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Experts Speak: Replatforming Hits & Misses

Posted on 10.15.2014

Replatforming is a major, major decision for any e-commerce enterprise. Not only do replatforming projects often go past their initial deadlines, but also past their initial budgets, as well as tie up a lot of man-power to complete the mission. 

To help streamline the process, Website Magazine enlisted the help of Aalap Shah, co-owner of SoMe Connect, a digital marketing agency in Chicago. Shah and his team recently completed replatforming for a local client of theirs, BIN 36 and lived to tell about it. Website Magazine also touched base with Chris Cucuzza, VP of Technology at Sleepy’s, a major U.S. mattress retailer.

BIN 36

Previous Platform: Shopsite

New Platform: Shopify 

What led to the decision to replatform? 

Our decision to switch platforms was driven by the limitations of the previous platform and the lack of flexibility to easily make changes, create better user experiences, add/modify products easily and test different offers. [Shopify] allows us opportunity to rapidly test, optimize (for SEO), and more than anything, be able to create a more DIY ability for our client to make changes to their shop versus relying on the developer. 

Does your current e-commerce platform solve any issues your previously used e-commerce platform did not? If so, which ones? 

Shopify solved many challenges we had - from adding pictures/video, optimizing for SEO, creating exit offers for our clients, lightboxes, DIY enablement for our client and better UX. 

What tips can you provide other retailers before they decide to replatform? 

My tips in selecting any platform are the following: 

Spend time A/B testing with tools like Optimizely or Visual Website Optimizer. If you're going to be investing in a site rebuild, you'll be spending both time and money. Thus, check out what changes will work and how you can tweak to create a better shopping experience rather than just guessing or relying on a gut feeling. 

Create a few trial shops with the major vendors to get a feel of ease and use of each platform. Try this during an off-time and not before peak holiday seasons if you can. Ask a few friends or family to shop it.

Make a list of features you're looking for and don't underestimate the power of apps and such that can be great add-ons for e-commerce platforms like Shopify and such. 

Vet out a few teams of developers and designers on a small project prior to working with them. 

Figure out your goals for the site - are you looking for just an easier way for consumers to shop with you, or branding/marketing or expanding markets and product lines? Design and test against those goals to avoid disappointment. 

Be ready to make tweaks and adjustments within 6-12 weeks of launching and you should have data and input (use SurveyMonkey) and set aside a budget to make improvements after launch as everything will not be perfect.


Previous Platform: A Legacy On-Premise Platform 

New Platform: Demandware

When was your company's most recent replatforming?

We moved from an on-premise platform to Demandware’s cloud platform in March 2014.

What led to the decision to replatform?

We made the decision to move to a cloud platform because we needed a more agile solution for our growing business. The cost of ownership of our former legacy on-premise platform had become a barrier to innovation. We needed to continually upgrade hardware to keep up with its growth; software upgrades were laborious and cost-prohibitive; and in-house control was lacking.

Does your current e-commerce platform solve any issues your previously used e-commerce platform did not? If so, which ones?

Although we are a traditional brick-and-mortar retailer, we recognize that consumers are increasingly connected and that we need to evolve to meet the needs of our customers. With our on-premise platform, we just couldn’t move fast enough. Demandware is a much more flexible solution that gives us full merchandising control along with smarter economics.

What tips can you provide other retailers before they decide to replatform?

Think scalability: For us, the decision to move to the cloud was an easy one because we knew we wanted to leverage digital commerce as a way to further expand our geographical reach, providing more consumers with more options to research and shop our vast assortment of products. Because our omni-channel strategy also includes digitizing stores, we needed a fit-for-purpose, scalable solution that enables us to bring a more personalized experience to customers.

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