Business needs and realities change, and the ecommerce platform you launched with a few years ago might not meet your specifications today. I talk to many business leaders who are exploring the daunting task of choosing a new platform or re-platforming their shop. They are often nervous about downtime, the considerable costs of redevelopment, impacts on customers, or other elaborate customizations that must carry over. Many merchants are stuck in the quandary of sunk costs vs. potential new costs, and they can suffer for years with an underperforming shop, hoping their host or platforms will catch up.
Hesitancy can be costly. The sunk-cost fallacy is real when it comes to re-platforming. Many merchants will keep investing in their current platform even when its scale and capabilities are pushed to the max.
Why and when would you re-platform? The most common reasons for re-platforming tend to be high costs, a need for an overall refresh, a lack of customizability or features, and the inability of a platform to keep scale with growth. In some rare cases, re-platforming can be straightforward. A business may have started on a low or no-code WYSIWYG platform, and today they're seeing explosive growth.
If you're a merchant in this position, begin researching a new platform now. Start talking to developers or agencies, scope your project, and think realistically about how your business may grow over the next five-plus years.
Hesitancy can be costly. The sunk-cost fallacy is real when it comes to re-platforming. Many merchants will keep investing in their current platform even when its scale and capabilities are pushed to the max. Ask your developer (or your in-house development team) for an honest assessment of your current platform's limitations. Get input from other builders, and reach out to businesses you know and trust who have also re-platformed. High-quality developers will be honest and candid about your needs.
How long can it take? Depending on the size and scale of your site, a developer or agency could help you re-platform in as little as a few weeks, or several months. The key factors will be replicating custom code or functionality, migrating inventory, customer and order records, and finding similar tools to replace functionality. Plan for months, not weeks.
Can you do it on your own? Re-platforming is complex and time-consuming. If your shop is simple, you may benefit from starting on a completely new platform. If not, I urge you to connect with a reputable agency or builder, specifically one with re-platforming experience. Get recommendations from past clients, and interview more than one.
If re-platforming is on your horizon, get a project plan in place now. The stability and reputation of your shop is on the line. But also, acknowledge your foresight and hard work as you start this journey. You're taking on a tough project to ensure your business has the space, capacity, and technology to grow well into the future.