A digital presence may have been sufficient for enterprise businesses a decade ago. However, in such a fast-paced and competitive world, customers have increased expectations about the experience they should get when they visit your website.
Even companies that understand this might find themselves in a situation where traffic has suddenly fallen off a cliff, or the bounce rate is trending in the wrong direction. These elements play a major role in the user experience, and continued problems may indicate a deeper problem to be concerned with.
It could be time to replatform your website.
#Understanding the basics: website replatform vs. website redesign
Replatforming a website or a website migration means moving the data on your website to another CMS. Sometimes replatforming can be confused with a website redesign, which involves updating a website’s content, format, structure, and navigation.
While a replatforming might include building a new website from the ground up, it generally focuses on the underlying infrastructure that powers the website rather than simply focusing on the website aesthetics visitors notice when they first visit.
Large eCommerce websites with hundreds of thousands of blogs, news, and product pages must carefully consider how they want to migrate their content and data to complete a replatforming. No matter the current performance challenges, the process of a website migration can be long and tedious without a proper plan.
Most companies considering a replatform today will embark on a migration strategy that involves modifying a legacy system to work optimally in the cloud without rewriting its core architecture. Essentially, they begin migrating to a headless system.
#Signs that you should replatform your eCommerce website to a new CMS
When your eCommerce website fails to hit key performance metrics over an extended period, the chances are higher that you will need to replatform. Here are some warning signs that you will need to look out for:
Poor user experience
Suppose visitors and potential customers frequently complain about difficulties finding products or a cumbersome checkout process. In that case, it may be time to switch to a CMS that offers more intuitive and user-friendly features to enhance the overall customer experience. Slow loading speeds and challenging navigation are other issues that can contribute to a poor user experience and could raise red flags for customers and the state of your CMS.
Decreased performance in key metrics
When your website continues to follow best practices concerning key performance metrics, such as search engine optimization, but it doesn’t seem to have the desired effect, it can be due to a problem with the current CMS. Some key metrics to look out for are not ranking for top keywords, high cart abandonment rates without completing a purchase, fewer visitors converting into buyers, an increase in bounce rates, or a severe decrease in user traffic.
Increased security and scalability challenges
Increased security threats and consequent downtime for your eCommerce store, or struggles to handle increased traffic or growing product catalogs that slow down the page or lead to system crashes are some scalability and security challenges that can harm the user experience.
When marketing teams are unable to perform key tasks such as launching new campaigns quickly without getting developer support, embedding personalization into campaigns, customizing the website to fit the audience requirements, or adding additional features or tools to enhance marketing performance such as A/B testing or marketing automation, then it could be time to replatform to a system that enables these capabilities.
Frequent infrastructure issues that bring higher maintenance costs, an increase in technical debt, and an inability to easily integrate with third-party resources can be a clear sign that a replatform is required.
For example, Dr. Oetker’s application infrastructure had grown too complex over the years, with several websites, web apps, and portals for the different brands in its portfolio. With multiple local brands wanting to take their stack in different directions, they needed to break through legacy monolithic tech stacks and switch to a microservice-first, performance-focused stack instead.
They decided to find a headless solution and replatform the website to allow them to host country-specific websites and multiple apps from the same stack while not being tied to a single system. With Hygraph’s solution, they replatformed to a MACH-ready architecture that enabled them to streamline their business processes and ensure compliance while managing multiple web instances simultaneously.
#The ultimate checklist to replatform your website
When you choose to replatform to another CMS to power your eCommerce website, a few considerations need to be made.
1. Measure business impact
The first consideration that needs to be made is how replatforming will impact the business. While you can expect to see an increase in performance eventually, more flexibility, and options for improvement, that return on investment will take some time to be realized. You must also consider any potential downtime and interruptions to current projects that will occur.
2. Choose your replaform approach
The other key consideration is the replatform approach. Many enterprises are accustomed to taking a big-bang migration approach to replatforming. With this approach, all content and data assets are migrated after the website has been completely rebuilt.
Contrastingly, with a strangler approach, replatforming to a new eCommerce website happens in chunks, and redirects are made piece by piece until the entire site has been shifted to a new CMS.
3. Calculate costs
Each replatform approach has associated costs and resources required, such as maintenance and security costs and any training required. Additionally, organizations need to consider the cost of the new solution they will be replatforming to.
4. Check ongoing tasks and requirements
Companies replatforming to a new eCommerce website should also consider any ongoing tasks being undertaken on the current website. Whether campaigns or new feature releases must be paused or halted altogether should also be considered.
5. Measure impact on SEO
Many eCommerce merchants spend a long time optimizing category and product pages and the ins and outs of the entire website for search engines. When replatforming to a new CMS, at least initially, it’s not uncommon for a negative impact on SEO performance. Organizations should ensure a plan is in place to prevent too much damage.
