If there’s one truth that you simply can’t avoid in today’s digital marketplace, it’s the fact that consumer expectations and the eCommerce technology needed to connect with these shoppers on a meaningful continues to advance and evolve at a lightning-fast pace. Failing to acknowledge this reality and assuming that your current commerce systems are “good enough” can only bring about roadblocks and shortcomings as your brand seeks to develop a winning digital customer experience.
To make the most of these trends, and ensure that your brand is always prepared to meet – and exceed – the needs and desires of its consumers, it’s time to start talking about replatforming and how this approach can support your business during these times of momentous digital transformation.
Understanding the Basics of Replatforming
If you’re not familiar with the concept of replatforming, Ben Staveley of Econsultancy offers up a simple and direct explanation that easily encompasses the process and end goals of this kind of project. Essentially, replatforming is all about moving from your current digital business operations from one eCommerce platform to another in the hopes of gaining headway in an increasingly disrupted and complex digital marketplace.
“…for more complex sites and web applications, managing upgrades and revamps becomes more difficult… That’s where the idea of replatforming comes it. This is the process by which an e-commerce site will move from one platform to another.” – Ben Staveley, Econsultancy
By reviewing multiple eCommerce platform options – often with the help of a team of web development experts – a brand can bolster its digital customer features and functionality, as well as move away from the unnecessarily costly and hard to implement upgrades and renovations that come with staying tethered to dated and inefficient solutions. Generally, this plan to enact a shift toward new mobile and desktop iterations of a chosen platform serves as the first key decision in a greater commitment to a higher quality eCommerce experience across multiple devices.
Gauging the Benefits of Moving to a New eCommerce Platform
As far as the benefits of installing a new eCommerce platform goes, this choice isn’t just about improving functionality and performance with digital consumers, it’s also about ensuring that your brand doesn’t fall behind its industry competition. For businesses that actually make a switch on this front, the researchers from Forrester Research point to a series of tangible benefits that support this decision, as described by other organizations that have already undergone the transition.
Specifically, the research compiled by these experts shows that companies that commit to replatforming enjoy the following gains within their eCommerce endeavors:
- 58% improvement to business agility.
- 56% lower overall operational and ownership costs.
- 51% better alignment to the cost of ownership against online revenues.
- 51% more support for multichannel initiatives.
- 51% increase in the speed of deployment of new features and functionality.
Drilling down to the individual brand level and reviewing the transition of a company like Raley’s corroborates these points and helps shed light on the room for growth that awaits those businesses that are willing to place a serious amount of importance on their eCommerce requirements.
As the company describes in a case study detailing its migration from a homegrown system for handling its “eGrocery” operations to a sustainable and cutting edge eCommerce platform, the organization needed to find a proper solution to the growing straining levied against its digital services. By committing to the replatforming process, Raley’s was able to adopt a platform that promotes fast, incremental, and continuous innovation. This in turn helped the brand generate a higher return on its digital investment, operate with greater reliability in the digital marketplace, and garner higher transparency and more accurate metrics that allow for the consistent growth and optimization of its eCommerce operations.
Is the Need for Replatforming Inevitable in the Modern Digital Landscape?
Of course, reviewing these benefits and the particulars of Raley’s experience might not be enough to sway you toward the belief that the call of replatforming is an inevitable part of integrating into the modern digital landscape. However, Lily Varon of the Forrester Research blog suggests this process isn’t just about reaping benefits in the present, but also about keeping up with future eCommerce trends and acknowledging the need for a progressive stance on this front.
In terms of actual “pressure points” that dictate a response, Varon highlights the following issues as those that guarantee replatforming’s current and future position in the digital landscape:
- Competitive threats and expansion by industry opponents.
- The growing demands of the modern consumer.
- Digitally empowered target audiences.
- A business’ growth aspirations.
- The rise of global markets.
- The general stress placed on dated eCommerce systems.
With these pressure points serving as indicators of the rising trend toward more advanced eCommerce platforms as the online standard, the message here should be clear: Replatforming is a vital piece of the puzzle when it comes to staying ahead of the curve and providing a digital consumer experience that truly engages and fulfils the needs of shoppers.
How to Know When the Time Is Right to Make an eCommerce Platform Switch
For those brands that might not be sure of exactly when to make the switch to a new eCommerce platform, the truth of the matter is that the proper answer to this decision isn’t always readily apparently. In some cases, the very idea of committing to such a drastic move leads to a multitude of concerns and questions for wary or uncertain brands.
“It’s a process that can strike fear into the heart of any web developer or e-commerce manager but actually, if approached in the right way, it can be incredibly beneficial.” – Ben Staveley, Econsultancy
Thankfully, if you know how to look for the signs and symptoms of a currently inadequate platform, then cutting through the uncertainty and making a smart judgment regarding replatforming becomes a significantly more manageable affair. Some of the most obvious indicators of a platform in need or retooling or replacement include:
- The current platform requires complex and expensive updates to maintain.
