Improving Your Business – What to Consider When Changing Your E-Commerce Platform

Are you thinking of changing the e-commerce platform you use but nervous of the migration process? In our latest blog we will look at everything you need to consider, how to decide if you really need to re-platform and the plans you should put in place to make the switch as smooth as possible for your business and customers.

Why Re-Platform? Do You Need to Switch?

Before doing anything else, make sure you are clear WHY you are considering migrating to a different e-commerce platform.

Common reasons for re-platforming include:

  • Costs – If it is costing you too much to run your current platform, and you are not growing to support that cost, it might be time to move.
  • Difficulties with Development – If you have trouble finding developers, the platform is no longer well supported or just can’t keep pace with the innovations you want to make, that is another reason to migrate to something more flexible.
  • Performance – Is your e-commerce platform slow? Difficult for customers to use?  Suffering from outages? None of these need to be an issue in 2021. There are plenty of reliable options you could switch to.
  • Growth – Do you need to improve your e-commerce platform to accommodate more products, more categories of product, more users or users in more territories? All great reasons to change. 

Whatever your reasons are for re-platforming, make sure you have them down in black and white, so you can be sure that the new platform will meet those requirements. 

E Commerce Platforms

How do I Choose an E-Commerce Platform? 

Look at why you are moving and all the options available. Think about where your business is heading and choose a platform that should accommodate you for at least 5 years if your plans work out. 

Ask yourself:

  • Does the new platform meet all our requirements for changing?
  • Does the new platform work with our existing online presence – blogs, other website content, Social Media, marketplace listings?
  • Does the new platform support any integrations we need such as CRM, warehouse management APIs, email marketing, Trust Pilot and your preferred payment methods?
  • How much will it cost? Alongside development costs, consider the ongoing costs. These will include platform subscription costs, fees for Apps or Plugins, processing fees for payments and, for some platforms, hosting fees. 

Get it right this time, you do not want to migrate again. 

Which Are the Best E-Commerce Platforms?

Have a look at a range of online shop platforms before making your choice. The most popular in the UK include:  

  • Wix – OK for small stores and beginner friendly if you are building the site yourself.
  • Squarespace  – also mostly used for smaller stores but growing and with more design options than Wix.
  • Shopify – by far the most popular e-commerce platform in the UK. You can choose from many existing themes or have a bespoke designed store.  Integrations with other tools such as Live Chat, Facebook/Instagram and Email are excellent.  Fully integrated payments and options to sell offline too with Shopify POS are also helpful. 
  • WordPress and WooCommerce – can work well where the site is both a “brochure” for your company and needs a shop section, done via WooCommerce. You will also need hosting.  This is what Forms Plus use for our Online Shop.
  • BigCommerce – ideal for growing, purely e-commerce businesses wing. Variety of themes to help you get going quickly or bespoke options.  Detailed reporting and product management processes. 
  • Marketplaces – another option is to avoid setting up a site yourself and build your store on an existing marketplace such as Etsy, Ebay or Amazon.

Most platforms offer a 14-day free trial, so use that opportunity to explore the options and get a feel for any you are considering.

Check How Data Will Be Migrated

A key question for your developers will be how to migrate your existing data.  Do you need to move across all your customer data and sales history?  How far back should you go?  You do not want to inconvenience customers by asking them to set up new accounts on the new site if you don’t have to.   

Can your product data be migrated? Most platforms will give you the option to export all your product descriptions and imagery and import swiftly into the new site but do check. If not, you may have a large job on your hands.

Plan Your Migration Date and Time

Choose developers who are happy to work out-of-hours and make the switch late at night or a time that is quiet for you.  Do not make any big changes at peak times, for example in the months before Christmas. Make the swap when people are around to monitor any issues – early to mid-week is often best. No matter how well you have planned, something is bound to cause teething problems.  There is only so much you can test on a development site. Some issues will need to be ironed out live and you’ll want the team on hand.

Check Your SEO and Advertising

If your current site is getting found by search engines, preserve that.  Work with a professional to ensure your website pages are redirected properly and to avoid broken links when you change platform.

If you are using tools such as Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager or the Facebook Pixel, make sure those are moved across properly so your marketing switches smoothly. Most importantly, make sure everyone involved knows about the planned change so you can work together to prevent and manage any issues. 

Use Re-Platforming as an Opportunity to Upgrade

When you move to a new e-commerce platform, you are rebuilding a large section of your website, if not all of it.  Can you use this opportunity to improve your imagery? Upgrade product descriptions? Check the tools and integrations you use are still the best option?  It may be that the new platform works better with a different email system, means you can run new types of marketing or try different payment methods. What else needs to change in addition to the platform and can you manage that?

There is clearly a lot to consider, but by taking the time to prepare and research for your change of e-commerce platform, you can make sure you make the right choice and migrate your online shop with minimal disruption.  If there is anything we at Forms Plus can do to help along the way, do get in touch.

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