What is the Best Time of Year to Change eCommerce Platforms?

We see a lot of RFPs here at Demac Media.  So much that it becomes easy for us to spot patterns and build processes for responding to them.  One thing I’ve noticed more recently is that retailers are getting smarter about choosing WHEN to re-platform.  It seems that the “when” is following quickly after the “what” and the “who” (what platform and who does the work).

I started to dig into this a bit more with some of the merchants we’ve worked with and what they considered when deciding on…well… the “when”:

Know Your Selling Seasons

It largely comes down to this: When are you busy?

Each vertical has its own seasonality to it.  Some merchants claim they don’t have a busy season but I like to argue that and look at real traffic as well as sales data to see if there are “lull” times in the calendar.

Many merchants follow the traditional holiday peak sales seasons. Christmas, Thanksgiving, Mother’s day, Father’s day, Valentine’s day etc…

Depending which of the major holidays are your biggest, you generally want to plan for a go-live of a new platform well in advance of your busy season, allowing you to properly test with smaller amounts of data.

Avoid Year End

Whatever your fiscal year end, avoid this time for a re-platform.  I’ve seen it too often that critical staff gets pulled into fiscal year end activities and neglect their re-platform project(s).

Other Software System Upgrade Schedules

If you perform regular ERP software upgrades or perhaps warehouse system change overs, then this also needs to factor into your calendar planning of an eCommerce re-platform.  You probably shouldn’t bite off more than you can chew, and ERP switches (as an example) can be huge projects on their own.  Best to avoid this time of year!

Large Yearly Sale Events / Promotions

Do you run a few major sale events each year?  Would you get any benefit from launching a new site to coincide with these sale events?  If you already have a massive eCommerce presence, then the answer to that question is probably no.  There is more likely an increased risk to launching a new site before a major event.  If your eCommerce presence is lacking, then perhaps a new site launch is a great way to take advantage of an existing marketing spend in your calendar/budget.

Know Your Solution Providers Busy Season(s)

Many technology and service providers are like retailers.  They have busy and slow seasons, depending on their customer profiles.

Demac Media is a technology solution provider (and the largest Magento Gold Partner in Canada).  Due to the heavy retail demographic of our merchants we tend to get extremely busy from January to August, then slow down a bit and go into maintenance mode for many of our sites for the holiday rush.

Not only will you possibly get a better deal for filling in gaps in your providers schedule, you’ll also have more predicability in your scheduling if the timing lines up with your own schedule gaps.

Depending on the business you’re in, there are many other reasons that could factor in when you choose to re-platform.  It’s a very important question to ask!