A guest blog post from BlueSnap partner BigCommerce.
What makes an eCommerce business successful?
Dedication to customer experience. Go-to-market strategies. Operational efficiencies. The team you build.
Your unique combination of these aspects is unlike that of any other eCommerce business out there. But, underneath all those interlocking puzzle pieces is the foundation: your eCommerce platform.
Deciding to replatform your online store is not a decision to be taken lightly, and you certainly don’t want to be hopping from platform to platform willy-nilly. But if you haven’t examined your platform through the lens of your long-term business strategy, it’s certainly a worthwhile exercise. You may find that a new platform is exactly what you need.
In this article we’ll talk about some of the most common drivers of replatforming and the most important factors to keep in mind if you decide to embark on your own replatforming journey.
3 Key Pain Points Driving eCommerce Replatforms
Is replatforming is the right course of action for your business right now? Start by identifying all the pain points in your business caused by your current platform. Do any of these problems sound familiar?
1. High total cost of ownership
If developer costs, hosting and security fees, or the cost of maintenance are dragging on your bottom line, it might be time to switch. Open-source and cloud eCommerce platforms often require larger spend in maintenance and development costs to ensure security and functionality — not to mention licensing fees.
2. Poor technical performance
If you’ve scaled your business significantly since launching on your current platform or if your software instance hasn’t kept up with advancements in the industry, you may be running up on some performance problems. Experiencing problems like site instability or slow-downs during times of peak traffic are one sign your tech could use a boost.
3. Lackluster customer experience
Customers expect a modern buying experience, including mobile usability, personalization, social commerce, and more. To innovate the customer experience and provide a seamless buyer’s journey, your team needs to be agile — and working with an overly complex infrastructure can slow you down. If you’re too bogged down in just keeping your site functional, it may be time to reevaluate your platform.
5 Factors to Keep in Mind When Evaluating an eCommerce Platform
There’s a lot to consider as you compare other eCommerce platforms to your current site. Above all, you need to be fully aware of what your long-term strategy requires from a platform. If you know what you want your business to look like in five years, make sure the eCommerce platform you choose is on track to scale with you. At a high level, you’ll want to consider factors around price, performance, features, scalability, and ease of use.
Simply comparing eCommerce software prices can be deceiving. Instead, you need to compare the total cost of ownership — and you may have to ask a lot of questions to dig into what that cost really looks like. What kinds of fees will you incur on top of a software subscription fee or service?
If you’re considering an open-source or cloud hosted software, do some research to find out how much you’ll really pay for:
- Software licensing
- Hosting and security
- Design and development
- Data transfer
Some platforms also take a small fee from every transaction you process on your ecommerce site, so make sure you understand all the variables involved to get a clear picture of your TCO.
If price is what keeps your tech from dragging down your bottom line, performance is what keeps the revenue coming in. For every platform you evaluate, you need to find out their average merchant’s site speed and how they equip you to perform and convert on mobile devices.
Depending on the type of software you’re evaluating (e.g., SaaS, open source, etc.) questions about the platform’s hosting environment, year-over-year uptime and bandwidth.
Make sure you can have a mobile-responsive site without added development burden. Investigate whether the platform’s site themes are mobile-friendly.
Some platforms have a lot of features out of the box, making set-up quick and easy but customization down the road more difficult. Other platforms enable fully customized sites but require lengthier setup and costly development. Compare out-of-the-box features among platforms carefully, and prioritize your needs based on your unique business.
Here are a few of the most important features to consider:
Search engine optimization (SEO) can be a powerful tool to grow your business — but some eCommerce platforms are better suited in this area than others. If you want to grow a powerful organic traffic engine, make sure your platform has these capabilities:
- Fully customizable URLs and metadata
- Bulk editing
- Blog functionality
Site search and product content
Your goal is to make the buyer’s journey as seamless as possible. Helping customers find what they want and giving them the necessary information to feel comfortable spending their money are critical to that process. Evaluate and compare platforms’ on-site search functionality, and make sure you’ll be able to add multiple product photos with functionality to zoom in and out without a lot of extra coding or development.
Some platforms make it difficult to set up coupons, promotions, and discounts. This is a key marketing tool, and if promotions are integral to your strategy, it’s advantageous to have these features native to your platform and easy to use and customize.
If you’re going through the trouble to evaluate and choose a new eCommerce platform, make sure that it is capable of scaling with you.
Identify what features or functionality you’ll need to add on that doesn’t come native to the platform. What kind of integrations are available, and how many are pre-built? Do you have the opportunity to use the best-in-class service providers you want? Some solution providers vet all the apps in their marketplace for security and stability, while others do not.
The future of eCommerce is everywhere — and that’s where the most successful merchants will sell. When investigating an eCommerce platform, you need to know how easy or difficult it will be to integrate social commerce and sell on marketplaces like Amazon and eBay.
5. Ease of use
One of the biggest and most frustrating slow-downs a business can face is the slow progress of clunky legacy software. Some platforms require so much reliance on developers that the cost eventually becomes prohibitive. Add in the long timelines, and it can feel like you’re spinning your wheels and never getting anywhere. Ensuring future success is dependent upon having a platform that you can easily adjust to meet your evolving, scaling needs.
Site themes and drag-and-drop editors
Even if you have a team of developers, starting with a pre-built template can get you from point A to point B much more quickly. Some platforms even include drag-and-drop editors to make it easier than ever to launch quickly with an MVP. One other feature to look for: quality assurance. Some platforms make it difficult or near impossible to preview and test your website before publishing.
Different platforms have different offerings around data transfer. This is a crucial part of the process — you need to make sure that whoever is handling that transfer is experienced to do so without opening you up to potential issues or liabilities. Ask every platform how they would support your catalog transfer, how much it costs, and how they mitigate potential traffic loss post-server switch.
Onboarding and customer support
It doesn’t matter how experienced you are with technology or eCommerce — a new software platform will have a little bit of a learning curve. You need to know what support your eCommerce platform offers during the onboarding process and beyond.
The BigCommerce Advantage
If you’re considering a new eCommerce platform, BigCommerce offers a lot of advantages. SaaS eCommerce has a lower TCO than on-premise platforms, and out-of-the-box functionality can reduce the cost of your tech stack. It’s also relatively easy to use, even with minimal technical knowledge, meaning you can go to market much faster. Even easier? Staying secure. BigCommerce comes with built-in security to protect customer data.
Replatforming is a big project — but it can bring big rewards, too. If you’re paying too much to keep your eCommerce ecosystem alive, losing too much time because of your reliance on developers or disappointing your online shoppers, it’s time to reevaluate your eCommerce platform.
The top priority is to find the platform that works the way your business does. Every online brand has different needs. Once you have a better idea of exactly what you’re looking for, you’ll be able to evaluate the different platforms through the lens of your long-term strategy — and find your future-proof foundation of eCommerce success.
Interested in a flexible eCommerce platform that reduces the complexity of innovation? Try BigCommerce today and get four months free.