Table of Contents
An ecommerce platform migration is a major business decision that will affect all members and customers of the ecommerce business. A decision for change usually arises when a company is looking to improve and grow their ecommerce business. They may be currently held back or limited by their technology or not have access to the right ecommerce experts.
It is important to mitigate risk and to ensure that a detailed and well thought-through plan is in place so that the project and switchover runs smoothly. When changing platforms your deployment manager will have a close eye on timescales to make sure that work is completed and implemented on time.
Before a platform migration you will need to consider the following areas: traffic, team, security, operations, training, reporting, analytics and integrations. These areas are described in the sections that follow.
What to Expect During a Platform Migration
Replatforming your ecommerce system is a major business decision due to the amount of revenue that is currently being transacted by your ecommerce store. There are many considerations that you need to take into account when replatforming to ensure a smooth migration, however the key areas are:
During your platform migration it will be important to reduce the amount of disruption to your traffic. Your traffic will be coming from many sources including search engines, social media, email marketing, system emails, remarketing, PPC and video advertising. You will need to ensure that your destination URLs are correct and that 301 redirects are implemented to all pages.
- 301 Redirects: 301 redirects are used when a page has permanently moved to a new location. This will occur a lot of the time during a platform migration due to each platform varying in site structure. This will include your content pages, brand pages, category pages and product pages. It is best to start with the pages that receive the most traffic and then work through the rest of the pages. All of your current pages that are being mapped to a new location will require a 301 redirect. This will ensure that user experience is not affected when customers are trying to access your site. It is important that you crawl your own site to identify your current URLs.
- SEO: During your website migration it is important to optimise all content and to ensure that titles, meta descriptions and keywords follow best practice. This is a great opportunity to add content, fine tune page titles and make improvements in every area possible. It is important to re-examine your keyword strategy to see if there are any keywords that your site could be gaining traffic from.
- PPC: Your PPC team should be made aware of site migration plans. 301 redirects will cover any ads that are clicked and direct the customer to the correct page. Over time, when optimising and testing your PPC ads, you will want to update your destination URLs and this can be completed through the AdWords editor. Depending on your current account structure and quality score, this will determine best practice for updating PPC campaigns during a migration.
- Customers and Email Marketing: During a website migration it is important to ensure that your customer information is migrated successfully to your new platform. You can achieve this in several ways. One way is to create customer accounts based on their current account information and asking the customer to set a new password. Another way is to import your mailing list and set up an email campaign to prompt your customers to set up a new account. It is important to leave the import of your mailing list to as late a stage as possible to ensure that no emails are lost during the time from the import to the new website going live. Your mailing list is one method of generating traffic to your site.
- 404 Error Page: Creating an effective 404 Error page is important as it is the page your customer will see when they click on a broken link, a deleted page or if they have entered an incorrect URL. You can customise your 404 page and optimise it to ensure that your customer can effectively find what they are looking for. The messaging you use is important. Also ensure that the look and feel of the page is consistent with the rest of the site.
- Internal links: If the content throughout your site and blog articles contains internal links, it is important to update these to reflect the new URLs. This ensures that your site looks professional and that content is consistent across your site.
For your ecommerce business it is important to have a qualified team of competent staff who are all working together in alignment and towards the same goals. Your staff will be connecting with your customers on a daily basis, whether it is through customer service, picking and packing, live chat, stock inquiries, email marketing, reporting and analytics and many other tasks. If your team is aligned and working towards their main goal of growing your ecommerce business it will be evident in the high quality of work they carry out each day.
Security and Access Rights
The IRP allows for significant control over security and staff accounts. A tiered hierarchy system can be implemented, with managers having access to high-level areas and then access rights being reduced/limited depending on the role your staff are carrying out. This is fully customisable and your Systems Integrator will work with you during deployment to ensure that access rights for departments and staff are set up correctly and that different staff members can access only the information that they need.
