Realising the costly and complex maintenance of on-premises ecommerce solutions, retailers are turning towards cloud architectures. Businesses expect to spend 80% of their IT hosting budget on cloud platforms by 2024, including IaaS, PaaS and SaaS environments, writes Ram Venkataraman
As consumer expectations heighten, headless and cloud infrastructures allow retailers to delight demanding shoppers. Cloud architecture provides a number of key benefits that are often superior to on-premises ecommerce solutions, such as:
- Reduced hosting and operating costs
- Increased scalability and flexibility
- Improved security and compliance
- Enhanced customer experiences
To help minimize the risks and expenses associated with replatforming to cloud solutions and maximize their ROI, we’ve identified eight common pitfalls you as a retailer might face during this complex process.
Pitfall #1: Replatforming without a clear business use case
Before choosing an ecommerce platform vendor, you need to understand why you’re replatforming in the first place. Start by asking critical questions like what your business goals are, what operational and technical problems you are trying to solve and what integrations you need.
Answering these questions will help identify your project’s goals and choose a platform that will align with your use cases. Some of the most common use cases are:
- Improving ecommerce website performance across devices
- Integrating with new ecommerce tools or ERP systems
- Enhancing the customer omnichannel experience
- Streamlining your order management system and offer more fulfillment options
- Strengthening security and working with a vendor that meets Level 1 PCI DSS compliance
Pitfall #2: Failure to get CEO/executive buy-in
According to McKinsey, high-performing cloud migrations are 32% more likely to have CEO sponsors. Securing CEO and leadership buy-in from the start will help you gain approval for the resources needed for the project, achieve your replatforming goals and improve adoption across the organization.
When getting executive buy-in for replatforming, we recommend presenting a clear, concise business case that outlines costs, benefits and risks associated with the project. Include how you’ll execute the replatforming project and manage disruptions throughout the process.
Pitfall #3: You don’t fully consider the business impact of replatforming
Replatforming to a new ecommerce solution affects multiple departments within an organization, including IT, marketing, fulfillment and customer service. By creating a multidisciplinary team with representatives from each department, you can better understand how a new ecommerce solution will impact each team and what capabilities they need to support the end-to-end customer experience.
Pitfall #4: You haven’t fully outlined your company’s needs and requirements
Before outlining requirements and needs for an ecommerce solution, you need to understand your current capabilities. This means auditing your website, architecture, codebase, integrations and dependencies.
Then, you can determine what features and functionality you need from an ecommerce platform and outline your must-haves, nice-to-haves and deal-breakers. This will help you create a personalized replatforming RFP for vendors and evaluate how each tool meets, or doesn’t meet, your needs.
Pitfall #5: You don’t create a data migration plan
Data migration is one of the most challenging aspects of a replatforming project. Before kicking off the project, determine what data needs to be migrated, set up a migration plan and test the process to ensure all data is transferred successfully.
Don’t forget to include steps to properly map things like product descriptions, images and features along with backup plans in the event of data loss as you migrate from the old system.
Pitfall #6: You encounter skill gaps that require external resources
When implementing a new platform into a technology stack, it’s not uncommon for companies to encounter a skill and knowledge gap during the project. To quickly fill these gaps, retailers have the option to hire external experts or consultants.
Outsourcing helps fill knowledge gaps quickly, but it also increases the cost to the replatforming project. By assessing your team’s skillset before starting the project, you can identify gaps and account for the additional costs of hiring internal or external resources in your budget.
Pitfall #7: You don’t vet the platform’s third-party community
Modern ecommerce platforms allow you to tap into their third-party partners to add new features and functionality. However, it’s important to understand how the platform ensures quality with each partner. As you’re comparing ecommerce platforms, ask vendors how they vet their partners and what processes are in place to ensure high-quality solutions are available to their customers.
Pitfall #8: You don’t plan for the long-term
As you’re creating your replatforming plan, include short- and long-term goals that allow you to achieve quick wins throughout the project while focusing on the bigger objectives. This can involve significant milestones such as switching to a headless ecommerce platform to investing in ecommerce personalization. By incorporating future-proofing strategies into your plan, you can maximize your ROI and ensure your ecommerce platform can scale as your business grows.
Evaluating ecommerce platforms
No ecommerce platform is one size fits all. By avoiding these eight common pitfalls, you can confidently choose an ecommerce platform that will future-proof your business and build a plan that minimizes risks and costs.
Ram Venkataraman is Chief Product and Technology Officer, Kibo