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How to Strengthen Your Ecommerce Growth by NOT Replatforming

Mari Strom

Mari Strom

June 26
  •  
10 minute read

Your e-commerce platform drives revenue, enhances your brand image, and enables you to deliver exceptional customer experiences. So, it’s vital that your platform is easy to use, wholly customizable, reliable, and responsive to ever-changing customer demands. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case. In fact, as e-commerce continues to make up a larger portion of sales, many organizations are finding their platforms are holding them back from achieving their growth potential.

Behemoths like Amazon and Alibaba continue to set the standard for customer expectations, making it critical that you deliver at least this level of experience to your customers to even stay competitive.

This post explains:

  • Some of the major reasons organizations seek out a new e-commerce platform
  • Why it’s such a challenge and some of the major risks involved
  • And introduces a new “modularization” method that allows you to avoid all the headaches, downtime, and sacrifices that characterize the traditional replatforming experience by solving your most pressing problems piece-by-piece – proving value quickly, eliminating risks, and allowing you to deliver Amazon-level customer experiences in just weeks.

 

Why You Need a New e-commerce Platform

Though it sounds like a daunting and expensive ordeal, many organizations realize they can’t afford to risk being out of touch with changing customer expectations and evolving business priorities. Among the many reasons teams might seek out a new e-commerce platform are inadequate features, high costs, and a lack of scalability, stability, and security.

 

Inadequate Features

Rich customer experiences are built on customization and powerful features customers have come to expect.

 

High Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

Legacy e-commerce platforms are often incredibly expensive – beyond the huge initial investment, there are licensing fees, hosting fees, and the need to hire expensive specialized developers for maintenance and upgrades.

 

Scalability

Many legacy platforms are wholly inadequate for managing traffic peaks and scaling issues, causing sites to crash or experience costly downtime.

 

Stability

Unstable and unpredictable site response times can be a serious impediment to user experience and SEO.

 

Security

Older platforms tend to be lacking when it comes to security best practices, leaving your business open to highly damaging information security risks.

Maybe you’re used to reading customer comments and complaints about site speed, poor (or nonexistent) mobile performance, inadequate content, or any number of other unsatisfactory experiences. The cost of these negative encounters is incalculable. And – what’s worse are all those customers who never say anything at all and just move on to another brand that does deliver exactly what they desire.

 

e-Commerce Replatforming Challenges

While your current platform might not deliver all the features you need, many teams remain committed to rescuing sunk costs. “We invested an enormous amount of time and money in our current platform just a few years ago, and we don’t want to have to do it all over again.” It’s a common concern, and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. The problem is that your customers don’t care how much you spent or about whether you recover costs – all they perceive is a brand that doesn’t prioritize its customers.

At the same time, many teams recognize their customers aren’t willing to wait around for 18 months while you replatform, customize, and test a new system. Instead, they’ll just go shop somewhere else. That’s a huge risk, and it’s one that isn’t really worth taking in an environment where 18 months feels like an eternity. You’ve locked yourself into a plan for this huge amount of time, and while you’re rebuilding, your customers’ expectations keep changing and maybe even your business model is changing…and you don’t have the flexibility to adapt. Simply put, “rip and replace” replatforming just isn’t practical anymore (more on the alternative in the next section).

In addition to all these other concerns, team leaders are justifiably worried about the potential risks to their career and reputation from making an ineffective decision. If the final results don’t justify all the time and expense, the responsibility is going to come back on you personally. That’s quite a risk. It’s a lot easier to play it safe and stick with an imperfect (and even brand-damaging) platform for fear that a change just won’t payoff.

But in all these circumstances there exists a failure to recognize the absolutely essential nature of the e-commerce platform to driving future growth and sustainability. Like it or not, your customers expect a world-class seamless brand experience, and if you can’t deliver, they’ll vote with their pocketbooks and do business elsewhere.

 

The Solution: Don’t Replatform

The old “rip and replace” replatforming framework is a relic of the past and is really a damaging way of approaching such an important element to your business.

