Upgrading a B2B e-commerce website can be a harrowing experience. This is especially true if the e-commerce website in question constitutes the whole of a business rather than apart. B2B e-commerce websites using a store as a source of additional income, for example, will naturally find that their needs are a bit less stringent than those brands that focus most of their attention upon selling items from their online store. In these instances, the e-commerce re-platforming process must be conducted systematically and intelligently to avoid some fairly serious pitfalls.
However, that’s not to say that the risks of e-commerce platform migration outweigh the benefits because that is not the case. There are various reasons why an e-commerce re-platforming is necessary, and they’re all fairly important. Many retailers find themselves increasingly looking to mobile commerce when it comes to the future of their business. Because consumers are increasingly using their mobile devices to access the internet and shop, companies focusing on e-commerce must have an optimized mobile experience.
This isn’t viable on specific platforms and might necessitate a re-platforming process on the part of the business. Another reason for upgrading an e-commerce system is the desire to tap into the international markets. Some platforms handle multiple currencies better than others, for example, and it’s essential to select the right platform to ensure the success of a new strategy.
As far as the benefits of e-commerce re-platforming go, they might be reasonably clear from the above discussion. First, upgrading an e-commerce platform can help business owners expand their marketing strategy and reach, increasing customers and business. In addition, with the right platform, a retailer can be truly global, ensuring that their reach extends almost anywhere there is consistent internet access.
E-commerce re-platforming also helps retailers provide an easy and pleasant buying experience to mobile users and enhance customer engagement, quickly becoming a critical part of the e-commerce package. Sometimes an upgrade is simply unavoidable and will actively help a business grow.
Context Challenges and Risks
As mentioned above, the reasons to change e-commerce platforms are varied and often vital to developing the B2B e-commerce business. With that said, some risks shouldn’t be ignored when considering the possibility of attempting the re-platforming process. These will be explained in more detail below, but suffice to say that selecting the wrong platform or failing to correctly customize the platform to fit the needs of a specific business can lead to disaster. With this one process, it’s possible to see revenue drop by a significant amount. This, of course, significantly damages a business’ growth while also affecting its ability to spend the money and time necessary to fix the issue.
Business owners must educate themselves about some of the specific issues they might encounter as they pursue the B2B e-commerce re-platforming process. This post will talk about how businesses can smoothly change their platform without experiencing those pitfalls that can cause serious damage.
5 Pitfalls to Consider
While there are a variety of problems that can come up during an e-commerce re-platforming, some tend to be more prominent than others. Five of these will be discussed in detail below, with potential consequences that include more thoroughly illustrating the issue. As illustrated below by clevebridge blog through a Forrester image, consider that restructuring is reasonably common for many businesses. Therefore, taking the time to master it now will pay off in the long run.
- Lacking Scalability
One of the most common issues that online retailers face when it comes to their B2B e-commerce platforms is scalability. Almost every business owner out there wants to increase their reach and generate more leads to make more sales. While achieving this goal might initially seem like a great situation, it can cause serious issues with B2B e-commerce platforms. A platform that performed flawlessly when a business was only interested in a niche market located in a single country, for example, might not be appropriate when the company decides to expand its audience. When the number of individuals purchasing items or services and the number of countries in which these customers might be located increases, many platforms will quickly prove to be unable to handle the new traffic and demands.
This is why it’s essential to assess e-commerce platforms for their scalability carefully. If a business was to grow quickly and significantly, how would the platform in question respond? Would it be able to handle the new demands placed upon it? It’s a good idea to select a platform that will successfully scale up or down to meet the business needs of a particular business. Even if business owners don’t necessarily anticipate that kind of growth, it’s far better to consider the issue now rather than later. Taking the time to re-platform only to discover that the new platform cannot scale to handle different business needs properly is a common issue that can disrupt sales and waste time and money.
- Inadequate Control and Flexibility
It’s not uncommon for a project to begin with a clearly defined objective based upon a predetermined idea of the scope of the issue and the resources needed to address it. It’s even less uncommon for this tidy idea of how the project should end up flying out of the window as unforeseen issues are unearthed during the creation process. An e-commerce re-platforming project is undoubtedly not an exception to this phenomenon. It should be taken for granted that there will be various issues that are sure to arise and demand the full attention of everyone on the team. When selecting a new e-commerce platform and creating a timeline for its implementation and ultimate delivery, it’s essential to understand the likelihood of unforeseen complications.
