January 29, 2024

eCommerce Migration: Best Practices for Successful Replatforming

Elena Pashkovskaya

Technical copywriter

Ecommerce

eCommerce relatforming: steps and concerns explained
January 29, 2024

eCommerce Migration: Best Practices for Successful Replatforming

Elena Pashkovskaya

Technical copywriter

Ecommerce

eCommerce relatforming: steps and concerns explained

The world's economy is changing, and so do businesses. Past solutions and choices you think are right must match today's realities. You began your e-commerce journey with different technologies, ideas, and practices that now need updating. Or do you need better online store performance and new features? It may be time for ecommerce site migration.

What is e-commerce replatforming?

E-commerce replatforming means switching your web store to a different platform. When the old platform becomes a burden, with the high total cost of ownership and the lack of flexibility, business owners can choose platform migration. It is a complex and time-consuming process, but it can be necessary for companies of all sizes to stay up-to-date with the latest technology, decrease maintenance costs, keep modern UX, and give customers new opportunities to interact with the website. When done right, it is rewarding and can pay off the investments, but it requires proper planning and deep discussions.

Why do e-commerce businesses need platform migration?

Replatforming can increase profits and make your business more competitive. Today, we are witnessing the rapid and continuous growth of the e-commerce sector, which is expected to reach $7.4 trillion by 2025. According to Statista, in 2023, the estimated revenue of the e-commerce market will reach $2,928.00 billion. E-commerce replatforming, when needed, will help reap the benefits of modern technology and be up to speed.

The businesses migrate for negative and positive reasons. The negative ones include an escape from high maintenance costs, which overbalance the website's performance, and poor user experience. Positive motivation involves gaining more personalization, flexibility, and scalability, introducing modern integrations and applications, and better website and data security.

According to the Digital Commerce 360 research, the retail landscape is poised for a major tech upgrade, as 76% of retailers are committed to increasing their technology and services investments. Moreover, 27% of surveyed companies were willing to switch to a platform, meaning replatforming remains a significant challenge. 35% of retailers want to find commerce software adapted for them and hosted externally in a single-tenant environment. 

As demonstrated, the companies are ready to invest in new technologies to improve their business. They are looking for a solution customized to their needs, leaving re-platforming services in high demand.

Let's consider the main reasons for ecommerce platform migration.

Improve poor performance

An outdated platform causes errors, slow site speed, and weak responsiveness, leading to poor customer experience and high bounce rates. The impact of website loading speed on e-commerce conversion rates is significant. A website that loads in 1 second has a conversion rate that is 2.5 times higher than a website that loads in 5 seconds. 

There is a direct connection between website load time and bounce rates. The probability of a visitor bouncing from a page increases by 32% as page load time goes from 1 to 3 seconds. This number jumps to 90% when the load time shifts to 5 seconds. The modem e-commerce platforms usually do not have such drawbacks.

Scale an e-commerce solution

E-commerce scalability refers to the ability of an e-commerce platform to handle increasing traffic and demand without experiencing performance or stability issues. Sometimes, business outgrows the platform. Not all platforms are flexible enough to manage increased loads and ensure that online stores can grow and adapt to changing customer demands. When the current solution cannot handle higher traffic to your website and sustain an increasing array of products and orders, it might be the right time for a website replatforming.

Reduce costs

While the initial investment in a legacy platform may seem appealing, the total cost of ownership (TCO) extends far beyond licensing fees, third-party apps, and integration expenses. It encompasses a myriad of ongoing expenses and hidden costs like maintenance, hosting, security patches, and upgrades that can significantly impact a company's bottom line. You can calculate the current total cost of ownership and decide whether a platform migration is a cost-saving option.

Remove the existing gaps

The gap here is between what your business wants to improve and what its legacy platform can offer. The wider the gap, the more frustration the current platform causes. An old platform often needs new features, integrations, and solutions. These limitations cannot be fixed by a patch or an update, which seems like a dead end. Then, replatforming comes to light.

As an accomplished eCommerce development company, we can audit your solution and check whether performance or scaling issues can be fixed on the current platform or whether a more complex approach is needed, which we are also happy to help with.

eCommerce platform types

What types of e-commerce platforms should be considered before the website migration?

Where to migrate? There are several options to consider while planning e-commerce site migration.

