Ecommerce Replatforming - Important Considerations to Keep Incoming Traffic

What to expect when you're expecting…Ecommerce Replatforming. When you’re making the investment in a new platform - scaling your business, coordinating internal adoption - we want to help make sure all your T’s are crossed.

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Replatforming your e-commerce website is a major decision that requires careful consideration. It can have a significant impact on your incoming traffic and overall success. To ensure a smooth transition and minimal disruption to your business, there are several key factors that you should evaluate before embarking on this journey.

Key Factors to Evaluate Before Replatforming

Replatforming is a complex process that involves migrating your entire website to a new platform. Before diving into the technicalities, it's essential to understand the strategic aspects of replatforming. Consider the following factors:
Business Goals: Clearly define your business goals and ensure that replatforming aligns with these objectives. Are you looking to increase conversion rates, improve user experience, or expand your product range? Determining your goals will help you evaluate potential platforms and make informed decisions.
Costs and Budget: Replatforming can be a significant investment. Assess your budget and determine how much you're willing to allocate for this project. Consider not only the initial costs but also ongoing maintenance and support fees. It's crucial to find a platform that offers the right balance between features and cost.
Scalability: Ensure that the platform you choose can accommodate your current and future needs. Will it be able to handle increased traffic and growing product catalogs? Scalability is vital to support your business's growth and prevent the need for another replatforming exercise in the near future.
Technical Requirements: Evaluate the technical aspects of replatforming. How will the e-commerce platform migration process be handled? Will there be any data loss or downtime? Ensure that your new platform integrates seamlessly with your existing infrastructure, including third-party systems and APIs.
User Experience: User experience plays a crucial role in driving conversions and retaining customers. Look for a platform that offers responsive design, intuitive navigation, and fast page load times. Pay attention to mobile optimization, as mobile commerce continues to grow rapidly.
While these factors are essential to consider, there are a few more aspects that can greatly impact the success of your replatforming project. Let's explore them further:
1. Customization Options: Every business is unique, and you may have specific requirements that need to be met. It's important to assess the level of customization a platform offers. Can you tailor the design and functionality to match your brand's identity and meet your customers' needs? Having the ability to customize your website can give you a competitive edge and create a more personalized experience for your visitors.
2. SEO Considerations: Replatforming can have a significant impact on your website's search engine rankings. It's crucial to ensure that the new platform supports proper SEO practices and allows you to optimize your content effectively. Look for features such as customizable meta tags, clean URLs, and the ability to implement redirects. A smooth transition from your old platform to the new one without losing organic search visibility is vital for maintaining your online presence.
3. Support and Resources: When embarking on a replatforming journey, having access to reliable support and resources is essential. Consider the level of support provided by the platform provider. Are there dedicated support teams or online communities where you can seek assistance? Additionally, evaluate the availability of documentation, tutorials, and training materials to help you navigate the new platform effectively. Having access to these resources can save you time and effort during the replatforming process.
By taking these additional factors into account, you can ensure a more comprehensive evaluation of potential platforms and make an informed decision that aligns with your business goals. Remember, replatforming is not just a technical endeavor; it's an opportunity to enhance your online presence and drive growth.

SEO - Planning + Preserving Organic Traffic

When replatforming your e-commerce website, it's essential to consider the impact on your organic traffic and search engine rankings. Proper planning and execution can help preserve and even improve your SEO performance. 
The main step to take while doing an e-commerce platform migration is to audit of the current platform and environment in order to answer the following key questions:
  • Are there some custom features (SEO-related extension and custom code on the current site) that need to be transferred to the new platform?
  • Indexation Strategy - if the current indexation strategy needs to be tweaked, this might be the time to consider diving into it. 
  • Are there any changes in the main navigation
  • Are there some changes in the design (if yes, the scope should be defined in depth before beginning the migration activities)
  • XML sitemap - are there any customizations that were made before and how the developers can replicate these.
  • Structured data markup - does the site have proper structured data markup on important pages. If yes, we need to make sure to replicate it. If not, we can help out with planning post launch. 
  • What data and SEO elements does the current site have? Do a site crawl to pick up all the on-page elements, meta robots, canonicals, ALT text etc. as all these settings will be transferred to the new site.
  • 404 Pages - does the 404 (custom design) page exist
Based on these insights - your ecommerce team, your CSM and development team, your SEO manager (here at IM we offer a retainer service!) can strategize on what needs to be delivered for a seamless migration.
Once all these points are checked and documented, depending on the scope of the project, we:
  • include the above-mentioned points to the task backlog
  • collaborate with the developers during the implementation
  • QA it in a staging environment on time to make sure everything is properly implemented. 
Before pushing everything live, we also make sure to:
  • Prepare a new robots.txt file and check for any conflicts with meta robots
  • Do additional site crawl to double-check that all the important settings/elements are in place
We also support clients post-launch. Things like:
  • Submit XML sitemap to Google Search Console
  • Checking the site for 404 pages and act upon them by creating 301 redirects
  • Confirming Google Analytics is collecting data
In case our client has an external SEO partner, we collaborate with them to make sure we conduct a seamless transition. 

