Strategy

The opportunity cost of not replatforming

Andreea Pop
Andreea Pop December 1, 2021
The opportunity cost of not replatforming

Replatforming an ecommerce business is often a complex, stressful and daunting task for ecommerce managers and teams. But, as we’ve mentioned before, immense growth opportunities await after an ecommerce migration project is completed, clearly making the hassle more than worthwhile. 

The truth is that a cost-benefit analysis on this matter is not so straightforward. Stakeholders might not be swayed by “what-ifs” and “projected figures” if, in the short term, all they see is costs. But great returns on investment are bound to arrive if the business bets on the right technological solutions. In fact, some might even materialize overnight, proving that benefits are not so far into the post-migration future.

Below, we’ve gathered some main opportunities to be gained by undergoing a replatforming to help you make more informed decisions on the topic. Hopefully, you’ll see the immense yet hidden value in making a switch. 

Superior ecommerce 

At the very core of a replatforming initiative lies the underlying assumption that something doesn’t work quite right in the current status quo — otherwise, if everything is perfect, why would you change anything? 

There are two main dimensions on which problems may arise: the back-end management of the ecommerce operation and the user experience (UX) your online store is providing. Ideally, both of these should be smooth and not cause any headaches. For instance:

  • The page loading speed should be lightning fast. An ecommerce website should load in maximum two seconds, otherwise shoppers are likely to bounce off as they presume the entire shopping journey will be time-consuming and they have no time to waste. 
  • The website should be easily findable on the vast world wide web. If customers search for your brand on Google and cannot spot you in the first few results, it means the online store is not SEO-friendly, something your platform should have taken care of. 
  • The storefront should be representative of your brand essence. If your business sells luxury items, for example, you don’t want your website’s design to be lackluster and for that you need design flexibility. 
  • The search engine and results should streamline your shopper’s journey, not weigh it down. Again, it’s all about quickly providing what the customer wants, so the search engine should take into account search intent and even synonyms, with robust filters and sorting capabilities to back it up afterwards. 
  • The checkout process should be seamless. Around 70% of shoppers abandon their carts during checkout and while reasons for that phenomenon include extrinsic factors such as “long delivery times”, there are other easily avoidable ones like “complicated checkout process”, “website crashes”, “account creation mandatory” or “not enough payment methods.” 

The list can go on. Maybe you want to set up product bundles and you can’t, or your ecommerce promotions at the moment are limited when they shouldn’t be, or it’s simply incredibly difficult to add new products and categories in the back-end. No matter your particular ecommerce issues, your concerns and desires for better technology are valid, especially if they are numerous, repetitive and keep you from growing. Make sure to get that point across when you’re obtaining stakeholder buy-in for a migration.  

However, here is a fair warning: things will never quite be picture-perfect, no matter the technological solution. Despite this, you’ll be able to easily differentiate between inferior and superior ecommerce capabilities. The elements above are a starting point to help you choose a great ecommerce platform that fits your needs, but let’s delve deeper into some key considerations that uphold them.  

Scalability

Your website needs to — and will undoubtedly — scale. Any online shopping business should organically grow as performance picks up and brand awareness increases. So if you see no need to scale your website, that’s a red flag, because it means you are stagnating without any plans of improvement. 

Additionally, you’ll often be forced — and you’ll want to — to deal with uncontrollable peaks of traffic, for instance in any big retail event (e.g. Black Friday, Hot Sale, Buen Fin, etc.). Not having the right cloud-native infrastructure that assures real-time auto-scaling in reaction to web traffic fluctuations means your website will crash, revenue will be lost, brand reputation will be negatively impacted and customers will shop elsewhere. 

By having scalability, you gain the potential for exponential growth. And growth should always be pursued.

Customization

Your online store needs to stand out in an endless sea of commerce websites, where prices are not the only differentiator anymore. The retail industry is so competitive nowadays, that every little detail and add-on counts. This is why the ability to customize your UX and UI is imperative. 

