For most eCommerce businesses, changing platforms is not a decision taken lightly. Migrating is generally perceived to be expensive, time consuming and risky – the biggest concern being how sales can be negatively impacted if problems occur during the migration project. It’s for these reasons that most businesses will delay a platform migration for as long as they can.
The problem with putting off a migration, when the need to do so is clear, is that the limitations of the platform will increase and compound over time. Your customer experience will continually erode, which in turn may lead frustrated buyers to go elsewhere.
Replatforming isn’t always your only option. You can upgrade your existing solution, redesign elements of your current eCommerce site or improve integration with your back-end processes. If you are certain about where the issues are, you may be able to focus on specific improvements, rather than a complete overhaul.
The decision to migrate really comes down to how badly your current platform is performing. If you are having to continually put out fires then it may be time to thoroughly evaluate the situation. This post explores some of the most obvious signs that you are sitting on a burning platform and should change before it’s too late.
First sign: Your platform looks or feels outdated
At the basic level, your buyers want an easy-to-use, secure and professional-looking site. You shouldn’t just compare yourself to competitors, but should base your standards on eCommerce sites in general. After all, that’s what your buyers will do.
If a buyer feels your site is outdated, it could be for a number of reasons – not just its design. For example, it could be that your site is too slow to load. Google reports that 40% of consumers will leave a site that takes more than three seconds to load.
Another issue may be navigation. An eCommerce site should offer a quick and accurate search tool with clear product categories, so customers can quickly find what they want.
When it comes to eCommerce platforms, technology is evolving faster than ever. If you’ve been using the same platform for several years, you should perform a gap analysis to benchmark your site against the minimum standard buyers now expect.
Second sign: Log-in or check-out issues
Without seamless log-in and check-out processes, you run the risk of your customers losing trust or patience and leaving your site. This problem is now quite common with eCommerce sites developed a few years ago.
At that time, a basic, inexpensive system may have been adequate enough. However, times have changed and an outdated platform may offer a very clunky log-in and check-out process.
Check-out is the point in the buyer’s journey when they are at their most vulnerable. You are asking someone to hand over their credit card information at the crucial point of purchase. If the check-out process feels slow or overly complex, the buyer may get spooked and leave your site, unlikely to return.
Log-in issues are also important and the process needs to be as easy as possible. If a buyer cannot log-in and order conveniently, they will quickly move on to a competitor.
Third sign: Inability to grow the platform or handle large amounts of business
As your business grows, the scalability of your eCommerce platform will become a major concern. It’s important that your platform is able to grow organically alongside your company, allowing you to easily add new product lines and move into new markets.
A key issue is unexpected order spikes. Perhaps your latest marketing campaign has been a big success. Suddenly, you’ve got a surge in orders. You need an eCommerce system with the flexibility to handle this.
Although your current eCommerce platform was good enough to start with, if you are growing quickly it may now lack the capacity to take your business to the next level.
If you’ve grown to thousands or tens of thousands of transactions per month, your site may have hundreds of thousands of monthly visitors. It’s vital that your eCommerce platform can support this volume and maintain your user experience.
Fourth sign: Constant integration issues and reporting headaches
Most firms use multiple software platforms, such as ERP and inventory management systems. This can result in a lot of work for eCommerce teams who need to integrate customer data, as well as create regular, accurate forecasts and other financial reports.
To improve operational efficiencies, you’ll want to automate as much as possible with workflows and notifications running across your core business systems. This will require an eCommerce platform with open architecture.
It’s also important that you track your key performance indicators (KPIs) to ensure your eCommerce business is performing in line with your goals. Without an eCommerce system that has easy access to accurate information to generate reports, key business decisions will be delayed or compromised, which can pose significant risks and missed opportunities for your business.
Fifth sign: Difficult to work with and maintain
This final point is arguably the biggest trigger for change. You don’t want your eCommerce team spending significant, unnecessary hours manually processing orders, fixing bugs with your site or maintaining integrations or development platforms. This can hit your profit margins hard, will inevitably impact your buyer experience and will seriously demotivate your team.
Maintenance can be a real problem with an outdated eCommerce platform. If your development team is constantly fixing errors that in turn lead to more errors, you can quickly head into a downward spiral. Of course, it’s inevitable that some things will break and need fixing on any platform, but if this has become a daily occurrence, it’s time to stop fire-fighting and look for an alternative.
If you experienced a strong sense of familiarity while reading this post, you may now have that sinking feeling. But there’s some good news. The path to resolution always starts by first accepting you have an issue in the first place.
If you decide to make the switch from your existing platform, you’ll need to closely evaluate a number of different eCommerce providers to find the best fit for your business.
Two of the most established eCommerce platform vendors are Magento and Shopify. Magento is an open source platform that will require support from a full web development team – so you’ll either need in-house skills or a digital agency to build it.
Shopify is a hosted platform that can operate mostly out-of-the-box and must be paid for by subscription – which too requires a web development team, but set-up costs are normally substantially lower than Magento.
When conducting your assessment, it’s important to consider that eCommerce success is not just about a beautiful front-end site. It is determined by a whole host of behind-the-scenes factors that come together to deliver the end-to-end customer experience. Our latest eBook, eCommerce: Beyond the Front-End , is a comprehensive guide that explores these key areas in detail. We urge you to check it out.