Operational Efficiency and Training
It is important to have your Ecommerce Manager fully up to speed with the IRP during the deployment phase. This will allow them to be the main point of contact for all things IRP within your organisation. Your Systems Integrator will work with you during deployment to ensure that your Ecommerce Manager and key staff using the IRP are trained on using the IRP and are continuously following best practice. Training can take place through a variety of methods including face-to-face, video conference or video tutorials. The IRP solution also includes an extensive knowledge base and IRP accreditation exams.
You can find further information about IRP training in the IRP and Deployment Training Outlines article.
Reporting and Analytics
During your website migration it is important to regularly monitor your website analytics and ensure that you are familiar with your website’s core metrics, such as your visitors, sales and traffic channels. You will need to know this information and have comparison data to compare the previous days, weeks and months so that you can set your expectations correctly and compare like-for-like figures.
You can find further information about analytics in the Ecommerce Analytics Overview article.
During your website migration it is important to detail and document all of your integrations that you currently have running on your current ecommerce platform. By having this information you will have a clear understanding of the different pieces of software you are using that are feeding data into or out of your ecommerce system. Integrations can be quite complex, so it is important to work with your Systems Integrator to ensure that your other business software is integrated following best practice and in time for the launch of your new site. Integrations need to be planned and scheduled during deployment for testing to occur and to ensure that the correct data is being passed between all systems.
About the IRP Ecommerce Platform
The IRP Commerce platform addresses the many considerations that you need to take into account when choosing an ecommerce platform:
The IRP ecommerce platform has a lot of core functionality including EPOS software, Telesales, Stock Control, Email Marketing, Search Functionality, Basket Abandonment & Recovery, CRM, Finance, Reporting, Analytics and many other features that your team can utilise on a daily basis to maximise your profits. For an overview of the main features see the IRP Features List article.
The IRP ecommerce platform is built on the latest Microsoft technologies and is continually being evolved by the IRP Commerce team to ensure that it is market leading. With each road map release, your system will receive upgrades and refinements to current features.
The IRP platform is a scalable ecommerce system — this is critical and becomes ever more important as your company grows and expands. It is important that the software and internal systems are fast and responsive so that staff can use the software effectively to carry out their tasks on a daily basis. But it is also important that the front end has fast loading times to ensure that your customers enjoy an excellent browsing experience and can complete purchases without having to wait for the web site to load. Slow page speed loading times may not be noticeable at first when you move to a new ecommerce platform but, as you expand your product catalogue, the number of orders increase and when traffic peaks occur during the year it is important to know that your platform will be able to handle the traffic. The IRP mitigates all of these risks — as proven by our current clients.
The IRP ecommerce platform allows for an extensive product catalogue. The product catalogue is a very important area of an ecommerce platform as it is the area that stores all of the products that you want to sell online or instore. It is important to understand how the product catalogue works in relation to category structure, the search functionality on the back end, how bundles and promotions are handled and the import and export of products. This will be important when moving from an existing platform, to ensure that current products can be migrated in bulk without losing any quality information such as product descriptions, pricing and product names.
Business User Control
It is important that your ecommerce platform is user friendly and usable by all members of your company with the relevant training. Each member must be able to use the software effectively without having to request the IT team to complete the task for them. This could include any number of tasks, such as:
- The email marketing team being able to segment email lists and send targeted emails per country.
- Stock managers being able to use the stock control reporting functionality to plan inventory orders and run inventory reports.
- Merchandisers being able to set up discounts and promotions correctly.
- Site managers being able to run existing reports and create new reports.
The IRP ecommerce platform has an excellent user interface and provides users with all the information they require.
The IRP ecommerce platform has extensive search functionality included with the suite. The search functionality is one of the most important aspects of an ecommerce system as it is important to know that your customers will be able to find exactly what they are looking for. The IRP platform allows businesses to learn from what their customers are searching for and for what search terms customers are using that are returning no results.