- Your company finds itself longing for new or expanded features.
- Your site seems cluttered, hard to navigate, or counterintuitive to inbound consumers.
While these signs are by no means the only way to come to a conclusion on replatforming, they do serve as a powerful foundation on which to make an appropriate decision. Additionally, reaching out to a team of trusted web and digital product development experts can not only solidify your brand’s stance on replatforming, but also bring to light other symptoms that point to the need for this kind of eCommerce upgrade.
Utilizing Industry Best Practices to Replatform in an Effective and Efficient Manner
In order to promote a smooth and successful transition to a new platform, brands should adhere to a strict set of industry best practices and guidelines during the replatforming process. Otherwise, missed launch dates, unfulfilled consumer expectations, and countless other unforeseen issues can arise and wreak havoc on the potential returns generated by this process.
As far as best practices to consider go, the experts from OmniTI offer the following list of considerations to review as you plan out the replatforming of your current eCommerce portal:
- Commit to Research – There are many eCommerce platform options currently on the market, so don’t just accept the first choice your brand comes across. Researching a variety of options ensures that you find the right fit for your business needs.
- Lay out Your Business Goals and Expectations – No two organizations have the same goals during a replatforming event, so lay out a stated set of expectations before making a change. This way, you can verify that the various steps of this process fall in line with the end result you desire from a new platform.
- Understand Your Budgetary Limitations – Replatforming is a scalable and dynamic event, so having a static or inflexible budget doesn’t make much sense. Understanding your budgetary limitations and accepting this reality helps avert unnecessary spending and unexpected expenses.
- Consider In-House and Outsourced Routes – While some companies have the resources to enact a replatforming strategy in-house, this approach isn’t always feasible – or cost-effective – for all brands. In fact, outsourcing with a team of trusted professionals can help mitigate risk and expenses, as well as improve the overall quality of your final eCommerce product.
- Maximize the Outsourcing Option – If you do go down the outsourcing path, don’t be afraid to ask questions and bring forth any comments or concerns you might have about the project. Replatforming is often an intricate and complex process, so leaning on the expertise of these professionals can go a long way toward minimizing confusion and uncertainty on the brand side of the equation.
- Develop a Transitory Plan – Having a “transitory plan” in place promotes a smooth switch once you’re ready to shut down your old eCommerce platform and launch a new, improved digital product.
- Don’t Rush Into a Launch – Speaking of launch dates, rushing to the finish line with your new eCommerce platform often ends up being a recipe for disaster. Instead, take the time to test and retest this platform for bugs and other technical issues before committing to a firm launch date.
- Take a Long-Term Stance – Replatforming isn’t a one-time fix, so committing to maintaining and managing your new eCommerce platform is vital. The best businesses on the Internet understand this fact and are always looking for new ways to continue innovating and enhancing their digital customer experience.
If you’re able to follow along with these best practices and guidelines, then enacting a successful replatforming strategy becomes a far more manageable and effective procedure.
Replatforming as the Foundation of Successful Business Transformation
It’s important to understand that throughout all of this process, the goal of replatforming is to transform and improve your business and its standing in the digital marketplace. In many ways, this means that replatforming serves as the foundation for the greater digital transformation of your business.
“The commerce platform is the foundation of business transformation. A new eCommerce engine enables new agility, capabilities, experiences, integrations, even new products. Be prepared to revamp business processes and take an ongoing, iterative approach to what is, essentially, a business transformation project.” – Lily Varon, Forrester Research Blog
Making the switch to a new eCommerce platform isn’t just a static decision; it has lasting ramifications that can alter and augment your approach to doing business in the digital marketplace. This means that committing to a continuous and iterative approach is the only true way to embrace business transformation and build toward a successful and prosperous future for your brand.
Making the Right Decision for Your Brand’s Digital Future
After covering all of the information held within this post, one thing should be abundantly clear: Replatforming is a complex – and vital – piece of the puzzle when it comes to succeeding in the online marketplace. However, with a well-thought-out plan leading the way, this business transformation doesn’t have to come with unnecessary stress and concerns.
From garnering a basic understanding of how replatforming works and why this change is often inevitable if your brand plans to offer up an engaging digital customer experience, to gauging the need for your brand to make a switch on this front, you can lay the foundation of the first steps of this move toward a new eCommerce platform.
Once you’re ready to make a switch, leveraging the knowledge held within the aforementioned industry best practices and standards, as well as potentially seeking out the help of a team of web development experts, can ensure that you find and implement the right platform for your business needs. Throughout all of this, it’s also important to hold fast to the realization that replatforming isn’t a one-time event; it’s a constantly evolving process that seeks to keep you on the cutting edge of the digital world.
With this perspective on business transformation and proper eCommerce management guiding your business, there’s only one thing left to ask: Is your brand ready to embrace the future of digital commerce and start down the path toward a lasting and fruitful replatforming solution?