Change and innovation are the keys to a successful eMerchandising business, and re-platforming is one of the most effective ways for a business to succeed. Since technology moves at an ever-increasing rate, online companies who can’t keep up appear out-of-touch and stubborn, which, in turn, doesn’t look good to the current population of tech-savvy consumers.
Re-platforming an eCommerce merchandising store is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to stretch their arms, take risks, and reassess their goals. It’s not only a chance for technological improvement but also an opportunity to redefine the company’s identity through branding, customer service, and user experience.
But re-platforming is not a task that should be taken lightly. The success of an online eMerchandising company depends on the thought and consideration put into the re-platform. Here are some tips on how to successfully re-platform your eCommerce site.
1. Determine What You Want to Accomplish Beforehand
As mentioned above, re-platforming is more than just getting a new look. It could mean increased efficiency and better ease-of-use. It could also provide an eCommerce management team with the opportunity to completely overhaul their business plan.
The first thing to do before re-platforming is to review your current site and note the pros and cons. What works? What doesn’t? Begin with the front-end and determine, as a consumer, what your site does well. Are there distractions? Does it look too busy? Modern web design emphasizes larger images, more neutral colors, and increased social media integration. If customers cannot review, comment, or interact with your site yet, that should be something to consider.
Improvements to the back-end could mean determining which money-transferring app or payment gateway to use—whether that is a third-party service like Paypal, or a platform that can support point of sale integration.
2. Don’t Do It Yourself
Web design is no longer exclusive to the coders and technologically gifted. Services like WordPress and Squarespace enable anyone to build and maintain a good-looking Web site. But re-platforming is not as simple as jumping services. It’s an involved, ongoing process that will probably require an expert. An expert will also help with migrating content from the old site to the new platform, as well as provide regular maintenance. You will undoubtedly face problems down the road—few re-platforms escape tech glitches—and hiring an expert to handle them will allow you to focus on growing the business.
3. Remember: It’s Not a Definitive Product, but a Work-In-Progress
Don’t think of the re-platform as a product, but rather a “program.” Key performance indicators show that both traffic and speed (among other features) decrease immediately after a re-platform. Customers will always be apprehensive about changes that affect their user experience, so the eCommerce management team shouldn’t advertise the re-platform as an end-all, once-and-done operation. There will certainly be tweaks along the way. Don’t think of the re-platform as an immediate return of investment generator, but a program that will benefit the company in the long run.
4. Look at Past Models
One of the best ways to tackle a re-platform is to search out similar businesses that have shown success after their re-platform, and determining what they did right. Do their platforms accommodate for the same type of changes that you expect to complete with your re-platform? If possible, see how many people they have on their development team, and is that the type of team you can support?
5. Group Input is Key
No eMerchandising site should be the product of a single person. In the world of Web design, it’s common for one person to go rogue and try to push a re-platform out of the gate, especially if they see it as an effort to reduce cost and dependencies. However, this can lead to serious problems later. All aspects of a re-platform should be addressed before launching—everything from a sales, technical and design point of view.
Customers want a brand that they can trust, and a shoddy re-platform could damage that relationship. Taking your time with a re-platform, utilizing as much input as you can get, and hiring a professional are all steps to set you in the right direction. When re-platforming goes well, it can increase your business, as well as show your dedication to innovation and change.
Zobrist Inc. is an IBM WebSphere Commerce Consulting Agency that’s been playing the eCommerce game since it was born. Providing the latest and most effective eMerchandising solutions, Zobrist Inc. is here to simplify and improve the eCommerce experience for businesses and websites all over the world.
The image above courtesy of Maria Elena