We are often asked ‘what’s the best platform for my ecommerce store?’ Our response is always in line with the size of the business, the product offering and the market. Where the product offering is highly focused (small in number and variants) or where the business has a modest turnover, the answer is often a platform like WooCommerce. Where the product offering is broad with configurable products (a product type with many options on colour, size etc) and the business is growing their ecommerce channel, Magento is often a more suitable route with the advice that an investment of around £50K would be the likely consideration.

Another common question is how often should I redesign/redevelop/change my ecommerce website. Our advice on this commonly hinges on the type of business the vendor is running, whether their product and audience are particularly aesthetically driven, and also how well their current site meets current user expectations and best practice guidelines. Typically, ecommerce sites need renewing every 3-5 years with interim minor refreshes and improvements. We are always happy to review this with a business and make recommendations, but it is often a key starting point in identifying what has become a ‘legacy platform’.

Technology-wise, a legacy platform can be defined as one that has not been recently updated. This can be a risk with a bespoke platform, where a provider doesn’t maintain their investment in the platform. In some cases, technology suppliers decide to ‘end-of-life’ a platform, leaving the market altogether or replacing it with a newer product. This has been the case with Adobe replacing the Magento 1 product with Magento 2, ‘end-of-lifing’ Magento 1 in June. With open source platforms such as Magento and WooCommerce it’s important to apply theme, extension and platform updates and patches as soon as they’re issued for as long as they’re available. Once they stop being issued the platforms security and robustness starts to degrade.

Essentially, the cost of running a legacy ecommerce platform depends on what happens should you be hacked or the technology simply cease to function. The best case here is that it can be patched up and limp along until the next incident, the worst-case scenario is one where the malicious entity channels your customers transactions into their bank account. Obviously, this would cause your business significant reputational damage, but also in dealing with the ramifications will likely cost you time and (a lot) money.

So, the first step in avoiding future unexpected costs and/or damage to your business is to look at what you’ve got and ask the following questions;

  1. Is the technology up to date?
  2. What is the current level of risk to the business?
  3. Does the site meet user expectations? Think about sites they are likely to use frequently such as Amazon as a benchmark, and consider your competitors.
  4. Where does online feature in the business’s sales strategy?
  5. What is the digital sales channel worth to the business currently and what is the potential for growth?
  6. Are you selling on marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay, might there be merit in considering these and therefore would an integrated platform be beneficial?
  7. What would be a reasonable level of investment, and what ROI would be expected from it?

If you need help with answering any of these questions, or if you’d like to discuss this further then please call 01787 319393 or email talktous@netxtra.net.

We’ve helped businesses such as Thomas Ridley increase their digital sales channel by over 400% and open up a new B2C market to their traditionally B2B business, so we’d love to talk to you about your strategy and how we might help.