The IRP ecommerce platform is able to handle business requests to monitor users interacting with the website. An example of this is being able to see what actions users are taking on certain product pages and being able to send emails if a customer has spent a certain amount of time looking at a specific brand. Another example would be implementing onsite reviews from customers via third-party customer review software. The IRP is able to handle this and has integrations with third parties such as Trustpilot and Feefo.
Reporting and Analytics
This is a large area of any ecommerce platform that must be taken into consideration as you can’t control what you can’t measure. It is important to understand how the ecommerce application stores the data and if the data is visually displayed for easy viewing through dashboards and reports. Reports also need to be created on an ad-hoc basis if there is a specific piece of information that is required. It is important that external analytics programs can be implemented accurately to ensure information in the ecommerce platform matches the information in the analytics software.
Ecommerce platforms are mission-critical to your business, however they may only be one part of software used within your business. Other platforms such as accounting, stock control, retail software, marketplaces, payment processing and analytics all need to be able to integrate with your ecommerce platform. This will ensure you can manage your business from one main platform and that accuracy is maintained across all platforms.
The IRP is integrated with several companies as standard including Realex, PayPal, Google, Bing, Affiliate Window, Trustpilot, Finch, Patchworks, WorldPay and Sage. Depending on your requirements and current systems, other integration options are available.
Migrating to the IRP Ecommerce Platform
Your Systems Integrator will work with you to create a migration plan to suit your requirements. The full migration cycle is scheduled to last for 3 months; this is to ensure that everything is in place for a successful migration that allows your business to grow once live on the IRP. Having a structured migration plan in place will reduce the drop in sales when changing platforms and will also mitigate risk. Five important areas of the deployment plan are as follows:
Appointing an Ecommerce Manager
It is important to appoint an Ecommerce Manager who is solely focused on the growth and success of your ecommerce site. This ensures that they can focus on driving the growth of the ecommerce site without having to look after other parts of the business which are not related to ecommerce. Your Ecommerce Manager will be expected to complete all IRP exams and receive training to get them up to speed with the IRP platform.
For further information on appointing an Ecommerce Manager and building an ecommerce team, read the Role of an IRP Ecommerce Manager, Has your Ecommerce Manager the Right Skills to Drive Sales? and Building an Ecommerce Team articles.
Creating your Digital Strategy
Your digital strategy is one of most important areas to complete when planning your ecommerce site. By creating a digital strategy all key members of the ecommerce team will be aligned and working towards the same goals. It is important to detail your market, business, team, competition, pricing, traffic channels, expectations and revenue targets. All of these details will allow the key opportunities for growth to be outlined.
For further information on digital strategy, read the Ecommerce Strategy & Planning article.
Completing your Design Brief
The Design Brief gives the design team a clear idea of the work they will be required to carry out during the project and ensures that all resources are in place from the outset. The Design Brief gives you the opportunity to get your thoughts down on paper, detailing your current branding and how you would like your new ecommerce site to look. Visual impressions are very important in ecommerce but a clean interface that is easy to navigate is essential for providing an excellent customer shopping experience.
For further information on completing your Design Brief, read the IRP Design Process article.
Completing your Website Content Pages
The content of your website is a key area. It takes time to craft your content, not only to be engaging, but to get across your brand message, your unique selling points and to be geared towards selling to your customers. Some of the key content pages on your website will be:
- About Us
- Contact Us
- Shipping Policy
- Terms and Conditions
- Key Brand Pages
- How To Guides
- Holiday Promotions
- Store Finder
Once you have the basis of the standard content pages created, you will need to consider your content strategy. This content will be used to provide useful information to your customers and to provide answers to questions that they have. Content allows you to increase the number of customers in your funnel. It is important to provide a personalised experience to your customers, to ensure that the message you are providing matches where they currently are in the shopping funnel.
For guidelines concerning ‘About Us’ pages, read the Your ‘About Us’ Page — It’s Not About You article.
