Nobody likes change, but sometimes it’s necessary, and when it comes to eCommerce platform migration, it’s better to make a change too early rather than too late. Although it is often a complex and stressful task, but the immense growth opportunities await after the project is completed, clearly making the hassle more than worthwhile.
Let’s face it, industry trends change more often than the wind in eCommerce and changes to technology and customer demands alike often require us to adapt, and sometimes that means a new platform. No wonder a BDO survey found that 38% of retail CFOs believe falling behind on technology and innovation threatens their business.
With platform migration somewhat daunting but often necessary, how can we best prepare for what’s to come? Putting aside the nitty-gritty of the technical requirements, it pays to be prepared for what’s to come. So read on for our four-step checklist for platform migration preparation, with some expert insights from our partners over at VTEX.
There’s a reason Forbes once called “we’ve always done it this way” the most dangerous phrase in business. It’s always tempting to go back to old reliable and stand pat but when it comes to migrating to a new eCommerce platform, stubbornly sticking to your old ways would be a big mistake.
If you’re committed to changing your platform, it's likely for a good reason. Maybe you can’t deliver the social commerce experience you want with your current technology. Or maybe you’ve reached the stage of technological maturity where headless makes more sense than monolithic. Whatever the reason is, the thing that’s driving it is your eCommerce business needs that your current platform can’t cater to. So why would you insist on making your new site as similar as possible to your old one?
Be ready to embrace the features, design, set-up and everything else that’s new about your new platform so you can make best use of it.
“My advice is to listen to the vendor providing the software and let them show you what the best practice is with their platform, then weigh the vendor’s opinion against things you feel like you need to change. The platform vendor should have data that they can share with you that shows why a certain experience works better than they do today,” says Michael von Bodungen, Chief Customer Officer, VTEX.
No, S.M.A.R.T isn’t a reference to SmartOSC, but instead it’s a pretty handy acronym that you can use to ensure your platform migration stays on track. Setting S.M.A.R.T goals means setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound goals.
Anyone who’s ever seen their life flash before their eyes during a torturously long and meandering meeting (and let’s face it, we all have) will recognize how much more can be achieved in the same timeframe with a proper meeting agenda and the will to stick to it. If your platform migration effort is one big meeting, think of setting S.M.A.R.T goals as preparing a detailed agenda for that big meeting.
Smart companies set S.M.A.R.T goals.
An example of a S.M.A.R.T goal as part of a migration might be aiming to increase conversion rate by 10% by the end of the following quarter after migrating to the new platform. This goal checks all of the S.M.A.R.T boxes and will keep everyone on the same page as to what you’re hoping to achieve with your migration, even if the bounce rate reduction isn’t the be-all and end-all goal of the migration.
“A migration plan requires bigger goals for the entire business operation from hiring teams, partner agencies, digital marketing campaigns, product pages development and migration. The successes of each one of these aim to assure excellent performance and sales KPIs, during and after replatforming,” according to VTEX.
“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” These apocryphal words attributed to boxer Mike Tyson (the actual quote is a little less poetic) rings true in every aspect of life, and eCommerce platform migration is no different. While you shouldn’t have to worry about being physically assaulted when carrying out your migration (depending on your relationship with the dev team), the fact of the matter is, not everything will go perfectly.
There’s nothing wrong with having high expectations for a successful and straightforward platform migration, after all, if you shoot for the moon and fall, you’ll land among the stars. But a healthy dose of realism also wouldn’t go amiss, as unforeseen issues can crop up in any platform migration. Time is money and spending time ironing out the kinks of the new site is bound to frustrate anyone with their mind on the dollars and cents. You can soften the blow by preparing the C-suite for what’s to come, and preparing your team to plug the gaps ASAP.
VTEX has a few tips on how to instill confidence in leadership ahead of a platform migration. For one, informing leaders of contingency plans to tackle possible problems ahead of time is a good step to make migration seem less daunting. They also advise establishing metrics to determine the success of migration beyond revenue, “such as customer surveys and reports from tools that indicate the site’s usability”.
With your migration complete and your new store up and running it’s time to relax, kick back and watch the dough roll in, right? Wrong! The work doesn’t stop after go live day, instead you should come in with the mindset of following up on any issues you or your users experience in the weeks after migration.
This also means carrying out a thorough analysis of the changes to your site’s key metrics beforehand after migration to see just how effective your migration was, according to VTEX.
“This analysis has to be done in order to identify hiccups and pain points, as well as elements that might have been overlooked during the implementation or that weren’t included in the go-live checklist. Solving these points can also grow the migration impact,” says Héctor Tinjaca, Professional Service Leader for VTEX LATAM.
As you now know, platform migration doesn’t need to be a daunting undertaking, no matter how scary change may be. Our digital business experts can help you prepare a winning eCommerce strategy for whatever changes your business is facing, so get in touch with SmartOSC here.
You can also reach our platform partner VTEX here for expert advice on all things migration, and much more.