Tips and Pitfalls of Re-platforming

Online merchants are becoming more knowledgeable about the benefits of re-platforming their online store. Technology has simply sped up the process of re-platforming by upgrading features, scalability, business tools and real time services. The demand by customers is growing, and so is the competition. Ambition in the entrepreneurial spirit is simply a must, as it has always been in small business and business commerce. When re-platforming your web store, there are a few things to consider and a few things to avoid. Let’s get you started.

What to Consider…

We are a Magento Gold Partner, meaning that we do a lot of work using this platform. Whenever we receive an inquiry, it is regarding this platform, and some back end integration with business tools such as Blue Link, Netsuite and Sweet Tooth. There is quite a bit of work involved, so start planning accordingly.

1. How you want the store to function

Research the available tools and the various functions. An online store functions much like a physical store location. We use accounting software, inventory management systems and check out processes in order to complete transactions.

2. Who is doing Design?

Most firms have on hand a web designer, if not they outsource it. When you are assessing re-platforming partners or products, take into consideration whether or not you need new design work done, if they solution partner does design work or if you are going to do the design yourself.

3. Set Realistic Timelines

There are many factors to take into consideration for a re-platform go live. Keep in mind, this does not happen overnight. Re-platforming just like any project you have run in the past requires planning, implementation and execution. Depending on the scale of the project, the number of products you sell and design work involved this project can take weeks.

4. Find a Solution Partner

Working with a solution partner is helpful for learning the various functions of the platform and also meeting your project deadlines.

5. Assign a team lead

Most companies will now have a person dedicated to eCommerce marketing. If you do not, assign someone to this position (usually your marketing coordinator or marketing assistant). You do want to keep everyone involved as much as possible but have your eCommerce manager stay in communication with your solution partner and oversee all activities. Constant communication is relevant to complete tasks and meet deadlines. It is also nice to have someone on staff who has a programming and development background.

6. Set priorities

Determine what priorities and milestones are required to get the site live and functioning properly. Keep track of priorities in the scope and check them off as you move along.

What to Avoid

I read a very interested article from Get Elastic about common re-platforming mistakes that should be avoided. I’ve outlined a couple of things that are everyday situations you need to avoid.

Adding tasks outside of the scope

You want to make sure your site is able to process orders and sell. Build it first, launch it, and then add new features once all items in the scope of the project are complete. We all want to be the next Amazon, but take it one step at a time.

Lack of Communication

During staging you have to stay in constant communication with your solution partner. Slack on either end just pushes go live dates and deadlines back (sometimes weeks on end).

What to Expect

Change

Yes I know I am being completely obvious, but when you are re-platforming, expect change. As much information and research you gather prior to re-platforming, the nature of eCommerce is constant change. How systems work differ from one another and you may need to be ready to make adjustments to your operations (small ones).