Providing Product Data
Products are a fundamental part of an ecommerce site. The products are what you are selling and what your customers are looking for. A website migration is the perfect time to ensure that:
- Descriptions are optimised and unique;
- Data and pricing are correct;
- Product images are high quality and include viewpoints from several angles;
- Category structure is correct;
- Attributes are completed and accurate;
- Model names are optimised;
- EAN codes are complete for all products.
Accurate product data is very important for feeds going to search engines such as Google and Bing. This will ensure that your products are displayed and listed correctly. Having incorrect information will result in your products not being shown.
Having highly accurate product information with unique descriptions aimed towards selling will ensure that your site is starting off on the correct foundations and continues to grow and increase revenue.
For further information on product data, read the IRP Product Data Guide article.
Website Migration Objectives
Before starting a website migration it is important to set specific objectives that you want to achieve. Some examples from an owner’s perspective might be:
- Improve operational efficiencies
- Increase sales
- Increase profits
- Reduce dip in sales and minimise risk
Once specific objectives are defined, the results of the migration can be analysed against the objectives.
Case Study One
Platform migration date: August 5th 2014.
An efficient switchover occurred which resulted an increase in sales which is due to the improved branding and user experience of the site.
- On the day of the switchover, revenue grew 48.88% from the previous day.
- On the day after the switchover, revenue grew 24.16% from the previous day.
After a successful migration to the IRP Platform with the migration taking place on August 5th an immediate impact was seen with an increase of sales occurring straight away. After the migration it was the run into the holiday season where the client saw their biggest holiday season to date. The IRP was able to handle the increased number of visitors and huge increase in conversions.
- During the month of the switchover sales grew 42%.
- The month after the migration sales dropped by 26%.
The rise and drop in revenue was down to seasonal changes and sales that the company was running.
A small dip in site visitors occurred during the switchover for a small period of time. As soon as the new site was live a launch email was sent producing a spike in visitors to the new site. Visits to the site stayed very consistent in the days after the changeover.
- On the day of the switchover sessions grew 30% from the previous day.
- On the day after the switchover sessions dropped 20% from the previous day.
With a successful migration and no loss of traffic occurring during the migration it allowed for a steady increase of traffic to be targeted at the site in the run into the holiday season which saw an increase of growth and ensured a strong foundation to grow on for continued growth in 2015.
- During the month of the switchover sessions dropped 3.67%.
- In the month after the switchover sessions dropped 2.93%.
- Sessions started to increase after 8 weeks and comparing November and August sessions grew 18.36%. The holiday season will have had an effect for the large increase in traffic.
The website conversion rate did not suffer from any significant drop, this was through the company's proactive approach to updating customers that they were launching a new site and also updating users when the new site was live. The conversion rate improved over the next few days which could be down to a number of reasons such as improved site speed, user experience, and improved branding and customer perceptions of site.
- On the day of the switchover the conversion rate increased 0.18% from the previous day.
- On the day after the switchover the conversion rate increased 0.48% from the previous day.
A successful migration has seen a significant increase in the conversion rate and is still increasing year on year from 2014.
- During the month of the switchover the conversion rate grew 0.16%.
- The month after the migration the conversion rate grew 0.28%.
On the day of the switchover revenue grew 48.88% from the previous day and the day after the switchover revenue grew 24.16% from the previous day. During the month of the switchover sales grew 42% and the month after the migration sales dropped by 26%. The rise and drop in sales was due to seasonal changes as well as promotions running, however sales grew year on year from changing platforms.Traffic
On the day of the switchover sessions grew 30% from the previous day and on the day after the switchover sessions dropped 20% from the previous day. During the month of the switchover sessions dropped 3.67%, in the month after the switchover sessions dropped 2.93%. Sessions started to increase after 8 weeks and comparing November and August sessions grew 18.36%. The holiday season will have had an effect for the large increase in traffic. Conversion Rate
On the day of the switchover the conversion rate increased 0.18% from the previous day, on the day after the switchover the conversion rate increased 0.48% from the previous day. During the month of the switchover the conversion rate grew 0.16%, the month after the migration the conversion rate grew 0.28%.
