Why re-platforming and how do you approach it?
This white paper tells you what re-platforming in Ecommerce is all about, why it is important and in some cases even unavoidable, and how you can work towards a successful operation. Re-platforming is a challenging project that deeply affects your e-business. In all its aspects. In the business processes, the turnover potential and in the way in which your customers experience your brand. It is drastic and requires a serious investment in money, effort and perseverance. That said, let's add this: re-platforming offers the opportunity to really innovate, to make efficiency gains. You open the way to further growth and lay the foundation for a future-proof Ecommerce infrastructure and sustainable successes.
Contents of this paper:
1. Re-platforming – a logical step in the Ecommerce evolution
– Don't let technology get in the way of growth
– Migrate? Focus on benefits
2. Why re-platforming and when?
– Urgent arguments for re-platforming
– Not urgent, but relevant arguments
– Outsourcing = more focus on marketing and sales
3. Know what you want
4. Supply analysis and supplier choice
– Standard, Open Source, SaaS, Headless or Composable
– Best-of-breed solutions
– Focus on relevant and future-proof functionalities
– Right the first time
5. Advice and support for re-platforming
– It must fit
– Independent advice
1. Re-platforming is a logical step in the Ecom evolution
Ecommerce started a revolution in the world of retail and wholesale, but is now in a permanent state of rapid evolution. Online technologies are changing at the speed of light. As a Ecommerce entrepreneur you have to participate in the most important changes, whether you like it or not.
That's a great challenge. How do you distinguish the hypes from the trends, how do you stay informed of relevant updates? The more complex your site, shop, or application is, the greater the challenge. Any site that focuses on Ecommerce, wholesale, brand or retail, is complex by definition. Given the competition, you can't help but analyze whether the platform you're running on still does what you want it to do. After all, a lot has changed since you started. At the speed of light.
The key question is: does my current platform meet the current high Ecommerce standards in terms of efficiency, functionality, connectivity, security and customer experience? Seven out of ten companies are not up to date! Don't let technology get in the way of growth. Chances are that you will come to the conclusion that things have to be done differently. That your current platform cannot handle new functions or only with difficulty. This is not surprising, because in the pioneering years there were only standard platforms on the market, which provided the basic functions. As a result, there is a chance that the technology will start to get in the way of success and growth.
Migrate? Focus on the benefits
Often just the thought of switching platforms is frightening. Because re-platforming – migrating to a specific Ecommerce platform that does meet the requirements and is future-proof – affects everything and everyone in your organization. The impact of re-platforming should not be underestimated. You have to let go of routines, and make sure everyone in your organization is behind the objectives. However, with the right approach, re-platforming is feasible.
2. Why re-platforming and when?
The reasons for migrating your webshop to a new, tailor-made platform can be diverse. The overarching reason is that your existing infrastructure is outdated and doesn't offer what you'd like it to offer. In addition, the outsourcing of the technology and associated expensive IT support is an important reason. That doesn't say anything about the momentum. Let us therefore distinguish between 'urgent' and 'relevant' reasons.
Urgent arguments for re-platforming:
If you want to keep up with the competition, you need an up-to-date platform. With certain signals you should not even hesitate, no matter how drastic a migration may seem. Action is required if:
– the technology lets you down too often and too unexpectedly;
– the turnover of your webshop no longer grows or even decreases;
– you do not get the security and privacy protocols under control quickly and well enough and you run the risk that you do not fully comply with the AVG legislation;
– maintenance and management costs continue to rise;
– your site has too long a load time and customer response functions are too slow;
– it is not clear whether your current platform will receive sufficient support in the long term in the form of, among other things, adequate updates.
Other non-urgent, but relevant arguments:
In one or more of the above points, delay is actually irresponsible. There are also 'softer' arguments. These are mainly related to entrepreneurship, ambition, looking ahead, increasing competitiveness and generating more turnover.
– You have grown out of your coat
Your e-business is performing well beyond expectations and you have grown faster than you thought possible. In fact you have grown out of your coat and your infrastructure is squeaking and creaking. A positive reason to orientate yourself on a switch, so that you can grow further. For example international.
