How to Run a Successful Site eCommerce Migration

How to run a successful eCommerce migration: Here are 6 best practices

Manuela Tchoe
Manuela Tchoe
Senior Content Writer, commercetools
Published 16 August 2023
Estimated reading time minutes

As the world of eCommerce shifts from monolithic to composable applications, how can businesses successfully modernize their infrastructure? Discover 6 vital best practices for your eCommerce migration to composable with ease and confidence.

How to Run a Successful Site eCommerce Migration

Business and technology leaders know that they must adapt to the rapid ongoing technological advances or risk being left behind: According to Enterprise MACHified research, 82% of C-level executives said concerns about the economy have increased the need to modernize their IT architecture and 85% recognized that it’s crucial to deliver improvements to customer experiences at speed. 

At the heart of modernization is composable commerce, a component-based solution design approach that gives companies flexibility and freedom to build and run outstanding shopping experiences. By 2024, Gartner predicts the mantra for new SaaS will be “composable API-first and API-only,” relegating traditional SaaS vendors as “legacy.”

So, how can businesses migrate from legacy systems to composable? And how can they make this transition as smooth as possible? Let’s delve deeper into best practices to help you on this journey. 

Download: The Composable Commerce Migration Guide for B2C

When is the right time to migrate to composable commerce?

It’s important to identify the signs when you’re due for an eCommerce upgrade, which may include: 

  • Your eCommerce site has a performance lag. According to Google, 50% of users expect a site to load within two seconds and will abandon a website if it does not. If your site is slow, this is a sign that you should update to a higher-performing platform.

  • Your system is inflexible. If your current system prevents your business from integrating new features or performing updates smoothly, it’s time to shop for a new solution.

  • Lack of scalability. Given the rise in online buying, enterprises looking to ramp up their digital revenue must have an eCommerce architecture that scales to meet the needs of the business during Black Friday-like moments. This includes zero downtime and the ability to process tens of thousands of orders per minute.

  • Poor admin function. Working with a non-intuitive eCommerce platform can be frustrating. Poorly designed business tooling will slow your team down and result in reduced output. In such cases, migrating to an eCommerce solution with an intuitive, no-code interface such as commercetools’ business tooling, Merchant Center, will ensure maximum output and productivity.

  • High total costs of ownership (TCO). The cost of legacy platforms is more than a licensing fee or the cost of integrations. It’s also about upgrades, maintenance and the (often hidden) cost of technical debt. If you’re keeping track of these costs in a multi-year journey, you’ll notice that the real total costs of ownership (TCO) of your legacy platform are much higher than initially thought.

  • Innovation is becoming harder every day. With a monolithic platform, your developers are busy maintaining the system and fixing bugs. The platform itself is hard to customize, extend and ship releases constantly. That rigidity means brands cannot quickly adapt to new market conditions or evolving consumer expectations. 

Your eCommerce migration checklist: 6 best practices

If you have decided on a composable architecture, it’s time to start your migration plan. Let’s delve deeper into best practices that will help you in this process. 

Best practice #1 — Create a clear communication strategy across the organization 

Before starting any migration plans, create a clear communication strategy to ensure all the project stakeholders know what is happening and who is taking the lead. It’s vital to choose leaders for their domain experience and connection to their teams.  

Prepare for your commercetools project the same way you would for any modified agile commerce project — assemble the Avengers! While the Marvel superhero team has some pretty amazing powers, I’m not sure building technology is one of them. Your Avengers are your project manager, product owner and enterprise/solution architect.
Raymond Ussery

VP of Customer Success Engineering, commercetools

Here are a few steps that can help prepare your team for the migration project kickoff:

  • Get all stakeholders engaged. This can be through discovery sessions, pre-meetings and brainstorming get-togethers. These meetings should involve feedback from everyone in the organization.

  • Engage with the product owner. This is important as they will make the final decision on the end result. Challenge them to think outside the box.

  • Delegate duties. Form a multidisciplinary core team of in-house employees with the required knowledge and experience to be headed by a project manager. You may have to supplement this team with external experts or rely on an external agency to run your eCommerce migration project, especially if the existing team is busy. 

  • Keep your leadership in the loop. Provide updates on your progress and milestones to your executives, as well as issues you’ve resolved. This will help increase the confidence leadership has in you and your team.

Best practice #2 — Define your eCommerce data migration strategy 

When embarking on a migration process, use this opportunity to think ambitiously and long-term. This is the time to contemplate how your business should function with the data setup and efficient processes you need to support your vision. It’s crucial to avoid duplicating quick fixes or workarounds from the previous commerce solution. 