Case Study Two
Platform migration date: 11th March 2015.
In the days following the migration there was a small drop in sales, but comparing it to previous time periods part of the drop was expected and part of it was due to allow time for a settling in period where marketing activities were reduced to allow staff to become more competent in using the system and ensure best practices were followed by all staff. Sales quickly returned to expected figures after 48 hours.
- On the day of the switchover revenue grew 4.28% from the previous day.
- On the day after the switchover revenue grew 143.62% from the previous day.
From the successful migration to the IRP on 11th March 2015 it is clear to see the impact of changing platforms had on the huge increase in revenue almost immediately.
- During the month of the switchover sales grew 6.05%.
- The month after the migration sales grew by 125%.
During the website switchover there was a small dip in traffic during the next 24 hours. The transition period and change of name servers. Once this had completed traffic levels returned to previous levels or increased.
- On the day of the switchover sessions dropped 61.7% from the previous day.
- On the day after the switchover sessions grew 130% from the previous day which brought the number of sessions back to the expected number.
A very successful migration to the IRP resulted in a huge increase of traffic being generated from the new site as soon as the migration occur and this was possible due to the detailed migration path that was set out from the beginning with clear goals.
- During the month of the switchover sessions grew by 10.4%.
- In the month after the switchover sessions grew by 38.9%.
The conversion rate grew significantly during the switchover as this was due to the reduced number of visitors resulting in an increased conversion rate.
- On the day of the switchover the conversion rate increased 0.35% from the previous day.
- On the day after the switchover the conversion rate dropped 0.40% from the previous day as traffic levels increased.
- During the month of the switchover the conversion rate dropped 0.09%.
- The month after the migration the conversion rate dropped 0.02%.
A successful migration to the IRP ensured that there was no decrease in conversion rate.
On the day of the switchover revenue grew 4.28% from the previous day and the day after the switchover revenue grew 143.62% from the previous day. During the month of the switchover sales grew 6.05%. and the month after the migration sales grew by 125%. The rise and drop in sales was due to seasonal changes as well as promotions running, however sales grew month on month from changing platforms. Traffic
On the day of the switchover sessions dropped 61.7% from the previous day and on the day after the switchover sessions grew 130% from the previous day which brought the number of sessions back to the expected amount that were being received previous to the migration. During the month of the switchover sessions grew by 10.4%., in the month after the switchover sessions grew by 38.9%. Conversion Rate
On the day of the switchover the conversion rate increased 0.35% from the previous day, on the day after the switchover the conversion rate dropped 0.40% from the previous day. During the month of the switchover the conversion rate dropped 0.09%, the month after the migration the conversion rate dropped 0.02%.
Planning and Mitigation of Risk
Having an experienced deployment team and detailed deployment plan with specific goals reduces the risks that are involved in large scale ecommerce deployments.
Using your analytics platform, it is important to analyse all areas of the website, from where traffic is coming from to how many people are dropping out of the checkout. You can also analyse how people are interacting with your site, which content performs the best and how users navigate your site. All this information is important for your deployment team to have a better understanding of your customers.
On the day of the switchover it is important that the DNS is switched, traffic is being directed to the correct domain and that 301 redirects are in place to ensure that your customers experience as little disruption as possible.
Once the migration has occurred it is important to monitor revenue, traffic conversion rate and other major areas of your website to ensure that you are on top of any issues that may arise.
It is important during the first 72 hours not to use up resources acquiring new traffic. It is important to allow the new system to bed in and to make sure that all users are competent in using the system and can complete their daily tasks. Any issues that arise during this time can be corrected before moving forward with the growth plans for your ecommerce business.
