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5 Benefits Replatforming Should Offer Your E-Commerce Site

Posted on 4.24.2016

:: By Darren Hill, WebLinc ::

E-commerce will continue growing quickly over the next three years, capturing 12.4 percent of the multi-trillion dollar retail market by 2019. To keep up with the demands of this fast-growing market, 15 percent of retailers have prioritized replatforming in 2016.

Replatforming can provide many benefits to an e-commerce brand, but it’s not a decision to be taken lightly—it’s the most important technical change you can make to your online store. It affects every part of your business.

When considering a replatforming initiative, be sure you’re making the change for the right reasons. Your goal should always be to provide the best customer experience. That experience should lead your technology change, as opposed to choosing technology first.

Often, a platform change means leaving a homegrown platform that a brand has grown out of in the past several years—the benefits of replatforming have finally outweighed the cost savings of creating patch fixes and workarounds. This process—which most retailers take on every 2-4 years—will help a brand evolve with customer needs, boost revenue and improve business processes.

Still, it’s important to understand the magnitude of the project. You and your e-commerce team will need to assess your brand’s needs and create a requirements document that can be referenced throughout the selection process. This should include an assessment of your team’s technical capabilities—for example, if the chosen platform requires additional development, do you have the capabilities in-house?

It’s also crucial to understand the logistical process of replatforming. The world of online shopping and sophisticated e-commerce platforms is still relatively new, and many e-commerce directors have only managed one or two transitions during their careers. However, implementation partners have likely handled tens or hundreds of replatform initiatives; it’s vital to work with a partner who has the experience and expertise to lead a successful replatform initiative. If not done properly, you could lose precious SEO value, traffic and sales.

But as we mentioned, the benefits of replatforming can outweigh the challenges of sticking with your current platform. Here are five key benefits replatforming should bring to your site.

1. Control and customization at your fingertips

Website design and development is fluid; as new technologies emerge, ecommerce changes. Upgrading to a new ecommerce platform should provide you with more integrated features, the option to customize more parts of your site, and fewer add-ins or workarounds. A new platform should be much more user-friendly, requiring less help from a development team to write code or less reliance on others for support. It should also provide more bulk editing tools that greatly reduce the need for repeated manual work. Your team should be able to easily make site-wide changes to hundreds of product pages without a workaround. In short, your new platform should offer you the benefit of added time.

2. Better overall site design and user experience

A new e-commerce platform should give your team the freedom to design to your brand without any limitations. Your page content should shine—and match your brand—without being forced to confine to the limits of a specific content management system. You should also be able to easily manage content and design. All parts of the page, including navigations, should be easily altered when needed. In addition, a new platform should provide support for responsive design so you can easily reach your customers on mobile devices.

3. Improve on-site search

The easiest way to locate a new top or pair of jeans on your favorite e-commerce site is by searching directly for it. About 30 percent of shoppers use site search, so it’s imperative that your search functionality puts the best results at your customers’ fingertips.

The shoppers who visit your site and immediately turn to the search bar typically have a good idea of what they want, and they know you can deliver it. These orders have a higher average order value (AOV). Don’t let them down with unhelpful results. Ensure that your on-site search complies with best practices like autocomplete and thumbnail suggestions in search results. Site search should also easily handle typos and misspellings to account for errors your shoppers typically make and still deliver the right results. And your on-site search should weight terms based on the most popular phrase, or provide results that sell faster. For a good example, check out World Wide Stereo.

4. Easier, better discount handling

A new platform should make creating discounts, special offers and sales across your site much easier. For example, you should be able to discount all items based on type, SKU, size, color, collection, etc., without much manual work based on product attributes that you can easily set up. You should also be able to easily add cross-sells and upsells to product pages and categories—these buying options account for an average of 10 to 30 percent of revenue. Free shipping minimums, rewards and add-on gifts should be easy to tie to specific products or purchase thresholds.

5. Powerful ways to incorporate user-generated content

User-generated content (UGC) such as reviews, picture uploads and social posts that provide social proof and boost sales are becoming more popular online. Your new e-commerce platform should provide you with the tools to easily incorporate UGC in real-time to product pages and categories. Incorporating this type of content can help shoppers build trust in a brand and can increase conversions by 10 percent.

Decision Time

When choosing a new platform, customer experience should influence your decision most heavily. But the big change should also vastly improve the day-to-day tasks of your e-commerce team, enabling them to improve the user experience and implement ecommerce tactics much more easily across a site.

Darren Hill

Darren Hill is co-founder and CEO of WebLinc, the commerce platform provider for fast growing online retailers. In 1994, he founded WebLinc with his brother, Jason. Darren possesses nearly 20 years of ecommerce design, development, and marketing experience.

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