Upgrading a B2B e-commerce website can be a harrowing experience. This is especially true if the e-commerce website in question constitutes the whole of a business rather than a part. B2B e-commerce websites using a store as a source of additional income, for example, will naturally find that their needs are a bit less stringent than those brands that focus most of their attention upon selling items from their online store. In these instances, it is vital that the e-commerce re-platforming process be conducted systematically and intelligently in order to avoid some fairly serious pitfalls.
However, that’s not to say that the risks of e-commerce platform migration outweigh the benefits because that is simply not the case. There are a variety of reasons why an e-commerce replatforming is necessary, and they’re all fairly important. Many retailers find themselves increasingly looking to mobile commerce when it comes to the future of their business. Because consumers are increasingly using their mobile devices to access the internet and shop, it’s vital that businesses focusing on e-commerce have an optimized mobile experience.
This isn’t viable on certain platforms, and might necessitate a re-platforming process on the part of the business. Another reason for upgrading an e-commerce system is the desire to tap into the international markets. Some platforms handle multiple currencies better than others, for example, and it’s important to select the right platform to ensure the success of a new strategy.
As far as the benefits of e-commerce re-platforming go, they might be fairly clear from the above discussion. Upgrading an e-commerce platform can help business owners expand their marketing strategy and reach, leading to an increase in customers and business. With the right platform, it’s possible for a retailer to be truly global, ensuring that their reach extends almost anywhere there is consistent internet access.
E-commerce re-platforming also helps retailers provide an easy and pleasant buying experience to mobile users and enhance customer engagement, which is quickly becoming a critical part of the e-commerce package. Sometimes an upgrade is simply unavoidable, and will actively help a business grow.
To know more on benefits of e-commerce re-platforming, you can read How Can E-Commerce Re-Platforming Transform Your Business Completely. Also, you can get consultation on B2B eCommerce website development here.
Context Challenges and Risks
As mentioned above, the reasons to change e-commerce platforms are varied and often quite vital to the development of B2B e-commerce business. With that said, there are some risks that shouldn’t be ignored when considering the possibility of attempting the re-platforming process. These will be explained in more detail below, but suffice to say that selecting the wrong platform or failing to correctly customize the platform to fit the needs of a specific business can lead to disaster. With this one process, it’s possible to see revenue drop by a significant amount. This, of course, significantly damages a business’ growth while also affecting its ability to spend the money and time necessary to fix the issue.
It’s important that business owners educate themselves about some of the specific issues they might encounter as they pursue the B2B e-commerce re-platforming process. This post will talk about how businesses can smoothly change their platform without experiencing those pitfalls that can cause some serious damage.
5 Pitfalls to Consider
While there are a variety of problems that can come up during an e-commerce re-platforming, there are some that tend to be more prominent than others. Five of these will be discussed in detail below, with potential consequences included to more fully illustrate the issue. Keep in mind that restructuring, as illustrated below by clevebridge blog through a Forrester image, is a fairly common occurrence for many businesses. Taking the time to master it now will pay off in the long run.
1. Lacking Scalability
One of the most common issues that online retailers face when it comes to their B2B e-commerce platforms is the issue of scalability. Almost every business owner out there wants to increase their reach and generate more leads in order to make more sales. While achieving this goal might initially seem like a great situation, it can actually cause some serious issues with B2B e-commerce platforms. A platform that performed perfectly when a business was only interested in a niche market located in a single country, for example, might not be appropriate when the business decides to expand their audience. When the number of individuals purchasing items or services as well as the number of countries in which these customers might be located increases, many platforms will quickly prove to be unable to handle the new traffic and demands.
This is why it’s important to carefully assess e-commerce platforms for their scalability. If a business was to grow quickly and significantly, for example, how would the platform in question respond? Would it be able to handle the new demands placed upon it? It’s a good idea to select a platform that will successfully scale up or down to meet the business needs of a particular business. Even if business owners don’t necessarily anticipate that kind of growth, it’s far better to take the issue into consideration now rather than later. Taking the time to re-platform only to discover that the new platform is unable to properly scale to handle different business needs is a common issue that can disrupt sales and waste time as well as money.
2. Inadequate Control and Flexibility
It’s not uncommon for a project to begin with a clearly defined objective based upon a predetermined idea of the scope of the issue and the resources needed to address it. It’s even less uncommon for this tidy idea of how the project should go to end up flying out of the window as unforeseen issues are unearthed during the creation process. An e-commerce re-platforming project is certainly not an exception to this phenomenon, and it should be taken for granted that there will be various issues that are sure to arise and demand the full attention of everyone on the team. When selecting a new e-commerce platform and creating a timeline for its implementation and ultimate delivery, it’s important to understand the likelihood of unforeseen complications.
