Strategy

How to obtain stakeholders’ buy-in to replatform

Lalo Aguilar
Lalo Aguilar November 30, 2021
How to obtain stakeholders’ buy-in to replatform

An ecommerce store is only as good as the platform on which it’s hosted. When it comes to replatforming, it is tempting to follow the “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” motto, but history has shown that this is almost always the wrong choice. We’re talking about a quickly-evolving environment which adopts new technologies every few years, so special attention should be paid in order to avoid getting stuck in the past. 

Given the fact that the decision to replatform an online store is usually made by a group of stakeholders and not a single person, it’s vital that every single participant understands what a company stands to win or lose with this decision. This is challenging, since some of the replatforming’s byproducts might not be evident at first glance, instead involving cost and time. 

If you are trying to obtain buy-in to replatform an online store that you’re in charge of, make sure to engage in discussions with all stakeholders and take the following approach. 

Highlight that inactivity is not an option

Upgrades are a constant for ecommerce stores. Once in a while, their selected platforms will ask them to embark on a long process to optimize their websites. In turn, this is what makes most companies explore what else is out there on the market, especially if cost-cutting can be obtained.

“You need to realize that the world might have changed since your last replatform. Years ago, there was a big pushback over the need to focus on mobile because companies thought no one bought on mobile and didn’t believe the trend would shift! You have to have the business savvy to present those trends and identify the next big thing.” 

Gwen Bennett, US Customer Success Leader at VTEX

Bennett also pointed out that every trend on the market is aiming to make the funnel as seamless as possible, so failing to adopt new ecommerce and platform trends could mean having a higher bounce rate and lower conversion rates. This brings us to our next point.

Emphasize that the current operation might be losing money

It’s hard to know what you don’t know. In the case of an ecommerce operation, it’s hard to know what parts of a platform are actually hurting the business. For stakeholders, there’s much to gain in sitting down with an ecommerce platform-provider in order to evaluate their current results and potential changes that could benefit their sales performance.

“We show the numbers that support our recommendations. If someone says ‘your checkout sure looks different than what I’m used to’ we can show that we have over 2,500 customers around the world that run it and acknowledge they’ve seen increasing conversion on their websites. Being able to show these statistics or introduce them to customers that can relay what they’ve been able to accomplish has an impact.” 

Michael von Bodungen, Chief Customer Officer at VTEX

Being closed down in one particular platform for a really long time makes it more difficult for companies to have their finger on the pulse of ecommerce trends, and it also lessens a company’s ability to correctly assess its own pain points. These hardships can make it harder to align the finance and operations departments on what the main priorities should be going forward, and the end result can be a website that’s stuck in the past and that, eventually and undoubtedly, will lead to worse results. 

All of this is preventable through continuous improvements, which can come in the form of replatforms. This might sound like unnecessary changes to a vital part of the business, but this continuous process of adaptation is considerably less taxing than you might expect. As a matter of fact…

Assure that transition will be smoother than they think

Companies tend to be weary of change due to the impact that it could have on their bottom line, but there are ways of keeping said impact to a minimum. VTEX, for example, offers a tried-and-tested migration strategy that aims to help an ecommerce website produce revenue in less than 90 days.  

This fast time-to-market is achievable because most customers get a Customer Success Manager (CSM) that works to train them on how to use the cloud-native system before the go-live. CSMs work alongside Professional Services teams and the systems’ integration partners (SIs) to support the implementation and make it as seamless as possible.

The teams pay special attention to the integration with catalog, SEO and other potential pain points, in order to neutralize them early on. Doing this requires early communication with sales teams, the OMS and other moving parts that VTEX has integrated into the more than 2,500 stores it operates in 32 countries worldwide.

The go-live might also be quicker — and cheaper — if a company is open to let go of some of the customizations that it currently has set up in its website, which are rarely vital for the store’s overall functionality. Those can be added later-on when core priorities have been taken care of.

All things considered, replatforming involves a cyclic process, one that companies should go through every couple of years. This will ensure that their customers are consistently getting the best experience available on the market, while also increasing revenue and staying ahead of the competition in the meantime.

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