We can’t say for sure whether the grass is actually greener on the other side, but it’s definitely worth taking a look over the fence! The world of ecommerce is always changing and bringing with it new and intriguing ways to optimize your online business. You never know what you might find when you take a peek at your other options.
If you’re a bit hesitant to make a change, we totally get it. It can be a bit nerve-racking to even think about adjusting your business, especially when it’s already working for you. The reality is though, that in order to grow and take your business to new heights, you’ll have to step out of your comfort zone eventually.
Ecommerce replatforming is just about the biggest change you can make for your online business and certainly takes you out of your ‘safe space’ – but how does it really work? And why would you want to replatform your ecommerce store? And what are the important factors to consider throughout the eCommerce platform migration process?
Find all of the answers to your questions about ecommerce migration in this fully-detailed guide!
What is eCommerce replatforming?
eCommerce replatforming is the process that an online merchant undertakes when switching their business between third-party ecommerce platforms, or from a platform to a custom built website, or from a custom website to a platform, or from one custom website to another.
Regardless of the direction of change, replatforming ecommerce shops is a task that takes real commitment. Just as you put effort into building your current e commerce shop, you will also need to commit yourself to the ecommerce migration process. Any half-measures taken can ultimately come back to bite you in the end, so be sure to take your time and replatform your online store with care.
Before we discuss what to consider when eCommerce replatforming, let’s quickly go over why you would want to do ecommerce site migration in the first place.
Why would you want to migrate your eCommerce platform?
The simplest answer we can give is that replatforming your ecommerce shop can help you make more money – but that’s not always going to be the be-all end-all for every online store owner.
Some of you may want to switch eCommerce platforms (or to a custom built website) for other reasons. If you haven’t already thought about it, have a look at these top 8 reasons why it could be a good idea for you to migrate ecommerce platforms:
- Customizable design options – when you first started your ecommerce business and decided on a platform, you likely took into account the difficulty of designing your store. Many platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, and Wix offer intuitive drag-and-drop interfaces that make web design super simple.
On the flipside, the customizability is often limited by those platforms, sometimes making it difficult to stand out from the crowd. While learning how to do web design ‘from scratch’ is a project in-and-of-itself, you can also pay an expert to do it for you. Having your own custom built website will make it much easier to leave a lasting impression on potential customers.
- More varied payment methods – depending on where you’re based geographically, what countries you’re selling to, and the type of products/services you sell, a different assortment of payment gateways may be a better fit for your business. Virtually every ecommerce platform has limits on the sorts of payment methods they accept, and nearly every payment method has a limit on the places where they operate.
You’ll need to do your due diligence before selecting a payment processor for your online business. Of course, you should always check to see if the platform you’re interested in has a payment gateway already built in, or consider the difficulty of setting one up on your custom store.
- Advanced analytic capabilities – for those of you who care about your business’s real success, data analysis should be a fundamental part of how you’re operating (on your current platform, or any other). While certain e-commerce platforms do provide a decent amount of insightful data directly through their admins, that’s not true for all, and almost certainly not the case for a custom-built website.
Take a close look at how your current ecommerce platform gathers and presents your shop’s performance data and compare it to how other platforms are doing it. You may just find a good enough reason to undergo ecommerce platform migration!
Bonus note: If you’re running a Shopify store, you can run the most accurate analysis of your store’s expenses and profitability with BeProfit – Profit Tracker.
The BeProfit Shopify calculator app turns all of your shop’s complex data into super easy-to-understand charts and graphs so you don’t miss a beat. No more messy spreadsheets, no more bouncing around from one platform to the next to look at everything.
You can finally put the power of data in your hands (and in one place) and optimize your e-commerce business with BeProfit.
- Broader third party compatibility – this point lends itself more towards ecommerce platforms than it does to custom-built websites. As you might already know, there’s no shortage of apps, tools, and integrations for platforms like Shopify and Wix. Whether paid or free, all of those add-ons had to get reviewed and approved before being presented in the platforms’ respective app stores.
In contrast, if you decide to migrate ecommerce platforms to a custom-built website, you’ll not only have to do all of the coding to add those tools to your store, but you’ll also have to rely on user reviews and a fair amount of good faith to trust that they’ll work as advertised. Yes, you can opt to pay a coding professional to do it for you and hopefully they’ll have some insight on how the app or tool you’re interested in actually works.
