When Should You Change Your Ecommerce Platform?

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Nearly every company has replatformed at least once if they’ve been in ecommerce for more than a few years; it’s a necessary evil brought on by success—the growing pains of maturing.

All online commerce sites need a reliable, secure, and scalable platform to help grow the business bigger and faster. From payment gateways to apps, customizable themes to multiple sales channels, native social selling to mobile-first checkouts, your ecommerce platform must support your business as it evolves and expands.

Broken functionality, mounting tech debt, and the threat that growth itself will choke your success are all good reasons to find a new ecommerce platform.

Still, replatforming can be costly, time-consuming work—work that might be better allocated to supporting or upgrading your current platform. There’s also the fear that if your boss, board of directors, or executive team isn’t happy with the outcome, your job could be on the line.

Challenge Your Inner Fears

You know it’s time to replatform when the pain of your current platform outweighs the fear of replatforming. Like many ecommerce businesses, you’re probably experiencing a fear of change, among other things.

Ask and answer these questions alongside stakeholders and your entire team:

  • Do traffic spikes affect uptime or speed of service?
  • Has your platform’s security failed at critical moments?
  • How often do you hear or say “We can’t do that”?
  • Are do-it-yourself patches and workarounds (fix this, that breaks) common?
  • Does your team spend their time and energy maintaining or innovating?
  • Do you have the freedom to launch new products, projects, and experiments?
  • Are new features and apps regularly delayed due to in-house or agency constraints?
  • Is your help desk, social media, or email dominated by functionality questions and complaints?

If you’re a leader or executive, your engineers, designers, marketers, and support staff have the best insight into whether it’s time to replatform. When your people are hurting due to frustrations with software, so too will your customers and business.

Eliminate Those Fears One By One

Nearly every company has replatformed at least once if they’ve been in ecommerce for more than a few years; it’s a necessary evil brought on by success—the growing pains of maturing.

Prior to selecting a new platform and going through the migration process, many businesses share the same fears.

The Fear of Wasting Sunk Costs

Abandoning a six-figure investment you made in another platform one or two years ago is generally not always a comfortable career move. But what if you’re also thinking about features on your site that aren’t enabled and prevent you from further business growth?

Does this scenario sound familiar: “I’ve invested $150K into my site, and sure, it isn’t mobile responsive or doesn’t have Apple Pay, but it works and I don’t want to have to spend another $100K for another solution.”

Of course, some options appear more affordable on the surface. If you want to stay with your current solution, maybe adding Apple Pay will cost you a one-time, lump-sum fee. But what happens when Apple Pay 2.0 comes out? What happens when the next Amazon Pay is released or there is a Google Pay update?

If your current platform isn’t innovating for you, then every new upgrade will cost you more. So ask yourself which option is scarier: investing that money now, knowing that software-as-a-service (SaaS)-based platforms have hundreds of developers who are building and rolling out this industry-leading technology on your behalf, keeping your ecommerce site current with the latest tech changes, or spending more for endless upgrades with your current platform that isn’t focused on future-proofing your business?

“The scope and speed of a project can feel daunting and overwhelming, but sometimes you’re faced with situations like this. The team at Shopify Plus was amazing, with a positive, can-do attitude that helped us parse it out. The platform is so easy to use, which really helped as we needed to train our store managers and retail teams remotely.”

Michelle Kellner, Director of Marketing Communications and Operations, Lindt

The Fear of Unexpected New Costs Or No ROI

The psychological barriers associated with replatforming can vary based on the size of your business. For those who are starting to see substantial growth, the actual cost of the process and the fear of unexpected new costs (both of your time and financially) are real concerns. You may also be wondering what your ROI is going to look like.

It’s important to take a step back and tell your prospective new platform provider what you need to see as a valuable option for you to consider moving forward.

Every sales transaction comes down to trust. Be prepared to share your concerns about ROI, constant upgrades or past frustrations.

When Is The Right Time to Replatform?

The “perfect” time to replatform, especially when you factor in the full scope of the project, doesn’t exist. Whether it’s the start of the new year, the summer leading up to the back-to-school shopping season, a proposed flash sale, or two months before the busy seasonal rush, there’s never one ideal time to replatform.

But replatforming doesn’t need to take a long time. It’s common to assume that you will need 18 months to launch a new site. When considering a SaaS-hosted solution, rethink that timeline and know that with the right support you could be ready to launch far more quickly than you realize.

“Typically, enterprises of our size will choose Salesforce or Oracle or SAP Hybris. We evaluated all the big players. They would’ve taken in excess of 24 months to replatform a site of our complexity. We were able to do it in under 12 months with Shopify Plus—at less than half the cost.” 

Andy Lee Senior Director, Digital Product Management, Staples

What If You’ve Never Sold Online?

This is the prime opportunity for you to choose the right ecommerce platform from the get-go and avoid any future headaches caused from making replatforming decisions. You need to make sure the ecommerce platform you use aligns with your business’ commercial priorities and long-term goals.

SaaS-hosted solutions, such as Shopify Plus, provide all the key components of an enterprise-level ecommerce solution without unnecessarily complicating your day-to-day operations. What’s more, the platform allows merchants to invest their resources into the growth of their business rather than worrying about the technicalities of managing an online store – which is perfect for B2B businesses making that transition online.

Move Forward With Confidence

A replatforming project represents an opportunity to improve core areas of your current operation and processes—allowing for optimization and development of under-performing or opportunity areas (such as merchandising, payments, production setup, catalog management, search, SEO, shipping, and any other pain points).

Your brand plays an important part of the way we live, work and play. Behind the most influential brands are people that continue to challenge the status quo. They don’t find a way, they make a way. They make the boundaries bigger by pushing them from the inside. They expand influence where others believe it’s reached its limit. They give legacy a future.

Want to Migrate to Shopify Plus?

Is your platform cutting edge—or just cutting it? Download our Commerce Platform Evaluation guide to find the right ecommerce partner. Our most detailed guide to date walks through ecommerce migration and replatforming from start to finish. Instead of a surface-level sales pitch, it includes everything you need to know about large to enterprise migration. Choose your next and last commerce partner with this guide and replatform today at a fraction of the cost of legacy software.

Download the guide.



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