Birds just know that it’s time to fly on to more tropical lands when the season is getting cooler. It’s the same when migrating / re-platforming your online store. When things are getting a bit too cold, when it starts to get difficult to move and function at your optimal level, then it’s time for you to migrate, or you might get stuck in an inhospitable situation.
The slight issue is that birds have this ‘feeling / instinct’ ingrained in their bodies and can sense the earth’s magnetic field. Alas, we humans are not at that level yet. Especially not when it comes to an intangible object that has parts of its storage in the clouds (and online store software does not emit a magnetic field either). Nope, unfortunately, most online store owners spend far too much time and money trying to buy winter clothes for an impossibly harsh winter. As opposed to simply booking a one way-ticket straight out of there and to some land that is much more suitable for their situation.
Signs That It Is Time To Migrate
It’s hard to know when to migrate, when it’s time to move from one E-Commerce platform to a different E-Commerce platform. It’s also hugely daunting as you are moving all your precious cargo, in the form of all your data, from one place to another. It’s for a good cause of course, but nonetheless, can make you wonder if it’s really all worth it.
Now, this is where we come in. Allow us, your Especial team, to guide you through your business timeline. Let us show you which signs you need to keep an eye on so that you don’t fall prey to staying somewhere you really shouldn’t. Let us explain why it’s a smart move to migrate (when you need to) and how this can benefit your business. We’re not saying that it’s something that you have to do. Or even something that you need to do in the near future. No, no, we’re really just trying our best to give you an idea of things you need to look out for so that you’re ready for the migration and know when it’s the best time to move.
See us as your magnetic field indicators. We’re going to let you know what you need to focus on and be your movement sensor for you.
The Speed of Your Site Is Slow
It’s super important for your online store to load quickly. Your online visitors will most certainly leave your store if it does not load what they want to see within a span of 2 – 4 seconds at MAX. You need to ensure that your potential customers are having an enjoyable time browsing your catalog of products or services.
You’re not only harming the potential of making sales to your customers by having a slow site, you’re also harming your possibility of ranking highly on Google. If you want to have a good ranking, you need to ensure that your site is as speedy as Gonzales (see the below reference) as Google tracks how well your site performs and ranks you against other businesses loading performance accordingly.
There are a myriad of reasons you might be experiencing a slow site performance – for example:
- Un-optimized code
- Insufficient hosting capacity or badly configured servers
- Badly configured caching
- Slow database performance
- Outdated technology
- Too many or slow apps integrations
- Large media files (e.g., images / videos)
Of course you can try to tackle them on your existing platform, but some of them might become insurmountable to fix – to a point where re-platforming is simply the better choice.
Too Much Maintenance Is Needed
Each E-Commerce platform comes with its own set of pros and cons. Some are perhaps better at hosting and others are better at supporting apps and the list goes on. You have probably chosen one that suited your needs well when you started, but as your online store grows and time passes, it’s getting harder to constantly update your website.
Or, even if your needs are not increasing, they could simply not be met by the platform's existing functionality. This can be the case either because you judged your needs incorrectly or because this platform wasn’t the right choice for your needs. Whatever the reason, you’re not happy. If your dev team is consistently spending way too much time fixing patches, sorting out bugs or making updates, then you will want to consider migrating. It makes no sense to spend hours fixing bugs, only for more to crop up immediately after. It makes even less sense to spend hours and a lot of money to fix something that is actually rather inconsequential, if it were not for the reason that your store would simply stop working if you stopped making changes.
Once the updates and patches you need to fix start to feel like a never-ending black hole, is the moment you need to re-platform.
Not Enough Integrations
Today, it’s normal to add third-party extensions to your online store for it to operate exactly how you need it to.
E-Commerce platforms might seem futuristic and high-tech to you, but they cannot accommodate every single one of their merchant's specific needs. They offer a wide range of functionality to suit everyone’s needs (or as many as possible). If you have specific needs on your online store that aren’t fulfilled by the E-Commerce platform's offering, then you will need to incorporate third-party integration. This comes in the form of either an app or add-ons that you need, ERP, POS, or some form of system that handles ordering processes, reviews, gift cards, customer support, inventory management etc.
Now, the problem is when the E-Commerce site that you have does not support the things you need to add. That’s when you’ll either have to spend a lot of money on custom integrations, or be stuck to only what the E-Commerce platform can offer and not be able to build a more bespoke online store. This would mean that your E-Commerce platform cannot support the third-party extensions you require. This is a nightmare and would mean that you need to move, with haste!
Outdated Software or Lack of Features
It’s a sad fact for your pocket, but a happy fact for your online stores' tech capabilities.
The fact is that technologies are constantly changing and evolving. They are constantly coming up with a new best of breed, and companies have to stay on top of this to keep their competitive edge. The sad fact is that you may sign up with an E-Commerce platform that a year later no longer exists. Or whose software is so outdated that it no longer works alongside any integration or expansion plans you have.
Another issue is when there is a lack of features. It’s important for you to be able to create a website that offers your customers the most enjoyable experience possible. You probably signed up for a specific shop platform or software because it was free or inexpensive, and you wanted to test the waters of your business. Now that you are succeeding, you see that you need many more features than your existing platform offers. If this is the case, then it’s time that you look into the possibility of re-platforming.
(The happy fact is that it’s pretty neat that the world of tech is advancing so quickly).
Scalability & Security
It’s vital that your platform supports your businesses' growth. If you’re on a platform that you feel you’re constantly running into its limits, it means that you’re with the wrong platform. You shouldn’t need to hit a wall and then have to change tactics to suit the platform. It should be the other way around. You should never have to compromise on features that are important to your business. Honestly, you shouldn't even be close to the platform's limits. You should feel limitless and free to be creative and expand your business. There shouldn’t be a cap on the capacity, if there is, then you may need to consider migrating.
Another essential bit is security. There are two general ways of working with the data security of your online store. Either, you host your own store and data on your own server as a merchant. Or you trust the shop platform of your choice to host the data in their server / environment. Furthermore, you need to ensure that this data – especially your customer’s private information – is never leaked. Firstly, because it will give you a bad reputation (and could potentially lead to legal action against you) and secondly because it creates a lack of trust with your online customers. This is an area you never want to find yourself in. Trust is crucial in the relationship to your customers and to your businesses' success.
If you have experienced a hack before or if you are afraid of the way your security is set up currently, then this would be a big reason for migrating to a new platform that supports a higher level of data protection.
How To Move Forward Productively
It’s completely up to you when you want to fly off into more comfortable weather. It really depends on the stage that your business finds itself in and admittedly also your budget. We haven’t mentioned budget in this blog, as each business has an entirely different budget, so it felt futile. However, the main things they run into before migrating are often the same, regardless of the size of the business. Here we’re talking about scalability issues or lack of features etc. All of these are pretty typical for any business that finds themselves with an online store.
If you come to the conclusion, that it is time to re-platform, there are countless E-Commerce platforms out there, like Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce etc. that you can migrate to. If you need any help deciding which works best for you, then please do get in touch with us on firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us via our website.
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Natalie MillerMarketing Manager
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