If you're considering replatforming an e-commerce platform, you know that it's not an easy decision. Finding the right approach that allows you to manage common risks and constraints like budgets, team skills readiness, customer impact, technology stack choices, business operation disruptions, ROI justification, and leadership sponsorship can be a daunting task. However, it doesn't have to be this way.
The dangers of rip and replace
When considering a replatform, business and technology decision-makers often think of a rip-and-replace approach that involves completely replacing the existing e-commerce platform with a new one. While this may seem like a straightforward option, putting a business case for it is not. A full-scale rip and replace is risky and costly, often facing severe scrutiny from leadership given the high upfront investment required to execute. Moreover, such an approach disrupts business operations, catches technology teams off guard in terms of skills and organizational readiness, and negatively impacts customer experience if not managed carefully.
By shifting from an all-in approach to a more agile and flexible strategy, the replatforming business case becomes easier to draft and pitch to business leaders. Staggering high upfront capital expenditures over several budgeting cycles and allowing past investments in the existing system to continue developing ROI make the composable approach a more financially sound choice.
Best practices for building a business case for e-commerce replatforming
To build a successful business case for a composable approach, here are a few best practices to consider:
- Conduct a thorough assessment of your existing e-commerce platform: Conduct a user journey mapping and surveys to understand your users better. Assess your technology and identify performance gaps and tie them to known root causes. Set a benchmark for both business and technology that speaks to your current platform capabilities, covering important factors such as speed, UI, UX, conversion at each stage of the funnel, and more.
- Identify business goals: It's crucial to ensure that the benefits of replatforming are acknowledged and the "what's in it for me" is clear for every stakeholder, connecting to the organization's strategy. Without this alignment, sustainable budgeting would be challenging, and the replatform program would be at risk. Consider citing industry data on the success rates of different approaches, or share examples of companies that have successfully used a composable approach.
- Decouple your technology stack: Decouple your front-end and back-end systems and shift to an architecture that allows you to replace or upgrade components one at a time and at your own pace. Consider discussing the benefits of using microservices or APIs to separate front-end and back-end systems or providing tips on how to plan a phased replacement of different components.
- Think agile: A composable approach involves replacing components in an agile way that speaks to your business and technology conditions. Shift from a waterfall replatforming program management mindset and look at your replatform project as a series of sprints. Align timelines, budgets, and resources accordingly, and provide specific guidance on how businesses can plan a phased replacement of different components.
- Measure success: Define metrics for success and track them throughout the replatforming process. Consider providing specific examples of metrics that businesses might track during a composable re-platforming project, such as improvements in website speed or user engagement or the ROI of different component replacements over time. Always tie these metrics to corporate OKRs, like increasing revenue, optimizing costs and margins, and improving brand equity.
At the end of the day, a composable approach to e-commerce re-platforming offers businesses a more agile and flexible way to manage risks and constraints.
Interested in learning more? Check out this article we wrote on building a headless e-commerce site with Sanity and Shopify.
Do you need help building a business case to replatform your e-commerce site? Reach out to us for a conversation and assessment of your unique digital context. We’re here to support you in an advisory or delivery capacity.