Realizing the costly and complex maintenance of on-premises e-commerce solutions, retailers are turning to cloud architectures. Firms expect to spend 80% of your IT hosting budget on cloud platforms by 2024, including IaaS, PaaS and SaaS environments, writes Ram Venkataraman
As consumer expectations rise, headless and cloud infrastructures enable retailers to delight discerning shoppers. Cloud architecture provides a number of key benefits that are often superior to on-premises e-commerce solutions, such as:
- Reduction of hosting and operating costs
- Greater scalability and flexibility
- Enhanced security and compliance
- Improved customer experiences
To help minimize the risks and expenses associated with moving to cloud solutions and maximize your ROI, we’ve identified eight common obstacles you, as a retailer, might face during this complex process.
Pitfall #1: Platform Switching Without a Clear Business Use Case
Before you choose an ecommerce platform provider, you need to understand why you’re switching platforms in the first place. Start by asking critical questions like what your business goals are, what operational and technical problems you’re trying to solve, and what integrations you need.
Answering these questions will help you identify your project goals and choose a platform that will align with your use cases. Some of the most common use cases are:
- Improved eCommerce website performance on all devices
- Integration with new eCommerce tools or ERP systems
- Improve the omnichannel customer experience
- Optimize your order management system and offer more fulfillment options
- Strengthening security and working with a provider that meets PCI DSS Level 1 compliance
Pitfall #2: Failing to get buy-in from the CEO/CEO
According to McKinsey, high-performance cloud migrations are 32% more likely have sponsors from the CEO. Securing buy-in from the CEO and leadership early on will help you get the necessary resource buy-in for the project, achieve your replatforming goals, and improve adoption across the organization.
When obtaining executive buy-in to change the platform, we recommend presenting a clear and concise business case outlining the costs, benefits, and risks associated with the project. Include how you will execute the replatforming project and manage outages throughout the process.
Pitfall #3: You don’t fully consider the business impact of changing platforms
Platform switching to a new eCommerce solution impacts multiple departments within an organization, including IT, marketing, compliance, and customer service. By creating a cross-functional team with representatives from each department, you can better understand how a new eCommerce solution will impact each team and what capabilities they need to support the end-to-end customer experience.
Pitfall #4: You haven’t fully defined your business needs and requirements
Before outlining the requirements and needs of an eCommerce solution, you need to understand its current capabilities. This means auditing your website, architecture, code base, integrations, and dependencies.
Then you can determine what features and functionality you need from an ecommerce platform and describe its must-haves, nice-to-haves, and make-or-break elements. This will help you create a customized replatforming RFP for vendors and assess how each tool does or does not meet your needs.
Pitfall #5: You don’t create a data migration plan
Data migration is one of the most challenging aspects of a platform change project. Before starting the project, determine what data needs to be migrated, set up a migration plan, and test the process to ensure that all data is transferred successfully.
Don’t forget to include steps to properly map things like product descriptions, images, and features along with backup plans in case of data loss as you migrate from your old system.
Pitfall #6: You Encounter Skills Gaps That Require Outside Resources
When implementing a new platform into a technology stack, it is not uncommon for companies to find a skills and knowledge gap during the project. To quickly fill these gaps, retailers have the option of hiring outside experts or consultants.
Outsourcing helps fill knowledge gaps quickly, but also increases the cost of the replatforming project. By assessing your team’s skill set before the project begins, you can identify gaps and factor the additional costs of hiring internal or external resources into your budget.
Pitfall #7: Not researching the platform’s third-party community
Modern e-commerce platforms allow you to tap into your external partners to add new features and functionality. However, it is important to understand how the platform ensures quality with each partner. As you compare eCommerce platforms, ask vendors how they vet their partners and what processes they put in place to ensure high-quality solutions are available to their customers.
Trap #8: You don’t plan long term
As you create your replatforming plan, include short-term and long-term goals that allow you to achieve quick wins throughout the project while focusing on the bigger goals. This may involve major milestones, such as switching to a headless eCommerce platform to invest in eCommerce personalization. By incorporating future-proof strategies into your plan, you can maximize your ROI and ensure your eCommerce platform can scale as your business grows.
Evaluation of electronic commerce platforms
No eCommerce platform is one size fits all. By avoiding these eight common mistakes, you can confidently choose an eCommerce platform that will future-proof your business and create a plan that minimizes risk and cost.
Ram Venkataraman is Director of Products and Technology at Kibo