The signs are there; it’s time for you to replatform.
It might seem like a mammoth task, but it doesn’t have to be a daunting undertaking.
It can be a manageable journey, and we’ve broken down the process into four steps to show you how.
Step one: Plan your timeline
If your decision to switch platforms is driven by a specific deadline or event, such as the end-of-life of your current platform, a security issue that needs to be resolved urgently, or an important revenue-generating occasion, then you have a clear starting point for your planning.
It is important to establish these expectations early on and then work backwards from there. This gives you a timeline that can serve as the foundation for the project.
Even if there is no external pressure pushing for the switch to a new platform, there will still be expectations from key stakeholders. It's important to identify and address these expectations in order to create a feasible timeline.
For high-traffic websites, it can be beneficial to gradually redirect only a portion of web traffic to the new website, and slowly increase that percentage over time. This can help mitigate the risk of a complete switch all at once.
Your date for live launch should include details like this, and distinguish between a soft launch and a full launch. As you plan your timeline, remember to allocate enough time for thorough end-to-end testing.
Step two: Define your outcomes
An important step in replatforming is understanding your business goals, desired outcomes, and success metrics.
Start by visualising the overarching objectives you want to achieve through the replatforming, such as improved user experience, enhanced scalability, or increased conversion rates.
You can then translate these broader aspirations into Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). If you’re looking for more support with OKRs and goal-setting, take a look at our toolkit. The toolkit is designed to help teams plan, refine and manage their goals using the OKRs framework.
Additionally, engage key stakeholders, including marketing, sales, customer support, and IT teams, to gather diverse perspectives and align on objectives.
These defined outcomes and goals serve as a compass, guiding decision-making, resource allocation, and project progress throughout the replatforming journey.
Step three: Understand your requirements
Typically, you will begin with a set of requirements inherited from your existing e-commerce platform, which include integrations, web properties, support for payment gateways, and marketing tools.
At this stage, it’s time to distinguish between must-have elements and nice-to-have elements, both existing and new.
These requirements need to be fairly precise as they play an important role in guiding your developer team, agency partner, or systems integrator on what exactly needs to be built.
This process can become confusing when working with multiple brand teams, each with different opinions about what is must-have and what is nice-to-have. Having senior leadership resolve differences of opinion can support you in this phase.
The requirements step can be time-consuming, and there can be a temptation to rush through it when you’re working to tight deadlines. However, it is essential to compare specific requirements against the overall timeline.
Technical areas for consideration when working out key requirements and timelines are:
- Migrating customer data
- Migrating order data
- Moving existing content
- SEO considerations
- Lifecycle of an order
- Security implications
Step four: Collect user research
This step can be overlooked during the technical requirements phase, but user research and interviews play an important role in managing outcomes during the replatforming process.
While other steps will focus on the technical and logistical aspects of the transition, user research helps ensure that the new platform aligns with user needs, expectations, and behaviours.
By incorporating user insight, you can minimise risks, enhance user experience, and optimise the overall success of your replatforming.
User research involves collecting qualitative and quantitative data directly from your target audience. This can include both existing customers of your current platform and potential users.
By understanding how users interact with your current platform and what they expect from the new one, you can anticipate issues and address them proactively.
This information will guide decisions throughout the replatforming process, ensuring that the new platform addresses the real needs of users.
Areas for focus when conducting user research and interviews can include:
- Feature prioritisation
- User-centred design
- Usability testing
- Surveys and feedback
- Competitor analysis
- Persona development
By integrating user research and interviews into the replatforming process, you bridge the gap between technical requirements and user expectations.
It adds a human-centred dimension to your strategy, enhancing your project's overall outcomes and aligning it more closely with the needs of both your stakeholders and your customers.
If you're still grappling with the initial steps in replatforming, don't worry – that's entirely normal. The good news is, there's more to come from us that can help.
In our final blog in our e-commerce series, we'll delve into an all-important aspect of the replatforming process – selecting the right partner and platform. We'll show you insights and strategies to navigate this decision-making process wisely.
Want to see how an effective e-commerce platform can transform your business? Read our case studies from BCIS and Glenmorangie to see the positive impact their new platforms had on their businesses.