Despite this, there are scores of sellers the web over who feel the creeping limitations of their systems slowly strangling their ability for growth. In such circumstances, integration issues, manual processes and other non-communicative elements quickly begin to suck up precious time and resources.
For any prosperous eCommerce business, these issues are an inevitability of growth, and their manifestation means that it is time to consider a new platform.
In fact, a survey from Internet Retailer revealed that 53 percent of merchants were in the process of re-platforming or had plans to do so within the next year. Another 36 percent planned to migrate their stores within a two-year window.
If your business is wondering if it might be outgrowing its current platform, take note. Here, we have compiled the seven most common symptoms that indicate it is time to answer your eCommerce problems with a new platform.
IT Issues Detract From Business Activities
This issue is quite possibly the most significant red flag on the list as (to some extent) it encompasses all the other problems.
When there are significant technical issues afoot, it tends to pull time and energy away from activities like marketing campaigns, conversion optimization efforts and other necessities for growth. Maybe a brand is busy trying to maintain an increasingly non-communicative platform built in-house. Maybe teams are having difficulties in locating or accessing valuable customer data that needs to be analyzed. Maybe parts of the system are failing to work correctly.
It doesn’t matter what the issue is. What matters is that all these things are time-and-money-wasting issues that hold a company back and contribute to a descent into chaos.
Security should be the number one concern for eCommerce retailers. Given that a slew of data breaches occurred in 2018—including the likes of MyFitnessPal, Google+ and Facebook—impacting hundreds of millions of consumers across the globe, it is critical that merchants take every possible precaution to protect their customer’s personal information.
This point is particularly crucial for retailers as the data they handle often includes extremely sensitive details such as home addresses and payment information. For this reason, retailers should implement a number of security apps, website scanners and move their stores to HTTPS.
However, when a platform begins to reach the end of its usefulness, many of these measures become ineffective if not impossible to manage as a platform cannot/does not support the proper integrations, is continuously breaking down as a result of their presence or merely is not PCI compliant.
Constant Add-ons Create a Patchwork System
Add-ons and extensions are often a boon of functionality and features that can significantly enhance the eCommerce shopping experience. With platforms like Magento and Shopify Plus, there are a wide array of apps and plugins to choose from to create a unique digital existence.
However, with each new extension comes increased complexity of the system. When an inadequate platform is in use, these features begin to conflict with one another. Often, retailers will then try to utilize another extension or bit of custom code to remedy the issue. As the brand grows, so too does its functionality problems like slow speed, security vulnerabilities, compatibility issues and the like.
With a bit of time, patchwork systems often break a site’s infrastructure, resulting in a loss of conversions, traffic, SEO performance and similarly essential components to online expansion.
Unto itself, this may not be an indicator that a brand has outgrown its system; however, it can still certainly be a symptom of a more significant issue.
Consumers expect eCommerce sites to load in two seconds or less. That’s a high bar. If that mark isn’t hit continually, a website will begin losing sales, traffic and SERP rankings. Therefore, site speed is a crucial component of its overall well-being.
If a retailer has opted to use a hosted service such as Volusion or BigCommerce, they may well reach the point in which the hosting plan becomes incapable of handling a site’s traffic demands. At this point, a platform upgrade is all but inevitable.
Constant Reporting Problems
Most eCommerce platforms suited to newbie sellers don’t provide much business intelligence or data necessary to build an optimized experience that increases sales. Therefore, it becomes extremely challenging to understand where customers are dropping off from a site, why they aren’t buying or what kind of impact certain site changes have had on performance.
However, problems begin to mount as merchants outgrow their current systems. Regarding reporting, these issues typically manifest as:
An inability to collect and store all the desired data
Inadequacies in reporting on the metrics available
Without a centralized system to manage the ins and outs of eCommerce activities, it can be a nightmare to track such information.
Since the more basic eCommerce solutions provide limited data management facilities, the issues associated with this problem will only grow alongside the brand. Moreover, the issue will increase in complexity as various add-ons are integrated in an attempt to solve the problem. This results in the patchwork issues mentioned earlier.
In the end, teams will be forced to sift through data silos to harvest the necessary information manually. However, this can easily result in inaccuracy issues. When a growing business does not have (or has inaccurate versions of) the data needed to generate vital reports, a company becomes compromised and may end up placing itself in an at-risk situation based on faulty intelligence.
These kinds of inefficient circumstances are simply not sustainable. To minimize the number of reporting snafus a business faces, it becomes necessary to opt for a new eCommerce platform.
Failing to Meet Customer Expectations
Customers in the digital age have become accustomed to doing things the way they want, where they want and when they want. This sentiment is one of the core ideas inherent in omnichannel retail efforts.
However, when a merchant runs up against the limitations of their chosen platform, the business can begin to lose the battle of customer expectations.
There are a variety of UX design elements that consumers crave that more basic eCommerce platforms cannot provide. For instance, an optimized checkout process is essential to increasing sales, as is a variety of payment options to utilize. But, with more basic offerings, merchants are often relegated to prolonged experiences that only offer a couple of purchase methods.
These rules also apply for personalization efforts. Increasingly, consumers demand customized shopping experiences; however, many platforms are incapable of providing the level of personalization desired by buyers and brands.
If a site isn’t supplying shoppers with the kind of interactions they crave, businesses will see a decrease in traffic, an uptick in abandoned carts and a steady decline in sales.
A Plateau in SEO Performance
An eCommerce business cannot survive long if it isn’t surfacing in the SERPs. SEO is a prime component of the success of most online organizations.
However, there are plenty of Shopify themes that do not support schema markup (an essential element for structuring microdata and surfacing rich snippets).
Additionally, many of these types of hosted solutions have locked robots.txt files, thereby disabling certain pages from getting crawled (Google doesn’t like this). Other common issues include the automatic generation of sitemaps, a lack of subcategories or layered navigation options and a variety of other limitations that hamstring SEO performance capabilities.
When an eCommerce business is booming but has hit its platform’s SEO features limit it, the glass ceiling has been hit, and a new platform is in order.
If any of these issues seem familiar, a change in platforms is likely overdue. Growth can only occur when there is room for expansion to take place. Much like an overgrown plant in a pot, further proliferation is impeded until it is placed in a more spacious environment.
Even with a rapidly expanding set of problems, migrating to a new platform can be a nerve-racking experience for many merchants as there are lots of things that can go wrong. In this situation, help is available as Visiture’s expert web development team can assist business owners in establishing the best platform for them and help guide the migration process through to ensure a smooth and prosperous transition.
If your brand requires the room to spread its wings, reach out to us, and we can help you reach new heights of performance.
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Ronald Dod is the Chief Marketing Officer and Co-founder of Visiture, an end-to-end eCommerce marketing agency focused on helping online merchants acquire more customers through the use of search engines, social media platforms, marketplaces, and their online storefronts. His passion is helping leading brands use data to make more effective decisions in order to drive new traffic and conversions.
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