Change is inevitable, especially in ecommerce. Customer needs, marketplaces, and products are in a permanent place of evolution, meaning that ecommerce platforms must do the same.
This can be small changes like messaging — or they can be massive changes like replatforming.
Migrating to a new platform can be voluntary or a requirement to keep up with the speed of business, but migration becomes more common the more mature a company becomes.
Platform switches are becoming more common. One study states that 61% of B2B ecommerce sites are considering platform migrations within the next 12 months.
They can be challenging, but they don’t have to be scary. Following a thoughtful approach will increase the chances of success.
Migrations can take on many forms. The only constant here is a simple lift and shift of the current ecommerce platform does not happen. All approaches take time and include data migration services.
This is moving your site from an existing solution to another and may include moving from SaaS to SaaS, monolithic solution to another or from on-premise to cloud.
Here, the frontend and backend are decoupled, giving developers more options and flexibility. Often, third-party APIs are included as part of this process.
For a phased migration, pieces of the platform are transitioned piecemeal. Instead of moving everything at once, it’s done a few modules at a time.
While every case study is unique, there are some typical reasons why ecommerce businesses elect to take on a website migration. These can be simple functionality in the checkout process or specific digital marketing needs.
For ecommerce companies, their website is the front porch of their business and is arguably their most important asset. Especially for young companies, the current platform may simply reach the limits of its capability, which holds growth back.
As mentioned above, growth is everything for ecommerce sites. A platform cannot be the reason why company growth is undercut. If it cannot quickly and efficiently scale up, it’s time to make a change.
Some older platforms can be more expensive than newer, more streamlined competitors. A high total cost of ownership means that more resources are being used to simply keep the site running, which stunts innovation.
Customer needs are constantly shifting and your platform must be able to add features to meet them. If your current solution is unable to, say, provide an omnichannel selling option, it may be time to find a platform that can.
Migration can be challenging, but BigCommerce can help
BigCommerce offers a full suite of implementation services including implementation project management, data migration, solutions architecting and training and education — including developer training.
Whether you have an in-house development team or intend to bring in an agency partner, BigCommerce is experienced in bringing together the right teams to ensure a successful launch.
Each of the below have their own advantages and disadvantages. Which you choose is dependent on your needs and current tech stack.
These are subscription-based platforms created by third-party vendors. These are particularly useful for growth companies who need to get a platform up and running, but don’t have a ton of resources on hand. These shift much of the burden for security and maintenance to the vendor, although there is less control over the platform.
On-premise solutions are built and maintained in-house. They use company resources to develop and are often built by internal employees. Businesses have complete control over on-premise solutions, but that also comes with a high burden, in both maintenance and talent.
Cloud options are a sort of mix between SaaS and on-premise. They often follow an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) model and are hosted by third-party cloud providers like Amazon or Google. The central platform is often built internally, although hosting and security are mostly handled externally.
Headless systems can be any of the above, but must have the frontend and backend separated from each other. Most SaaS-based systems are headless.
A sound plan will make the ecommerce replatforming and migration process much smoother. A well researched and thoughtful approach will avoid many of the problems that can be caused by rushed development. This ecommerce migration checklist will bring some clarity.
You should start with a full inventory of what your business can and cannot do. Then get a full understanding of customer needs and how you are able to deliver on them.
A Request for Proposal (RFP) is a good first step for signaling to vendors what your requirements are. It allows these providers to pitch their solutions in response to your specific needs.
The TCO includes the initial development and deployment, as well as ongoing costs. This forecast will help determine what you have to invest in the platform.
This is a technical as well as usability audit. What can be done with current resources and capabilities and what do you need to source? Do you need plugins? Identifying these business needs early will provide clarity in your new ecommerce solution.
Data transfers — including potentially sensitive information like customer data — can be stressful. They don’t have to be, however, as long as there’s an effective plan in place to handle the ecommerce data migration.
This is done in-house and can often be done with smaller sites.
Some providers include a data migration application that automates most of this.
These can be developed in-house or externally to provide a case-specific application.
Replatforming impacts most parts of an ecommerce business and should be taken with care. All impacted parties should be included as part of the decision-making process to ensure that it’s an organizational decision and not one made by a select few.
Before undertaking such a transformative project, it’s important to understand what replatforming means — and what it doesn’t to online businesses. These are some common misconceptions about ecommerce lift and shifts.
Downtime during transitions are often minimal, although the total process is time-consuming. You’re not tearing down a building to rebuild a new one, you’re building a new one next to the old and then moving in. The old site stays open for the duration of development, until the new site is ready to go live.
A good ecommerce website can replicate much of the look and feel of a site, if that’s what you want. If you’re happy with the current design, you’ll find that quality platforms are remarkably flexible and can handle most design needs.
If done improperly, a migration can have a negative impact on search engine rankings. However, this is typically a temporary issue. Often, you’ll find new, modern platforms to have more robust SEO tools than older solutions.
This is unlikely. An exact one-to-one copy of an existing site, built from scratch, isn’t likely to happen.
When replatforming, you should look at this as an opportunity to take a critical look at your site and identify pain points. If there’s a time to refine the customer experience with a redesign, this is the time.
Even the most experienced engineer hasn’t seen everything. Replatforming involves integrations that can have an untold number of unintended consequences. You’ll likely need outside expertise in your new platform to have a smooth and error-free transition.
Most modern platforms have migration service teams that can help ensure a successful migration of your online store.
Consider replatforming part of your company’s natural growth. Just as you take on more resources (headcount, tools, etc.) to develop new products, you’ll need to do the same to keep pace with or surpass the market.
Customer expectations for user experiences are high and it’s up to you to meet them. Replatforming can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be crippling. Taking a measured approach will help ensure a more simple process.
Are you hampered by your current site in any way? Are your metrics showing growth and better conversion rates? Is customer satisfaction on your site strong? Is social media included as part of your store experience? If your site is limiting your scalability, it’s time to make a change.
A modern ecommerce store heavy on optimization and new features can be a catalyst for growth and transform how customers interact with you.
That’s a complicated question with a lot of different pricing answers. Some factors that will impact the cost of a migration project include the complexity and size of your current site, the additional functionality needed in the new site and the amount of data included.
For example, it’s much easier to move a simple WordPress site with basic templates than something far more complicated.
In a Digital Commerce 360 survey, some would expect to pay $100,000 to $500,000 to transition to a new platform.
This depends on what platform you’re migrating to. Most new platforms are able to handle these with relative ease:
Customer data such as order history and addresses.
Shipping and tax settings.
Links (Redirects may be necessary).