Migrations between platforms are inevitable, either you grow or you shrink or platform you used stopped being fancy and developers pool dried out, or they just made too much of not useful "improvements" and you had enough. Here we outline the base for migrations.
Ecommerce Replatforming: Why, When and How
As online businesses grow and evolve, their needs change. What worked perfectly at one point may no longer be compatible and what was useful at the start may now be obsolete. Just like brick-and-mortar stores move physical locations when they grow and expand, eCommerce stores are no different.Replatforming your eCommerce to another platform can be a complicated process. Decisions on what capabilities are needed, which functionalities can be left behind, third-party app integrations, data migration...The list goes on. We are here to help you make the process as smooth as possible and make the right platform choice for your store.
What is eCommerce Platform Migration?
Simply put, it's moving your online store from one platform to another. From Magento to Shopify, for example. It sounds simple, but it involves careful planning and execution. Your first platform may have been perfect when you started, but there comes a time when you outgrow it. That is when migration should take place.
Reasons to Replatform Your eCommerce
New eCommerce store owners usually go for a basic first site, which is great for beginners. It provides all the essentials to run your store in its early stages. This is a good first start, as basic platforms are cheaper and keep your overhead costs down while providing the essential functionalities. But as your store gets bigger, you sell more products and get more customers, your store needs to keep up with that demand.
- Functionality Needs
Your first store probably covers the basics - display your products and allow customers to buy them. These are the barebone functionalities of any eCommerce store, but as the digital world evolves, customers also expect more from their online shopping experience. You, as the store owner, also should expect more from your platform as technology evolves.There are many functionalities that an eCommerce platform can provide, below are just a few store owners need to consider:Search Engine Optimization: SEO is instrumental in bringing traffic to your site. Knowing which keywords work, where to implement them and the ability to see whether they're working or not is important to growing your site and increasing sales. Some platforms provide this, while others allow for 3rd party apps to do this.Marketing Tools: Building your site is part of a bigger formula. Marketing your products and your story is an important part of an overall business strategy. From email marketing campaigns to loyalty programs and social media campaigns, choose a platform that allows you to get the word out there.Payment Options: Customers love options, not only when it comes to products but how to pay for them. Does your site accept credit and debit cards, Paypal and whatever other payment options there are? How about buy now - pay later options? Your platform needs to facilitate the checkout and payment process.Design Options: Do you want to maintain total creative control or are you happy to use themes that limit design capability? Both choices have pros and cons, but the right platform allows you to customize your site without requiring you to be a design professional.Analytics: Knowing critical data about your site performance and being able to implement it allows your site to evolve and progress. How many visitors come to your site daily? Are there pages with dramatic visitor drop-offs? Information is your tool for improving your site functionality and increasing sales.If you find yourself turning to 3rd party apps for a lot of your functionality needs, you may want to start looking at eCommerce replatforming. While using 3rd party apps and integrations is common and opens a world of functionality for your site, your eCommerce platform should also provide a large number of functionalities for you to rely on.
- Speed and Volume
As your site grows and traffic increases, speed and the ability to handle a higher volume of visitors and orders become more important than ever. With 40% of site visitors leaving a site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load, online store owners simply can't afford a site that loads slowly.Many factors that affect the speed of a site, with your platform choice being one of them and not all eCommerce platforms are equal in this area. It is of the utmost importance to do your research and choose a platform with fast loading speeds.Which eCommerce Platform is the fastest?Out of the big players in the eCommerce platform world, Shopify is the fastest. Why? Because as a hosted platform, Shopify stores your content on their servers, but it also actively and regularly maintains and updates its technology and servers to keep loading times as short as possible.While Magento, WooCommerce and BigCommerce may not be as fast as Shopify, they are by no means slow. They are also stronger in other areas than Shopify, like SEO, for example. Our point here is that choosing a platform depends on your needs and what you want to prioritize.
- 3rd Party Integrations
An eCommerce Platform can very rarely give you everything you need to run, design and market your store. Many wonderful apps that can improve your store and it's common to integrate them into your eCommerce store.From Customer Relationship Management (CRM) to paygate, to analytics apps, they are useful tools in creating your ideal eCommerce site. But not all apps are compatible with all platforms. Consider this for your eCommerce platform migration and make sure your next platform is compatible with the 3rd party apps you want to integrate into your site.
