Ecommerce Replatforming: Steps to Consider for Migration & Top Options

March 9, 2020

The Bolt Team

Ecommerce store set up

Technology advances rapidly, and – as an ecommerce retailer – you need to keep up. Over time, your ecommerce platform will begin to slow down, will lack essential features, and will offer limited functionality. To improve the customer experience and your team’s operations, you will want to replatform to a new ecommerce store with greater features, functionality, and performance.

To make sure you’re properly prepared to choose an ecommerce site and migrate your online store data, we’ll break down everything you need to know about replatforming:

Before we dive into how to migrate store data, we’ll cover what ecommerce replatforming is, why it’s important, and why you may benefit from replatforming.

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What is replatforming and why is it important?

In a general sense, replatforming is the migration from one technical system to another. In most cases, this is done to improve the performance, capabilities, or usability for your business. It can also be done to reduce expenses. Replatforming is a way to improve the output or functionality of the technology you use.

Replatforming can be required to scale as your business grows or to get you up-to-date technology. No matter how good the system you originally get is at that time, it will eventually become outdated and need to be upgraded or replaced.

Whenever you are replatforming, you will want to do an evaluation of your current system, any integrations that you use and need, and the gaps in your current legacy system. From there, you can determine what you need, what you want, and what will give you a competitive edge. While you want to consider your current business position, you may want to plan ahead so you don’t have to replatform again in the near future.

What is replatforming for ecommerce?

Ecommerce replatforming is the process of selecting and switching to a new ecommerce platform. Online retailers migrate to new platforms to improve functionality, performance, and the customer experience of their ecommerce site. Replatforming can mean moving to a third party or building an in-house ecommerce solution.

At its most basic level, it’s the migration of data from one online store to another. For most businesses, this process includes comparing platforms, installing the new system, transferring data, and setting up the new ecommerce site.

Two computer screen showing data migration occurring between them

Retail – especially online retail – is rapidly changing and evolving, regardless of whether you change with it. Advancements in technology give retailers (or eTailers) new features, functionality, design capabilities, and improved performance. To keep up with industry and market changes, customer demands, and more, you will need to replatform.

Why ecommerce replatforming is important

For many businesses, the first ecommerce site they operate offers basic features and performance. As time goes on and your ecommerce site grows, you may find your previous platform to be slow, poorly designed, and incapable of meeting customer needs. Conversely, you can find that your costs are too high or you are paying for features you never use, in which case you could downsize to save money. Upkeep and maintenance can become a burden on your team, whether the tool is provided by a third-party or built in-house.

Replatforming is a big task that will take time and effort. More than that, it will change your entire ecommerce site, including the design, admin navigation, functionality, performance, and much more. Replatforming needs to be done for the right reasons and at the right time for your business. If you aren’t going to gain anything from the migration, it’s likely not the right time.

Below are a number of reasons for migrating your ecommerce platform to a new solution:

  • Inadequate performance – Consistent and intermittent performance problems translate to a poor customer experience, slowing them down and even stopping them from buying.
  • Site speed and responsiveness – Since approximately 40% of shoppers abandon a site if it doesn’t load within 3 seconds, a fast, responsive site is imperative. Use a high-quality website hosting service and limit your plugins to keep your site streamlined and efficient.
  • Gaps in your existing system – Migrating to an ecommerce platform with features that cover direct gaps in your current system is one of the most common (and justified) reasons for migrating your ecommerce tool, as this will lead to direct improvements where you need them most.
  • Admin functions poorly – A clunky admin panel means poor navigation, slows your team down, and ultimately results in less output and increased frustration. When this becomes a burden, switching to an intuitive, simple admin will ensure your team has a great tool and can work effectively.
  • Repetitive tasks – Replatforming to a solution with increased functionality or improved interfacing can allow you to cut out repetitive, duplicate tasks that you have to manually perform regularly.
  • Time-consuming or costly maintenance – If your existing site requires regular, costly, or time-consuming maintenance, replatforming could eliminate much of this for you, by either getting better performance or placing this burden on a third-party solution.
  • Poor user experience – If at any time you find that you’ve compromised your user experience (i.e. too many plugins that bog down performance), you should consider replatforming. Customer experience should always be prioritized.
  • Streamlined, accessible analytics – Without proper analytics, you can’t draw meaningful insights and make significant improvements. Ensure that you can collect, measure, and display data that works best for all teams that rely on this data.
  • Multiple, easy-to-use integrations – Your legacy system may not integrate with new plugins, or adding extensions may be extremely difficult. Upgrading to an ecommerce platform that easily integrates with many plugins can solve this.
  • Customer feedback and complaints – Use customer reviews and other methods of feedback to get an idea of what customers aren’t happy with on your ecommerce site. Listen closely and focus on improving the things customers are requesting first.

