Blog 13 minutes

E-commerce replatforming: When and how to switch e-commerce platforms in B2B

Eshanka Kodituwakku
March 24, 2023

Overview: Your e-commerce replatforming plan

    Understand when to replatform and the signs that it’s time to switch

    There are a lot of variables and unknowns when it comes to e-commerce replatforming. The best way to get started is to understand when to replatform.

    Start by asking yourself the following 6 questions. If your answer to any of them is “yes”, you might want to consider switching e-commerce solution providers.

    1. Are you spending too much time, money and effort on your current platform?

    As you know, the cost of an e-commerce platform does not stop at the initial implementation. You also need to factor in maintenance. Combined, these make up your e-commerce TCO (total cost of ownership).

    If you need to invest a significant and unexpected amount of money and resources to maintain and run your web store, then you should consider migrating to a new e-commerce platform.

    Where do most companies experience unpredictable costs and operational inefficiencies?

    • Database maintenance: Do you spend hours on repetitive manual data entry and importing orders due to a lack of automation?
    • IT management: Are you spending too much time maintaining multiple systems — such as both an ERP and e-commerce platform — and replicating data and logic across both systems?
    • Development: Does your e-commerce platform require continuous and costly development?
    • Order errors and return management: How many order errors do you have? Are the costs of return management impacting your bottom line?
    • Content and other front-end management: Is it time-consuming to change something on the front end of your web store? Does every single change you want to make need to go via a web agency?
    • Licenses and hosting: Are you experiencing high and/or rising licensing and hosting costs?
    How can you reduce your e-commerce TCO and reduce operational costs?

    One way to reduce your e-commerce TCO and save valuable time is to opt for an e-commerce solution that automates the entire ordering process, based on one leading database (such as your ERP).

    Such automation will cut back on hours of data entry, manual importing and syncing of systems, as well as reducing costs related to human errors. Your team will then be free to focus on driving revenue through service and sales, instead of repetitive administrative tasks.

    Check out the video below on why leading clothing and accessory manufacturer and distributor, Moto Direct, switched from Magento to a new e-commerce solution.

    2. Is your e-commerce platform struggling to scale with your business?

    As your business grows and your strategy evolves, you need an e-commerce platform that can keep up with your increasingly complex business needs.

    Whether you’re looking at:

    • International expansion and the need to support multiple currencies, languages, business divisions, tax rules, shipping options and more via your web store
    • Changing business models, such as D2C, which involves more channels and different target audiences with varying needs
    • Acquisitions and growing product portfolios
    • Changing customer needs
    • Expanding integration capabilities and/or extensibility options

    A lot of complexities come with the growth of a business. So, you need to determine whether your current IT environment fits in with your strategic roadmap. If your e-commerce platform is too rigid to scale with your business or leads to too many errors due to the complex nature of your growing business, it’s time to consider changing your e-commerce platform.


    3. Is your online customer experience falling short?

    In 2023, more and more B2B companies are waking up to the fact that it is no longer enough to just offer a web store. The focus is now on improving the online customer experience. Customer experience in B2B e-commerce is essential nowadays, and it is often a key reason why companies choose to change their e-commerce platform.

    E-commerce platforms must meet the following criteria in order to fulfill B2B customers’ needs:

    1. Display real-time information 24/7, such as pricing, product information, and inventory levels, but also customer-specific payment terms.
    2. Offer advanced e-commerce functionalities, including the ability to quickly and easily place, track and return orders.
    3. Handle the complexities of B2B orders, including those based on complex pricing and discount structures.
    4. Prevent order errors, by displaying accurate product and inventory information, as well as customer-specific order history and account data.


    4. Are you missing key B2B e-commerce features and functionalities for the B2B use case?

    As mentioned above, having the right B2B e-commerce functionalities is key to offering your customers a better online buying experience. But it also helps you process orders faster, with more accuracy and with less reliance on offline customer support teams.

    Are you missing key features for your business and customers? Is your e-commerce solution unable to accurately present your B2B business rules in your sales portal? Or is the information displayed in your web store not always accurate? Then replatforming might be a good choice for you.


    5. Have there been impactful changes in your organization’s tech infrastructure?

    Changes in your organization’s tech stack have implications on your e-commerce. For example, if your organization is switching to a new ERP (e.g.: SAP B1 👉 SAP S4/HANA) or support for your current ERP will end soon (e.g.: Dynamics AX 👉 Dynamics 365 F&O), you may need to look into an e-commerce solution that supports your new ERP.


