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4 Questions To Answer Before Moving To a New eCommerce Platform

4 Questions To Answer Before Moving To a New eCommerce Platform
For any organization that sells products to customers, the 21st century is an exciting time. There have never been more opportunities to reach the right people with the right message at the right time, and a huge number of tools are available to create the experiences that will lead to success. However, this is something of a double-edged sword, since companies might have trouble standing out in the sea of digital noise competing for their customers’ attention.

In this fast-paced digital ecosystem in which the wants and needs of consumers are always changing, your organization may be considering switching to a new eCommerce content management system (CMS) in order to drive higher sales volumes. But before you make this change, you need to be sure you are ready to take advantage of these new tools. We’ve put together 4 strategic questions that you should consider:

1. Have you done a thorough discovery process?

Many times when organizations are getting serious about e-commerce, they look to the industry leaders such as Amazon for strategy. While this can be a solid first step, it often doesn't align the types of things being displayed on a webpage with the technical solutions required to make those things happen. For example, product recommendations, reviews, split shipments, product configurators, etc., require a solid technical strategy with both the e-commerce platform itself and the customer's fulfillment end-points. It is extremely important that an organization understands these logistics and has a technical blueprint on how these features will become a reality.

2. Do You Currently Have a Product Management Strategy For the Web?

How do you manage your product data? Are you currently manually entering the information into your eCommerce platform, or is the data managed from a central source, such as an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platform?

If you do use an ERP, it may not contain all the data you need. Often, organizations use their ERP to store internal data such as SKUs or basic descriptions for internal employees, but the customer-facing data is stored elsewhere. This problem can be solved by using a Product Information Management (PIM) system which provides richer, contextual data that can be synced to the web or other mediums, such as print advertising.

If your product data isn’t currently stored in one single system, you should look at implementing a PIM to get your data in order before selecting a new eCommerce platform. This will ensure that you are ready to take full advantage of the capabilities that are available when integrating your PIM with your CMS.

3. How Sophisticated Is Your Digital Strategy?

Your website is only one part of your overall digital strategy, which also should include email marketing, social media, and any other methods you use to engage with your customers. One question that can influence your eCommerce platform selection is how you handle product recommendations. Do you currently recommend products manually? Could your organization benefit from a programmatic approach to personalization?

When you begin the platform selection process, you’ll need to know whether a platform is capable of machine learning and autonomous personalization. Even if you don’t plan to use these tools immediately, you should be sure that the platform is capable of scaling to meet these requirements, since as your business grows, you’ll need to be able to take advantage of the tools that will allow you to provide the most value to your customers.

4. Are You Really Ready To Invest In eCommerce Migration?

For mid-market eCommerce sites, the implementation costs of migrating to a new CMS platform can range from $150,000 to $300,000. Before you jump in with both feet, make sure you understand the level of investment required to migrate to a new platform.

One thing to remember is that content and commerce are no longer separate channels. When selecting a CMS platform, it’s important to look for a solution that provides a unified content/commerce experience and also integrates seamlessly with back end systems such as your PIM, CRM, and marketing automation platforms.

If you’re considering a migration to a new eCommerce platform, we’d be happy to discuss your needs. Please feel free to contact us, and we’ll work with you to build a successful eCommerce strategy.

About the Author

Chris Osterhout
Chris Osterhout
Chris rose through the ranks of website development, ASP.NET architecture, project management and team leadership, to overall digital solution strategy management. As SVP of Strategy, Chris helps clients understand the entire digital spectrum and guides them toward successful online solutions. Chris is a recognized expert on the Ektron / EPiServer CMS platforms and publishes, speaks and provides general thought leadership to clients and the greater web development community alike.
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