A more effective approach is done through “modularization.” Instead of trying to rebuild from the bottom up, you simply replace those most troublesome elements immediately and gradually evolve the rest of your system over time.

This “modularization” approach enables:

  • Faster results
  • Less expense
  • Greater efficiency
  • Zero downtime
  • And practically zero risk

Sometimes this approach is referred to as “the strangler method,” getting its name from the way strangler vines seed in the tops of an Australian fig tree, gradually making their way down the tree and rooting in the soil, and eventually killing the host tree and leaving a beautiful new structure behind. It’s a true testament to the way nature often provides the seed for great engineering ideas.

In terms of your e-commerce platform, this method allows you to avoid all the expense, time, and risk associated with the typical “rip and replace” method. Instead, you chip away at your old platform from top to bottom. This allows you to prioritize the customer experience first. That means you see immediate value with minimal investment and no downtime, and – most importantly – your customers benefit right away too.

In effect, all the risks are eliminated. Your old system stays in place, and you just build on top of it – just like the strangler vine on the fig tree – until eventually you have a brand new structure that fits all your needs perfectly.

This isn’t “replatforming.” It’s about evolving your system day-by-day and month-by-month, immediately improving the customer experience while never sacrificing your ability to continue operations – until gradually you replace your entire system with one that is more functional, extensible, secure, easier to maintain and less expensive.

 

The Fabric Approach

The ineffective “replatforming approach” just isn’t practical in today’s environment. It’s expensive, unproductive, and extremely risky. Your customers don’t want to wait 18 months for the best experience. They want it now, and if you can’t provide it, they’ll find another brand that will.

Fabric is revolutionizing the way companies go about replacing their legacy e-commerce platform, allowing you to “modularize” your improvements starting with the most important customer-facing portions and gradually building a compartmentalized system right on top of your existing system.

No downtime. No risk. Fast ROI. Get a demo and try Fabric for free for 6 months here.

It’s hard to believe that the much anticipated Magento 1 “End Of Life” is already behind us. Amidst trying to keep their businesses alive during the challenges of a world pandemic, many retailers reprioritized their plans to migrate off of Magento 1.

But is it too late? The answer is a resounding no.

 

The Cost Of Not Migrating

About 62,384 live websites today have moved on to the new Magento 2 platform (as of 19th June 2020). That’s just over 30% of the 185,158 live websites currently still running on the Magento 1 platform. This means all of these businesses are at risk running on a platform that will have zero security support after June 30. First off, let us understand what this risk looks like:

 

No Security Updates

Magento has made it very clear that there will be no new security patches after the June 30th End Of Life date. This means that all websites running on the outdated Magento 1.x platforms will run the risk of getting hacked, leaving their platform vulnerable to server attacks, spam attacks, and the capture of private customer data. 

 

No Firmware Updates

With zero system updates, businesses will have to run on an outdated architecture with slow performance and a below-par UI experience, leading to reduced traffic, customers, sales, and so on. Needless to say, this will eventually hit their reputation.

 

Obsolete Extensions

The third-party extensions that you rely on a daily basis for critical e-commerce functionalities like content, pricing, checkout and payments might stop working without prior notice as there would be no more development for an outdated platform.

 

Fines & Loss Of Trust

Online businesses, especially in the e-commerce vertical, hold a lot of private data, which their customers trust them to keep safe. Any privacy breach due to outdated infrastructure leads to a direct hit on customer trust, leading to a lesser interest in the business and its offerings. Not to mention the hefty fines that could be accrued from the government due to privacy policies.

These are not effects that businesses will see immediately after the End Of Life date. Each of the risks listed above will creep in slowly over time, eating away at the business from different directions. After a point, the business will have time to do nothing but go on firefighting mode with half-measures that might or might not work. The only guarantee here is that when it all comes to a head, there will be an undeniable possibility of loss of reputation, and business.

 

Why Migrating To Magento 2 Is NOT Ideal

Yes, Magento 2 is definitely an improvement over Magento 1 in every aspect. It offers improved performance, scalability, security, and checkout experience. But does that mean Magento 2 is the best option for migration?

