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Upgrading Your Website : 10 Tips for Replatforming Your E-Commerce Site

December 2010 By Robert Gilbreath and Bill Zujewski

Rebuild it or else. This is the emerging mind-set of mid-sized companies as they start to feel the growing pains of a first generation e-commerce site that no longer supports their needs. Lack of features, scalability challenges, weak business tools, the need for mobile and social commerce support, and a slew of other challenges have driven many online sellers to a tipping point. Their current online solutions will not cut it.

Early e-commerce sites were relatively static and shallow, without today's interactive features designed to satisfy site visitors by presenting personalized content. Today's best-in-class sites are extremely dynamic and content-rich, with guided navigation, faceted search capabilities, rich media, segmented and targeted merchandising, product recommendations, and live-help solutions.

Mid-sized companies are now targeting e-commerce as the most strategic opportunity to expand business growth. According to e-Commerce Technology Invest ment Priorities for the Mid-Market: The Merchant View, a recent mid-market research survey sponsored by ATG that polled e-commerce executives at 60 mid-sized companies, one-third of mid-sized merchants plan to invest in a new e-commerce platform to fulfill their unmet needs.

The process of replatforming can seem daunting, but proper planning can offset apprehension. Below are 10 best practices to keep in mind during the research and planning, implementation, and go-live phases of the process.

Research and Planning
1
. Define your objectives. Determine what your goals are and understand why they're important. Are you looking to increase agility when it comes to modifying your site's marketing and merchandising campaigns? Are you looking to reduce total cost of ownership and drive down IT, operations and development costs? Are there aspects of marketing and merchandising that should be automated?

Take a holistic look at your business and its overarching objectives, then determine how your new online store will fit into those objectives.

2. Determine if you're going to build, buy or outsource. Early on, it was common to see mid-sized companies investing time and money to build their own e-commerce platforms. First generation e-commerce platforms were overpriced and light on functionality. Today's e-commerce platforms and outsourced solutions have matured by offering integration into other channels, as well as sophisticated capabilities such as personalization and automated, segmented and targeted merchandising. E-commerce platforms are affordable and designed around a multitude of delivery options, including licensed and on-demand. If you're looking to buy, create a document that outlines the strengths and weaknesses of each platform. List all your desired functionality and note how each platform performs in each category.


 

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