With retail giants like Amazon and Walmart setting a high bar for online shopping experiences, your customers have come to expect a natural, social, and seamless presence across an ever-expanding number of touchpoints.
In this environment, it often makes sense to consider migrating your monolithic, traditional ecommerce platform to a more modern solution to gain additional functionality, control costs, achieve more stable scalability, and provide a world class customer experience.
Fortunately, replatforming your ecommerce operations doesn’t have to be the 18-month nightmare it once was. In fact, some modern ecommerce platforms make migration a breeze through their modular design.
While this article is not about these modern platforms, it will help you overcome many of the human reactions associated with migrating to these platforms. It will also give you some high-level advice for making sound business decisions related to replatorming.
Ecommerce Replatforming Mistakes
Delaying the migration process
It’s hard to accept the time, effort, and resources that contribute to the sunk costs of an ecommerce platform currently in use. These investments can tempt you into thinking that even though your current platform doesn’t do everything you like it works well enough.
Instead of wishful thinking and delaying your “ecommerce evolution,” consider taking a more objective approach and ask yourself the following questions.
- How much does it cost to maintain and update our current technology?
- What does it cost our team in terms of time, resources, and training?
- How many customers are we losing due to degraded buying experiences?
Having a nightmare mindset
Anyone who has been through a replatforming project probably doesn’t envy having to go through the process again. The ecommerce platform can be an incredibly hard piece to change because it’s interconnected with so many other systems. And the reality in the marketplace is rather dim: migrating from one legacy platform to another is likely to result in marginal improvements.
The typical replatforming process usually goes like this: you devise a plan for how you’re going to integrate the new platform; you write a bunch of software on top of it to achieve the functionality you need; you spend time creating trendy features but by the time the project is done other, better features are already expected from customers.
No wonder people dread the traditional replatforming process. Fortunately, creative ecommerce solutions are emerging that make migration a breeze. Through a “modular” replatforming method that leverages microservices and APIs you can evolve your platform component by component rather than using the traditional “rip and replace” method.
Misunderstanding how ecommerce is changing
Failing to recognize how the ecommerce landscape is changing can spell disaster for any replatforming project. It’s not just about implementing technology to capitalize on the trend towards mobile-first, but in recognizing the level of seamless service your customers have come to expect.
Sure, that involves a mobile-first approach, but it also means transforming your model to one that provides an extraordinary shopping and transaction experience that is fully integrated across an ever-expanding number of devices and channels (headsets, mirrors, vehicles).
Trying to predict the future
While it makes sense to take full consideration of your company’s longer term goals and figure out how replatforming can help achieve those, you must also recognize that it’s nearly impossible to accurately predict changes in consumer trends or to anticipate technological innovations.
Your best bet is to focus on actionable short-term goals, preferably starting with those that focus on the customer experience and prioritizing areas where you’re likely to see the largest and most immediate ROI.
It’s also important not to overlook any lacking features in a prospective platform, thinking you’ll be able to add features on later. While this might be a practical approach, many organizations underestimate the costs, time constraints, and difficulty of continuously writing complex new software that works effectively on top of your established platform.
Failing to account for scalability
Scalability isn’t just about how well your platform handles spikes in traffic or how much downtime you can expect. It’s essential to consider how well a platform can create a seamless experience across multiple evolving touchpoints over time.
Your customers expect the same functionality and responsiveness no matter how they’re accessing your store, and your platform must enable you to quickly take advantage of changing preferences.
Not considering effects on stakeholders
One of the most important steps in a replatforming project is assessing the needs of stakeholders and getting buy-in from them to ensure the process is prioritized across departments. This requires tactful interdepartmental diplomacy.
Try to understand how stakeholders are affected and what each considers to be the most important KPIs that might be improved through migration.
One of the most effective ways to achieve a solid experience is by designating an independent and objective implementation team (preferably with executive level involvement). This way, it isn’t left up to any single department to decide which metrics and ROIs are most important.
Not accounting for Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
License fees. Implementation fees. Hosting fees. Maintenance fees. It can feel like a rising tide of cost after cost that can really start to impact your bottom line. But there are other, more hidden fees you’ll need to consider as well.
Hiring specialized programmers to customize, maintain, and upgrade your platform can turn into a nightmare of unexpected costs and recurring expenses.
Also, don’t forget opportunity costs. Spending 12 to 18 months on replatforming means time away from your customer. Afterwards, the 2-month average time it takes to write code, test, and implement new features means additional opportunity costs. While these can be hard to measure exactly, they can represent substantial expenses in terms of lost transactions and poor customer experiences.
It doesn’t pay to avoid replatforming simply because it could be long and arduous. Instead, take the time to plan your replatforming experience and avoid the mistakes outlined above.
One way to avoid many of these pitfalls is to consider using a modular replatforming solution like Fabric where fees and TCO are low, time to implementation and ROI are fast, and Amazon-level features and functionality are available right out of the box.