A Guide to E-Commerce Replatforming
Moving forward with replatforming an e-commerce site is one of the biggest decisions a retail brand will ever make. Not only is it a significant financial investment, but it's also a time-consuming process that's going to test the patience of your organization, from the executive team to IT to marketing and so on. To help retailers make the migration to a new e-commerce platform as seamless (and painless) as possible, a panel of retail technology experts — Jason Allerding, information systems manager for Parts-Express; Pinny Gniswich, executive vice president of business development at Delmar Jewelry; and Vivek Saxena, chief marketing officer and senior vice president of e-commerce, VISAX — offered their tips in a session this week at the eTail East conference in Philadelphia.
Jason Allerding: If there are extenuating factors that necessitate a change. These can include security issues, lack of performance, the platform has reached the end of its life (i.e., there's no longer support for it), issues with customer experience (e.g., it's not mobile optimized, category navigation needs to revamped, keyword search is broken).
Vivek Saxena: You might need functionality now that wasn't important when the original site was launched — e.g., a gift registry, blog. Another possibility is that there's been a change in leadership, and it wants to eliminate in-house IT and move to SaaS platform.
Pinny Gniswich: You need to examine sunken costs vs. opportunity costs. Sunken costs include the time, money and energy spent on your current platform; opportunity costs are the immediate costs of not replatforming. If your opportunity costs outweigh your sunken costs (and in most cases it will), then consider replatforming. Keep in mind, however, that the more capabilities and customization that you request in your new platform, the higher the price will go.
When to Look
PG: Don't get to the point where you "have to" replatform. Then you're picking through pain. I've always been told it's better to shop when you don't need it. And don't fall into the trap of GMOOT (get me one of those). This often happens when a C-level exec or marketer returns from an industry trade show and has their eyes set on that shiny new object. Your decision needs to be based on return on investment, not having all these new functionalities that won't necessarily move the needle.
VS: When there's a change in your business that your current site is incapable of handling — e.g., the introduction of thousands of new SKUs. Retailers need to keep in mind that a new platform won't solve all their problems. I'd say, on average, it will probably solve 70 percent of your current problems, but create 30 percent new problems.
JA: If there are issues with the core functionality of your site — e.g., a security issue. Consumers aren't going to continue coming to a site if they don't trust it.