Ecommerce replatforming: is it worth it?
Sometimes we need change and sometimes we need it so badly we don't even care if it's worth it (— at what cost).
Today, dear reader, we would like to offer you a thought or two on replatforming a website in ecommerce.
What’s ecommerce website replatforming anyway?
It is about your dearest online store. You spent thousands of hours trying to make it shine. And now that you've opened your shop’s home page, you just don't feel at home any more. Should you build a new online online store from scratch? No. It can be replatformed.
In the context of ecommerce, a platform choice may become somewhat existential. It is as if you are choosing a country to reside in. Your life literally depends on this choice: the quality of your life, your opportunities, your social status, your environment, etc.
DefinitionReplatforming ecommerce is a tiresome process of moving your online store – with all its entrails – from one platform to another.
It's tough stuff. Yet all too often ecommerce platform migration is mandatory.
When should one consider a platform migration?
A simple example: several years ago you bought yourself a brand new car, or, say, some fancy mobile device. You were sincerely happy for another year or maybe two. You felt your productive capacities were boosted.
But little by little things started getting out of tune, and worse: out of your control. Another year or two and you’re mad and frustrated. Something that once made you feel so upbeat, now only brings you down. Eventually you feel like being pulled off by all the forces in the world: every tiny little thing wants you to bite the dust.
Do you often feel this way when running your ecommerce platform? So that you can hear a tiny Freddie singing on your shoulder: "I want to break free!".
Let’s rationalize these bitter feelings a bit.
Top reasons and push factors to move off your legacy environment
- Your current platform simply can’t handle your growing stock. (you have more products, more categories – you need more options, more customization, more flexibility)
- Traffic issues (Congrats, your products are in high demand, but your platform just can’t afford you to have this much attention)
- “Mobile-second” by design (bad luck, your shoppers have problems buying things on mobile)
- Cybersecurity problems (Allegedly, russian hackers puzzle your shoppers with some weird pictures, while shoppers think you do this on purpose)
- Your shoppers just don’t feel like buying when browsing your online store (“To hell with customers, my shop - my rules” – way to go! you know how you’ll end up)
- Every time you go to your admin panel, you can’t stop your eye twitching (this is pretty common, yet surprisingly, there are cases in nature when this doesn’t happen)
- It’s getting harder to implement innovations, new features and updates
- It’s getting harder to integrate multiple 3rd party services
- It’s getting harder to fix bugs (constant ‘400 bad request’ errors don’t inspire people to pay, to say the least), and it takes more developers to maintain the store
In three words – it’s getting harder. If you are convinced your business can do way better than this – keep cool, you’re not alone – start outlining the process of ecommerce replatforming today.
Before we make this little step in ecommerce replatforming (which is a giant leap of your success), let’s take a glance at pull factors and risks to consider.
Risks and factors to consider before migration
- Building existing problems into a new platform – a nightmare situation (to avoid this – properly articulate all the issues)
- Mirroring legathy thinking – comes from the first point (tough task not to step in the same river twice)
- Migrating unused/ unneeded legacy feature toolsets (Again, requires a proper audit of all your goods and chattels)
- Ignoring major business requirements
- Ignoring potential technical integrations
- Hiring the wrong people (team, agency) - make sure people hold same views on strategy and architecture design
- Underestimating timelines: ecommerce migration can take months (Sometimes migration may be marketed as an update, which it is not - this leads to unrealistic expectations about timelines)
- Skipping testing (functional testing is your devoted replatforming mate)
- Ignoring security issues (have to be taken into account prior to migration process)
The Neglected Gardens of Magento 1
Merchants treat their online shops like landscapers treat their gardens. They want to be in control of every tiny thing. They want their garden to smell sweet. And they are devastated when it starts smelling funny.
June 2020 is the official EOL (end of life) date for Magento 1. Beyond question, it was a sad day for a huge Magento 1 fanbase. But you know what, Windows 7 was also a hit! And you might still be using it with a smile of joy upon your face (if you're a PC guy), but it is no longer maintained by Microsoft. It is rather problematic to use it in the industry: your security is at risk, your data may be lost. Platforms like Magento 1 – for many merchants – were a pleasure to use, but, alas, the epoch is gone.
Enter Magento2. Similarly as you might have been suspicious about Windows 10, you run it anyway, because you know it’s a better option for 2022 than 7th. With Magento though, you can’t just update from version 1 to 2 – like it or not, it is literally a full-scale migration process.
Migration from Magento 1 to Magento 2
Magento 2 perks:
- Higher performance, speed, scalability
- Mobile-friendly, responsive interfaces
- Easy to use intuitive admin panel
- Modernized enriched UX/UI
Basic ecommerce migration checklist: Magento 2
- Sum up all the extensions, plugins, templates you think served you well
- Back up your Magento 1 store: databases, files, CSVs, etc.
