Platform migration myth-busting: 4 things IT gets wrong
Because of its complicated nature and series of detail-oriented steps, migrating to a new ecommerce platform can be a tricky operation. A replatforming process takes time — and requires experience. Here at VTEX we have excelled in our migration techniques through a team that is constantly innovating and learning through a trial-and-error journey.
In this article, we aim to share some of the lessons learned from our various replatforming challenges and how to overcome misconceptions in order to deliver a solid and functional solution when migrating your ecommerce website.
1. “It’s all about the tech stack”
There is no right or wrong when it comes to migration. It is often a case-by-case scenario where ecommerce experts need to analyze every single aspect of a business operation, from the technological, back-end solutions up to how the company organizes itself on a human resources level.
One mistake from IT professionals is assuming that one thing has nothing to do with the other when, in reality, the company’s structure needs to be taken into account for a sustainable project. Through deep-dive meetings, external agencies, the IT team and other stakeholders can get a clear view of the proposed architecture for the migration plan, as well as of how the operation is organized. This is fundamental for a replatforming task force and also helpful when defining a prioritization schedule.
The team not only needs to perform self-assessment and understand how each team and solution fit inside the company, but also get a glimpse of what other companies from the same niche or industry are practicing online. What features are popular and do they work for the end-consumer?
VTEX tip: Try mapping all the possible strengths and weaknesses with a SWOT analysis before presenting replatforming solutions and building a plan.
2. Not integrating teams
Beyond mapping what the organization looks like, one other step that is very helpful to a replatforming project is understanding what teams work together and how they complement each other for a more fluid workflow. Ask yourself how the finance team can work alongside marketing and developers for better pricing and promotions flow, for example. Or how IT professionals and C-levels can help each other out in making ideas a reality.
This is good for aligning the project’s expectations and understanding what is possible inside the scope of work at that specific moment. Also, integrated teams tend to work better together as they can see results more clearly in the big picture instead of working on small tasks by themselves without many purposes.
A migration is a team project and it should be treated as such. Count on your team and others involved for both feedback and support, constantly. That is what collaborative commerce is all about.
3. Only one A/B testing period
Trial and error are the best way to understand and test out strategies, especially when it comes to migration processes. One misconception is that the A/B testing should be done only once after the replatforming process is 100% complete. Can you imagine allocating a team for a long period of time in a project that in the end doesn’t work properly?
That is why it is so important to test out the catalog, links and other ecommerce websites’ crucial details (such as SEO) as you go. The replatforming process can seriously affect website performance, so continuous A/B testing is the best ally because it avoids rework or unnecessary changes after the project is complete.
This will avoid mistakes and your ecommerce site will still be offering the best possible experience for the end customer, which is the most important thing by the end of the day. Expect some delays and some unwanted results, but they will offer knowledge and a better path for the entire platform migration.
4. “Big Bang” launch
With the previous topic in mind, it is also necessary to highlight that due to regular A/B testing and with the ultimate goal of not disrupting the user experience, the new website launch must happen gradually. A “Big Bang” launch is when ecommerce teams wait until the entire process is done to finally release a completely new and sometimes very different website for the end customer.
The same line of thought for the A/B testing needs to be followed here. Details such as links, catalog and data migration need to be air-tight and working properly, especially if you don’t want to lose too much of the site’s performance and organic reach on search engines.
Indexing and redirects, for example, are one good way to start. Instead of migrating entire product pages all at once, try to separate them by important criteria such as the number of page accesses, best selling items and organic volume.
VTEX tip: A soft launch of 5% on average of the website’s different sections, features and architectural changes is a good way of trying to keep the same performance when migrating platforms.
Migration for the win
As complicated as it is, every ecommerce website will go through replatforming or migration at one point. Whether it’s migrating data or moving to the cloud, replatforming is important for companies that aim for constant digital transformation and important details such as data security. That is why we have an entire series about the topic with the goal of helping out during this complex process — don’t forget to immerse yourself.