Here’s a fact — migrating to Magento 2 is NOT a simple upgrade process. It is essentially a complete re-platforming exercise, building the whole platform from the ground up. This means:

  1. the migration project will require a dedicated development team to set up functionalities and extensions.
  2. new themes and templates will have to be built from the ground up, since it is not possible to migrate these from Magento 1.
  3. some extensions used in Magento 1 will just outright disappear.
  4. there will be SEO and indexing complications that will have an immediate effect on website search performance.
  5. businesses can expect stability issues for at least the first few months after migration, due to the new and untested technologies Magento 2 relies on.

 

Re-platforming Is Risky Business

Companies will have to invest valuable time, resources and effort into what amounts to building an e-commerce platform as they had done the first time around. Brands will have to pause valuable business growth objectives, and customers will see a sudden dip in their experience with the brand — years of reputation and goodwill can take a sudden hit if this is not done right. This is why most businesses are hesitant to go about this process, even in the face of huge security risks.

What businesses need to ask themselves at this juncture is whether, given this fact, there are better solutions than Magento 2 in the market. Even though Magento 2 is definitely an improvement over Magento 1, it is just not the best e-commerce platform in the market today. And since businesses are looking at a painful re-platforming exercise down the barrel, they should evaluate whether there are better ways to approach this.

Rather than treating this as a problem, businesses have the unique opportunity to evaluate their business and the market. Some questions decision-makers can ask themselves are:

  • What are the pain-points I have with my current platform?
  • Have I analyzed every other platform in the market today?
  • What are some new technologies that I should be investing in today to future-proof the business?
  • What are my competitors doing?

 

Fabric’s Approach: Evolve, Don’t Re-platform

Gone are the days when you had to invest a lot of time and money to build and customize a new and better software platform (like Magento 2) from the ground up. This is the age of the cloud and microservices. What we are proposing is something that is much better than a painfully slow re-platforming exercise. Fabric believes in incremental digital transformation by prioritizing and attacking pain-points businesses face with various e-commerce functionalities. 

Your legacy e-commerce platform (in this case, Magento) is essentially a set of smaller systems like a Content Management System, a Product Information Management system, an Order Management System, a Checkout System, and so on, rigidly connected with each other. Fabric works with businesses and prioritizes these systems for transformation in a systematic approach.

The end goal is to systematically decouple each of these systems into independently functioning microservices that can be individually managed and updated with the latest technologies and features as and when required. This ensures that your legacy platform evolves into a modern headless commerce platform that is both flexible and scalable, with a much lesser cost of ownership.

 

Planning Your Evolution

Fabric believes in a phased approach to migration, where your customer’s journey with your brand remains consistent, and even enhanced, throughout the project duration. Our process for a platform evolution is based on fast, efficient and transparent principles, which are broken down 3 steps:

1. Rapid Assessment

This is the step where take stock of the status quo. Our team will closely work with your business over a few quick sessions to understand the various pain points, gaps, and opportunities that can enhance the platform.

2. Solution Roadmap Creation

Detailed rapid assessment reports are used to set performance enhancement goals and plan resources. Timelines and deliverables are set for evolution to a modern, headless commerce platform with the least amount of impact on the business.

3. Execution

Fabric will have the new platform from kick-off to go-live in 8 weeks or less.

 

Benefits of the Evolution Process

  1. Removes any risk by ensuring the customer’s journey can remain unchanged, or even enhanced, throughout.
  2. Transforms faster than in the case of a re-platforming exercise.
  3. Attacks pain points in a prioritized manner.
  4. Helps transition into a flexible microservices architecture.
  5. Lesser total cost of ownership.

 

Migrate Confidently With Fabric

Here at Fabric, we do not believe in re-platforming. We believe in systematic improvements that accumulate to build up one high-performing system of microservices that make up world class e-commerce experience.

The modular approach to platform evolution ensures that the customer’s journey with the e-commerce brand is enriched incrementally according to their expectations. It is a bold vision that every e-commerce business owner with a legacy platform should seriously consider.


Mari Strom

Mari Strom

June 26

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