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10 things to consider before switching ecommerce platforms

Replatforming is a significant process in terms of time, effort, and costs. You shouldn’t take the decision lightly, and you should research and plan out your migration completely. There are a number of things you should think about before you settle on an ecommerce platform and prior to initiating the actual migration.

Before you make the switch, here are some things you should consider:

1. Impact on your business

The impact replatforming will have on your business – in terms of improved performance, design, and efficiency – is one of the main things to consider when preparing to replatform. Replatforming will only be valuable to you if you can gain significant improvements to your ecommerce platform’s functionality, performance, and output. Ensure that you will get clear benefits from the migration, and that it will be worth the effort and additional costs.

2. Total costs

Costs are not limited to the actual cost of the new platform itself; there is also the migration process, down-time during the transfer, and maintenance costs associated with the new ecommerce platform. You will also need to train staff on the new platform and there will likely be a period of weaker performance as your team adjusts. Be sure to project the total costs involved and plan accordingly.

3. Integrations with future and legacy systems

Computer screen displaying virtual storefront, surrounded by multiple types of integrations

Most likely, your legacy system used extensions, plugins, and other integrations that enhance your marketing, sales, communication, and project management efforts. Before migrating to a new solution, you need to ensure the solution you will be switching to will support the integrations you already use, without loss of performance. Before replatforming, we suggest doing a complete technology audit of all tools and extensions you are using, verifying that they are compatible on the new platform.

4. Skills and ability of your team

The technical skills of your team are important when gauging if you will be able to carry out the replatforming, and how quickly you will be able to adapt. This includes those setting up the new platform and migrating data, but also content creators who are using a new CMS for the first time. In some cases, choosing a tool that will save you time and effort with set up and adjusting to the new system is worth a higher price tag in the long run.

5. Features and capabilities

Computer screen displaying shopping cart, surrounded by multiple ecommerce store features

When migrating to a new ecommerce platform, the features of the new ecommerce platform will be an essential deciding factor. In most cases, the reason you will be migrating is to get enhanced functionality. Compare the features that the new platform will have compared to your existing ecommerce platform, and choose a solution that will give you the most important features for your business to grow, develop, and improve.

6. Future improvements and needs

Replatforming is a long-term investment in your business. You should always look beyond the initial features and capabilities a tool affords you, thinking about the long-term impact it can have. While you may want to find an immediate solution to a problem you have on your existing ecommerce tool, you will want to ensure that you look far ahead and purchase a tool that will not be outdated soon. Make sure any tool you buy will be able to adapt to changes in the market and will still meet needs if new, disruptive technology is introduced.

7. Customer service and support

Regardless of the capabilities of your team, the solution you choose should have adequate customer service and support available. This will ensure that you can solve errors quickly and properly when they arise. When building your own solution, your team will be responsible for all support. If you get a full-service platform, support will be included so you can get the answers and help you need to keep your ecommerce store operating.

8. Best time to run the migration

Computer screen displaying data analytics being transferred to computer screen displaying shopping cart, with person watching the time

When planning, you should think about the best time to run the migration. In most cases, the optimal time to migrate your store data is when your ecommerce site sees the lowest traffic. This is the time that the migration – and any problems that arise during the process – will have the least impact on your business’ conversions and revenue.

9. Crawl your site before migration

Prior to migrating store data, you should crawl your ecommerce site to make sure you catalog all of your existing content. This will ensure that nothing essential slips through the cracks and that you account for all data that needs to be migrated. This step may seem unnecessary, but it can save you significant problems down the road.

10. Transfer only up-to-date content

Review all of your content and determine what you no longer need. There may be older articles that have been replaced by better content, pieces that are not SEO optimized, or articles that speak to things that no longer exist or matter. No matter the reasons, this is a great time to remove these pieces, as you are already migrating store data. This will save you a future cleanup of this content. Identify the content that is no longer valuable and can be replaced or removed, and transfer only content that is relevant and current.

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14 steps for migrating your ecommerce site

To help you migrate your ecommerce site to the platform you want, we have a number of replatforming guides specific to branded migrations. Find the exact migration you are looking for below, or follow the general guidelines.

