Replatforming – What is it and why is it important

Replatforming is a method that can make any web developer or e-commerce manager nervous, but if approached correctly, it can be extremely beneficial to your business

Digital technology advances at an alarming rate, this poses a significant challenge for companies that operate online and need to stay on top of the latest emerging trend or technique.

As a result, a website’s or mobile app’s shelf life seems to be getting shorter and shorter. This isn’t really a major problem for a brochure-ware site because redesigns can be implemented with minimal effort, although at a cost.

However, handling updates and redesigns for more complex sites and web applications becomes more complicated. E-commerce sites are a great example of this.

This is where the concept of replatforming emerges. This is the procedure for transferring an ecommerce site from one platform to another.

Why replatforming might be necessary:

Failing legacy systems

Many businesses launched bespoke services in the early days of e-commerce, when “off-the-shelf” solutions just didn’t cut it. However, updating these customised systems has become difficult and costly over time.

New features needed

A desire to incorporate new functionality in a more productive manner will be linked to this last point. Older platforms also fail to keep up with the demands of expanding companies, while modern platforms are more “futureproof.”

A fresh start

It can sometimes be best to start over from the beginning. Starting with a blank sheet of paper is advantageous in other ways as well, since company goals and priorities are often different than they were when the original site was built. Even if you’ve decided to stay with you some platform provider can it be beneficial to start again to clear out some of that legacy coding.

Outsourcing website development

Moving from an in-house development environment to a hosted or fully managed platform might be enough of a justification to make the switch, as it reduces long-term costs and complexities.

Integration

E-commerce sites are increasingly being asked to integrate with a variety of complicated and sophisticated partners and third-party systems.

Many platforms now have these features built-in as plugins, eliminating the need for time-consuming development work.

Although replatforming will entail a financial investment, the long-term return on investment would be significant when compared to what was previously in place, not to mention the additional features and functionality that will be available.

Outsourcing website development

Moving from an in-house development environment to a hosted or fully managed platform might be enough of a justification to make the switch, as it reduces long-term costs and complexities.

Replatforming - A better approach?

However, there are a few items to consider before embarking on a replatforming strategy:

Website build cost

Don’t plan to pay the same amount for your new platform today as you did five years ago for making your website. Having said that, you’ll want to make sure your project is completely costed from the start to avoid any unpleasant surprises later on.

Likewise, you may have had your site built very cheaply, using a basic ecommerce platform, now is the time to ask yourself was that actually cost effective? Be wary of anyone offering to build you a site in a week or two and/or for a miniscule price. If it seems to good to be true it probably is.

If you want a hosted solution, keep in mind that there will be recurring costs. If possible, choose a fixed-price option, but do not forget to factor in a contingency!

Website specification

The value of developing a comprehensive specification before speaking with suppliers is linked to the previous point. Make sure you know exactly what you want from your new site and what you need right now (and in the future).

Website functionality

Be very clear about what functionality comes as part of the platform and what has to be added on (at an additional cost). Platforms like Shopify, Magento and WordPress websites with Woocommerce require many 3rd party systems, each with additional cost. Whereas IRP Commerce Cloud has all of the features you’ll need to run a successful online company. There are no hidden fees or costly plugins only a website dedicated to your sales and profits.

Review internal processes

Do just look at finding a platform that matches your internal processes exactly, often it is easier to modify your processes to fit the new platform. Whilst no one likes change, sometimes its beneficial.

This is an opportunity to take a step back and consider how the company operates and whether it could be changed. Better to do this now rather than in the future when the site has already been built!

Service

While many platforms will be ‘off-the-shelf’, it’s very rare that you won’t need support or assistance, even if you plan to do the development work yourself or with another agency.

Check what support you will receive in the early days and on an ongoing basis too. Why not talk to other clients and get references?

Investigate all the options

From low-cost SaaS options such as Shopify, EKM, Bigcommerce to bespoke build and open source, there is an array of different options for ecommerce platforms. Make sure you consider them all and choose the best one for your business.

Strive to find the right ‘partner’

Are you a problem client? Are you being too demanding? Treat your suppliers well and you’ll get a better deal in the long-term with a website development service supplier.

Be wary of anyone that will offer to build you a site in a week or two and/or for a miniscule price. There are good deals to be done, but tread with care.

This is a significant, strategic investment for your business, so it’s worthwhile to investigating fully at this stage in your ecommerce development. It will finally pay off in the long run.

So that’s replatforming!

It’s definitely a strategy that more and more online businesses will have to tackle sooner rather than later, but approaching it in the right way at this stage will ensure you are better prepared for anything that might materialise in the future.

This is a significant, strategic investment for your business, so it’s worthwhile to investigating fully at this stage. It will finally pay off in the long run.

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