During the deployment stage emails can be prepared to tie in with your ongoing online and offline marketing. Drafts of the emails can be prepared to ensure they are finalised in time for sending to your customers.
Other design tasks that can be completed during deployment are seasonal home pages and landing pages.
Having access to your new ecommerce platform is important during the deployment. This enables all staff members to get a feel for the system and training can take place to improve operational efficiencies.
After the first 72 hours, your Systems Integrator and Service Providers will work through the initial stages of your go-live plans to get all marketing channels up to speed and ensure that everything is aligned with your marketing department.
Mitigation of Risk — Frequently Asked Questions
1. What will happen to my organic traffic?
By following the IRP deployment process, the majority of your organic traffic will be maintained. It is expected that you will experience a small drop in traffic but this will very quickly return to normal traffic levels. During the deployment, by optimising your SEO and content and by improving user experience, your organic traffic is going to be improved and will result in increased traffic to your site.
2. Will our SEO be maintained from our current site?
The IRP Deployment process involves going through your current site, checking your architecture and matching it to the correct page on your new site. The deployment process is the perfect time to optimise all content on your site and to ensure that your SEO is following best practice.
3. How will the site perform in the search engines?
The IRP technology is built in a user-friendly way that provides excellent user experience for your customers as well as ranking well in search engines. There are a lot of factors that determine your search engine ranking and your IRP Account Manager will work with you on an ongoing basis to improve your site and increase organic traffic.
4. What will happen to my orders?
During the switchover it is important to have access to both platforms to ensure that orders can be fulfilled on your previous system as on the new platform. Once the switchover period is completed, customers will be accessing your new site on the IRP platform and all orders will be processed through your IRP.
5. Will customers be able to access the new site during switchover?
During the switchover there may be a small period of time when your customers cannot access your site. The disruption will be for a very limited time. From our case studies you will see that this has no long-term effects on your site and sales and traffic return to previous levels very quickly.
6. Will we lose customers due to changing site?
It is important to keep your customers updated and informed that you will be changing platforms. This ensures that they know the reason why they might experience any issues while using your site during the changeover. Once your new site is live, your customers will receive an improved user experience and improved site speed will result in an increased number of conversions.
7. How long will it take my staff to learn the new system?
Although the IRP is an extensive ecommerce platform, the user interface is very intuitive. Your staff will become familiar with the system quickly and will be able to use the system in the training sessions that are included during deployment.
The deployment schedule lasts for three months and this time period allows your staff to become competent in the sections of the IRP that they will be using on a daily basis.
8. What training is given during deployment and is training available afterwards?
During your deployment, multiple training sessions will be scheduled at specific stages of the deployment plan to ensure that your staff are competent in using the system. As well as IRP-specific training, ecommerce best practice training is also included.
Training sessions can be booked for your staff in specific sessions; these can be classroom-based or online webinars. Your entire team will have access to the IRP knowledge base which contains detailed ‘How To’ guides. The IRP Commerce YouTube channel also has video tutorials which allow your staff to carry out the tasks while following the videos.
9. What happens if there is an issue with the system?
If you experience an issue with your platform, your first point of contact will be the IRP Support Team. You can reach the IRP Support Team via the phone or by opening a support ticket directly from your IRP.
10. Will I have a main point of contact for ecommerce help?
Yes, your IRP Account Manager will be your main point of contact for all ecommerce information and strategy and will help ensure that you are making best use of the IRP platform.
11. Will email delivery be affected with changing platforms?
Your email delivery is based on your IP address, so changing ecommerce platform will not affect any current trust that your current email marketing has built up over time.
12. How will I know if there are any issues with my new site?
Once your website has gone live, your IRP Account Manager will monitor traffic going to your site by using Google Webmaster Tools to watch the Google Index Status. Your Account Manager will monitor traffic levels and site indexing. 404 errors will also be highlighted if they are returned.