Software as a service (SaaS)

SaaS is a cloud-based software solution that helps businesses create, manage, and operate an online store. The platform eliminates the need for businesses to install and maintain their software, as everything is hosted and managed by the SaaS provider. The business rents the software from another company, which is centrally hosted, while the hardware issues remain on their side. Examples include Salesforce, WooCommerce, and OpenCart.

The US SaaS sector is the world's largest, valued at $108.4 billion in 2020 and projected to reach $225 billion by 2025. The US is expected to remain the world's largest SaaS market over this period. The trend indicates the area's stability in the global market and the prospects of investing in these platforms, especially in the US.

On-premise

Create and manage an e-commerce website using your capacities. On-premise platforms give businesses complete control over their web-store software and hardware. You can introduce the desired features and integrations, driving your business independently. Nevertheless, this approach requires hiring highly qualified professionals, as website maintenance, customer support, and security updates lay on the company's shoulders. Remember that continuous expenses of this solution encompass hardware upkeep, data storage, security measures, data backups, power and cooling systems, and software updates.

Headless

Headless architecture is a software design pattern that separates the frontend (presentation) layer from the backend (application) layer. The frontend can be developed and deployed independently of the back end and vice versa. The advantages include limitless customization options, fast page load time, omnichannel commerce opportunities, and time and cost efficiency. Top headless commerce solutions include Magento (Adobe Commerce), Shopify, and BigCommerce.

Learn more about how NEKLO helps businesses with Magento migration.

The report shows that the adoption of headless commerce is accelerating among major retailers in North America, with 60% expected to make the switch by 2025. Moreover, replatforming ecommerce to headless commerce platforms has significantly improved website performance, with brands experiencing an average 65% boost in optimization.

Cloud solutions

Cloud e-commerce platforms, or hosted e-commerce platforms, provide businesses with the necessary facilities to create and manage an online store. These platforms are hosted in the cloud, meaning businesses do not need to worry about installing or maintaining software or hardware. All they need to do is sign up for a service and start building their store. Cloud solutions are also known as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Amazon (Web Services) and IBM Cloud represent this platform. Statista estimates the global cloud-based IT infrastructure market will surge over $110 billion by 2024.

The choice of the platform depends on your budget, business goals, and needs. Each type has particular advantages and disadvantages and requires careful consideration and planning.

Guide for an e-commerce migration

Your guide for an e-commerce migration: 5 steps to follow

If your e-store needs platform migration, here are five replatforming migration steps.

Communicate with the business partners

Effective stakeholder communication is essential to identify and prioritize each team's most critical features and functionalities for the future platform. Throughout this process, it is vital to strike a balance between the needs of different teams, ensuring that each group receives the necessary tools and support to perform their roles effectively.

As you gather information and formulate business goals and needs, keep these insights readily accessible throughout the migration process. Refer back to these notes when evaluating potential platforms to ensure that your chosen solution aligns with the needs of your teams and contributes to the overall success of the migration.

Consider the number of participants and what they can bring, as oversized participants may slow down and obstruct the decision-making. The communication should result in gathered business requirements and a clear perspective of further moves. Here are the main questions to answer:

  1. Why do we want to change the e-commerce platform?
  2. What indicators do we want to improve by migration?
  3. What features and integrations do we want to transfer to the new platform?
  4. What new features do we like to introduce?
  5. How do we want to change the design?
  6. What is the current website's total cost, and what is the cost of migration?

The information obtained at this step will allow you to consider a range of opinions and proposals, clarify the objectives, and move forward to creating the roadmap. The more detailed the communication is, the higher the chances of developing a comprehensive and consistent plan for a successful e-commerce replatforming.

Determine your e-commerce platform migration strategy

Once you've decided on the platform criteria, team delegation, and business requirements, the next crucial step is selecting the appropriate e-commerce replatforming strategy. Two primary approaches are commonly used:

Phased Migration

The phased migration approach, or the strangler pattern, involves gradually transitioning your data segment by segment. It replaces functionalities piece by piece, effectively "strangling" the old system. The phases are determined by volume, module, or another indication in the system. This method is trendy in digital commerce replatforming due to its ability to minimize disruptions and allow businesses to benefit from new applications without waiting for the entire migration to complete. The pros of this approach are reduced transition risks and the ability to run the website without disruptions. However, because of coexistence management, phased platform migration is also more complex.