If the brand that you’re using for replatforming isn’t covered above, below are general steps for migrating your ecommerce store to a new platform. Follow these steps to perform your migration yourself, getting help from the platforms themselves when needed. Even if you are following a set migration, these steps can give you an idea of how much effort and time the process will take.

1. List requirements and benefits of replatforming

The first step should be listing the deficiencies in your current platform and outlining your wishlist for a new system. Identify your biggest gaps, the features you need most, and what you want to gain from the replatforming process. Communicate with different departments and teams about what they need and what must be prioritized.

You should also do a realistic evaluation of what the process entails, including total costs, labour required to complete the task, and deadlines to meet along the way. You want to know the benefits of migrating, but also any potential downsides. Weigh these against each other to make sure you are making the right decision.

2. Get all stakeholders on board

After an initial review of shortcomings and areas of improvement, you will want to dig deeper with each individual team. Communicate with stakeholders to get an understanding of what different teams need most, balancing the needs of all fairly so that all teams get what they want out of the migration.

You will want to keep this information on hand throughout the process, as you will need to look back on this when deciding on your platform. Balance what each team wants and what features are most important to your bottom line. While not everyone can always get what they want, the more you can offer your teams, the better they can perform their jobs.

3. Create a shortlist of ecommerce platforms

Now that you have an idea of why you want to replatform and what each team wants to get out of it, you can begin to research viable options. Create a shortlist of the ecommerce platforms you could use, sorting them by features, costs, and more.

We recommend using a table or spreadsheet to compare the specs, features, and more about the tools you are considering. This will let you easily compare platforms, eliminating some from your short list. You can then start to rank ecommerce platforms on this shortlist according to your needs.

4. Schedule demo with top choices

Once you’ve narrowed your list down to about 3 to 5 vendors, you can start to arrange demos. Reach out to the platforms you are interested in, and request a demo. Getting a demo from the solutions you are interested in will give you a better idea of their strengths and weaknesses.

Typically, they will include some information on the migration process, the system requirements, and how to prepare for the migration. By the end of a demo, you should have a better handle on how the system works, how seamless the navigation is, and the quality of the performance.

5. Pick an ecommerce platform

After you’ve gotten a demo, you will need to make a decision. Use the information you gained from the demos to make a final selection, picking the solution that will give you the most features and improvements for the best value. 

We recommend meeting more than once with the vendor you are considering, to ensure that the customer service will meet your needs. 

6. Backup old ecommerce store data

Before you start the migration process, you should backup your ecommerce store data. Hopefully, the replatforming will go off without a hitch, but in the event of an error, you want to have the data saved to revert back to. No matter how confident you are in the migration, backing up data will save you if you experience unforeseen circumstances.

As a worst case scenario, you should be able to fall back on the existing ecommerce platform and the data you had already.

7. Design your new ecommerce site

Typically, you will complete the design of the site structure, layout, and style before you migrate data, so it can be loaded into the new design. You may want to retain some of the structure from your previous site, but now is also a good time to revamp your site. There are many downloadable templates and themes that can be customized and styled to fit your brand. You can also build your site up from scratch with a developer.

8. Use a data migration service

This step may be optional, as you can manually migrate ecommerce store data yourself.

If you are having a third-party app facilitate the replatforming process for you, then you will need to hire a data migration service. This can be a great choice if you don’t have a lot of technical skills or experience yourself. Be sure to pick a service that will handle the migration completely, securely, and with accuracy. We recommend choosing a service that has experience replatforming the ecommerce stores you are migrating from and to.

9. Migrate store data

After you’ve made your selection, you will need to actually migrate your data. Whether you do this manually, using a migration app, or through a third-party team, this involves migrating store data from your old ecommerce site to the new one. 

We always recommend backing up your old ecommerce store data (products, customers, and orders) to make sure you don’t lose that information if an error occurs when replatforming.

10. Connect checkout platform and optimize checkout experience

Before you can think about running your store, you need to have a checkout platform that will let you process payments and complete orders. Choose a platform that gives customers a fast, secure, efficient checkout experience. You should have a system that detects, prevents, and protects against fraudulent behavior and approves more valid orders.

11. SEO audit prior to launch

It’s important to retain as much domain authority as possible when migrating ecommerce platforms. To do this, you will want to do a full SEO audit of your site prior to launching. Make sure that you optimize both on and off-page content for search engine optimization. Set up redirects and retain traffic from your old site.