- Clone your online store and launch a dry run in test environment
- Decide on store theme: it needs to be redesigned and adopted for M2 or designed from scratch
- Check all your M1 extensions on compatibility with Magento 2
- Transfer all the ecommerce data (product names, description, attributes, product page components; customer-related data like passwords, contact numbers, addresses; all the links like category and product URLs)
- Transfer the API-related data (keys, signatures)
“Though M1 and M2 are similar from a business pov, they differ from app design perspective. In most cases you can't just reuse existing M1 codebase in M2. Sometimes you can't even reuse data schema. Also, the coding best practices and tools changed a lot. Depending on the amount and complexity of M1 custom modules, it's probably easier to redesign and rewrite M2 app from scratch.”
Vlad KudukhovSenior Magento Backend Developer at Grinteq
In case you want to leave off Magento
One of the key features why people adore Magento is the platform's flexibility: its limitless capacity towards customization. However, this can be as well a serious complication: open-source projects are being constantly upgraded by the community.
Sometimes it goes like this: a new feature in one place can trigger a collapse on other tiers. You get a fancy feature in catalog navigation, but all of a sudden your checkout goes down. Or it is simply impossible to add a product to a store. You submit a request to Magento, you wait - in best case scenario – until a new platform’s update. With the next update, the same story.
- Constant updates (as open-source) may lead to multiple major bugs (may crash your checkout, cart, navigation, etc)
- You have to maintain 24/7
- M1 to M2 and then to Adobe (several costly upgrades)
- When Customer journey includes many extensions/plugins – if at least one (in this “chain”) goes down – it may be a huge hit on your potential conversion rate
- Should we call Magento a developer-first platform? One has to be somewhat a geek to aviate Magento jet – affects merchant the most
- Demands time and knowledge of developers (thus, costly to maintain)
- A game called “add a product without damaging the entire catalog” can be annoying
Half a decade ago Magento was a choice N1 for most of the biggest sites’ merchants. Within five years, the market of ecommerce platforms has become very diverse and competing – all the leaders such as Shopify, Salesforce, Magento, Bigcommerce are neck to neck in providing streamlined customer experience. On the questions of flawless ecommerce replatforming, merchants may want to consult the agencies.
Replatforming to Shopify Plus
Shopify ecommerce platform is famous for its scalability, they want your business to grow so to say synchronously with their software. Shopify even markets themselves as a “partner for life”. There is always a more advanced Shopify Plus so that you won’t have to look for a more advanced tool to please your growing appetites.
Migrate your online store to Shopify Plus:
- Highly scalable
- Top-notch UX
- More customization
- Advanced customer journey with Shopify Flow
Replatforming to Salesforce Commerce Cloud
For those merchants who already inhabit the Salesforce ecosystem, there is a chance to have all their clouds and services seamlessly connected.
Migrate your online store to Salesforce Commerce Cloud:
- Reduce time to market
- Variety of Salesforce services integrated
Replatforming to Webflow
Merchants often envy developers, considering them as technical middlemen who control too much. A somewhat professional jealousy. Webflow ecommerce platform busts this resentment. Their motto: the site you want - without dev time.
Webflow is about simplicity, it is easy by design. Most merchants, being tech-savvy, can manage such platforms with their hands behind their backs (you are telling me!). Webflow is good for small businesses.
- Easy to use
- No-code attitude
- No limits when it comes to creativity and design
- Reliable hosting by AWS
- Wide SEO settings
Ecommerce Replatform Strategy. Best practices
- Understand the business drivers, objectives, and customer needs. (often it can be summarized under a single statement: “Our customers should be able to order tires while wearing their pajamas”
- Show business value early
- Take a mobile-first strategy
- Identify your system integrations
- Plan for performance, scalability, resiliency
- Prepare your data conversion in sufficient time in advance
- Select your partner on skills, experience, culture
Another word on Platforms & Migration
Platforms have a huge impact on modern life. If you reflect on your digital traces a bit, you will see how much of your activity is happening on the territory of platforms.
We use Uber to explore some odd tastes in music or Airbnb to simulate the comfort of home. We use Google-based or Apple-based devices, we use Microsoft. God only knows what they know about us (and maybe even God has to hire some data scientists to dig into this debris).
From platform to platform – off we go, a new kind of Homo Platformicus - odd spineless creatures crawling, scrolling, and clicking compulsively. A particular form of latent platform migration is actually our daily routine.
We’re crawling for something fascinating, something tasty, something new – so, ecommerce platforms, you better be on the alert - Homo Platformicus is migrating and it is migrating to places where it feels it will prosper!