Transitioning To A New eCommerce Platform Is A Business Challenge, Not A Technology Race

Transitioning To A New eCommerce Platform Is A Business Challenge, Not A Technology Race

Anybody who’s been through an eCommerce replatform project knows it’s nothing like upgrading your phone to the latest version. It’s a significant commitment that can take months to complete while costing hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars.

But with today’s dizzying rate of changing consumer behavior and technology innovation, replatforming is often inevitable. In the years since implementing your current eCommerce platform, the pace of digital adoption amongst your customers has exploded—as has the availability of digital commerce platforms, tools and resources.

While making the decision to transition to a new platform can be challenging, the real challenge is internal. Companies that want to truly move the needle must regard eCommerce replatforming as a business issue and not a technology issue.

 

Here’s why.

eCommerce is a platform AND a revenue generation channel

Many eCommerce replatforming projects are born from a desire to pack more features and capabilities into an eCommerce solution that’s simultaneously easier and cheaper to manage. However, the real leap-frog growth companies seek depends on how well you address and integrate your internal business partners in the final solution.

 

Your customers want to engage with you across multiple touchpoints—all of which are managed by separate departments or business units within your organization.

And those separate entities are often struggling to do their jobs efficiently and effectively:

  • We want to run more campaigns to drive customers to our eCommerce site, but we don’t have access to create call-to-action destinations when we need them.
  • It’s impossible to improve our product information (let alone have enough) to make products more easily discoverable.
  • Our eCommerce solution feels like a necessary evil; it doesn’t help me improve sales for my book of customer accounts and sometimes even creates competition!
  • It’s impossible to track our prospects and customers across all their touchpoints today; we simply can't capture and learn when they want to engage with us.

 

Sound familiar?

 

While eCommerce is a central platform, it’s also a channel that can drive significant revenue for your organization. And when you make replatforming decisions based solely on features and functions, you miss critical opportunities to enable your siloed departments to work independently from your eCommerce team to support customer engagement at the speed they need within your eCommerce ecosystem. 

Technology choices are important, but as engagement enablers

An international study of business professionals identified eCommerce platforms as one of the top three digital technologies for investment1:

  • 51% web analytics/business intelligence
  • 49% email marketing system
  • 38% eCommerce platform

And there’s a good reason why. The same study found that nearly three-quarters of B2B companies expect their own digital commerce sites to generate more than 40% of their total revenue by 2025.

While all of the technology areas highlighted in the study are a fair reflection of the state of play for most companies, they all require some touchpoint with the eCommerce platform.

For example, you will need to personalize the buying experience managed by the eCommerce platform. Email will use it as a CTA destination for outbound campaigns and other types of emails. Marketing automation will want to align customer segments and use the platform as a destination. And AI-based technologies and customer data platforms will incorporate its data and analytics.

 

Technology choices must follow an internal business alignment between all the divisions that manage or own a part of your customer engagement journey.


 

Customer relationships are your eCommerce solution centerpiece

Replatforming success hinges on your internal teams working together. Don’t assume you understand your colleagues’ requirements from their complaints. They may not fully understand the art of the possible and are voicing their needs through the lens of your old capabilities set. To provide your customers a modern digital commerce experience, you may need to change the way things have always been done.

 

It’s essential to engage with internal business teams from other functional areas to understand how their processes and requests can be better managed and more closely aligned with their KPIs—and ultimately support a cohesive customer journey.

 

These jointly refined processes should then be used to drive your eCommerce platform initiative. Here are some key teams eCommerce needs to work with to make replatforming a business success.

 

Marketing

Marketing and eCommerce team alignment can be tricky since both are focused on customer steps in the digital buyer journey that sometimes overlap.

Collaboration on tactical activities (creating landing pages for marketing campaigns and ultimately eCommerce revenue) and more strategic activities (how customers are tracked from campaign through purchase to provide new campaign insight as well as insight on website usability and purchase) are key drivers for how email and marketing automation are implemented and connected to the eCommerce platform.

Sales

Cohesive customer experiences across offline sales and digital channels can be challenging. However, taking steps to make your eCommerce platform the favorite tool for sales reps can help. 