12. Test, retest, and test some more

Now that you’ve replatformed your ecommerce site, you are almost ready for launch. Before you launch your new site, you should test the new platform extensively. Run multiple tests, accounting for any issues that could arise. Make sure that the new ecommerce site is living up to the performance standards it should. If anything isn’t working properly, now is the time to correct it.

Be sure to run exhaustive tests before launch, so that you are confident the new ecommerce site will live up to expectations. It may seem like overkill, but you should test every page, button, and form. Examine it from both a business and customer perspective, analyzing the entire customer journey for any errors or friction points.

13. Launch your new ecommerce site

Only after you’ve tested – and retested – everything on your new site, you are ready to launch. Publish the new site and start selling with your new ecommerce site!

After launching, you should run more tests to make sure that the live page is functioning as it should. If possible, you want to make corrections early after launch, to limit the number of customers exposed to the error and to improve your site. Now, you’ll just need to track analytics and continuously improve your ecommerce site to give users a better experience.

14. Communicate the migration to your existing customers

After launching your new ecommerce site, you need to let your loyal, existing customers know. Communicate through email, social media, and whatever methods work best to let your customers know that you’ve made the switch to a new site. Give them a link to register or create an account on the new platform, and at the very least make sure that they know where to go to buy from you.

Ecommerce replatforming checklist: your migration ‘shopping list’

As you can see, replatforming is an exhaustive, time-consuming process that requires many steps. In general, you want to follow the same process, completing steps in a specific order. To make sure you don’t miss anything, we’ve created a high-level ecommerce replatforming checklist.

  1. List shortcomings of your existing ecommerce platform
  2. List requirements and benefits you are seeking in new ecommerce platform
  3. Get stakeholders and teams onboard with the replatforming
  4. Evaluate budgets for each team and the project as a whole
  5. Research viable ecommerce platforms and create a shortlist
  6. Schedule demos with top ecommerce platform choices
  7. Choose an ecommerce platform that suits your needs
  8. Backup ecommerce store data from old ecommerce store
  9. Hire a data migration service or download a data migration app
  10. Design ecommerce site on new ecommerce platform
  11. Migrate ecommerce store data
  12. Connect checkout platform and optimize checkout design
  13. Pair integrations, extensions, and plugins
  14. Audit your entire site for SEO, set up URL and metas
  15. Test your entire store for performance, design, and structure
  16. Train your teams to use the new store admin
  17. Communicate the transfer to your existing customers
  18. Launch your new ecommerce store

Top options for ecommerce replatforming: WordPress, Woocommerce, Adobe Commerce, & Shopify

Ecommerce has redefined the way people shop in recent years, with over 50% of online shopping being done on mobile. In today’s market, there are many ecommerce platforms available to choose from, and there is no clear ranking system.

Choosing the right ecommerce platform comes down to what you want out of the platform, the different strengths and weaknesses of the platforms, and associated costs. To select the best ecommerce solution for your store, you will need to consider the benefits of each and choose based on your business’ needs.

To help you choose the right ecommerce platform for your business, we’ve compiled a list of some of the leading ecommerce platforms on the market. Get a short description as well as pros and cons of each to help you make your selection.

1. WordPress

WordPress admin dashboard

WordPress is a popular ecommerce platform, with 35% of websites built using their system. They feature a wide range of available and downloadable themes and templates that let you customize the structure, layout, design, and style of your ecommerce site. Use blocks to make adding and managing content extremely easy, without compromising the design.

As a leading ecommerce platform, they have many available integrations, so you can add features, design elements, and more to your ecommerce site. This gives you complete control over how you build your site for both your customers and your own management.

Pros of switching to WordPress

  • Optimized for SEO
  • Extremely customizable through plugins
  • Simple to use and accessible for beginners
  • Free to use
  • Built-in blog designed for SEO
  • Add features and scale as needed
  • Many developers willing to provide support

Cons of switching to WordPress

  • Built-in security is limited; rely on plugins to enhance security
  • Requires many extensions to be managed and can lead to many subscriptions
  • Coding experience is necessary for more advanced customization

2. WooCommerce

WooCommerce admin dashboard

WooCommerce operates on WordPress, leveraging their suite of tools and available integrations. They use a freemium subscription model, so the core service is free. To get enhanced features and functionality, you can pay for extensions that meet your needs. This gives you control over your ecommerce site, including how you manage your store.