Product Feed Updates

E-commerce replatforming typically involves changes to your product feed setup. It is crucial to handle this aspect carefully to avoid disruptions in your product listings and potential loss of sales. Here's how to handle product feed updates during replatforming:
  • Data Mapping: Map the fields and attributes of your existing product feed to the new platform's format. Ensure that the necessary data, such as product names, descriptions, prices, and stock levels, are accurately transferred.
  • Feed Optimization: Take the opportunity to optimize your product feed during replatforming. Pay attention to product titles, descriptions, and categorization. Utilize relevant keywords and ensure that your feed complies with the specifications of your chosen platform's feed requirements.
  • Quality Assurance: Thoroughly test your product feed on the new platform to ensure that all information is correctly parsed and displayed. Verify that images, pricing, and other details are accurately reflected on your website and any external channels.

Google Tag Manager Transition

During replatforming, the transition of Google Tag Manager (GTM) deserves special attention. GTM simplifies the management of website tags, allowing you to deploy and update tracking codes without the need for manual code changes. Here's how to handle GTM transition smoothly:
  1. Export and Import: Export your GTM container configuration from your current website and import it into the new platform. This ensures that all your tags and triggers are transferred seamlessly.
  2. Test and Validate: After importing the GTM configuration, thoroughly test all the tags to ensure they function correctly on the new platform. Verify that tracking codes for analytics, conversion tracking, and other tools are firing as expected.
  3. Tag Cleanup: Take the opportunity to review and clean up your tags during replatforming. Remove any unused or obsolete tags to maintain a lean and efficient GTM setup.
  4. Custom Variables and Macros: Review your custom variables and macros and ensure they are correctly set up on the new platform. These elements play a crucial role in capturing and sending data to your desired destinations.

Coordinating internal adoption

E-commerce replatforming is not a one-person task. It requires coordination and buy-in from various internal stakeholders to ensure a successful transition. Here are some important considerations when coordinating internal adoption:
  • Communication: Establish an effective communication plan to keep all relevant teams informed about the replatforming process. Clearly communicate the goals, timeline, and potential impact of the transition. 
While migrating our clients’ sites, we make sure to inform our clients to do important conversations with their marketing teams - ensure those people know what changes (SKUs, URL structure) will be made in the new platform, what is the timing of the migration, and validate all links in ads and email campaigns so they are correct post-migration. 
We’re not a marketing agency and we don’t know all the marketing initiatives our clients are running – but we want them to understand that the migration may impact these programs.

  • Training and Support: Provide adequate training and support to your teams, especially those directly involved in managing the website. Familiarize them with the new platform's features, processes, and best practices. If needed, we can help you out with that.
  • Change Management: Anticipate resistance to change and address it proactively. Clearly explain the benefits and advantages of replatforming to gain buy-in from employees and ensure smooth adoption.
  • User Acceptance Testing: Engage your internal teams in comprehensive user acceptance testing before the official launch. Validate that the new platform meets their functional requirements and address any feedback or issues.

Additional topics to speak to your team about include

As you embark on the replatforming journey, make sure to involve your team members and discuss additional topics that are specific to your business. Some examples include:
Data Migration: Plan and execute a smooth data migration process to ensure that your customer and product data is transferred accurately and securely to the new platform.
Third-Party Integrations: Evaluate any third-party integrations you currently have and assess how they will be affected by the replatforming process. Ensure that these integrations are seamlessly integrated with your new platform.
Performance Testing: Test the performance of your new platform thoroughly to ensure that it can handle your expected traffic volumes without slowdowns or downtime. Load testing and stress testing can help identify and resolve potential bottlenecks.
Security Measures: Prioritize website security during replatforming. Implement robust security measures, including secure payment gateways and SSL certificates, to protect your customer's sensitive information.
In conclusion, e-commerce replatforming is a complex undertaking that requires careful evaluation and planning. By considering key factors such as business goals, SEO preservation, product feed updates, GTM transition, internal coordination, and additional topics specific to your business, you can ensure a successful replatforming process while keeping incoming traffic intact. Remember, meticulous preparation and thorough testing are essential for a smooth transition. 

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