Providing data analytics connected to customer behaviors (browse, ordering patterns, etc.) can give sales better insights on tailoring their activities to customer needs and higher sales.  Features like quick order entry and customer impersonation for sales reps that make their lives easier can also help internal adoption and organizational alignment.

Flipping the discussion from features that just improve selling on digital channels to engaging with customers across teams that serve multiple channels can have a massive impact on overall revenue.

Customer service

Customer service is mostly perceived as a cost center but with access to eCommerce capabilities it’s possible to transform this critical channel into a revenue generator.

Enabling self-service tasks (order status, returns/exchanges, re-ordering, shipping updates) and sales tasks (upselling and cross-selling) are critical to reshaping customer service focus and mindset to elevate its role within the business at large.

 


There are only two approaches to eCommerce replatforming

Replatforming is a business challenge first and a technology challenge second. Once you understand how your business teams will work together to achieve all their goals, you have two approaches for how you can support them through an eCommerce replatform.

 

Lift + shift  (platform -> platform)

This approach completely replaces your existing eCommerce platform/capabilities with a new modern digital commerce platform.  This approach is ideal if:

 

  • You’re required to engage with increasingly digital native buyers and your existing eCommerce platform roadmap won’t deliver desired features fast enough
  • You don’t have (or want to reduce) a large development team and are content to rely on your new platform vendor for continuous innovation
  • You want your teams to focus on managing the eCommerce business, not the underlying technology
  • You need to support many brands’ eCommerce channels and processes in a consistent and centrally defined manner across your enterprise

 

Lift + leverage  (platform -> microservices/headless)

This approach deconstructs your existing eCommerce platform one feature at a time and evolves into a new eCommerce solution based in your Cloud, leaving only the minimum required core feature set operational on your existing eCommerce platform.  This approach is ideal if:

 

  • You’ve invested heavily in customizing an on-premise eCommerce platform to support your specific business complexities, but you realize no new digital commerce platform will natively support your business complexities
  • You want to leverage years’ worth of feature development but decouple these from your current eCommerce platform so you can continue to innovate while taking advantage of a modern cloud environment
  • You need to support multiple front-end eCommerce channels through a variety of context-specific APIs across your Enterprise or business ecosystem
  • You want to reduce your dependency on a vendor/platform and drive the pace and direction of continuous innovation internally by focusing on technology and a new cloud layer

 

 
LIFT &
SHIFT
LIFT &
LEVERAGE
If your business focus is:     
Fastest time to market ✔️  

Managing your eCommerce business not an eCommerce platform

✔️  

Maintaining a heavily customized feature set

  ✔️

Removing vendor/platform dependency

  ✔️

Providing agility & speed of features delivered to end customers

✔️ ✔️

Providing front-end eCommerce capabilities through a variety of APIs for channels & contexts across an Enterprise

  ✔️

Creating consistent eCommerce channels & processes for multiple brands across an enterprise

✔️

 

Enabling multiple business teams to easily manage features & content

✔️  

 

   

If your technology focus is:

   

To leverage cloud for infrastructure

✔️ ✔️

To leverage years’ worth of modules built on current platform

  ✔️

A modern architecture (cloud native, headless, API first, etc.)

✔️ ✔️

Completely decouple functional layer from presentation layer (or support multiple different presentation layers)

  ✔️

Drive the pace & direction of continuous innovation internally—focusing on technology and platform

  ✔️

Minimize platform-specific development resources

  ✔️

Minimize internal development resources

✔️  

 

 


 

Close the gap between customer expectations and experience

Selecting the right eCommerce platform for your business is important. Selecting an eCommerce platform that integrates with and provides your business teams autonomy to quickly deliver the right features, experiences and channels is critical.

Consumer expectations are at an all-time high. If the gap between what your customers expect and what you can deliver is widening, taking a business transformation approach to replatforming will help you close it faster.

Want to know more?

Contact us to learn how other companies have approached replatforming. We can even introduce you to clients we’ve helped do it so you can learn directly about their experience. We’re here to share our expertise and understand how that translates into success for your organization.  

 


 

1 https://www.digitalcommerce360.com/2020/02/11/a-blueprint-for-growth-in-b2b-ecommerce/

 

Andy Wagner

Written by Andy Wagner