In order to ensure that a project plan isn’t completely derailed when the all-but-inevitable arises, take the time to ensure that any plans are created with an eye to future flexibility. If something happens to change the timeline, for example, it’s important that the team be able to adapt the plan as needed in order to ensure a successful delivery that depends upon the new scope of the project. Plans that are created rigidly and leave no room for control over future changes are dangerous because they run the risk of turning a re-platforming project into a derailed mess that didn’t have any room for managing risk.
3. Incompatible SEO for Platform
A lot of businesses today are heavily focused upon search engine optimization (SEO) – and understandably so. Correctly utilizing SEO can help expand a brand’s reach by quite a bit purely through search engine results. Savvy business owners who are researching a move to a new B2B e-commerce platform will carefully consider their SEO needs and have specific considerations in mind when looking at the functionality of the platform in question. This is important for a number of different reasons. First of all, it’s important to understand what specific SEO goals a business has as well as how they plan to meet them using their e-commerce platform. Even more than that, however, it’s important to have specific SEO goals in mind so that the potential e-commerce platform can be vetted to gauge its SEO abilities.
Many e-commerce platforms will advertise themselves as being “SEO efficient” or “SEO friendly”. In reality, what this often means is that the platform in question is able to meet the basic SEO needs of a company. This doesn’t take into consideration things like URL structure, Robots.txt files, media alt tags, or user generated content – all things that are important to keep in mind while developing a comprehensive and successful SEO strategy. This is why business owners must do their research before selecting a platform. Not doing so could land them with a platform that is not capable of handling their SEO needs, and instead requires a lot of additional customization that was not part of the original re-platforming plan.
4. Missing Collaboration of Multiple Departments
The e-commerce re-platforming process is an incredibly complex one to begin. There are many different factors that play into whether or not the process goes smoothly and is finished on time and meets all goals set, or whether it takes an inordinately long amount of time to complete and leads to much headache and stress along the way. As with anything life, communication is key in the business world. This is especially true of interdepartmental communication when major changes like an e-commerce re-platforming is under way. Many business owners are content to simply assign the project to a particular team and let them develop the plan, select the platform, and handle the conversion process. This isn’t the best idea, however, because it essentially ensures that only one department has in-depth working knowledge of the new system.
By contrast, bringing in multiple departments to the e-commerce restructuring process is a great way to keep the company informed about new features and changes that are coming. No one will be completely caught off guard by the changes when using this approach because everyone will have already been informed about the conversion process by other individuals in their department. Fostering a sense of community and collaboration within a company that spans across departments is one of the best ways to ensure that the company culture is one that is able to band together and accept change as easily as possible. The more people who are involved in the e-commerce re-platforming process, the better.
5. Inability to Predict Future Requirements
Mentioned above in the discussion on scalability, it’s important to understand the importance of consistently predicting the future requirements of the business in question. This is a particularly difficult step. It requires a business owner to be knowledgeable about the technology and potential developments as well as to take a careful look at their own business. Almost everyone wants to think that their company will see a lot of growth. It’s natural – after all, what’s the point of attempting to run a successful business if the owner doesn’t believe in its ability to attract customers and evolve over the years?
Unfortunately, not every business will grow – and even in those that do, the rate might not be quite what the owners are hoping for. That’s not to say that the growth is random, however, because in reality there are different ways to measure and predict future growth. It’s important that the business owner take the time to objectively look at the data before committing to an e-commerce re-platforming. This means that they make an attempt to visualize, based on data, where their business will be in a given time period. It is based upon this objective that the decision regarding an e-commerce upgrade should be considered.
With that said, do not make the mistake of attempting to “future-proof” your e-commerce platform. It’s possible that the technology will look very different in a few years as the needs and demands of the many dictate change, and the platform that seems like an incredible value now might seem less appropriate. Instead, make smart choices based on realistic expectations and the knowledge that e-commerce re-platforming is a fairly common occurrence for many businesses. It’s not entirely necessary to make the perfect choice right this moment, in other words. Smart business owners will make the choice that makes sense now and will continue to make sense over a specific period of time, after which they will reevaluate their business’ needs and the performance of the platform in question.
When it comes down to it, e-commerce re-platforming is a common issue that, when handled correctly, can be a boon to any business. Follow the tips above to avoid the common pitfalls that can lead a business to disaster, and rest assured in that the new platform choice will be one that helps the business in question grow and thrive. E-commerce re-platforming doesn’t have to be a major issue. Approach it carefully and systematically, and see just how easy it so to introduce the change and just how smoothly the conversion goes among workers and customers alike.