Pros of switching to WooCommerce

  • Free base service (can pay for add-ons and extensions)
  • Complete flexibility to customize site with themes and templates
  • Designed for professional use with clear admin navigation
  • High-quality security
  • SEO is simple and built-in

Cons of switching to WooCommerce

  • To get advanced features, you will need to purchase add-ons
  • As an open-source tool, it requires regular updates
  • Difficult to integrate a multi-currency option
  • Wishlists are difficult to add to WooCommerce

3. Adobe Commerce

Magento admin dashboard

Adobe Commerce’s platform is designed to be feature-rich, offering advanced features and functionality to give ecommerce retailers full control over their site design and management. Whether you’re operating B2B, B2C, or B2B2C, Adobe Commerce will work for you. With solutions for beginners all the way up to enterprise level, you can design a site that suits your needs.

Pros of switching to Adobe Commerce

  • Open-source platform means unlimited flexibility with customization and design
  • Designed to be feature-rich
  • A large community of users that can be relied on for support, templates, and more
  • Built to be mobile-friendly
  • Designed to scale with your business

Cons of switching to Adobe Commerce

  • Pricing can be higher than other platforms
  • While it offers great functionality, can be time-consuming to set up and manage
  • Difficult to provide adequate hosting; requires in-house hosting
  • Limited customer support available

4. Shopify

Shopify admin dashboard

Shopify is a full-service solution that includes features, functionality, and performance. You can rely on Shopify to supply support and tools that help you grow your business, without requiring extensions and custom coding. Design your site, market effectively, and monitor analytics all in one place.

Pros of switching to Shopify

  • Ready ‘out-of-the-box’ (upon purchase); designed to be simple to use
  • Web hosting included, and managed through Shopify account
  • High-quality security; SSL certificate and PCI DSS compliant
  • Simple user interface and navigation
  • Extensive app store with extensions and plugins

Cons of switching to Shopify

  • Price can get high; no free options
  • Shopify has severe limitations on customizability, due to the design
  • Learning curve to get acquainted with interface; more training time
  • Migration file type limitations means certain data may not be transferable

3 ecommerce migration services to make the job easier

Ecommerce store replatforming can be performed manually yourself, by hiring a professional service, or using a data migration app. If you have no previous experience migrating an ecommerce store and are not particularly technologically savvy, a data migration app is a great solution to make replatforming accessible.

This list is not exhaustive, but covers a few of the top data migration solutions that work with many ecommerce platforms. 

1. Cart2Cart

Cart2Cart migration screen

Cart2Cart is an ecommerce migration tool that facilitates ecommerce platform migrations. With over 80 compatible store migrations, Cart2Cart is a popular application for replatforming your ecommerce store. Their tool automates much of the process for you, giving you easy-to-follow, guided steps. These steps are broken down to be extremely simple and accessible, even for beginners.

Best Feature: Automated, simple ecommerce store data migration

Cost: $49.00 base fee; migration costs dependent on platforms (get estimates)

2. LitExtension

LitExtension simplifies ecommerce store migration by offering a guided, step-by-step process to follow. This makes ecommerce store migration accessible for beginners, even with little to no technical experience. Much of the process is automated, and LitExtension ensures data is migrated quickly and securely.

Their tool is designed with you in mind, ensuring there is no downtime during migration, limited technical skills required, and 24/7 customer support available. They offer a 30-day money back guarantee and free remigrations between the same platforms.

Best Feature: Secure, reliable data migration for beginners

Cost: Starting a $59.00; migration costs dependent on platforms (get estimates)

3. Next-Cart

Next-Cart facilitates a seamless, secure store migration in just a few easy steps. Simply choose the platforms you are migrating from and to, the data you want to transfer, and initiate the process. It will automate much of the migration for you so you can replatform with ease. 

Next-Cart also offers customized migration services if a solution does not exist for the migration you are performing. Submit the specifications for the migration you need to perform, and they will design a customized migration for you. With 24/7 support, you can get help with your migration whenever you need it.

Best Feature: 3-step, guided migration process for beginners

Cost: Starting at $49.00; migration costs dependent on platforms (get estimates)

Give customers an optimal checkout experience

Regardless of the ecommerce platform you choose, you want to match the customer shopping experience with a high-quality, fast, efficient checkout experience. Trust Bolt’s reliable, secure, efficient checkout platform to give customers the best checkout available. Bolt integrates seamlessly with your ecommerce platform and comes optimized to give users a great checkout experience.

We are so confident in our fraud protection that we offer a 100% fraudulent chargeback coverage guarantee. Trust Bolt to give your customers a safe, secure checkout experience so that you can focus on what you do best, developing a great product for your customers!

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