Are you ready to grow your business with a more advanced eCommerce platform? A new platform can help you scale your products, better manage your inventory, and sell better to customers. With the right planning, the project ahead of you can go smoothly and end on time. Follow these 15 tips to ensure a smooth eCommerce platform migration and launch a new experience that your customers will understand and enjoy.
1. Dedicate a Full Resource to The Project
If you are serious about managing a smooth eCommerce platform migration and want to see your project succeed then you need to dedicate enough time and resources to this change.
One of the top pain points for IT professionals is overcommitted resources, which makes it hard to complete projects on time. In fact, teams who don’t effectively navigate resource management will see increased costs and delays.
Don’t burn out your team members by asking them to take your eCommerce platform migration on as one of many projects. Dedicate team members to this project exclusively so they can focus on it.
2. Choose a Deployment-Friendly Project Management Strategy
Along with making sure you have the right resources to complete this project on time, make sure your team is using the best management strategy for development needs. By now, the vast majority of companies (71%) use Agile approaches to complete their projects. This allows companies to deploy essential elements quickly and focus on their top priorities. Consider using this method, among others, to manage your eCommerce platform migration.
3. Prioritize Business Requirements
Agile project management is based on the idea that the most important requirements are deployed first and then additional elements are built in the next round. This differs from the Waterfall approach to management, which is more linear. No phase begins until the previous one ends — which means nothing can be tested or deployed until everything is built.
If you are opting for an agile approach to your eCommerce platform migration, identify the peak features that are essential to your site. These include elements in the cart, site navigation, and product listings. Everything that is less important can be added in the next round of development.
4. Plan for a Deployment Outside of Your Peak Season
Most eCommerce brands set a “code freeze” date in late October leading into the peak shopping season. This is so nothing breaks the website until after the holiday rush. Use this calendar to schedule your eCommerce platform migration. The more time you have between the expected launch date and your peak season, the better.
More than half of all projects experience scope creep and only 51 percent finish on schedule. If you have set the launch date for early-October, scope creep could push your product launch into November — without all the features you need.
5. Update Requirements and Deployment Timelines Regularly
Even the best-laid projects can fall victim to scope creep, which means everyone affected by the project needs to be aware of changes to the timeline, requirements, and deployment schedule. Agile development solves this with daily scrum meetings and the creation of weekly sprints, but you may leave some people out of the loop if you’re not taking extra steps to communicate your plan.
The Digital Project Manager has a communication template that you can use to make sure everyone understands how the platform migration is coming along.
6. Test Features and Updates Every Step of the Way
Testing and QA are essential parts of any development project but are especially important for an eCommerce website. By testing each new feature and element, you can identify problems early on instead of troubleshooting dozens of problems close to the launch date.
7. Coordinate With Your Marketing Vendors Early On
At least one representative from the marketing department needs to be at the table from the get-go. They may not have a lot of work to do during the early phases of the transition, but they need to be aware of timeline changes, launch plans, and requirements.
This marketing representative will work as a liaison with your contractors to make sure their part of the launch goes smoothly. This includes making sure the tags transfer over to your new site and marketing efforts aren’t disrupted because of the transition.
(Google Shopping ads, in particular, are sensitive to any changes in your data feed, and your ads could be shut off for a few days if your marketing team isn’t prepared for the transition.)
8. Establish a Clear Site Hierarchy
More customers than you realize have a hard time navigating your website, even if you think your layout is clear and straightforward.
In one study, 217 people were asked to navigate a sample website with a common layout. They were then asked where certain elements on the page would be. Out of five questions, only one saw more than half of users choosing the same location — meaning 48% disagreed. In all other questions, users differed on where they thought information should be.
By establishing a clear site hierarchy and prominent navigation, you can make it easier for customers to find what they need and convert on your eCommerce website.
9. Identify Unnecessary Content, Code, and Resources
Use your eCommerce platform migration to spring clean your website. Look for pages, tags, code, and other elements that are redundant or slowing your website down. By getting rid of this unnecessary content, you can have a faster website and a better-organized layout. Plus, this reduces the number of tags and links that could break during the transition.
10. Prioritize the Security of User Data
If there is one feature that you need to focus on and prioritize through your eCommerce platform migration, is should be website security. The vast majority of your customers don’t trust you (or other companies) to handle their data securely. In one 2017 survey, 68% of customers said they were concerned about how brands handle their data.
If you expose customer data or mishandle it, you will have to spend years earning back the trust of shoppers and building back your reputation.
11. Redirect Old URLs
If any of your pages or URLs are changing as a result of your eCommerce platform navigation, make sure you set up the appropriate redirects to create a smooth experience. You can also use a broken-link checker to identify any problems on your website that are hurting your SEO and ruining the customer experience.
This focus on URLs should become a daily task for one of your team members until problems stop cropping up.
12. Make Sure Curated Content Transitions Smoothly
We have touched on the importance of reviews on your eCommerce website before. This curated content is highly persuasive to other customers and improves your SEO value by providing a steady stream of new content and unique information.
Make sure your existing review-sharing provider or plugin is compatible with your new eCommerce platform, otherwise you could lose those precious reviews and most of their benefits!
13. Track the Success of Your eCommerce Platform Migration Plan
As you take this project to the point of completion, track each step to see where you lost time, money, and resources. Document the percent of tasks that were completed on time and which elements held your team back the most. This will help you better understand other company projects and you can learn from your mistakes. Plus, this will give you concrete data to report to management in your post-project review.
14. Schedule Training Sessions for Employees
Make a list of anyone who will need to be proficient in the new eCommerce platform and schedule training sessions to help them learn about the system. The platform that you use may have training materials on hand, reducing the burden on your staff.
You may want to create two types of training sessions for the new platform: one for employees who need to access the back-end and one for employees who will need to explain the new process to customers. This way everyone is prepared for what is to come with the new system.
15. Let Your Customers Know What’s New
As part of your eCommerce platform migration, tell customers what it new and what they can expect from the system. Naturally, they are mostly concerned about forward-facing updates to the cart and inventory, but they may also be interested in additional features that make the website faster and easier to use.
The more dramatic the change, the more you need to promote the updates to your customers and allow for a transition period. People are notoriously averse to change and you don’t want to anger customers by not providing enough support to guide them through the new platform.
If you want to ensure a smooth eCommerce platform migration across your website and marketing channels, work with a partner who understands your needs. Trinity Insight is a development partner of Shopify and Shopify Plus, which means we’ve been through this transition before (dozens of times) and can help you with yours. Contact us today.