- Lower operating costs – this is probably one of the most common reasons why online merchants go through with ecommerce migration. After all, why would somebody keep paying more for something that they can get for cheaper somewhere else?
Well, as we’ve already touched on, there’s more to take into account than just the dollar amount being spent on the platform. There are also all of the finer details about functionalities and features that need to be considered. All of that said, reducing operating costs will likely remain one of the top reasons to enact an ecommerce replatform plan.
- Fewer unused features – you may be paying for an ecommerce platform and even be happy with how it’s working for you, but have you ever felt like there are a ton of bells and whistles that you simply never get around to using? If your answer is yes, you’re not alone.
It’s in the nature of e-commerce platform developers to include lots of freebies to make their platform more desirable for online merchants to use. But what that almost always results in is a catalogue of gizmos and gadgets that you’ll be paying for, but ultimately may not ever use. This is yet another big push for eCommerce business owners to replatform.
- Stronger cybersecurity – developing a solid cyber security plan isn’t just for your own protection, but also for the safety of your customers’ personal and financial information. It may seem a bit trivial at first, particularly if you’re running a small business. You might think “who would even think to hack my little store?” Whatever the odds are, you shouldn’t leave your security to chance nor that of the customers who trust you enough to give you their hard-earned money.
The bottom line: compare and contrast the cyber security measures taken by different eCommerce platforms to see which will offer the most overarching protection.
- Easier to attract target audience – as you know by now after reading the points above, not all eCommerce platforms are created equal. Certain platforms are more popular than others when it comes to certain niches, types of products, countries, and so on.
Etsy is great for selling handmade goods. Shopify is a strong option if you’re running a dropshipping or print on demand store. The list goes on, but the point remains. You should put serious attention into choosing the right ecommerce platform (or building a custom website) so that you can attract the maximum number of potential customers.
What to consider when eCommerce replatforming
With all of those reasons why you may want to migrate your eCommerce store, you’ll now need to know what factors to judge when deciding which platform to switch to.
Here are some of the top e-commerce platform characteristics that you should assess before making a final decision to go through with Shopify migration, or any other ecommerce migration.
If you’re switching ecommerce platforms, you don’t want user experience to take a hit. The customer journey on your new platform should be as good as, if not better than, it was on your current platform. Why? Because, for one thing, 75% of American consumers say they’d stop spending their money at a business after just one bad experience. Can you afford to lose that much potential business? We didn’t think so. Let the user experience of the new platform be your first consideration!
Site speed and platform performance
Related to user experience are the speed and overall performance of the new platform you’re considering switching to. As you may well imagine, a slow website is not going to generate as many (if any) conversions compared to a slick and quick journey through your sales funnel. In fact, 40% of consumers say they’ll wait a maximum of 3 seconds for an online store to load – if it takes any longer than that, they’ll simply leave.
The same is true for performance. What we’re referring to here are things like plugins and integrations that help make your ecommerce website more unique, attractive, and helpful for users. If those additional tools don’t work as intended because of the platform you switched to then, we’re sorry to say, you may have chosen the wrong platform.
Beyond the user experience, site speed and platform performance also play a huge part in your own accessibility to your website. Does it take long to load your sales data? Can you make optimizations quickly, or does it take a long time for updates to process and show live on your site? Think it through before making the switch.🚨 #OnlineBusiness Owner Alert: Slow load times can do real damage to your #ecommerce store. 40% of consumers say they’ll wait 3 seconds for an #onlinestore to load - otherwise they’ll leave! Click To Tweet
Support and ease of use
When you experience slow loading times, serious plugins errors, or any other problems and you need help with your ecommerce platform, you’ll want the best support possible.
Does the platform you’re looking at offer 24/7 live support, or will you rely on automatic troubleshooting systems? Can you reach a representative by telephone, or only through online chat? Take a hard look at the types of support you can expect to get, and definitely see what other users have had to say about the support they’ve received.