    6. Are there security issues in your current e-commerce platform?

    As e-commerce continues to grow and evolve, ensuring the security of online transactions and protecting user data has become increasingly important. Unfortunately, many e-commerce platforms fall short in terms of security, leaving users vulnerable to cyber attacks and data breaches.

    For example, your current e-commerce shop might not have patches for known vulnerabilities or it might not provide adequate features to comply with new regulations, like GDPR laws or e-privacy.

    By switching to a new e-commerce provider, you can take steps to improve the security of your e-commerce site and protect both your business and your customers.


    Once you’ve identified why you want to replatform your e-commerce platform, you’ll be able to better understand what your current issues are. You’ll also be able to better structure your replatforming project now that you know exactly what needs to change.

    Replatform like a pro with our FREE Replatforming Project Template!

    How to evaluate your current tech stack and platform

    Before replatforming, or even looking into a new e-commerce solution, you should evaluate your current tech stack and e-commerce platform.

    Collect qualitative and quantitative data

    Use the following indicators to evaluate whether your e-commerce platform still provides a good customer experience, or whether it’s time to consider replatforming:

    • Customer feedback: Ask your customers directly: Are they happy with your web store? Or do you keep hearing the same complaints?
    • Repeat orders and customer lifetime value: Are customers willing to place orders online? If your customers are satisfied, you’ll naturally see an increase in online sales, repeat orders and returning customers.
    • Order errors: How often do you — and therefore your customers — have to deal with order errors?
    • Customer self-service: Are your customers able to find what they need in the web store, or do they contact your support teams for help? How often do customers reach out to you via phone or email with standard questions?


    Map out your existing business logic and processes

    New technology or platforms should improve current processes — not cause headaches or additional work.

    Whichever new e-commerce solution you choose, the new system should not remove any processes that are liked by your customers or employees.

    How do you prevent this? Start by talking to customers and employees to understand which current processes and/or logic are vital to them. This list will contribute to your requirements for your new e-commerce provider.

    Learn more about how to audit your existing tech stack in our blog on migrating to SaaS e-commerce.


    Review existing and third-party integrations

    Make note of all your current integrations and integrations that you might want, now or in the future.

    Here’s how I recommend doing this in four simple steps:

    1. List down the third-party integrations that you currently make use of.
    2. List down any new integrations you need from the new platform.
    3. List down integrations that you expect to be needed in the next two to three years.
    4. Once you have these three lists, flag the ones which are available out of the box and which features would be customizations.

    Factors to consider when choosing a new e-commerce platform

    Now that you’ve identified where your current e-commerce platform is falling short, it’s time to consider where you want to go next. To ensure you select the right software vendor, there are seven factors you should take into consideration:

    • Out-of-the-box e-commerce software: Which provider’s standard solution best meets your requirements?
    • Integration of systems: Will the e-commerce solutions fit into your current tech stack?
    • E-commerce costs: How do the solution providers compare financially?
    • Time to market: How quickly can the vendors get your new web store live?
    • Relevant experience and track record: Do the e-commerce providers have the expertise you need?
    • Culture fit: Which e-commerce solution provider would make the best partner?
    • Support capabilities: How will the vendors help and educate you?

    Dive deeper into these factors: Read the full blog post on how to select the best e-commerce solution provider.

    What features to look for in a new B2B e-commerce platform

    Companies selling online B2B vs. B2C have very different needs in terms of what they sell, who they sell to, and how they sell. Here are some of the most important B2B features for companies selling online to other companies.

    • B2B customer registration
    • Quotes and quote to order conversion
    • Personalized customer-specific catalogs and pricing
    • Ability to buy in bulk + volume pricing (bulk discounts)
    • Easy-to-use content management system
    • Ability to segment customers
    • Comprehensive search feature
    • Variety of online payment options
    • Order tracking functionality
    • Analytics and reporting functionalities
    • Login options for users and admins
    • Self-service features for customers
    • And more

    There are a lot of great e-commerce platforms out there; however, very few actually offer all the features B2B e-commerce companies need out-of-the-box in order for their B2B business to succeed.


    Audit your existing features and plan for new ones

    Current features

    Make sure the new e-commerce platform you’re looking into has the features needed to support you and your customers’ needs.

    New and needed features

    Make sure that highly requested features are included in the new e-commerce solution, or at least that there is the option for them to be included.

