Magento is ending support for its 1.X platform in 2020, which has left a number of retailers looking to re-platform. Nicola Clement, the principle consultant at Meraki Digital, looks at what brands need to consider before tackling a re-platforming project.
Once the darling of online retailers in Australia, Magento 1.X’s time is fast coming to an end with support of the platform ceasing in just 16 months’ time in June 2020.
While some retailers have already made the decision to re-platform, many still have the big task ahead of them. With only 16 months to go, here’s some advice to get you started:
- Don’t be fooled, 16 months is NOT a long time to rebuild your website
- By the time you determine your high-level requirements, select your platform and agency to build the site, design, build, test and launch, those 16 months will have flown by
- You will not be the only one in this position, but there are only so many agencies which have the right skillset to build your website
- Don’t get left out in the cold, start your planning now!
- Gone are the days when you had to invest over $1million to launch your new website
- If you are holding out due to budget concerns, get started on your scope and platform selection to get a realistic idea of the costs required to complete your project
- The skills required to re-platform a website are very different from those your team need to run the site on a day-to-day basis
- They will not be able to do this on top of their day job
- Reduce tasks which aren’t adding value and then hire additional resources to support the team through the re-platform
Data and Discovery
- Remember all data is insightful, not just analytics, and your customers are the best source of data!
- Go through your customer service and social feedback, look for areas of improvement, and even better, talk to your customers and staff!
- Understand the problems before you design the solutions. Do 1:1 usability testing with five to eight customers, put out a survey, add a feedback tool for a few weeks… get the information you need to make informed decisions
Strategy and High-Level Requirements
- Set your vision and strategy first. You are building a site that needs to meet your needs for the next three to five years, so make sure you know where you want to go
- Break this down into the high-level requirements, including future scope, and this will form the basis of your platform and agency selection processes
Platform and Agency Selection
- Hire someone to help you with this as it can be quite a technical process
- Most importantly, get someone who is completely independent and not tied to one platform through preference, affiliation or commission
- You need to find someone who will be your champion and will find the best platform for your business
Don’t spend $60,000 or more on your selection process. If you are looking at the likes of Magento 2, BigCommerce or Shopify, this level of spend could be upwards of 20 percent of your actual site build costs.
Your consultant should be able to help you create a short list of three to four platforms (max) based on your high-level requirements, your projected sales and what they already know of the platform functionality. From there, run a limited and cost-effective RFP to pick your platform and then kick off the next round to pick your agency partner.
- Make sure you have properly trained and experienced digital designers in house, with experience in responsive design across all breakpoints
- If not, please get an external party to do this! Otherwise, it will cost you more in the long run from a time and build perspective
- Do not leave this until you go live. It is so important to appoint and include your SEO agency in the technical build and design of the site, as well as optimising all copy
- Your redirect strategy is key! Most likely when you re-platform, URLs will change. The old URLs need to be mapped to the new ones, so you don’t lose any traffic or authority in Google
- Websites are not like stores. You do not build one and then wait 5-10 years to do a refit. That’s how you get left behind by the competition and fail to keep up with customer expectations
- Plan for optimisation from day one and ensure this is built into the team culture
- If you have items you can’t get the business to agree to for launch, put it in the optimisation pipeline for testing once you launch
- Let the customer and their data tell you if it makes your site better
- This is usually the area companies under-estimate when relaunching a website.
- Most companies allow for two rounds, but I suggest you put three rounds into the project plan. If you need it, great, and if you don’t even better, you can launch two weeks earlier.
- Also, resource up for this, many hands make light work! Bring in some temps or even team members from stores to help out
- Despite best planning, no website project goes live without a few issues
- Do a soft launch, ideally on a day and time where traffic is low. Hold back all your email and performance marketing for a few days until you are happy the site is performing as expected
- Consider launching the site on an A/B split test against the old site and slowly start to ramp it up towards 100 percent – this will not only help you identify and fix issues early without impacting all your customers, it will also give you a change to prove your business case metrics
There are many things to consider and remember when building your new website, but most importantly remember if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Don’t leave this to the last minute, start the conversation with your team and board today.