Navigating e-commerce platform migration: strategy, challenges, and approaches
According to a 2023 report, roughly one in four e-commerce businesses are dissatisfied with their digital platform and want to migrate. However, few companies will make the move–mainly due to the challenges around migration.
But what if e-commerce migration was simple, quick, and low-risk?
We’re not selling a quick-fix miracle, but as an agency that specializes in e-commerce, we’ve helped many companies migrate between platforms.
During that time, we’ve learned a lot about making the process as smooth and efficient as possible. Here are our team’s tips for success.
Why migrate e-commerce platforms?
There are many reasons why you might want to migrate, the big ones being:
- You need a platform that supports integration with third-party systems, such as inventory management, CRM, or marketing tools.
- Newer platforms offer advanced analytics and reporting features, providing valuable insights into customer behavior and sales trends.
- Migration can improve website performance, including faster page load times and better server response times.
- A headless e-commerce platform can ensure your website is optimised for users wherever they are.
- More robust security measures with newer platforms can help you meet regulatory requirements and protect customer data from potential breaches.
Migration can also give you a significant edge during your global expansion and reduce ongoing maintenance costs in the long run.
How to prepare for an e-commerce migration
Before deciding on e-commerce platform migration, there are several important steps you need to take to ensure a seamless process.
Start by defining your short-term and long-term goals and consider how the new platform aligns with them. Can it support your growth, enhance user experience, or achieve your strategic objectives?
Then, identify the limitations of your existing platform. This includes technical constraints, scalability issues, performance bottlenecks, and any features or functionalities it lacks.
Afterwards, assess the costs associated with migration, including platform licensing fees, development, testing, and any additional expenses such as marketing to regain lost customers. Ensure that the migration fits within your budget.
A robust data migration plan is essential during your migration process. Consider the volume of data to be transferred, data formats, and any potential data transformation needs. This will prevent your data loss and corruption.
Having done all this, proceed to evaluate the new platform. Understand its level of customisation and flexibility. Will it allow you to tailor the e-commerce experience to your unique needs, or does it follow a one-size-fits-all approach?
Consider the impact of the migration on the user experience. The new platform should offer a seamless and user-friendly interface, ensuring your customers can easily navigate and purchase on your website.
If everything meets your expectations, develop a comprehensive testing plan. Properly test all aspects of your website, from functionality to performance and security, before going live to minimise disruptions and issues.
After that, set clear timelines and milestones for the migration process. Define key checkpoints and deadlines to ensure that it stays on track.
And of course, develop a post-migration plan for optimisation and ongoing maintenance. Consider how you will measure the success of the migration and what steps you’ll take to improve your e-commerce operations.
E-commerce migration challenges
Downtime is one of the main problems of migration. It can lead to customer frustration, increased support requests, and decreased sales. To avoid it, do the following:
- Create a staging environment that mirrors the new e-commerce platform. Test the migration process extensively in this controlled environment to identify and address potential issues before going live.
- Use scalable hosting and cloud solutions to handle increased traffic during peak times and allow for flexible resource allocation.
- If possible, schedule your migration for periods of lower traffic, such as late at night or on weekends.
- Communicate proactively with customers, informing them about the planned downtime and any expected disruptions.
Data breaches or security vulnerabilities during migration can also be risky, as e-commerce platforms handle sensitive customer information, including personal and financial data.
To address these challenges, you should follow the best practices:
- Implement robust data backup procedures to ensure that data can be restored in case of unexpected issues.
- Prioritise data quality by cleaning and optimising data before migration.
- Perform validation checks to confirm the accuracy and completeness of migrated data.
- Maintain the security and privacy of your data during migration.
- Have a rollback plan, allowing you to revert to the previous platform with minimal data loss.
Compatibility issues can also arise when the new platform does not support the same integrations as the old one or if there are differences in API requirements.
Here’s how to avoid these issues:
- Conduct a thorough assessment of the existing systems and third-party integrations to identify potential compatibility issues before migrating.
- Choose an e-commerce platform for extensive customisation and integrations or develop custom solutions to bridge compatibility gaps.
- Ensure the new platform’s APIs are compatible with existing integrations and meet your specific requirements.
E-commerce platform migration approaches
Once you know potential problems and how to solve them, it’s time to choose the right migration approach. This depends on various factors, including the complexity of the migration, available resources, and business requirements.
This involves moving from the current e-commerce platform to a new one while keeping the same design and functionality. You can choose it when the existing platform is outdated or no longer meeting your business needs.
This implies starting from scratch by designing and building an entirely new e-commerce website. You should consider it if you want to take full advantage of the features and capabilities of a new platform and implement the latest e-commerce trends and technologies. Of course, it is a more time-consuming and resource-intensive approach.
Go headless (our recommendation)
This strategy separates the front-end and back-end of an e-commerce website, allowing for greater flexibility and customisation. You can choose a headless e-commerce platform and build your front-end using the latest web technologies and frameworks while still leveraging the back-end features and functionality of the selected e-commerce system.
The headless approach is the best choice if you need a fast, high-quality solution that you can customise. You’ll waste much less time on duplicative design and development tasks and get more time and freedom to create a one-of-a-kind experience.
How ADA/DASH can help
Having the right team (with migration expertise) is crucial when going headless.
We at DEPT®, together with commercetools, have developed a specialised e-commerce migration system that covers the entire production process from Figma design files to Storybook design systems, full technology implementation, and automated test and deployment scenarios.
This solution helps ensure a smooth migration process with minimal downtime and data loss.