    Future needs and ability to scale

    Look for features that are known to be needed but are lower in priority, which are expected to be followed up in the near future.

    What content and data should be migrated when switching e-commerce providers?

    Content and data migration is a crucial part of replatforming. Which means it’s crucial that you make a solid plan of action for how you intend to migrate your company’s content resources and library.

    Before you even begin to think about how to migrate everything over, you should first decide what you want to bring over to the new site. For example, do you really need to migrate those product images from 2003?


    How to decide what content and data should move to your new e-commerce site

    Decide on what content you want to bring with you and what you want to leave in the archives.

    It’s also important to examine what data can’t be exported from your existing platform, for example passports or credit-card tokens.

    You’ll also want to check on what data can’t be imported to the new e-commerce site. Not all e-commerce platforms support the same file formats, or you could have difficulties making your existing site design work in the new design structure.


    Data types to consider when replatforming your e-commerce:

    • Main content: Product, content, and other landing pages, blog, navigation, footer, etc.
    • SEO data: Sitemaps, title tags, meta descriptions, image alt text, etc.
    • User data: Logins
    • Transactional data: Order-related information
    • Marketing data: Newsletter subscriptions
    • Technical data: Transaction and audit logs

    Who should be involved in your e-commerce migration strategy?

    Now that you’ve got the what, you can focus on the how, and specifically who needs to be involved. Make sure that the following duties and tasks are picked up in order to ensure a successful platform migration.

    • Content export, import and new content creation: Assign someone the task of making sure that all content that is still relevant to your organization is moved off the old platform. Also decide on what you will be importing to your new online shop and what content needs to be created.
    • Data migration: Make sure to export all important data from your current platform and have this ready and available to import into the backend of your new e-commerce solution.

    Depending on how big your organization is, you may have one person doing all these tasks or you may be able to have one person per task — or even an entire team per task. But no matter how big your company, make sure that you set clear goals, deadlines and expectations for each task.

    Most importantly, make sure you choose an e-commerce provider who will be available to support you during your migration and help answer any questions you may have about content and data migration.

    What happens to your e-commerce between project start and go live? How to prepare for the “twilight zone”

    There will always be an awkward transition period when migrating to a new e-commerce platform.

    It is crucial to plan time during this period to question and test how certain problems that come up will be handled.

    What do you need to take into account between starting your e-commerce migration and go live?


    Test the system

    • Decision: Do we connect the existing test ERP to the new platform?
    • Risk: If there is a critical issue in the current live system there will be no beta system to debug on.
    • Dilemma: It is not easy and is costly to create a new test ERP system.


    Look at licensing

    • Decision: Do we continue paying the license for the old platform/services?
    • Risk: If the licensing is set to cancel then it is vital that the new platform implementation is completed on time.
    • Dilemma: It is less risky to hold off on cancelling the existing license. But it is costly to pay for two licenses in parallel.


    Evaluate your data processes

    • Decision: Do we try to stop more data being stored in the old system?
    • Risk: The live platform will keep storing data till the point of switching fully to the new platform.
    • Dilemma: If data is migrated early some new data might need to again be imported. If kept for last moment, then it might take too long to finish.


    Production testing

    • Decision: How do we make sure that the new platform works with live ERP data?
    • Risk: The live platform is tested with beta ERP which can lead to unidentified problems on go live date.
    • Dilemma: The live ERP cannot be connected to both old and new platforms at the same time. Long down-time is also not acceptable.

    Additional resources for your B2B e-commerce replatforming project

    Here are some additional resources to help you carry out a successful e-commerce replatforming project:

    Want to find out more about Sana Commerce and ERP-integrated e-commerce? Learn more about our B2B-first e-commerce solution, Sana Commerce Cloud, and the impact our platform has had on our customers, from conversions and revenue, to order error rates.

    About the author

    Eshanka Kodituwakku is one of Sana Commerce’s go-to Senior E-Commerce Consultants. He helps companies map their real-world business needs and turns their business goals into an e-commerce strategy.

    With 8 years’ experience in e-commerce he’s consulted nearly 150 companies, and overseen more than 50 e-commerce migrations, in Europe, the United Kingdom and Ireland, the Middle East, South Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

    His favorite part about the job? Brainstorming and bouncing ideas off his colleagues and customers to come up with smart solutions.

    Eshanka Kodituwakku - Senior E-Commerce Consultant - Sana Commerce

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