When is the right time to replatform and go to the next level?
In the modern world of eCommerce, it is sometimes really hard to define the point when your operations have surpassed the capabilities of the technology you are using for creating your online presence. It is even harder to determine which kind of eCommerce development tasks you should perform in order to improve what you already got. Finally, the hardest part is to determine the right moment to replatform and the best eCommerce platform for the future operations.
The only way to understand this issue properly and to devise the right and sustainable growth strategy is to take an entire myriad of variables into consideration and to make decisions that are not based on market trends but on the solid grounds that include your needs and possible solutions.
The following steps will help you create a proper flow of the operations and allow you to make the decision that will decrease the risks of underachieving or overinvesting:
• Analysis of your current operations
• Possible developments
• Redesign options
• Comparison of best available solutions
• Scouting the market
• Financial analysis
• Growth projections
• Decision making
Analysis of your current operations
It is quite logical that the first step towards the cost effective and sustainable solution is the analysis of your current operations. If done properly, this will allow you to see if there are solutions that are cheaper and easier to carry out than full replatforming.
The things you need to pay attention to include capabilities of your current solution, the projected value of your operations (net profit included), and the investment classes for cases of further development and full replatforming. Simply put, you need to determine if the eCommerce website development could bring your operations to a new level or not, and how much would it cost. Also, you need to be clear on the capabilities of the solution you are currently using.
What needs to be done: Analyse the eCommerce platform you are using and compare it to the top eCommerce platforms available.
How to do it: Compare the features you have at your disposal and the features eCommerce platforms from the higher segment have. Pay attention to those features that might be included in more expensive solutions by default, but that could be added to your existing platform by further development.
Why this is important: It is easy to make a bad assessment and give up everything you have been doing in favour of a completely new solution. In many cases, there is no need at all to replatform and you can achieve the same results with additional developments under the existing platform. Also, sometimes, those developments could be expensive and the end result can be unstable or unsatisfactory. This is why it is of the utmost importance to understand what the new features that you really require are, and how much does it cost to get them in either of the two scenarios (development or replatforming).
Determining the possible developments is something that you will most probably need some help with. For the companies that have their own internal web development teams, there is an option of doing it internally, but that is the case only with the largest companies in the world. For small and medium businesses, it is definitely much less expensive and much less error prone to ask for help. There are more than enough web development agencies out there, and they will be able to help you determine if the developments are feasible, how much they would cost, and how important such developments are. For example, Studioworx has a lot of experience in this segment, and we are a perfect example of the agency that could help you make the assessment of the further developments. Web development operations are necessary to some extent both in the case of staying with the current eCommerce platform and in the case of replatforming.
What needs to be done: It is necessary to determine if it is at all possible to make the developments that would assure you have all the tools to carry out the operations you wish to pursue.
How to do it: Ask for help and consultancy. Web agencies are doing these things on a daily basis, year after year, and they know everything that happens in the world of eCommerce. Consulting the experts is always the best approach if you want to avoid possible mistakes.
Why this is important: Any miscalculation or bad judgement at this step will inevitably lead to financial losses. Not only that you might end up paying way more than it is really necessary, but it is also possible to end up with the solution that won’t work!
In many cases, it is the eCommerce website design that needs to be improved. All the best online shops are using design that is effective and converts well. In many cases it is the design that does not produce results, while the eCommerce platform as a tool to reproduce the website is still sufficient. This segment is the area of expertise of full service digital agencies and internal marketing teams. Naturally, every brand wishes to keep its online presence in alignment with the branding strategies. Still, the best eCommerce sites are usually created in cooperation with the people who know where to put the most important elements of the website, so it produces the results that the consumers will appreciate. Simply put, these websites are easy to browse, easy to check out, to get the support when needed, and to get all the information in the most efficient way. A great product might sell badly because the users have problem navigating through the website.
What needs to be done: Determine if your website’s design is satisfactory and make sure the problem lies somewhere else, and not in bad user experience or bad design.
How to do it: Consult the experts and scout your direct opponents. The experts will know what tends to convert well, and the setups that work well for your competitors will most probably work well for you too.
Why this is important: The price of redesign is much lower than the price of replatforming. Besides, even if you replatform, and keep the current design that is not producing results, you might end up investing a lot of money and a lot of time for nothing.