You can never be too careful when migrating WooCommerce to Shopify, Etsy to Wix, or any other type or direction of replatforming – especially when it comes to ensuring that you can get the help you need when you need it. Of course, if you switch to a custom-made website, you’ll be your own support (woohoo!).
Though we’ve already touched on this point, we find it important to mention it again. After all, you’re running a business to make money, and part of making money is the act of saving money.
Now, that isn’t to say that spending more money in the process of ecommerce migration is always a bad move. Sometimes it’s the smart thing to do. For example, when the new platform you’re checking out offers you the advantages that you know (or believe) will make a big difference towards improving your sales and profitability. If that’s the case, you could spend more money on running your business on a different platform, but actually earn a bigger profit because of the benefits you get in return.
As is so often the case in eCommerce, you’ll need to take a nuanced approach to this step. What is a good move for another online business owner might not be the best move for your own shop (but it might be!). In any case, the amount of money you’ll be spending to keep your business up-and-running is certainly a key factor to weigh in your decision-making process.
Popular eCommerce platforms to consider
There are plenty of eCommerce platforms out there that you can pick from, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. While we’d love to give you details about each and every ecommerce platform, it’s more important that we highlight the platforms that have proven to be the most advantageous for online business owners up until now.
Take a look below at the top 4 e-commerce platforms you should consider when migrating your online business.
Squarespace is the leading eCommerce platform, constituting a solid 23.5% of ecommerce market share according to Statista. And it’s no wonder when you consider the outstanding array of templates merchants can pick from along with other awesome features including blogging and podcasting capabilities, an extensive photo gallery, and a simply amazing user interface.
Squarespace offers a free trial, but no free plans. You can sign up for a yearly plan for between $12 and $40 per month.
In terms of market share, WooCommerce is right up there with Squarespace, commanding 23.4% of the ecommerce market (again, according to Statista). Unlike Squarespace and other big-name e commerce platforms, WooCommerce is an open-source solution. That means there are many more options and avenues to customize your WooCommerce website, but also means you’ll need to either learn the tech-end of things or find a professional to set things up for you.
WooCommerce itself is free. Since it’s an open-source solution and comes in the form of a plugin, the pricing really depends on the host you choose for your store (e.g. Bluehost, Pressable, SiteGround, etc.) and the other themes or plugins you add afterwards. Starting a store with WooCommerce can run you anywhere between $3 and $300.
Simply put, Wix is smaller compared to Squarespace and WooCommerce. To put it in perspective, Wix commands just over 6% of ecommerce market share. With that said, Wix does a great job at holding its own against its larger competitors, providing some of the best SEO tools of all ecommerce platforms, unbeatable help & support, no transaction fees, and even abandoned cart recovery in every plan!
Wix also offers a 14-day free trial, but no free-for-life plans for ecommerce stores specifically. Paid plans for businesses start at $23 per month (annually) or $28 per month (monthly).
Last but certainly not least is Shopify. Though it actually is least in terms of market share (3.7%) compared to the options above, it definitely is not small in terms of the power it gives to online merchants. And remarkably, what Shopify provides in power it does not sacrifice in the user experience.
The platform is designed to be easy for beginners to interact with, requiring just a few clicks to do essentially anything. One of the best parts about running an online store through Shopify is that you gain access to the Shopify App Store which is brimming with hundreds of tools you can use to optimize your business – like BeProfit-Profit Tracker!
As the standard dictates, Shopify also allows you to try their platform out for 14 days without paying. To continue using Shopify past the trial period, you’ll have to select one of the pricing plans that start at $29 per month.
eCommerce replatforming checklist: 10 Steps to take
- Identify your business needs
- Browse for the ‘right’ ecommerce platform
- Compare platform features and pricing
- Backup your data and content
- Create a plan for migrating data and content
- Design your new online store
- Migrate your data and content
- Review your SEO ranking
- Test everything, then retest
- Go live with your new ecommerce website!
1. Identify your business needs
At the start of the article we listed the top 8 reasons why you may want to migrate your ecommerce shop. Take a look back over them and decide for yourself why switching platforms is a good idea for your business. If your current ecommerce platform isn’t posing any serious issues, it might even be better to stick with it.
Take time to run a serious audit of your business performance to determine what you can (or should) be looking for in order to optimize your profitability.