Greenfield Approach

Greenfield approach, also known as the big bang approach, involves a complete overhaul and modernization of the existing system, replacing it with a new one in a single event, often called the "go-live" moment. This method is typically used when the legacy system is outdated or no longer meets the business's needs. The approach's advantages include a clear separation between the old and new platforms, decreased coexistence challenges, and the opportunity to gain unique benefits faster. Nevertheless, the greenfield approach also requires thorough testing and validation before launching.

Closely evaluate the pros and cons of each approach and choose the solution that best suits your business.

Set up replatforming roadmap

Now, it is time to develop the plan for further site migration. The roadmap should include specific goals, timelines, and milestones for each step of the migration process.

A well-defined e-commerce replatforming roadmap is crucial, ensuring a smooth and organized migration process, breaking it down into manageable steps. It identifies potential risks and challenges, allowing for proactive planning and mitigation strategies. The roadmap also helps track progress and identify the areas for improvement, enabling the necessary adjustments as the migration continues.

E-commerce replatforming roadmap should include the following components.

First, put down the goals and objectives of the replatforming project and outline the desired outcomes and improvements in performance, scalability, functionality, and user experience. Second, define the platform's technical architecture, performance, integrations, and overall suitability for the business's goals as the new features, integrations, and third-party apps you want to add during migration. Write a request for proposal to convey your requirements to the vendors and ask for a demo when you find several suitable options. Third, determine clear timelines for each phase of the e-commerce migration process. Finally, plan for post-migration support, which includes bug fixes, performance optimization, and ongoing training.

Additional subjects to consider:

  • Testing: remember that thorough testing at all steps of replatforming is essential for a successful migration. Additionally, conduct post-launch checks to ensure that every process is working with no trouble.
  • SEO: inspect SEO before migration to ensure you are not transferring errors to the new platform. Check content and links and back up your store and metrics.
  • Checkout process: optimize checkout processes to increase sales. Integrate and optimize payment gateways or third-party checkout apps to align with your industry's best practices.

By following these steps and incorporating these components, businesses can create a comprehensive and practical e-commerce replatforming roadmap that guides them through a successful migration process and helps them achieve their desired business goals.

Сhoose a platform

There are several points of concern when choosing the right platform for your business. 

  • Determine costs: conduct calculations of total cost ownership for the current solution and compare the sum with the costs for the platform you want to migrate. Moreover, figure out what means migration may help your web store increase revenue.
  • Define design changes: website replatform offers an excellent opportunity to renovate your website's design. While choosing a platform, keep an eye on what design solutions and customization opportunities it provides. You can create a new website structure, precede with frontend and backend development, making the website more convenient and user-friendly.
  • Check compatibility: ensure that the platform you choose is compatible with current tools, integrations, and apps you want to implement in the future.
  • Examine security features: analyze platforms' security measures, compliance with industry standards, using SSL certificates, data encryption, and more.
  • Estimate scalability: check if the platform supports your business growth. Can the platform handle the increasing website traffic? Will it work correctly with the doubled volume of goods and orders? 

Here at NEKLO, we referred to our experts to figure out the main tips for ecommerce site migration and discovered the following:

  1. While choosing the platform, you must clearly understand your business requirements for replatforming. Not all platforms can offer suitable solutions when it comes to the introduction of particular features and integrations. For example, Shopify fully controls the checkout process, not allowing you to introduce additional features. At the same time, Magento offers wider customization opportunities.
  2. Engage the professionals to evaluate how easy it will be to migrate. Find out how complex data mapping will be and check if the platform offers additional solutions to facilitate e-commerce data migration. 
  3. Estimate if the platform's productivity fits your web store size. The bigger the store, the greater the platform's performance must be. There is a big difference between a website with 10,000 and 100,000 products regarding software load.

These tips will facilitate your replatforming process and help you choose the best solution. You can also take a look at our Magento-based e-commerce services.

Migrate the data

Data migration is a vital component of e-commerce platform migrations. Before deciding the way you want your data to be transferred to the new website, check the following:

  • Analyze the existing content and sort out what data you need on a new platform;
  • Backup your data to secure it if anything goes wrong during replatforming;
  • Determine third-party applications you want to keep.

