Why change ecommerce platforms?

One of the best parts of being an ecommerce consultant and storeowner is corresponding with all the amazing entrepreneurs who have found their niche and disrupted it. This time of year is especially worthwhile to connect with other merchants, as many are embarking on development projects to improve their stores. Whether it’s a seasoned retailer or someone looking to improve an Etsy store, everyone, seemingly, is trying to evolve and innovate.

One of the more popular themes I’ve been hearing recently is people looking to change shopping cart providers.The holiday madness is over. Now is a good time to look at where you’ve been as well as where you’re headed.

Our shopping cart provider is Bigcommerce. We switched to that platform, from Volusion, in late 2013. Since then, many folks have asked me why.

While I have my reasons for making the switch, I usually flip the question back to them and ask how they landed with their current provider or why they’re considering a change.

Most often, they’ll tell me that their platform was recommended to them by a consultant or it was popular at the time. The latter is always most interesting to me because it shows the power of trends and perception.

The primary reason I picked Volusion in March 2012 was because a colleague was using it. I also had noticed a lot of my favorite online stores — those that I purchased products from — were using it. It seemed like the way to go.

In November 2013, I received a cold call from a Bigcommerce employee, inviting me to take a trial run of the platform. By that point, I had heavily customized my Volusion store. The thought of replatforming wasn’t on the top of my list of things to do, especially with the holidays approaching. I was, however, living with some features that were less than desirable. The biggest issue I had with Volusion, by far, was the reporting. It took my bookkeeper several hours to reconcile financial data, and we were much smaller then, versus today.

The demo went really smooth. Replatforming, I thought, could be an opportunity to revisit my entire ecommerce infrastructure. Even though our product catalog was much smaller than it is now, the process of migrating was still a tremendous undertaking.

When merchants tell me that they are considering changing on or off of a shopping cart provider, I typically ask them, “Why?” In this world of conversion rates and driving revenue, it’s easy to find weaknesses in a platform. It’s also frustrating when another platform is releasing new features at a quicker pace than your current one.

Next month, I’ll address my approach to deciding whether or not to change platforms. Until then, read a terrific post by my fellow columnist, David Sasson, about his company’s switch, at “Lessons from changing ecommerce platforms.”

Kenny Kane
Kenny Kane
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