To provide an analogy, consider the process of moving houses. When transitioning to a larger house or apartment, bringing along all your possessions from the previous, smaller place is possible. However, does it make sense? Wouldn’t it be more prudent to envision your dream home and then decide which elements of the old house should be retained and which areas should be completely reimagined? For instance, you may choose to transport your old bed while opting for a brand-new kitchen with state-of-the-art appliances.

When starting your assessment, identify the areas that cause the greatest business pain, ascertain the aspects customers frequently complain about or recognize the most promising business opportunities. This is the opportunity to “clean house,” so the specific needs of your company should dictate this evaluation, paving the way for a comprehensive digital transformation tailored to the uniqueness of your business.

Before [companies] can even think about utilizing their data, they need to make sure they have access to all their data. While tech teams get super excited to start using the flexible data model commercetools offers as quickly as possible, it’s important to first take a step back and spend some time assessing the data they have and consider how they can clean and enrich it, as well as creating strategies to leverage it better. It’s really important to do this in the beginning.
Michael Scholz

Vice President of Product and Customer Marketing, commercetools

Best practice #3 — Plan your migration project from end-to-end 

Get started by assessing the state of your current digital ecosystem, including the frontend user experience, backend functionality and third-party systems. Take this opportunity to think outside the box, designing a tailored solution for the unique needs of your business. 

After an initial discovery process, build a migration roadmap that explicitly defines timelines, milestones to be achieved and business requirements. An important prerequisite for this step is bringing a project manager on board early. Having a clear plan of action will ensure that the migration process flows as seamlessly as possible.

Best practice #4 — Choose an eCommerce migration strategy

After the decisions involving the platform of choice, delegation of duties in the team and business requirements have been made, the next choice is what migration strategy to use: 

  • Strangler pattern (also known as phased migration): The strangler pattern is a popular migration approach that gradually transitions your monolithic application into microservices, replacing functionalities piece by piece. In digital commerce, the strangler pattern has become a popular migration method because it reduces the chances of system disruptions. At the same time, businesses can reap the benefits of new applications without waiting until the entire solution is complete.  

  • Big bang (also known as Greenfield approach): The big bang approach is a more traditional method of system migrations designed to make the switch from the current system to a new one at a single point in time; the go-live. In short, your platform remains in place until the new infrastructure can be switched on in a single “big bang” event.  

What’s the best approach for your business? It’s entirely up to you. When considering what approach to take, take into account how easily can your current system be broken down into smaller components, how experienced your team is with microservices, and whether it makes to create a proof-of-concept (POC) and pilot it with a subset of your buying journey. 

Best practice #5 — Migrate the data you need and ALWAYS keep backups

Before migrating to a new eCommerce platform, it is vital to review the existing data on your legacy platform to select what the team needs to migrate and what they should leave behind. 

You should also back up your existing data. Also, determine which third-party apps to keep and which to leave behind, as you may have some which are outdated.

You can migrate your data by one of these three methods: Manually, using a migration app, or through a third-party team. For instance, commercetools offers its own version of ImpEx

You should also keep an up-to-date copy of your product catalog in your old platform as there are “hard” references to products, categories, etc. It is easiest to continue pushing your raw product catalog data from your ERP, PIM or other catalog master to your current solution, as has been done traditionally. Moreover, feed that data to your new platform, and only allow your business users to further enrich that data in the new platform.

Finally, testing is a crucial step you should take while moving from a monolith to a composable setup to identify compatibility issues and ensure data integrity. This way, you can avoid system crashes or data loss, prevent errors or corruption of data and refine overall system performance and reduce downtime. 

Best practice #6 — Capitalize on the feedback of your customers

After your migration, keeping open and continuous communication with customers is key. Constant interactions with customers will help you stay on top of expectations and demands, so your innovations can cater to the people that matter the most in the years to come. 

Your customers are the ones who will use your commerce technology — plus, they shop online with other brands every day. It only makes sense that they’d have an opinion of what they want from your experience.
Raymond Ussery

VP of Customer Success Engineering, commercetools

Get ready for your new composable commerce platform

While a migration process is always a project that demands time and effort across your organization, one of the benefits of a composable architecture is that you don’t have to replatform ever again; after all, you can replace best-of-breed components easily without having to change to yet another platform. 

With careful planning, open communication across the organization, a strong data migration strategy and the ability to incorporate customer feedback into your commerce experiences, your business is primed for continued success and growth. 

Ready to dive deeper into the world of composable commerce? Download our comprehensive Composable Commerce Migration Guide for B2C now.

Manuela Tchoe
Manuela Tchoe
Senior Content Writer, commercetools

Manuela Marques Tchoe is a Content Writer at commercetools. She was a Content and Product Marketing Director at conversational commerce provider tyntec. She has written content in partnership with Facebook, Rakuten Viber and other social media platforms.

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