2. Browse for the ‘right’ ecommerce platform
Once you’ve identified the parts of your business that can be better, the next step is to find the ‘right’ ecommerce platform that offers the improvements your business needs. Again, we’ve already given you a short list of top ecommerce platforms you can select from – though you shouldn’t limit yourself to the four we mentioned.
Feel free to expand your search for the ideal ecommerce platform to migrate to, and don’t hesitate to reach out to them directly if you have questions about how they work or what they offer.
3. Compare platform features and pricing
Advanced features are seldom free, so if you think you’ve found the best ecommerce platform to switch to, just know that there’s a price tag associated with it. One platform may have fewer perks than another and help you save money on the face of things, but you could ultimately be forced into purchasing apps or plugins that end up being more expensive. Another platform may cost more upfront, but includes everything you were looking for. Do your due diligence to make an educated decision.
4. Backup your data and content
However unlikely it might be, encountering a serious error in the process of migrating your data is just about the last thing you want to happen when switching ecommerce platforms. You have plenty to be concerned about, don’t let your data and content be on that list.
Back everything up either to an external harddrive or to the cloud so that you don’t get stuck in an undesirable situation later on down the line. Avoid the worst case scenario by following this one simple step.
5. Create a plan for migrating data and content
While you’re backing up your data and content, take a minute (or more!) to lay out a plan for how you’ll go about migrating everything. Will everything be able to transfer one-to-one to the new platform, or will you need to edit some of the content and data to fit the new format?
Maybe you want to get rid of certain landing pages that weren’t converting, or edit them regardless of how they fit into the new platform. However you do it, make sure you’re not just “winging-it” when you actually start migrating!
6. Design your new online store
You’ve decided on where to migrate your ecommerce store and you’ve outlined how you plan to handle the transfer of all your data. Now, before you go through with replatforming, you need to make sure your new online shop looks and feels right by addressing the design.
Keep in mind all of the things you wanted to improve about your older store, along with the data and content you’ve decided to keep. Everything you’ve gone over in the previous steps needs to be taken into consideration when you design your new website – where will text go? Where will you list your products? How will you categorize your inventory for customers? What steps will customers take to get to the checkout screen?
These are just a few questions you should ask yourself throughout the design process.
7. Migrate your data and content
This is it, the big move! It’s exciting and a little nerve-racking, but necessary if you want to benefit from what other ecommerce platforms have to offer you, your business, and your customers.
As you prepare yourself to take the plunge, make sure that you have the contact information for both your old and new platforms at hand. That way, if there are any issues, errors, or obstacles that arise throughout the process, you’ll be able to take them head-on with the help of those who know best.
8. Review your SEO ranking
When you replatform your ecommerce website, there’s always a chance that the switch will have a negative impact on your search engine search rankings. Considering the fact that 43% of e-commerce website traffic comes from Google Organic searches, a drop in your search engine query rankings is something that you’ll want to avoid.
Make sure to set up redirects from all of your old web pages to the corresponding pages on your new site, that way you’ll make it easier to retain customers who typically access your store through those pages.
Check out these tips for how to improve your SEO practices
9. Test everything, then retest
We know that by now you’re ready and raring to go live with your site, but don’t jump the gun just yet! Maybe you’ve heard the saying before that “nothing worthwhile in life comes easily” – well, the same is true for replatforming ecommerce stores. Before you get ahead of yourself, make sure you take the time to review every bit of your new ecommerce store.
Are images and text clear and legible? Is everything mobile friendly so you can operate through m-commerce? How are the page load speeds? Does the payment gateway work correctly? Don’t leave any stone unturned when auditing your new store!
10. Go live with your new ecommerce website!
Take a deep breath in… pause… you’ve made it. You can finally press GO on your new ecommerce website. Congratulations on a successful ecommerce replatforming, you did it!
You’ve only just begun
The work doesn’t end here, though you probably already knew that. Replatforming your ecommerce store is just a way to run things more efficiently – but you’ll still need to run things. Managing sales, developing and executing marketing campaigns, negotiating terms with suppliers, and so on.
There’s no end to the work it takes to keep an eCommerce business running smoothly and effectively. Find even more useful information to help you run your ecommerce store in other blog articles!