According to a recent survey by Internet Retailer magazine: “51% of all organizations (surveyed) say that replacing their e-commerce platform is a top priority.” The companies cited the need to deliver faster order processing, achieve higher sales conversions, and increase customer satisfaction as major reasons for moving to a new ecommerce solution. In general, online retailers are looking for a flexible and scalable solution that can help better maximize their marketing dollars.
However, when switching platforms, many merchants fail to take the steps needed to ensure that sales don’t drop and marketing programs transition smoothly. The following is a list of best practices to follow when migrating to another ecommerce platform:
Back Up Your Data
When migrating to a new platform organizations should backup their entire current site either locally or onto a different server. You will always want to maintain a copy of all data in the event of a hardware failure or data corruption.
Cutover Only When Ready
Leave your old storefront up and running; you should not immediately take it down. Shutting down the old storefront should be done in a strategic manner-and only after your new site is ready and has been thoroughly tested.
Migrating the Data
All of your product and inventory data should be uploaded into your new system. You will also need to consider the best method of resolving and/or migrating customer service inquiries, product returns, chargebacks, and other tasks.
Most online retailers have a comprehensive marketing plan. The plan should be reviewed and each of your marketing channels, such as pay-per-click programs, must be prepared to be “paused.” This way, after you have brought your new site live, you can quickly update landing page URLs as needed. The last thing you want to do is pay to send visitors to a 404 “page not found” error page.
This may be the right time to negotiate with your current merchant services account provider for better rates (or consider getting a new one). You might also want to consider additional payment methods, start accepting online checks or PayPal; alternative payment options have been known to boost sales.
Test, Test, and Test Some More!
You will need to thoroughly test all aspects of your new site. At minimum you should ensure that:
- you can successfully process orders using each of the payment methods
- you can receive all the shipping quotes in real-time
- there are no broken links, misspellings , typos, etc. on the new site
- It is also highly advisable that you test out your new site with real visitors in a controlled environment.
One way to do this is to change the URLs of your pay-per-click marketing campaigns and shopping network advertisements to point to the new storefront. This will result in a controllable flow of traffic to the new site that can provide you with valuable data. You can use your web analytics software to produce reports that show top visitor paths, error logs, visitor drop-off locations, and most viewed content, which you can use to further optimize your new storefront.
Announce Your New Site
Once the new site and ecommerce solution is up and running, you should use this opportunity to your advantage. Send an email to all your past customers letting them know about the site redesign and/or any new features that they may find useful.
For More Information
For more information about this topic-and a more in-depth look at how to retain your search engine positions while migrating from one storefront to another-please see the white paper “Retaining Search Engine Positions during the Migration Process” from MachInteractive.com