6. Assess your current stack
The current technology stack and the ability of that stack to integrate with other tools are highly relevant during a replatform. For example, the existing tools outside of the CMS that are crucial for your eCommerce stores, such as PIM, CRM, analytics, and other solutions. If they aren’t suitable for a composable setup, it might be time to look at alternatives to get the most out of the replatform in the coming years.
7. Prepare where to store data
When replatforming to a new CMS and migrating data and content assets, businesses need to be careful in choosing where to store that data before, during, and after replatforming. This often requires a DAM solution, preferably built on MACH architecture, to ensure the new CMS can easily access data. It helps if a system like Hygraph is selected, which offers a DAM solution out-of-the-box as part of the headless CMS.
8. Decide on the kind of experience you want to provide
Another consideration should be the kind of experience you want to provide customers, now and in the future. If you are satisfied with just a website for your ecommerce store, that may suffice for now. However, like many forward-thinking businesses, the ability to create an omnichannel experience, incorporate headless commerce for shopping on multiple devices, and other innovative and customer-beneficial options will likely be too good to turn down.
#Steps to ensuring a successful replatforming
One of the most common questions business leaders ask themselves before a replatform is: Is there a risk of losing traffic when a website is platformed? The short answer is yes. However, following a clear plan can help to avoid too much traffic loss and otherwise ensure a successful replatforming. So, we recommend following these steps:
1. Get stakeholder alignment
Stakeholder buy-in and alignment are essential to ensure a replatforming project goes smoothly. From the business leaders who will have the final say in the project and replatforming to the engineering team and marketers working with the CMS daily, everyone must be moving in the same direction toward the chosen target
2. Map out a consistent customer journey
Understanding the customer journey on your website is also a key factor in successful replatforming. Firstly, it helps create the right user experience for the replatformed website, which might include a redesign. Secondly, it is useful for tracking and analytics to ensure that performance targets are being met following the replatforming.
3. Identify system requirements
A clear understanding of your system requirements is necessary to select the right CMS for a replatform. What type of platform do you need? What other solutions in the tech stack does it need to integrate with? These are some system requirements that must be decided on to ensure success.
4. Finding the right platform for your website
There are several options, and depending on your current business makeup, each can have advantages and disadvantages. Are you moving to another monolithic platform or a headless platform? Is it a cloud or on-premise solution? The key is finding the right for your business requirements today and one that offers the flexibility to adapt to changes tomorrow.
5. Conduct the migration
Create a pre- and post-migration checklist to assist you during the replatforming process. Regardless of the replatforming strategy chosen, a detailed migration checklist that is also modified to fit your specific needs can help to ensure smooth replatforming.
6. Test and optimize
Finally, you must triple-check that all content and data, such as product page variations, have been properly migrated to the new system. Continue to test and optimize the website to ensure that SEO and UX best practices have been applied correctly and that your replatform yields the desired results.
#Accelerating your replatforming and overcoming challenges
Depending on your starting position and the direction you want to move, three of the biggest challenges surrounding replatforming could center around migrating from the monolithic stack, adopting a composable approach, and making developer and marketing team adjustments. With Hygraph, enterprises can accelerate the replatform process and overcome these challenges.
Migrating from a monolithic stack
Replatforming from a monolithic stack isn’t easy, and many hiccups can occur. With Hygraph, you can be confident that your project will succeed as regardless of a big bang approach or a gradual replatforming, our technology can support either.
Adopting a composable approach
Replatforming to Hygraph means moving to a JAMstack and composable solution. As a cloud-native and headless CMS solution, Hygraph successfully leverages MACH architecture, providing the ideal foundation for composability.
Developer and marketing team adjustments
Hygraph’s SDK, API, and UI make the replatforming process easier. You can create and manage your schema and content during replatforming. Using the Hygraph schema and Content API, you can create any content types and fields you wish, and they will be available immediately. Use as many or as few of the system content types and system fields as you need.
You can either normalize your schema immediately or use String and JSON fields later to represent as much of your data without any modification. This approach helps engineering teams navigate the new system much easier and provides the support marketers need to manage content of all types effortlessly.
When Vision Healthcare decided to replatform, it was because the previous CMS was constantly breaking down and had a lot of performance issues, such as GraphQL caching not working well.
They wanted a new platform that would support the eCommerce stack for multiple Vision Healthcare brands and provide content in various formats. They chose Hygraph for its compatibility with JAMstack, multi-tenancy, and intuitive UI. Since the move, they can perform tasks much faster without worrying about the system crashing.
Replatforming your eCommerce website, particularly one with numerous moving parts and pages, can seem like a daunting task to undertake. It’s why many businesses delay the process even though they see performance suffering.
Knowing the signs that a replatform is no longer a suggestion but frankly, a requirement, is key to avoiding further pain down the road. Our checklist should provide a great starting point for recognizing the signs.
We also recommended downloading our eBook on CMS migration to learn how to properly re-platform and what an actual solution might look like.
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