– New functionalities
Ecommerce has outgrown its infancy. To do business efficiently, reliably, professionally and in a customer-oriented way, you need many more functionalities than in the early years. Think of search and selection options, general and customer-specific product recommendations, personalized content, and so on. If the gap between the features you offer and those your competitors offer is too big, you quickly lose ground. Re-platforming closes that gap and makes your e-business future-proof.
– Relationship problems
Your supplier/IT service provider and your e-business seem to be growing apart. Goals and solutions match less and less, invoices are not transparent, people try to push you in a certain direction. Re-platforming offers you the opportunity to enter into a new, sustainable supplier relationship based on your current insights.
– Integration / omnichannel strategy
Does your existing platform meet the technical requirements of an omnichannel strategy? Can you quickly create the desired and required connections and is integration with the technology of partner platforms (suppliers, resellers, etc.) possible? There is only one answer to the slightest doubt: re-platforming.
- Clean slate
Since you started, you have probably adapted and pimped your webshop many times. There will come a time when the rack is gone and you have to realize that all those changes and additions did not benefit the look and feel and the ease of use of your site. How great can it be to start all over with a clean slate? No longer 'renovation' and 'extension', but completely new construction, with sufficient space to expand. In an environment that facilitates the customer journey as much as possible and enables you to focus on marketing and sales instead of technology.
Outsourcing = more focus on marketing and sales:
Re-platforming is the perfect opportunity to take the step from 'in-house' IT development and support to 'IT outside the door'. By outsourcing the management and maintenance of your platform to a professional party, you reduce the pressure on the internal organization, save considerably on costs in the long run and you remain flexible and agile. The security is better organized than you can ever do yourself, updates are performed automatically, you can extend existing functionalities and add new ones at any time. Outsourcing of the operational, infrastructural processes results in more focus on marketing and sales.
3. Know what you want
Okay, you're convinced. You are going to take the step. But how do you start? You know the business and the strengths and weaknesses of the existing infrastructure best. Map that out. Choosing a new platform, with the new supplier/host/service provider/partner (fill in the blank) that is inextricably linked to it, is a lot of work. Don't let anything fool you. You know what you want. Translate that into hard demands that you place on your new platform and partner.
– Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your current infrastructure and the costs that are directly and especially indirectly related to it.
– Prepare a detailed package of requirements, which clearly describes the minimum requirements (MVP) of your new Ecommerce platform. Make sure that your new supplier / vendor works with the latest technology and that there is a continuous roadmap for further development.
– Clarify which functionalities have a “must”, “should have” or “nice” status. Provide well-written “user stories” to clearly record how functionalities should work. And record which functionalities fall within the “as-is” phase and which will be delivered additionally. This allows you to properly phase in the delivery, because nobody wants to see a new webshop with fewer functionalities than the old version.
– Look closely at your internal processes. Do not ask yourself in advance which platform is optimally suited to this, but choose the platform that is one hundred percent in line with your entrepreneurial vision and ambitions and adjust the processes accordingly, if necessary. This usually leads to interesting efficiency gains and cost savings.
– Go for the long term. In other words: ensure a scalable solution with certainties for further development, updates, connectivity, internationalization, service and support.
4. Supply analysis and supplier selection
Ecommerce platforms have developed enormously in recent years. The range is wide, from quickly and easily applicable Open Source solutions, such as Adobe/Magento, to flexible/modular SaaS-based platforms, such as Shopify, Big Commerce and Salesforce, which you can customize and set up. Your choice of platform will largely determine the class of your webshop and the quality of the customer experience.
