Migrating from SAP to commercetools made easy

Migrating from SAP to commercetools made easy

commercetools author image Stephanie Wittmann
Stephanie Wittmann
Head of Communications & Content, commercetools
Published 05 July 2022

Yes, re-platforming your eCommerce solution can be a long, complicated process. But moving from a monolithic platform to commercetools doesn’t have to be — and in many cases, is the only option for enterprises to achieve long-term commerce success.

Migrating from SAP to commercetools made easy

When is the right time to migrate?

Basically, if SAP no longer supports your business goals, then NOW is the right time to migrate. Has your eCommerce experienced any of the following due to SAP?

  • Performance lag: Is your site too slow? According to Google, 50% of users expect a site to load within two seconds and will abandon a website if it does not. 

  • Gaps in the existing system: Your current system is missing features such as support for omnichannel selling and does not have the agility to release new features without disruption.  

  • Lack of scalability: You have difficulty adding multiple countries/markets, brands or currencies. Plus, your website can not scale to meet the needs of your growing business, and often crashes during shopping peaks like Black Friday and Christmas.

  • Poor administration functions: Your marketing team cannot add or change promotions quickly or on their own. 

  • High total cost of ownership (TCO): Upkeep and upgrade expenses, as well as keeping a dedicated IT department to manage ongoing maintenance and hiring specialized developers are eating into your budget. 

Choosing a new commerce solution

If you’re thinking that perhaps migrating to a different version of SAP would be the right move, think again. Moving between out-of-date eCommerce platforms will do more harm than good in the long run. 

Although SAP is making an effort to decouple certain components of the commerce platform, it is still monolithic in nature, with the core commerce platform leveraging a single database (Gartner Magic Quadrant Digital Commerce 2021). And because monolithic platforms don’t support several features for companies that want to grow, expand and improve their site performance, IT departments need to develop complicated, time-consuming workarounds. 

In today’s fast-moving commerce business, brands and merchants need to enhance their agility and flexibility. Customer demand is continually changing, new touchpoints are emerging and innovative ways of communication between consumers and suppliers have appeared. Brands and retailers need to be able to build new prototypes quickly, experiment with the user experience and create great services for their customers to drive loyalty. The only way out: move to another, more flexible architecture — like commercetools.

The hard facts: commercetools vs SAP

The architecture of commercetools follows MACH (Microservices-based, API-first, Cloud-native, Headless) principles, which was developed to be the antithesis of monolithic platforms. In other words, all the shortcomings of monoliths are areas of strength with commercetools.

  • Time to market
    commercetools: Microservices-based solution makes it easy to deploy continuously.
    SAP: Because of their size and dependencies, monoliths are harder to deploy.

  • Launching new promotions
    commercetools: Takes minutes and doesn’t cause disruptions.
    SAP: Platform suffers many performance issues with promotions.

  • Onboarding
    commercetools: Onboarding is easy and takes just days thanks to simplified workflows.
    SAP: The suite complexity makes onboarding a challenging task of up to 6 weeks.

  • Extensibility
    commercetools: Easily create or customize functionality via extensible APIs.
    SAP: Can be extended, but there is a risk of having to upgrade and maintain extensions.

  • Pricing models
    commercetools: Pay-as-you grow. Upgrades and maintenance are included.
    SAP: High upgrade costs and expensive customization options.

The biggest gains we experienced when moving from SAP to commercetools was that the tech and business sides of our organizations could be, for the first time ever, in strategic and executional lockstep. We broke down internal siloed thinking and enabled both our eCommerce and marketing teams to push their thinking of what’s possible in ways we’d never seen before. We also benefited from a steady and predictable feature delivery, as well as the ability to plan further along our roadmap.
Tovi Heilbronn

Director of Digital Product and Experience, Harry Rosen

Migration in a nutshell

So, you’ve decided to migrate — congratulations! Now it’s time to build your re-platforming strategy. These are the typical steps of a migration project:

  • Build a communication strategy: Bring all the vendors together and make sure all stakeholders know what is happening and who is taking the lead.

  • Plan as early as possible: Build a migration roadmap for timelines, milestones and business requirements during the vendor selection phase. Bring on a project manager early.

  • Prepare teams for site migration kickoff: Get all stakeholders and product owners engaged. Delegate duties so all members of the project team are in the same headspace for implementation. 

  • Choose a migration strategy: Big Bang; Waterfall; Agile; Walk, Crawl, Run; and Strangler Pattern are the most common migration strategies you can choose from.

  • Audit and backup data: Review the existing data to select what to migrate or leave behind. Have a backup location where you can access your data.

  • Import and verify data: Migrate your product data and customer/order data manually, using a migration app or through a third-party team.

  • Test before launching: Check all other aspects, features and functionalities to verify that there are no typos, bugs or errors that were missed.

  • Launch: Enjoy the freedom that comes from breaking out of the monolith and all the benefits commercetools brings to your eCommerce.

How commercetools simplifies migration

The beauty of commercetools’ headless, microservices-based architecture is that common headaches that come with migration projects, like downtime and disruption, simply do not happen. Migration can take a much easier and more stable approach, known as the strangler pattern, which replaces parts of the old eCommerce one at a time with new applications and services in a phased approach.

Modularity and extensibility were paramount for us. Not only did we have peace of mind because we can realize future requirements, it also enabled us to launch changes to our users incrementally, running commercetools in parallel. Although this cautious and risk-averse approach may take a little longer, it results in a smoother roll-out with happy users while also minimizing the shock to internal operations – often compared to an open-heart surgery by our senior leadership.
Halil Köklü

CTO, LoveCrafts

Another implementation method that commercetools facilitates is the crawl, walk, run approach. With this methodology, you would evolve your approach for a big project into small stages, rather than trying to make all of the significant changes all at once. 

Thanks to the flexibility of composable commerce, it’s possible to get a minimum viable product (MVP) up and running quickly to form a first base for kicking off a commerce solution for use in the rest of your business. The advantage of this approach is businesses may implement only what they can afford to get by and upgrade to more features as they grow.  

Is your company preparing for a full migration from SAP to commercetools? We have a white paper detailing the complete steps for migration planning and execution for your developers.

commercetools author image Stephanie Wittmann
Stephanie Wittmann
Head of Communications & Content, commercetools

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