When you first launched your online store, e-commerce may have been new to you. So when you needed to choose an e-commerce platform, you may not have given the process a whole lot of thought.
But as your business has grown and you’ve learned more about what it takes to succeed, you may find yourself ready to upgrade your e-commerce platform or find a better fit for your e-commerce store.
This time around, you know all the right questions to ask.
Or do you?
Choosing the right platform is still a big decision, even for an established business. After all, these systems affect nearly every business function and customer.
Before you commit to a new e-commerce platform and invest in a digital transformation, ask yourself these seven questions to ensure you’re making the right choice.
1. What’s My Timeline?
No matter how long you think it’ll take for you to select a platform and launch your new site, it’s probably going to take a lot longer. It could even take more than six months longer than predicted, especially if you’re hoping to launch on or around the busy holiday shopping season.
Make sure you build in extra time to your schedule to accommodate for delays or troubleshooting. If you don’t, you may find yourself having to compromise on design quality or implementing new features. And the last thing you want is to launch your new site “on time” but without the must-have features and functionality. Customers are sure to notice the difference.
Instead, pick your platform first and develop your design to match the platform. You’ll find it’s much easier to create the desired user experience, and your budget and timeline will thank you.
2. What Do You Want to Accomplish?
Before you can choose the right platform for your e-commerce business, you need to know what you hope to accomplish with the change. What does your platform have now, and what do you need it to have?
Are you hoping to streamline the checkout experience, offer more payment options or improve the user experience? Maybe your goal is to deliver more interactive content or make your next e-commerce platform more mobile friendly. Think about how your site is currently performing and identify areas for improvement — and how the e-commerce platform options can meet those needs.
Each platform has its strengths and weaknesses, out-of-the-box functionalities, and customization levels, so it’s important you take the time to do your research. If you rush through the decision-making process, you may find yourself settling for an “almost right” platform that prevents you from reaching your full sales potential.
But remember: Don’t just think about what you need today. Also consider what features you might need in the future.
3. Will Replatforming Affect Other Systems?
Replatforming affects more than just the front-end user experience — it also impacts your back-end order management and customer service. Because newer platforms are less likely to incorporate order management into the platform, you may need to invest in a new order management system at the same time you replatform. This can be an expensive investment, so ensure you’ve budgeted and planned for this possibility.
4. Do You Require Customization?
Take a look at the extensions and integrations you’ve added to your platform over the years. Some of them may be unavailable in a new platform; others may require significant development to maintain.
Even as a single platform evolves, as Magento did between versions 1 and 2, some extensions were no longer supported on the new platform. Developers may decide to update them, but it’s no guarantee. So if you rely on a specific extension for your e-commerce store, you’ll need to factor that development time and cost into your transition plan.
5. Have You Updated Your Data?
If you haven’t changed platforms in some time, your data could be bogged down with duplicate, outdated or poorly categorized products.
Taking the opportunity to clean up your data before you migrate to a new platform will help your designers and developers build accurate, complete category landing and product detail pages. Creating logical, organized databases that use a consistent approach will also make it easier to import data into your new e-commerce platform and order management system. And keeping things simple will help keep your project timeline on track and avoid busting budgets.
6. Are All Your Third-Party Vendors Ready to Go?
When you’re looking at replatforming, you may find you need to negotiate some new contracts with other third-party vendors, like providers for address verification, sales tax calculation and content personalization.
Identify these third-party vendors up front, so as soon as you sign a contract with your new platform vendor — setting the billing clock ticking — your development team will have immediate access to the systems and personnel needed to complete critical tasks.
7. Are You Protected Against Fraud?
Upgrading your e-commerce platform is the perfect time to evaluate your current site’s performance and user experience to see what’s working — and what can be improved. And because this isn’t your first time picking a platform, you’ve got some experience in knowing what you want, what you need and what you can live without.
Picking the right e-commerce platform isn’t the only decision that can have a huge impact on the success and profitability of your business. Choosing the right fraud prevention solution can be just as important. But if you’ve never had to evaluate these solutions before, it’s hard to know where to start. So we created the “Fraud Protection Buyers Guide” to help you evaluate your options and help you ask the right questions. You’ll come away feeling confident that the fraud protection solution you choose will be the one that works best for your business’s growing needs.