New year, new platform?
As we start afresh in 2024 with new-year new-you mindsets, looking ahead and making resolutions, it’s also an opportune time to look back on the successes and challenges of the previous year.
For eCommerce retailers, January is a strategic window (whilst sales are a little quieter post-peak season) to reflect and evaluate platform performance and capitalize on data from Q4. Running analysis at this time of year – both quantitative and qualitative – is a great first step in building a business case for potential replatforming.
Especially if your Christmas trading season suffered from one or more lengthy outages and you promised yourself “never again!” Reviewing this early on means that a new website on a new platform for 2024 is a very achievable goal, but this much tougher the longer you wait to investigate.
Analysing the data
As well as assessing Q4 marketing activations, media placements and where there may have been on-site traffic leaks, it’s important to understand whether the platform powering your digital commerce offering continues to be fit for purpose:
- Were you able to do everything you wanted over the holiday season?
- Did your set-up restrict you, or limit your plans in any way?
- Is your set up agile enough to have allowed you to flex your offering across product, promotions, pricing and shipping over the period? Or were there areas where you were unable to move quickly
- What were customers saying (across social, to your Customer Services team etc.)?
Following the busiest time of year, a full evaluation and assessment of your current set up is a helpful starting point to frame a potential replatforming. Running an eCommerce audit in January has the strategic advantage of identifying the problem areas well in advance of busy periods, even if a full replatform isn’t then undertaken.
With an audit, eCommerce retailers are able to fully understand their current set up – the strengths, weaknesses, costs, limitations – before looking at what else might be out there. Determining these to then run cost-benefit analysis against new platforms and technology is a worthwhile January activity, even if it doesn’t lead to a full replatforming business case.
Thinking about replatforming
Following a full assessment and audit, if it becomes clear that replatforming is likely, there are other steps you can take at this early stage to mitigate risk and set up for a smoother and quicker migration. January is again an opportune time to start on this.
1. Business Objectives and Strategy
Define the business objectives and align these with the replatforming decision. Whether it’s scalability, improved performance, enhanced user experience, or expanding to new markets, ensure the replatforming reasoning matches with overall business goals.
2. Data Migration
Plan for a seamless transition of data from your current platform to any new one. Ensure that customer data, product information, order history, and other critical data are in a position that they will be able to be migrated accurately, easily and without loss. Data integrity is vital to maintain customer trust. This can often be something as simple as ensuring orders in your platform that were sent have all been marked correctly as dispatched. January is again the ideal time for a data clean up.
3. Assess your wider stack
When migrating you will need to understand the integration capabilities of the new platform and that it can seamlessly integrate with existing systems, such as ERP, CRM, preferred payment gateways, and third-party applications. If you have bespoke or legacy systems these two may also need to change and it is worthwhile looking now at how they might affect and impact replatforming decisions.
4. Initial Costs
Replatforming comes with high costs, including licensing fees, development, and migration expenses. It is essential that a realistic budget and both short-term and long-term costs are thought about in advance and therefore what a budget range for the replatforming project will need to be.
5. Initial Requirements
In line with the above, it’s good to determine early on what a dream new platform would deliver. Understand what is a nice-to-have, and what is a non-negotiable so that when you’re approaching potential development partners you’re able to ensure they will give an accurate time and cost estimate for the project without “add-ons” being requested at a later date.
January is not only a time for reflection but a strategic opportunity for ecommerce retailers to plan and start to execute replatforming decisions. By leveraging the data and insights gathered during the post-holiday period, businesses can set the stage for a smoother, more informed, and ultimately successful transition to a new and improved ecommerce platform in the year ahead.
How Entropy Can Help
Entropy offers a range of tech, platform and procurement services – and our consultants all have significant previous client-side experience so we know the real questions to ask… plus the potential pitfalls to avoid.
You can find out more about such services here – from initial UX audits to tech stack reviews, plus full replatforming and procurement projects.
Example case study: Replatforming and procurement project for Catit, a pet supplies brand selling DTC across 6 countries – who have recently moved from WooCommerce to Shopify Plus.