To ensure that a project plan isn’t completely derailed when the all-but-inevitable arises, take the time to ensure that any plans are created with an eye to future flexibility. If something happens to change the timeline, for example, the team must adapt the plan as needed to ensure a successful delivery that depends upon the new scope of the project. Conversely, plans created rigidly and leave no room for control over future changes are dangerous because they risk turning a re-platforming project into a derailed mess that doesn’t have any room for managing risk.
- Incompatible SEO for Platform
Many businesses today are heavily focused upon search engine optimization (SEO) – and understandably so. Correctly utilizing SEO can help expand a brand’s reach by quite a bit purely through search engine results. Savvy business owners who are researching a move to a new B2B e-commerce platform will carefully consider their SEO needs and have specific considerations in mind when looking at the platform’s functionality in question. This is important for many different reasons. First of all, it’s essential to understand what specific SEO goals a business has and how they plan to meet them using their e-commerce platform. Even more than that, however, it’s essential to have specific SEO goals in mind so that the potential e-commerce platform can be vetted to gauge its SEO abilities.
Many e-commerce platforms will advertise themselves as being “SEO efficient” or “SEO friendly.” In reality, this often means that the platform in question can meet the basic SEO needs of a company. However, this doesn’t consider things like URL structure, Robots.txt files, media alt tags, or user-generated content – all things that are important to keep in mind while developing a comprehensive and successful SEO strategy. This is why business owners must do their research before selecting a platform. Not doing so could land them with a platform that is not capable of handling their SEO needs and instead requires a lot of additional customization that was not part of the original re-platforming plan.
- Missing Collaboration of Multiple Departments
The e-commerce re-platforming process is an incredibly complex one to begin. Many different factors play into whether or not the process goes smoothly and is finished on time and meets all goals set, or whether it takes an inordinately long amount of time to complete and leads to much headache and stress along the way. As with anything life, communication is vital in the business world. This is especially true of interdepartmental communication when significant changes like e-commerce re-platforming are underway. Many business owners are content to assign the project to a particular team and develop the plan, select the platform, and handle the conversion process. However, this isn’t the best idea because it essentially ensures that only one department has an in-depth working knowledge of the new system.
By contrast, bringing multiple departments to the e-commerce restructuring process is a great way to keep the company informed about new features and changes. No one will be completely caught off guard by the changes when using this approach because everyone will have already been informed about the conversion process by other individuals in their department. In addition, fostering a sense of community and collaboration within a company that spans across departments is one of the best ways to ensure that the company culture can band together and accept change as easily as possible—the more people involved in the e-commerce re-platforming process, the better.
- Inability to Predict Future Requirements
As mentioned above in the discussion on scalability, it’s essential to understand the importance of consistently predicting the future requirements of the business in question. This is a particularly difficult step. It requires a business owner to be knowledgeable about the technology and potential developments and take a careful look at their own business. Almost everyone wants to think that their company will see a lot of growth. It’s natural – after all, what’s the point of attempting to run a successful business if the owner doesn’t believe in its ability to attract customers and evolve over the years?
Unfortunately, not every business will grow – and even in those that do, the rate might not be quite what the owners are hoping for. That’s not to say that the growth is random, however, because there are different ways to measure and predict future development in reality. Therefore, the business owner must take the time to objectively look at the data before committing to an e-commerce re-platforming. This means that they attempt to visualize, based on data, where their business will be in a given period. It is based upon this objective that the decision regarding an e-commerce upgrade should be considered.
With that said, do not make the mistake of attempting to “future-proof” your e-commerce platform. The technology may look very different in a few years as the needs and demands of the many dictate change, and the platform that seems like an incredible value now might seem less appropriate. Instead, make smart choices based on realistic expectations and know that e-commerce re-platforming is a reasonably common occurrence for many businesses. It’s not entirely necessary to make a perfect choice right at this moment, in other words. Instead, savvy business owners will make the choice that makes sense now and will continue to make sense over a specific period, after which they will reevaluate their business’ needs and the performance of the platform in question.
When it comes down to it, e-commerce re-platforming is a common issue that, when handled correctly, can be a boon to any business. Follow the tips above to avoid the common pitfalls that can lead a company to disaster, and rest assured that the new platform choice will help the business in question grow and thrive. E-commerce re-platforming doesn’t have to be a significant issue. Instead, approach it carefully and systematically, and see just how easy it is to introduce the change and how smoothly the conversion goes among workers and customers alike.