two customers involved: the giver and the recipient. If your customer is not able to use their gift card in your new online store, they’re going to be very disappointed. (The person who gave the gift will be, too.) In order to maintain a seamless customer experience, make sure to avoid these kind of glitches in data migration.
5) Make Sure Your Team Addresses EVERY Data Point
We’re driving home this point because data can slip through the cracks without proper planning. Instead you want to migrate data fully and only once. This requires that every piece of data in your store gets addressed before you begin migrating. By our count, that’s 81 data points!
A good example is The Pleasure Chest case study. Their product line is as varied as people’s intimate preferences. As a result, the company’s product data includes several custom fields. When we migrated The Pleasure Chest from Magento to BigCommerce, our developers wrote a program that extracted the data from Magento and translated it into fields readable by BigCommerce. This custom data required a custom solution.
6) Define Which Content to Migrate to the New Site
Replatforming gives retailers the opportunity to examine every aspect of your business. This includes content. What do you want to bring over from your old site to the new one? A technical discovery (#1) is going to be crucial in helping your team define the content strategy.
Keep in mind this is also the time to “clean house,” if you will. If you have content that has not gotten a lot of traction, then you may want to omit it from the new site. At the same time, keep in mind that some of your customers may still access your old content through past emails. For example, did you publish a 5 Step How-To Guide on how people can refresh their wardrobe in the new year? Your customers may still access this guide every January, and you want to ensure any links in the article still direct them to your company website.
7) Develop the Content Migration Plan
As we shared above, it’s crucial to have a plan for migrating your data. The same holds true for your company’s content: your team needs to have a plan.
Replatforming, by its very nature, is a technical process. But sometimes merchants get so focused on the technicalities that they overlook the storytelling behind the new site. Then, just as the site is ready to launch, there’s a mad dash to address the content. This can delay the launch and cost company time and money. To avoid any last-minute chaos, it’s smart to get a content plan in place from the start.
8) Ensure the Content Migration Plan Maintains SEO History
As you audit your old site content and develop your content migration plan, be sure to pay close attention to your SEO history. Undoubtably, you’ve worked hard to build a strong SEO history unique to your business. We want to make certain this robust history continues to attract customers to the new platform.
The Pleasant Chest case study shows how Command C worked with an SEO agency to ensure the company’s long, successful SEO history stayed intact through replatforming. Keep in mind that retailers often have different needs and configurations. Nonetheless, the key here is to address the issue of SEO history. Don’t assume it will carry over to your new site unless you work on this with your development team.
Plus: 2 More Things to Consider Depending on Your Business Needs
Depending on the configuration of your ecommerce business, there are a couple of more things to consider in replatforming. These last two items won’t apply to every retailer, but if they apply to your company, then they need careful consideration. (You guessed it: starting with a technical discovery will help determine whether or not these points apply.)
Confirm Your 3PL Partner Will Integrate with the New Ecommerce Platform
Ecommerce systems are complex – and unique to your business. If you work with a third party logistics provider (3PL), you want to ensure that your 3PL partner will be able to integrate into the new platform.
Part of the joy in replatforming is that your company is overhauling its operations. The new system will be more modern, streamlined, and efficient. This is one of the many reasons why replatforming is such a benefit to retailers.
The technical discovery process will help determine the best path forward here. And, as you prepare for the technical discovery, here are 7 great questions to ask of potential 3PL partners.
Determine the Best Way to Move Data Back and Forth with Your ERP
As you prepare to replatform, your team will plan for how the frontend and backend of your site will perform on the new platform. There is a lot to consider. In addition to the customer-facing side and the operations side of your retail business, you’ll also want to ensure the new solution integrates seamlessly with your ERP. This is a big can of worms and you’ll need to thinks strategically about what will be your single source of truth and what specific data needs to be passed from your ecommerce site to your ERP and vice versa.
Once you have your strategy in place, you’ll need to determine if you can leverage an our of the box connector to act as middleware between the two platforms, or if you’ll need to build a custom one. The heavy lift up front to get all these systems playing nicely with one another will pay off in dividends once you experience the smooth flow of data between all your pieces of software.