Comparison of best available solutions
Comparing the best options you have at your disposal is another step that needs to be taken into consideration carefully. The process is rather simple, and requires you to take all options concerning eCommerce platforms into consideration. We have already published an article on how to pick the right platform for your operations, and if you follow the steps we mentioned there, you will be able to create a shortlist of the best options for the operations you wish to carry out. Then, you need to compare them between themselves, and to compare them to the solution you are using at the moment.
What needs to be done: Create a shortlist of top eCommerce platforms you are considering for replatforming and compare them for the benefits they are able to provide. Take into consideration that whatever your plans are, they are covering at least next 2 years.
How to do it: Refer to the article we wrote on how to pick the right ecommerce solution (https://www.studioworx.co.uk/blog/article/how-to-choose-the-right-one-out-of-many-ecommerce-solutions) and then do the comparison to the key features and pricing. Keep in mind that replatforming involves investments in web development and web design that are already invested under the current solution.
Why this is important: You need to know exactly what you would get with the replatforming operations, and you need to know how much better it is compared to the solution you are currently using. Small benefits can’t justify huge investments.
Scouting the market
Scouting the market is always a necessary step, whenever you wish to change anything in your operations. It is necessary to see what is used in most cases, and which eCommerce platforms are the most popular. Presence on the market is always a pretty good indicator that something is good and cost effective. Try to figure where your current solution stands amongst its competition, and make sure you do some thorough scouting of the companies that cover your niche. Some platforms are better for certain niches than the other ones, and they are usually the most commonly used there.
What needs to be done: Scout and analyse your competitors, and the competitors to your eCommerce platform. Make sure you are using the right tool for your operations.
How to do it: A lot of the work here concerning your opposition needs to be done manually. Invest a few working days or weeks to make sure what your most successful opponents are using. As for the platforms – consult your web agency. They will know what is trending on the market, in which niches, and why.
Why this is important: What tends to set the standards on the market is usually behaving in that way with a good reason – it works well.
Making a full financial analysis is crucial. If you are going to replatform, it will draw some additional expenses that are not that low at all. Besides the new pricing for the platform (in case that you are going from free software such as Magento Community Edition or from cheaper to more expensive software), you need to take into consideration that there will be new expenses for web development and web design services, as well as for the training of your staff to use the new platform. Also, not all platforms require the same amount of working hours for running the operations, and for maintenance.
What needs to be done: You need to make a full financial projection. It is of a paramount importance to know how much it would cost to replatform, whether there would be any savings in the long run (maintenance and running the software, connectivity, hardware… etc.), and whether the savings and projected growth of sales will cover the investment.
How to do it: Make internal analysis and consult with your web agency. They will be able to provide feedback based on experience.
Why this is important: You don’t want to overspend and invest money in something that will not produce financial benefits. Furthermore, overspending has the potential to cause critical damage to your online selling operations, and at the bottom line – to your very business.
You need to project the growth based on the new features you will have at your disposal with your new eCommerce platform. Replatforming without growth plans or projections is definitely a complete nonsense, unless the current platform is being withdrawn from the market or being shut down for further development.
The growth needs to be in line with the expenses and the investment you are about to make. Of course, it is possible that you are aiming to hit the market aggressively, in order to improve your brands presence and that you are willing to go with the lower ROI in order to do so, but make sure that you are not losing money with this move.
What needs to be done: You need to find the best relation between the projected growth and the projected investment.
How to do it: Consult with your web agency. Share the growth projections and long term plans with them and they will be able to give you the feedback that will allow you to determine the ROI levels for each of the options that are on the table.
Why this is important: Keeping the return on investment in check with the projected growth will save you from the potential critical damage to your business. Even if you go with the values that are close to the margin of negative ROI, the losses will be controlled and you will not endanger everything you have accomplished by the bad replatforming choice.
Once you have been through all the steps we mentioned, you will know for sure IF you need to replatform and WHICH platform to pick as the backbone of your future operations. The best way to be sure that you haven’t made any mistakes is to double-check each step with your consultants (web agency). If the majority of the mentioned steps brings you to the conclusion that it is the time to move on from your current solution, then you should make that step.