Since 2015, Greg Hughes has been working with UK businesses of all shapes and sizes—from startups, to SMBs, to international enterprises—helping them transform their eCommerce experience through data-driven design and development. Having initiated many consultative discussions, platform migrations, and conversion rate optimization (CRO) campaigns, Greg understands what it takes to succeed in eCommerce.
Now, Greg has joined Codal’s UK team as Head of Sales for the EMEA market.
“I’m excited to take the success that Codal’s had in the US and replicate it for eCommerce merchants here in the UK,” says Greg. “There’s an opportunity to create a massive amount of value through AI- and data-driven solutions.”
One of Greg’s fortes is guiding businesses through the migration from their legacy, outdated eCommerce platform to a more robust, cost-effective solution. Due to a wide range of variables, certain replatforming projects are more successful than others. When asked about this, Greg notes that non-technical stakeholders often rush into their migration without asking the right questions first.
In this article, we discuss the four questions that Greg urges business leaders to think long and hard about before kicking off their eCommerce platform migration.
Why are you migrating to a new platform?
“Leaders must clearly define the reason for migrating and what’s driving such change,” says Greg. Here are the most common answers to this question:
- Platform service issues: Platform inquiries, complaints, and support tickets are followed by slow response times, or sometimes no response at all. These limitations make businesses less responsive to change, leading to lower levels of performance. Unlike old-school systems, modern platforms like BigCommerce provide admins with a live chat feature and 24/7 assistance.
- Lack of innovation: Certain platforms don’t invest as much resources as their competitors into adding new features, upgrading their API infrastructure, or streamlining the admin experience. Without a growing arsenal of built-in features and functionality for search, promotions, checkout, and other critical elements of the eCommerce experience, businesses must integrate third-party or custom solutions—costing further time, effort, and impact on their bottom line.
- Lack of flexibility: With many legacy eCommerce platforms, website updates—such as changes to the design of a product listing page (PLP)—must be executed by the platform’s internal development team—a process that can take days, weeks, or even months depending on the update. Modern platforms like Shopify, on the other hand, provide user-friendly, drag-and-drop functionality that enables non-technical folks to make updates quickly and without any IT assistance.
- Expensive fees: The high costs associated with owning and maintaining a legacy eCommerce platform can be detrimental to a business’ growth and scalability.
What platforms are you considering?
Whether you’re considering Shopify, BigCommerce, Commercetools, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Centra, or any other platform, it’s important to do a thorough evaluation of each so that you can weigh their pros and cons effectively. If you don't know how to conduct a proper evaluation, turn to a platform-agnostic eCommerce agency or consultancy for help. This partner can provide a full analysis of each platform, based on your existing technologies and workflows, along with your long-term business goals and requirements.
“Let the agency do the heavy lifting,” says Greg. “They will make sure you understand the ongoing platform fees, whether your current tech stack is compatible, what tools you will and won’t need, etc.” Business leaders often think they know what they want in a platform, but these preconceptions almost always change in the evaluation process. Greg adds, “For businesses looking to go headless, it’s a much more considered conversation. With headless migrations, outsourcing platform evaluations to a trusted agency is not just a convenience, but a necessity.”
When do you need to launch?
Time to market can be a critical factor in the success of your eCommerce platform migration. Depending on the complexity of your tech stack and the resources available, the process can take anywhere from three to twelve months. Some businesses will have an expensive contract renewal coming up, and they want to have everything migrated over before then in order to save—in many cases—hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It’s also important to consider which months of the year your online storefront receives the most traffic and processes the most orders. Greg recommends launching outside of peak sales season, as this gives ample time to measure site performance, identify improvement opportunities, and make updates before the forthcoming spike in traffic.
Who will lead the migration?
Whether you’ve chosen a platform, are in the evaluation phase, or have only recently decided to migrate, define what you’re looking for in a migration partner as clearly as possible. You should have specific expectations regarding their expertise in design, development, QA, maintenance, proactive roadmap (CRO) and so on. Do they have experience in your industry? How fast can they conduct the migration?
Greg recommends businesses evaluate two to three agencies and compare proposals from each before making a decision. “Ultimately, you want an agency that can grow with you,” says Greg.
Once you’ve decided on a platform, make sure the agency leading your migration is a verified platform partner. A BigCommerce Elite Partner, for example, will already have a deep understanding of the platform’s API infrastructure, design templates, off-the-shelf features, and so on—resulting in a faster, smoother migration.
A note about the post-migration roadmap
The work isn’t over when the new site launches—in fact, Greg emphasizes that this is when the real work begins. Before kicking off migration, outline a 2-year post-migration plan that establishes goals, activities, and roles and responsibilities for improving key metrics, such as conversion rate, bounce rate, average order value (AOV), and customer retention.
Ideally, the agency that led your migration will also plan and execute your post-migration roadmap. After all, they already understand the business, the site, and its underlying technologies.
You should have a retainer that covers CRO and managed services, so that the agency can continue to fix bugs and errors, conduct A/B testing, and make site updates based on test results, user feedback, and other data. Greg points out that “eCommerce teams are typically smaller than other departments at an enterprise company, yet they’re responsible for 70-90% of the revenue, so having a partner agency to take some of the pressure off goes a long way.”
Get started with your eCommerce platform migration
Codal is an award-winning design and development consultancy that plans and executes eCommerce transformations for enterprise businesses.
With a global team of experts, years of experience, and longstanding partnerships with leading eCommerce platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce, we’ll guide you through the process of selecting a platform, migrating tools and data, integrating third-party solutions, redesigning your online storefront, streamlining the management of your site(s), and optimizing the customer experience.
Our data-driven strategies and solutions will help your business lower its cost of ownership, drive customer engagement, and gain a competitive edge in the ever-evolving eCommerce landscape.
To learn more, get in touch with a member of our team today!