Open Source or SaaS:
The advantage of open source platforms is that the software is often free to download. The disadvantage is that you have no control over the development and stability. Even though a hired developer knows what he is doing, you are ultimately not “in charge” yourself. The design of your webshop is tied to existing frameworks, you do not know whether and when new features will become available. There are also no guarantees about updates and maintenance in the future. You never know when your software will no longer be supported by the community. You have to solve all technical challenges yourself. Within the Ecommerce industry (OPEN) SaaS solutions are rapidly gaining ground. SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) is based on software licensing and delivery over the Internet. You work in a 'closed' cloud environment that is accessible via all common web browsers, based on access protocols. Benefits include:
– SaaS runs in a specialized hosting environment (you do not need your own servers);
– your supplier is responsible for security, technical performance, maintenance, updates and development;
– you receive professional support during the implementation and start-up;
– you can often give your site any desired look and feel;
– you can choose a specific composition of functionalities and easily expand it
– you often have 24/7 support.
– There is no capacity limit.
Best of breed solutions:
Depending on the technical and functional requirements, existing platform systems or so-called 'best of breed' solutions can be chosen. In other words: the custom merging of different software/tools into one customized Ecommerce platform. To achieve a perfect BoB architecture, Headless and Composable solutions are most suitable.
Focus on relevant and future-proof functionalities:
The most important criterion when comparing and assessing Ecommerce platforms – within your budgetary limits, of course – is: which functionalities are relevant for your e-business. It is important here: look at what forward-thinking Ecommerce companies are doing and how you can do it better and smarter, and base yourself on your strategy for the longer term. View the offerings based on basic questions that determine your current and future success.
– Which features do I need to optimally support my omnichannel strategy?
– Which platform offers the best options for a personalized, data-based customer approach (dynamic content, customer and price differentiations, product recommendations, etc.)?
– Should the emphasis be on B2C or B2B features or perhaps both?
– To what extent do I want to be able to make technical front-end adjustments myself?
– Is my business cross-border or do I have plans to internationalize?
– Does the platform offer product information management (PIM) tools?
– How do I want to set up my ordering, distribution and payment procedures?
– Do I want customization that is tailored to my business or can I use existing features?
– What about usability?
– Can I use future customer data systems?
– Can I quickly and easily link other systems, such as PIM, ERP and CRM?
– Which platforms and vendors are a good fit with my company culture?
– Can I scale up at any time?
Right at once
The answer to these questions determines your first orientation. Of course you can add many company-specific questions. Think of aspects such as continuity, security, compliance, privacy, specific wishes in the field of marketing & sales, and so on. The choice of the ultimate platform and supplier is tailor-made in all respects and a matter of inventory and tick off. Key message: do it right the first time.
5. Advice and support for re-platforming
How do you ultimately choose your platform/supplier? Here too the following applies: what requirements do you set for the performance of your site, the support during the implementation and the service and support once your site is operational? What timeline do you have in mind? How do you organize the switch without being 'off the air' for a moment?
At least as important: it must fit. You connect your Ecommerce entrepreneurship and ambitions to one system and party for a long time, so it has to fit. There must be a click between the cultures and (IT) experts, there must be trust, the connectivity with other parts of your IT infrastructure must be maximum. To return to the preface that started this paper: re-platforming is a step that deeply affects your organization and business operations. It is complicated, expensive and time consuming. The impact on your business and the customer experience is enormous. Suppliers who claim the job is done in no time can you
better rule it out right away. Don't believe (too) beautiful stories!
As an independent advisor, Ecommerce Result offers expertise and concrete support for a wide variety of Re-platforming projects. We know the market and the providers, the systems and their functionalities and performance, and the current challenges of Ecommerce. Based on more than twenty years of experience, we show you what works for you and what doesn't. We show you the way in the forest of Ecommerce platforms.
We provide support with, among other things:
– drawing up a wishes and requirements program based on your existing business and future strategy;
– mapping existing processes and improvement options;
– analyzing the offer that matches your strategy and making a pre-selection;
– composing customized 'best-of-breed' solutions;
– terms and conditions and contract negotiation with suppliers;
– realizing an action plan and efficient project organization;
– directing and sounding board function during implementation.
Call or email us for a no-obligation introductory meeting. Then we will gladly list the possibilities and costs of a re-platforming advice and/or management process for you, tailored to your company. Elsewhere on our Ecommerce pages we have an overview of the things we do. We show you that independent advice always pays for itself!