The data migration can be done manually, through an app, or via a third-party team.

  • Manual data migration: if your site is comparatively tiny, data migration can take place in-house via CSV.
  • Apps: some platforms provide software solutions to facilitate migration.
  • Third-party team: you can delegate the task to the professionals to avoid mistakes and unforeseen complications. They usually develop specialized APIs to import data to new websites.

Launch the solution and get the clients' feedback

After thorough testing, you are ready to launch the website. Determine starting time, considering customer usage patterns and choosing the time of the lowest activity. By carefully planning your launch window, you can cause minimal disturbance and ensure a smooth transition for your customers. Clear communication, phased rollouts, rigorous testing, robust support, and post-launch monitoring further enhance your chances of a successful and customer-friendly launch.

Keep your customers informed about the upcoming launch through email, in-app notifications, and social media. Provide clear timelines, explain the benefits of the new features, and address potential concerns. Collect the customer's feedback to ensure that everything works correctly. Constant customer interactions provide valuable dynamic comments that help companies align their innovations with their target audience's needs.

Common concerns when replatforming

E-commerce migration goes together with risks. You never know for sure that everything will go without a hitch. Foreseeing such difficulties can prevent unpleasant surprises and help you prepare to face any issue. What are the main concerns, and how can we overcome them?

Missing sales opportunities

Data migration may take time, and issues such as failed compatibility and data loss may occur. To avoid these risks, you can introduce a parallel environment by continuing to use an old website while replatforming in order not to lose sales. Replatforming during the low-load period and off-season is the other solution. Remember always to do backups to ensure that data is safe.

Design changes

Quality e-commerce platforms are capable of replicating the design of your old website. If you are happy with the current website design, there will be no issue with migration. Nevertheless, the new website will likely be an approximate copy of an old store, not an exact one. Determine your pain points and address them while replatforming. Migration offers an opportunity to restructure your old website and make design improvements.

Traffic loss

31% of consumers find new products and services via search engines, and the SEO rankings are vulnerable to website migration, meaning you can face traffic loss during the transition period. Yet, transitioning to a new platform often presents both SEO risks and opportunities. Alterations to link structures can lead to page malfunctions or incorrect rendering. Acknowledging this early allows for timely rectification and preventing SEO-impacting errors.

Here are common SEO strategies to use while ecommerce replatforming:

  • Use 301 redirects to ensure your content is available on the new platform;
  • Reduce on-page changes to save your organic traffic;
  • Pay attention to possible duplicate content issues and implement canonical tags;
  • Keep track of 404 errors.

Moreover, conduct a thorough website audit before platform migration to ensure that you transfer the correct data. Check the adherence to all SEO standards for optimal search engine ranking. Additionally, perform comprehensive testing to detect potential problems, such as broken links, redirect loops, caching issues, orphan pages, etc. Conduct another audit after migration to ensure the correct content transition or areas for improvement.

E-commerce replatforming checklist

Now, let's cover the precise milestones of e-commerce website replatforming. Here is a checklist you can follow to ensure everything is considered and calculated:

  • Define website replatforming scope and budget
  • Gather business requirements
  • Choose a suitable platform
  • Determine project management structure and responsibilities
  • Set up a replatforming schedule
  • Choose a data migration strategy
  • Develop website's design (frontend and backend)
  • Conduct SEO checks & determine post-launch SEO tasks
  • Conduct thorough testing
  • Launch the website
  • Inform the customers and collect their feedback
  • Provide support and post-launch maintenance 

You can refer to the e-commerce migration professionals to ensure no missing points. Choose a qualified and experienced team that can share their expertise and offer the best solutions.

eCommerce replatforming checklist

Wrapping up

E-commerce migration might seem complicated and risky, and sometimes it is. But so is using a legacy platform that can compromise security and lack modern features that your competitors can offer. Effective communication, a well-structured plan, and clear objectives and goals can facilitate the process.

If you are still determining if your business needs replatforming, want to make migration estimates, or develop a step-by-step e-commerce replatforming roadmap, we are ready to help you. NEKLO professionals provide IT consultations and ecommerce migration services to assist businesses in platform migration. Let's start our journey today!