Your Legacy E-Commerce Platform Comes with Hidden Costs

Malte Dietrich
Malte Dietrich
May 27 · 7 min read
image of man searching for money to indicate that Legacy E-Commerce Platforms Comes with Hidden Costs

Legacy platforms are old technology, computer systems, or applications that are (surprisingly) still in use – and they are a widespread phenomenon in E-Commerce. You might be asking yourself now ‘’How fast can a platform gain legacy status in our digital world?’’

Well, if the last 20 years have shown us anything, it is that the digital world moves at a breathtaking speed. After a mere 3 - 5 years you might consider a once young-and-brimming-with-possibility platform, an old and out-dated legacy platform. The tech world isn’t ageist you see, it just likes to stay with the times, that’s all. Seeing as how quickly this digital world is ever-evolving, the timespan between new and legacy might shrink even more.

Many companies face the challenge of wanting to improve or expand on their existing online shop. However, they fear the move from the known (albeit awful) experience on their old and outdated platform to the unknown, scary uncharted territory full of potential.

Just like birds, nervous to move from the comfort of their home but aware of the fact that they simply will not survive once winter comes, companies can be much the same. Sitting around nervously, trying to foresee the roadmap ahead that will take them to warmer climates (more revenue and a better online presence).

It’s all about biding your time but then ultimately – making the jump! As with nature, at some point you will feel that the place you once called home is no longer serving you as it had when you first moved in. The same goes with older systems, they may have seen you through your first few years of business, and you may feel some sort of loyalty or deep comfort around them. However, as times change and more importantly, your customers' needs change and the services your competitors provide becomes better, you too will need to start looking at the tell-tale markings.

What are the tell-tale markings?

  • A lot of your time is being used manually to make updates and just keeping the platform running.
  • Introducing changes or adding new features to the platform is a slow and grueling process, in which you often run into hurdles or break things.
  • The platform generally lacks options for customization.
  • Integrating your site with new channels is a massive headache. It is time intensive and always costly.
  • Adding content, products or just changing information on the site is a complicated task that can only be done by tech-savvy people.
  • You are afraid of business growth, as you do not know how your website and infrastructure will handle more traction.
  • And last but not least: The current provider of the software has canceled support and updates for it.

The solution to your problems? Go Headless!

We feel safe to say that a replatforming project is the obvious route, when you see the tell-tale markings of a bad legacy platform on your E-Commerce system. We are excited to tell you that you do not need to pick another platform, that you will inevitably have to replatform from again in the future, if you choose the right approach to E-Commerce infrastructure today. This approach is a little thing we like to call “Headless”. (okay, it’s not little, it’s huge and it will change your business for the better!)

The meaning of going headless

Unlimited scope and possibilities.

You can gain so much flexibility by going the Headless route – an approach that’s been enabled by modern advances in web-technology. When your online store gets the Headless treatment, your front-end (everything that your online customers engage with) is decoupled from your back-end (the server where all your data is stored around products, delivery, clients etc.). This leaves you with a composable infrastructure in which you can switch out components as you need, so you’ll never have to engage with a large replatforming project again.

For a more in-depth understanding of Headless and the Tech behind it, you can read our blog post ‘Headless CMS – What is it?’.

The biggest fear (that we are aware of) from merchants who want to have a custom and high functioning headless online stores is the cost.

Yes, it is true. Building something from the ground up will cost you. Having an online presence that is tailored specifically to your needs and that best represents your company’s brand image is going to be rather expensive. A site that is superfast to load, easy for online users to navigate and generally a seamless experience for everyone involved (both internal and external) is going to require investment.

We know how this plays out. You’re weighing the pros and cons of either staying with your existing system or implementing headless. Your existing system has always won the mental battle in your mind because it’s already there, so it must be much cheaper, right? And it does work after all.

But is it really cheaper? And does it really work?

In terms of cost, yes, setting up a Headless infrastructure from the ground up may feel like it will cost you an arm and a leg. Yet, the possibilities and flexibility you will have around this platform will be undeniably great and will allow you to have an online presence that you can be truly proud of.

The costs of staying with your legacy platform will incur a lot of running and operational costs. With a legacy platform, you are bound to the features that they have on offer, even ones that you do not use will still need to be paid for.

One thing that is priceless is your time. With a legacy platform, you are constantly investing a lot of your time and resources into manually updating and changing things. Furthermore, barely anything runs automatically and incorporating any kind of modern features is the stuff of nightmares.

Moreover, you also miss out on new opportunities and additional revenue, that you could generate with state-of-the-art performance, features and integrations, that your current platform simply doesn’t provide. This is what economists call “opportunity cost” – which is the cost incurred, and (more importantly) unrealized earnings from choosing one option over another.

With headless, you can compose a customer experience that is unique and incorporate tools and apps that actually serve you (and your customers). You pay for what you need and don’t pay for what you don’t need. You have full control over what you’d like your website to look like and how you want it to function. And you’re superfast in introducing changes and new features.

The future looks good with headless

Staying with your legacy platform means that you will be stuck with an outdated system. Now there is nothing wrong with an older system, and we believe in the saying ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. You may be thinking this right now. You have an outdated system, but you have an online presence, your products are being bought and money is coming in.

But what does the future look like?

We both know that your legacy platform is slowly showing leaks, battle wounds, and that it may be time to retire this for something new. With headless you do not need to fear more online visibility, more online orders, introducing changes to your website or incorporating modern features to your site. With a click of a button, your marketing team will be able to tweak offerings to suit a certain ‘flash sale’ and your tech team won’t need to break a sweat when thinking about how to facilitate this.

It’s a brighter future when you put the Headless spectacles on. Making the move and actually completing the migration process will be costly and a lot of work, sure. But the result will be worth it. Staying on a platform that is giving you headaches and puts you at a disadvantage is so much worse for you than simply biting the bullet and re-platforming at this stage of your business. There are so many companies that have done it, big companies we might add, and are better off for it. (The list includes Lego, H&M, Pret a Manger – just to name a few.)

So, the one question left really is – How much more money do you want to spend on your legacy platform that’s bound to be replaced?

If you want to learn more about the Headless approach and its benefits, why not pop us an email on or contact us here on our website. We’ll happily help you understand whether your business can benefit from going Headless and potentially help you on the way.

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Malte Dietrich
Written by

Malte Dietrich

Digital Strategist & Co-Owner

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