Jon Woodall busts the myths of ecommerce: Replatforming will solve all my problems
As the MD of a leading ecommerce consultancy and the founder of a global website development event, Jon Woodall has just about seen it all when it comes to the good, the bad and the ugly in online retail. That's why he's set his sights on busting the myths of ecommerce, which can be damaging to businesses that make judgements based on assumptions and hearsay.
In this blog, Jon explores the myths surrounding replatforming and breaks down the perceived issues and discusses how to stay strategic with big decisions over your ecommerce platform:
Ecommerce replatforming: the myth vs the reality
The Myth: Changing our ecommerce platform will solve all our problems
The Reality: Moving your ecommerce website onto a new platform doesn't guarantee success, especially if you've not built a valid business case for replatforming
I can't tell you the number of times that I've heard brands blame bad online results on the poor performance of their platform. If something is wrong, businesses often jump to the conclusion that their ecommerce platform is not good enough and is preventing them from progressing as fast as they'd like, meaning they're losing ground to their competitors, who appear to be driving much better results on a different platform.
Here are just a handful of the reasons I've heard businesses give for needing to migrate to a new ecommerce platform. Often these reasons are not based on strategy or research, but perception and guesswork:
- My competitors are using a new platform – I need to do what they're doing
- The platform we're using is legacy and development costs are getting too high
- Our existing platform is too difficult to use
- Our website is too slow and has poor functionality
- We've lost faith in our existing ecommerce/development teams
- The existing platform isn't stable or scalable, causing loss of trade in key sales periods
- Switching to a new platform will double our conversion rate
As you can see, there's a pattern emerging. It's not to say that these statements are not true in all cases, but there's a high chance that many of these reasons for moving ecommerce platforms are built on assumptions. A more cost-effective solution that sticks out straight away, is finding the right developers or agencies to help get the best performance out of your existing platform.
Key considerations around ecommerce replatforming
Here are a couple of key things to consider when thinking about whether to move your website to a new ecommerce platform:
What are your required timescales for a replatforming project?
Whilst all ecommerce platforms have their own limitations, every business is different, so each platform will have a sweet spot that suits a particular business size or type. You can't put a blanket timescale on a replatforming project, as it depends on the complexity of your business and its requirements.
How much time do you have for a potential platform move? If you have a limit, this will rule out certain platforms straight away. Also, if you do have very strict deadlines for the proposed replatforming project, this should be a strong indicator that it may not be the right time to move platforms. Instead, look at how to improve the performance of your existing platform.
Will a platform migration be cost-effective for your business?
It's tempting to think that a new platform will offer you the scalability and functionality to help your business grow and meet changing consumer expectations. But moving platforms is not cheap. Can you add integrations that help you to meet your objectives without having to replatform?
If you can't integrate the latest technology or meet the increased demands of your customers on your existing platform, it will impact your business. Your findings may conclude that a replatforming project is inevitable, but only after doing the required research will you be able to make a valid assessment and take a decision based on all the factors.
Build a valid business case for replatforming
You need a forensic process of elimination to determine the solution for your website problems. The answers are often hidden in plain sight. I've outlined 10 questions to run through with the key stakeholders in your business, in order to build a strategic business case for replatforming:
- In what areas is your business falling behind its competitors?
- What frustrations and limitations are your customers finding on your ecommerce store?
- Has your website and ecommerce strategy outgrown your platform’s capabilities?
- Do you spend too much time on website maintenance and is it hindering your resources for marketing activity?
- Can your existing platform cope with your current and forecasted customer demand?
- What features and functionality do you require to meet your brand's ambition, with regard to UX and ecommerce innovation?
- Are there integrations for your existing platform that can help you deliver on these ambitions?
- Can you consolidate operations and create a single customer view on your existing platform?
- Can your catalogue database handle the number of SKUs now and in the future?
- What things can you implement in the short-term to improve your website's performance?
Get all your key departments together to discuss these questions, evaluate your customer insights and assess what is available in the marketplace. Once you've done this research and evaluation, you can make a strategic decision on whether you need to move your website to a new platform.
Learn the best practices for replatforming in our blog: The Golden Rules of Ecommerce Replatforming
Space 48 to the rescue?
At Space 48, we've recently had a lot of brands come to us for "rescue projects", to help them sort out issues that have come from an ill-conceived or badly-planned replatforming project. For businesses that grow online very quickly, what tends to happen is that the rest of the business suddenly takes an interest. Stakeholders push for even faster growth and you soon have one long tasklist, based on knee-jerk tactics instead of a more measured approach.
This results in technical inefficiencies on the websites, leading to an unstable platform and a big impact on sales. For example, a lot of people found the move from Magento 1 to Magento 2 a traumatic experience. This was partly down to the platform being released too early. Magento 2 and Magento Cloud were arguably underdeveloped. Many developers and agencies jumped at the chance to take on Magento 2 projects, but struggled. We picked up rescue projects as a result.
Magento 2 is now in much better shape and more brands are having success on the platform, but it has a fundamentally different coding framework from Magento 1 and must be treated as such. Consider the different benefits and costs of other platforms, such as Shopware or Shopify Plus, if it would be more cost-effective to stay on your existing platform and develop it with more innovative integrations.
If your replatforming project is in need of rescuing, get in contact with our team of experts and see how we can get your platform's performance back on track!
Jon Woodall recently appeared on Target Internet's digital marketing podcast, discussing 10 myths of ecommerce. Check out the links below to the list 2-part podcast:
Deciding whether or not to move to a new ecommerce platform is a big decision. The overriding message is to do the required research and get the key people within your business together to fully assess your website problems and ambitions, find potential solutions for now and the long-term, and evaluate all the costs, risks and factors involved replatforming.
If you're in the process of planning a replatforming project, our website development experts created a guide to ecommerce replatforming that should come in useful. Get our free guide!
Space 48 is a leading UK ecommerce consultancy and website development agency, specialising in Magento and Shopware platforms. If you want to discuss any issues you're having with your ecommerce platform or you want to discuss project with us, get in touch now or you can book a free consultation with our specialists. Or why not explore our range of ecommerce audits and assessments to help pinpoint your key areas of opportunity to increase performance and growth?