Ecommerce Platform Migration Risks
We don't mean to scare you, but there are risks involved in eCommerce replatforming. Just like during a regular move, if things aren't properly packed you run the risk of breaking them, replatforming is not without risk. But don't worry, there are precautions you can take to mitigate this risk.
- Losing Your SEO Rankings
Google uses algorithms to rank where your website's pages appear in its searches and takes into account things like bounce rate, content and site architecture. Exactly how search engines rank websites are a tightly kept secret, but here's what we do know: When too many things change on your site, you may be ranked lower.When you replatform there are bound to be some changes, but don't treat eCommerce replatforming as an opportunity to rewrite your copy and upload new product photos. Doing so will increase your chance of making mistakes that would lead to lowerin organic traffic to your site.
- Data Loss
The more product SKUs and data you have, the more complex it is to ensure all that data is migrated from one platform to the other.Customer data is also something to think about - you don't want to lose any transaction histories. In the best-case scenario, returning customers might notice some minor design changes but won't notice that you've moved platforms.Avoiding replatforming also runs its own risk. From not being able to scale to losing customers because of a poorly functioning website, platform migration is something that eventually happens to any business that outgrows its beginnings.You must also remember that an eCommerce platform migration is different from a regular website migration. If a regular website, say a portfolio or informational site, has a few bugs or is down for a day, your business will be impacted but not to the same level as an eCommerce site. Our advice is to choose a reputable migration partner.We don't recommend replatforming on your own unless you have a highly technical background.
Ecommerce Replatforming Checklist
If you're considering eCommerce replatforming, you must realize the process will likely take months, depending on the size and complexity of your site. Having a clear plan is key to success. Also crucial is accepting that things don't always go according to plan. That being said, this handy checklist can help you be as prepared as possible.Evaluation of your current system: Make a list of what's working for you on your current platform and what isn't. Decide what functionalities and design aspects you want to keep.Evaluation of your future system: Do your due diligence and research all possible platforms. Make sure any 3rd party apps you want to keep are compatible with the new platform.Stay Organized: Whether you're running a one-man-show or you have a project manager you can appoint to this migration, create a timeline and manage expectations accordingly.Work With a Professional Migration Specialist: It's very rare that a company has a technical team proficient in migration. Working with a specialist means you can focus on your business.
Which eCommerce Platform Should I Move to?
If you've decided to move, congratulations! But which platform should you choose? Here's a brief overview of the top choices and some of the biggest players in the game.
Easy to initially set-up and with the fastest loading times, Shopify is a go-to for many eCommerce stores. However, it's weaker points are SEO and marketing capabilities. While it has many themes to choose from, customization can get pricey. Read more about Shopify's custom themes here.
While WooCommerce excels at SEO and has many well-designed themes to choose from, it's weaker points include expensive hosting and the need for a lot of extensions.
BigCommerce is great for scaling, but as your store gets bigger you also end up paying more for their services. It's also great if you plan on selling on multiple channels (i.e. Amazon, eBay, Social Media, etc.). A weaker point? Inconsistent loading speeds.
Magento is feature-rich, open-source, which means it's great for store owners who also have development skills. It also means it's not so great if you don't have development skills, as you'll have to hire someone who does.
Why Integrated Headless eCommerce During Replatforming?
The world of online retail changes rapidly and eventually, your store will outgrow its current platform. It's good to keep this in mind, even before you make the decision to replatform. When you do decide, remember that it's a process that takes careful planning and time, but in the end will benefit your store.Incorporating headless eCommerce while replatforming can solve the age-old problem of your front-end being continually tied to your back-end. Since you are already undertaking this move to improve your online store, why not take it further and finally free yourself from the limitations of traditional platforms?With headless commerce you can make your store look exactly how you want it and unlock all sorts of functionalities, from SEO to content and omnichannel marketing. To find out more, read our ultimate guide to headless eCommerce here.eCommerce website replatforming is a great opportunity to integrate headless commerce into your strategy, furthering your store's functionality and unlocking the freedom for it to look and function exactly how you want it.Schedule a call with us today to see how headless commerce can be part of your replatforming plan.