11 Tips for Switching Ecommerce Platforms

What is one thing a small business should consider when switching ecommerce platforms? 

To help your business when switching ecommerce platforms, we asked creative business leaders and PR professionals this question for their best tips. From considering cybersecurity awareness training to URL and link structure, there are several things a small business should consider when switching ecommerce platforms.

Here are 11 things a small business should consider when switching ecommerce platforms: 

Define And Clarify Goals

The single greatest consideration when switching from Technology A to Technology B is first to understand the desired business outcome and then determine if the change will achieve that. Far too often, companies are enticed into a vanity move that does not actually drive their business forward in a meaningful way. Having a pretty website is not necessarily a great reason to overhaul your existing one. Gaining new customers, on the other hand, is a fantastic reason! By having total clarity on the outcome, you can then define success criteria and objectively measure your success instead of relying on conjecture and intuition.

— Lukas Ruebbelke, Briebug Software

Consider Cybersecurity Awareness Training

Securing against cyber threats should be at the top of the priority list if you are considering a switch of ecommerce platforms. Cyberattacks have gotten increasingly more sophisticated in recent years, and ecommerce sites are often a sought-out target because of sensitive customer information. Ecommerce companies of all sizes should consider some form of cybersecurity awareness training for employees, especially with the introduction of a new ecommerce platform. 

— Nick Santora, Curricula

Email Marketing Integrations

Ecommerce companies are very reliant on email marketing campaigns to generate revenue for their business. When switching ecommerce platforms, one thing to consider is how the platform integrates with an email marketing provider. For example, Mailchimp may integrate well with WooCommerce, but may not have a native integration with Shopify. Think about how a platform integrates with all marketing channels so that making the switch becomes a little easier. 

— Daniel Richmond, Tic Watches

SEO Considerations

Make sure you set up web URL redirections from old URLs to the new structure. Your new platform will have a very different URL structure and you don’t want to lose all the old traffic. Also, make sure your new platform is flexible enough for your needs — I love WooCommerce on top of WordPress as you can make it do nearly anything you want and it works with so many different payment gateways.

— Dale Reardon, Travel For All

Consider How Switching Will Affect Your Integrations 

One crucial thing small businesses should consider when switching ecommerce platforms is integration. For example, WooCommerce allows you to integrate with many payment providers, while Shopify is a closed platform with a shortlist of external providers that you can connect to. This causes integration problems if you have a long-term contract with your current provider. By switching to Shopify, you’re forced to drop your current payment provider and work with someone new from Shopify’s shortlist. It may also affect your parcel services and prices as some ecommerce platforms only work with certain parcel providers. It all comes down to your business’ needs. How will staying with your current platform versus switching to a new one benefit your business? If you find that switching to a new ecommerce platform is the way to go, find out who their partners are, how fast and easy they can integrate and how they differ from your current partners before you make the switch. 

— Jessica Ulloa, MyPerfectResume

URL And Link Structure

URL structure is going to be huge in terms of site structure — you will need to start by reviewing all WooCommerce links for products, carts and checkout pages and then mapping them to their new Shopify counterparts. If you have a multilanguage site, this will be a bit more complicated as you will likely have multiple Shopify stores. Once all URLs are mapped, you will need to set up redirects and determine the best way to execute them, and finally, you’ll need to update all internal linking to point to the new URLs.

— Quincy Smith, TEFL Hero

Look For A Platform With Regular Updates

Hands down, I would recommend the business outline the core reasons they are considering a switch (are they unhappy with the current platform and why?) and then look at the other options in the market to see how they compare. If there is no underlying reason driving the desire to change (i.e., high costs, customer complaints, service issues, etc.), I would look for a platform that regularly updates their product offering, is scalable, has a strong track record of customer service, and solid funding.

— Amy Zwagerman, The Launch Box

Ownership, Cost And Tech Support

With Shopify, Etsy, and other ready-made ecommerce platforms, you are essentially renting space in their “mall.” You have to follow their rules. And, you may have limited capabilities. They cover all security and backups of your files. They are fairly user-friendly; however, not all of them offer tech support. If you have a problem, you’ll need to hire someone with tech knowledge of the platform to fix it. This is the least expensive option. 

WooCommerce is a plugin within a WordPress website that is self-hosted. That means that you own it all. You rent the space on a provider’s server, but you can build your own customized store, website, and blog. Security and backups are your responsibility. You may need a web designer/developer to create it. Hence, there are more costs involved. In the end, compare apples to apples. Read reviews and don’t jump in without research.

— Giselle Aguiar, AZ Social Media Wiz

Start With The End In Mind

Building an ecommerce site or switching to a new platform can be a sizable investment. It would be a costly mistake to go down that path and realize at the end that this new setup wasn’t going to help you accomplish your goals, or worse, create new challenges for you. Before jumping into a new platform, start by defining why you need a change in the first place. Make a list of all the existing challenges you’re having with the current provider, and then get clear on what your desired outcome looks like. Knowing this very critical information upfront will help you discern which platform is best for your needs and which will help you get to where you wish to go.

— Rani Sweis, AtticSalt

User Experience Impact

Ecommerce platforms come with advantages and disadvantages depending on your business and user needs. Switching platforms always comes with risk. To minimize risk, you want to consider how the platform will impact the user experience for all of your users. This includes business stakeholders, web administrators, and shoppers. The worst case scenario is that you introduce a platform that makes a good user experience poor. This could result in customers dropping off due to an awkward check-out experience. Or web admins being less productive due to usability issues. Or the business team getting frustrated because they’re not getting the reports they need. To make a switch that reduces risk for your business and users, you want to get a measure of how the platform is performing with all users. Survey the different user personas to understand what’s working well for them and what isn’t. This will give you a list of requirements that the new platform should meet.

— Husam Machlovi, With Pulp

Focus On Brand Value

Values and philosophies should matter, even when considering switching ecommerce platforms. You want to make sure whatever platform you decide to use is one you can trust. Scope out the platform’s blog, social media, case studies, and reviews to gauge whether their values and priorities align with you and your business. You should make sure the new platform is a good fit from all angles! 

— Kayla Centeno, Markitors

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Small Business Computing Staff
Small Business Computing Staff
Small Business Computing addresses the technology needs of small businesses, which are defined as businesses with fewer than 500 employees and/or less than $7 million in annual sales.

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