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E-commerce Implementation Strategy: Should You Replatform?

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Digital Commerce

February 22, 2018

Thinking of migrating to a new e-commerce platform? RealDecoy CEO Richard Isaac offers valuable advice and insights.

Ready to take the plunge with a new e-commerce platform? Are you sure?

By Richard Isaac, President & CEO, RealDecoy

You’re considering replatforming.

And you have your reasons. Maybe your e-commerce platform reflects the deadbeat dad scenario: Your software vendor no longer provides support. It’s gone into sunset support mode. No security patches. No new functionality. No future.

Yes, if the sun’s gone down on your current technology, you need to look to a brighter tomorrow. The future of your business depends on it.

But what if your situation isn’t looking that bleak?

Exactly why do you feel the need to replatform?

When I hear a company wants to replatform, my first question is why?

Over the years, like a mechanic who listens to vehicle owners—those who arrive disappointed and frustrated with their non-performing or under-performing investments—I’ve heard some outlandish reasons for wanting to replatform. Like this one:

“The name of our e-commerce platform is stupid.”

Or this one:

“I hate the CEO of the e-commerce company whose platform we’re using.”

But I’ve also heard more reasonable concerns, like these:

“Our e-commerce platform causes our website to load so slowly, it’s hurting our business.”

“Adding a landing page or promotion takes us three weeks!”

“Our conversion rate numbers are too low. Surely a more feature-rich e-commerce platform can only help?”

“We’re falling behind our competitors. They’re doing much more personalization on their sites than we are.”

My response is usually twofold.

I’ll listen. Then I’ll often offer two courses of action.

First, I’ll mention the need for analytics, which will validate the root cause of the pain points being felt.

Second, I’ll point out that once the root cause is identified, there will be a need to determine if replatforming is the easiest path to resolving these issues.

For example, features such as personalization, intelligent search, improved taxonomy—even multivariate testing—can often be added quickly and affordably without replacing the entire platform.

So how do you decide? What do you do?

And here’s where I really get to play a role that’s a bit like a trusted auto mechanic.

To find the answers, start by looking under the hood. At not only analytics, but all your business data.

Don’t make huge, expensive, time- and resource-consuming decisions on hunches and beliefs. On fear. Or envy.

Look carefully at what your conversion rate numbers, your KPIs, your ROIs are telling you.

Are you sure you’re unable to boost conversions without replacing your existing platform?

Do you really know what your customers want? Why are they not converting in the ways you’re hoping? Are you sure you know what data you are supposed to be tracking? And why?

Are your PPC (pay-per-click) and SEO (search engine optimization) programs driving the right traffic to your website?

Have you had insightful personas created? Have you developed CX (customer experience) journey maps?

Have you already done an analytics health check? A site search health check? How about a UX (user experience) review? Have you gone through a CRO (conversion rate optimization) engagement and are you seeing the results of ongoing A/B tests?

No? Then I suggest you’re not quite ready to take the plunge for a new e-commerce platform.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-newer and anti-better e-commerce platforms. We’ve helped many customers upgrade and migrate their platforms.

Sometimes it involves switching vendors.

Sometimes it’s staying with an existing vendor, but migrating from an on-premise to a cloud-based solution.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of choosing and integrating the right third-party tools to extend the capability of your existing platform.

And sometimes, if you have a customized homegrown platform, it’s making the necessary investment to improve performance.

You don’t trade in your car because it needs a tune-up and an oil change. Nor do you automatically get rid of an expensive, high-performance vehicle when it needs a costly engine job.

One more analogy comparing e-commerce platforms to cars

Should you replatform or not?

Yes.

Whatever you decide, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.

Hard business reasons.

If you’re serious about replatforming, you’ll have a serious list of pros and cons.

Cons: a great deal of time and money and internal resources put toward technology that may or may not solve your problems.

Pros: the very future of your business can depend on making the right choice.

So, yeah, no pressure.

Just be sure you’re taking your time and taking the right approach to making a decision.

Don’t make that decision out of fear. Or envy. Or pride.

Making a replatforming decision: Should I stay or should I go?

Yes, you get it:

Deciding to replatform or not—and when and how and with whom—is a tough, important decision.

And the flipside of not making the wrong decision is not making any decision.

Perhaps instead of looking at it as a simple, binary yes-or-no proposition, you view your situation along a continuum.
Picture your need to replatform on a sliding scale that ranges from low to high:

If you’re not sure you’re getting the most out of your platform, your need to replatform is low.

If your current technology is no longer supported, your need to replatform is high.

If you’re concerned about the limited functionality of your platform, you’re between those two points.

If you want more advanced capabilities from your existing platform (such as better reporting, multivariate testing, personalization), you’re moving from lower to higher need territory.

Getting the picture? Of course, you’ll have your own, very specific reasons to help you determine where you are on this scale.

Taking the next step

If you believe you’re already into the replatforming process, you’ll have perhaps put together a checklist of everything you need to do and consider.

There are ample resources out there covering all the things you should consider—many of which are offered by the very vendors who want to help you decide.

It can be a long, time-consuming process, but if you make the decision to replatform, it’s necessary.

What I’m suggesting is that, while you may be on the long and winding road to a new e-commerce platform, there’s a lot you can do to improve your business right now.

That’s where all those activities I mentioned earlier come into play.

So while others are experiencing paralysis by analysis, you could be seeing an immediate ROI.

The added benefit is that these moves will also help clarify the decision-to-replatform picture for you.

Now, what’s your next step?

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