Firstly, your website design needs to be flexible enough to allow for alignment with your brand’s look-and-feel while also delivering personalized experiences.

Secondly, it should sustain different features that make the shopping journey exciting and unique, like loyalty programmes, wishlists, referrals, subscriptions and persistent carts, just to name a few. 

Thirdly, the entire operation should be able to quickly jump on new trends like Live Shopping, Social Selling and Conversational Commerce. Being late to the game will get you nowhere. 

Integrations

To ensure your ecommerce operation works like a well-oiled machine in the spotlight and behind the scenes, all systems that you are using should be integrated with one another. Whether it’s the order management system (OMS), the enterprise resource planning (ERP), the warehouse management system (WMS), content management system (CSM), third-party logistics (3PL) systems or the incredibly important payment methods, these should all work cohesively with the ecommerce platform. Moreover, the ties that connect them should not be a burden to set up. 

In that regard, pre-built integrations (e.g. with payment gateways like Adyen, Stripe and Klarna; with marketplace vendors like MercadoLibre and Amazon, etc.) help immensely. Furthermore, so does a vast ecosystem that continues to provide niche solutions for various challenges, ready to be implemented with a few clicks. 

To quickly and easily scale and customize your operation, a composable commerce platform, based on headless technology and APIs, is the best answer. 

The marketplace business model

Speaking of marketplace integrations, you might have noticed that marketplace is the biggest thing shaking up ecommerce nowadays. The biggest retail players are giant marketplaces the likes of Amazon and Alibaba and everyone either wants a piece of that pie or would like to replicate the recipe in order to increase revenue. 

Easier said than done, though — unless you have the right technology. Replatforming to a solution that has marketplace capabilities could enable you to integrate into a marketplace or to become one, regardless if you’re a B2C or B2B business. Frávega in Argentina, for instance, does both.  

What’s more, you should look towards a provider that allows you to easily onboard third-party sellers, as this is a process you will be doing frequently if you want to embrace the marketplace offering. VTEX does it effortlessly with a Seller Portal, as each of its 2,500 customers rely by default on a marketplace-like architecture, meaning that one can add the other on their catalogs without a hassle. 

An omnichannel operation

It might be redundant to say it again, but the point remains: shoppers are omnichannel, so businesses should be, too. You need to be everywhere something can be sold: your website, other brands’ websites (hence, marketplace), apps, social media platforms, physical stores, messaging apps, etc. Ideally, all these online and offline channels would be connected in a way that surrounds the customer with a 360-degree shopping experience. 

If one wants to stop the checkout mid-way on a desktop and continue on mobile, they should be able to pick it up from exactly where they left it. Likewise, if they want to order online and pick-up in-store, they should have that alternative. Thus, native pick-up points and ship-from-store and ship-to-store capabilities are always a plus for an ecommerce platform. These would maximize your operational efficiency and add that sought-after convenience for your customer base. 

An important aspect to consider is that this channel expansion should not come to the detriment of ecommerce management. Therefore, the perfect solution should be equipped with a robust OMS that offers you visibility over all inventory and orders in a single place, not to mention tools with actionable business insights

A world of possibilities

In conclusion, replatforming can open up a world of possibilities for your ecommerce business and help it grow to new heights. The key, however, lies in choosing the solution that actually provides all those potential perks. 

We’re proud to say VTEX does. VTEX has a MACH architecture, which is a fancy way of saying it ticks all the following boxes: Microservice-based, API-first, Cloud-native and Headless structure. This means scalability, customizations and integrations are a breeze. 

Additionally, VTEX is a fully-integrated marketplace-commerce-OMS solution, implying that you get the best of all three value propositions wrapped into a single platform. Your ecommerce management team, as well as your shoppers, will be more than satisfied. Plenty of success stories can attest to this

So, if you have doubts about your current technology and think you are missing out on a couple of things, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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