Replatforming to BigCommerce from Magento 1 is high on the list of options for businesses that have yet to complete plans to upgrade their ecommerce website.
The pressure is on to make some important decisions since Magento 1 reached its end of life in June 2020. However, there are plenty of good reasons why other growing businesses are considering switching from WordPress, Shopify or Magento Commerce to BigCommerce in their replatforming plans.
Keeping pace with change
Things are changing all the time in the world of ecommerce, so you need to be ready if you want to keep up.
Existing Magento 1 users no longer receive upgrades and security patches, so their sites are vulnerable, and the ecommerce world is moving on without them.
Magento has an impressive reputation as an ecommerce platform. With over 230,000 stores currently running on Magento, it’s used by 18% of the top million websites and is a tried-and-tested option. Migrating from Magento 1 to Magento Commerce might seem like the most straightforward option, but this will still represent a major replatforming project, so it’s worth looking at alternatives.
There are also opportunities for businesses that take a more agile approach to marketing which can deliver competitive advantages for customer conversion and retention.
Here are some things to think about before you choose the best way to complete your ecommerce upgrade:
Step one – defining your objectives
Before you can start to discuss the best solution for your ecommerce site upgrade you will need to set your sights firmly on the outcomes you want to achieve.
You will want to include a clear roadmap for your ecommerce business growth in 2021 and beyond. Then you can choose a platform that can scale and change with you. Once you have defined what you need to achieve your investment can be clearly justified. You won’t be tempted by systems and solutions that you don’t really need.
Step two - maintain your focus
By keeping your focus on your roadmap throughout your ecommerce replatform project you won’t be distracted by what’s happening amongst your competitors or in the wider marketplace.
Real and measurable results like reduced bounce rates, improved conversion, increased revenue and reduced costs, will be the proof you need that you have made the right choice for your business.
Step three – understanding the challenges
In many cases, the need to replatform will be driven by other pressing business issues such as the limitations and maintenance costs of your existing platform.
If bringing new products or services to market is being delayed because of your existing technology, then you know it’s time to look for alternatives.
Worse still, you might be experiencing poor performance during busy periods that affects your customers’ experiences. The number of stockkeeping units (SKUs) you hold might be close to the limits of your catalog capacity. You might not be able to add the range and detail of product information you want or the right type of media, like video, for example.
Step four – designing for innovation
With the right ecommerce tools your marketing team can be more intuitive and creative and can test ideas quickly and effectively. Ultimately, their ability to convert more online visits into sales will make a difference to your bottom line.
Features to look for
Personalization – put simply, the better your personalization the better your results will be, so dynamic content presentation and optimization are requirements.
Improved site search – directed and faceted search results will allow your marketing team to manage your customers’ journeys and deliver the best possible experiences.
User preferences – as more purchases are made using mobile devices you will need to be ready to deliver fast, effective experiences across multiple channels or risk missing out on major marketing opportunities.
Becoming social – social likes and shares add to your credibility, and social buying will build your brand and improve conversions.
Payment preferences – the coronavirus pandemic has seen rapid expansion in ecommerce around the world. One of the limiting factors for many markets is the availability of trusted, secure and appropriate payment options. If you are looking at new and growing markets, this will be something to prioritize.
Your platform choices
In-house – you can choose an in-house solution built and managed by your own developers. This will give you full control, but reliance on a few key personnel could cause bottlenecks. Your business could be vulnerable if your experts and developers leave, taking their knowledge with them.
On-premise – if your business is highly security conscious you might consider hosting and managing your platform on-site. You will purchase and have overall responsibility for all the hardware, software, maintenance, upgrades and security. This might be just what you want, but it will come with significant overheads. You might find your team will struggle to keep up to date with the latest innovations.
Platform as a service (PaaS) – your developers can build customized applications online without owning, managing or maintaining servers, operating systems, or storage. You will be responsible for the licensing fees, implementing patches and upgrades for your tailored solution when they are needed. If your third-party hardware or operating system has a problem, your solution will be affected.
Software as a service (SaaS) – this is an increasingly popular option because you don’t need to invest in hardware and software or manage maintenance. It’s all provided as a service in the cloud. Automatic updates mean that you will always be up to date, without service interruptions for upgrades.
If you choose a multi-tenant option you will share your application with other users and receive updates simultaneously, making it a cost-effective solution. You also have the option of a hybrid solution, like BigCommerce, where you can use application programming interfaces (APIs) for customization. If you choose a SaaS solution you will be sharing your provider’s vision of the future, so you will need to have confidence that it will support your plans.
When you change your ecommerce platform you will want to mitigate search engine optimization (SEO) risks during your migration. Data, content and any bespoke functionality that makes your online offer unique should be protected.
When looking for your new provider you will need to be very clear about your requirements to make sure you are comparing realistic alternatives.
You will also want an accurate picture of your return on investment, so financial forecasts will be an essential requirement. They should include your conversion rates, average order value and margins.
While practical factors might have made the decision to change necessary, you will want to realise measurable benefits for your investment. It’s also important to look at the total cost of ownership, not just the initial costs. With increased automation, you can also include efficiency savings.
However, there are some costs that can be easily overlooked:
- Data migration – make sure that the timescale and costs involved in SEO and content management system (CMS) migration are included in your plans. Data migration can add weeks or even months to your project and involve significant costs. Ideally the process should be automated. For example, BigCommerce includes ecommerce migration services for non-customized solutions.
If there are problems during migration, it could be time consuming and costly to make corrections and any missed errors could damage customer satisfaction.
If your provider will hand this part of the process to a third-party you will want to meet them and be satisfied that all your requirements are covered before confirming the contract.
- Functionality – your replatforming project is an opportunity to improve performance across your whole business, as well as your ecommerce operations, so it’s worth including a review of all your existing business processes and systems. You might also want to streamline the number of third-party plug-ins and extensions you currently use for ordering, payment, or search, for example.
- Integration – exploring every interface between your ecommerce platform and your other business systems will identify opportunities for integration. You will need to understand the requirements for data sharing to be confident that systems can work seamlessly together. You will also need to understand the views and concerns of the people who use systems that will be affected.
While you might want to see a seamless business-wide solution, you won’t want to make the exercise too complex. This is why your objective-setting process is so important.
When you have defined your objectives and identified possible solution providers, you will be able to see how your upgraded ecommerce platform can look in practice by running through some real-life scenarios. Make sure you involve users and challenge assumptions at this stage.
Migrating to BigCommerce
Migrating to BigCommerce
BigCommerce has already transferred more than 20,000 online stores from 50 different ecommerce platforms. Timescales are normally measured in weeks rather than months.
You won’t lose sales while your data transfer takes place, because your store won’t go offline. The process is completed behind-the-scenes before the switchover.
You won’t want your site traffic to be affected when you move to a new host, so you will be reassured to know that Google’s best practices are followed in the SEO migration checklist to mitigate the risks.
You will have access to a wide range of integrated payment gateways, probably including the one you currently use, as well as others that might be better for your business like Square and PayPal, powered by Braintree.
There are hundreds of one-click integrations with providers like Survey Monkey, HubSpot, Alibaba and Salesforce, so you can easily integrate tools you already use.