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Thinking About Changing E-Commerce Platforms? Think Again!

Have you ever heard the little ditty that goes, “My platform sucks and I want to move?” It’s a tune I know well. This is a complaint I’ve heard many times during my years as a web developer. Whether it’s from a long time customer or a brand new sales lead, I always approach the situation the same way.

Let’s talk about it

Moving platforms isn’t something to take lightly. It is much more cumbersome and impactful than most merchants realize. So, when someone reaches out to me, I really take my time to explain to them the full scope of what migrating platforms entails. Maybe moving is the right choice for you. Maybe it’s not. The only thing I can tell you for certain is that you absolutely must take a full-scale look at the pros and cons. Then, if you do decide that moving is in your best interest, you have to have a game plan.

Oh, Dear!

It breaks my heart when someone contacts me after migrating just to realize they didn’t fully understand what was necessary and they didn’t prepare properly. There is no easy way to tell someone whose business is in a fast-moving downward spiral that it might take weeks, months, or years to recover from what they’ve done.

If you’re thinking about moving platforms, keep reading. This information might save your business!

Why move?

This is the first question I ask. Why do you want to move to another e-commerce platform? Most merchants are frustrated because they’ve hit a wall somewhere and it’s a stumbling block. It might even be hurting their customers or bottom line. Sometimes this is one major problem, but other times it’s several nuisances that add up into a lot of frustration. I have found that most people’s complaints fall into one of these three categories: pricing, support, or features.

Gotta save that $$

Money is a big deal, especially if you’re a numbers guy (or gal). If you hear another platform has better rates, you might be tempted into moving. However, there is a lot to consider here. First of all, moving platforms is costly. For some merchants, I’m talking thousands of dollars. Second of all, your traffic is going to fluctuate. How much money are you willing to lose in lost sales potential while your search rankings readjust over the course of weeks or months? These are the kinds of things you need to be thinking about. Does a small amount in monthly or yearly savings justify the cost of moving?

Also, don’t be fooled by a nice looking pricing chart. Those are only the upfront costs. If you want additional features or functionality on the new platform, how much does that cost? Compare the rates of developers and plugins or extensions on each platform. It doesn’t do you any good to save on your monthly rates if you’re going to pay more in maintenance long term.

“It doesn’t do you any good to save on your monthly rates if you’re going to pay more in maintenance long term. “

For example, some people consider moving to WordPress so that they can use WooCommerce for their store platform. Both of those pieces of software are free. However, there are expenses you might not be thinking of. For example, a $5 GoDaddy hosting account isn’t going to cut it if you want your store to run efficiently. You’re going to need quality web hosting and you’ll most likely need to purchase your own SSL certificate, which is an annual fee.

Another consideration is that you have to maintain WordPress and your plugins yourself or pay someone to do that. With a major platform like Merchant Solutions from Yahoo Small Business, you don’t have to worry about that. All your maintenance and upgrades are done for you automatically. By the time you add up the costs of what it would actually take to maintain your WooCommerce store, you’d likely find that it’s comparable to what you’d pay with most major platforms.

As a last note on the price tag issue, try negotiating. If you are seriously considering moving platforms just based on pricing alone, contact your e-commerce platform provider and have a conversation with them. I’ve seen cases where merchants have been able to successfully negotiate deals to save money with their current provider. For example, sometimes you can save money just by changing plans, especially if the plans structures have changed since you’ve first signed up.

Hello, IT, have you tried turning it off and on again?

We all understand the need for quality support. If you can’t get the help you need, it can be super frustrating and detrimental for your business. Problems in this area result from either bad interactions with the support team or just a general lack of support. No company is perfect. You’re dealing with humans. Try not to let one bad human interaction spoil the whole company for you – trust me.

As a developer, I deal with support personnel for a multitude of things whether it is a platform, hosting company, plugin developer, or some other company. Over the course of multiple interactions with a company, I get a more fully developed overview of the quality of their support. I deal with some companies that have ridiculously amazing support. I’ve also encountered a few that I dread having to contact because their support is a flaming bucket of cow poo 💩. Even with the top-notch companies, you occasionally run into a bad apple that is clueless about life, the universe, and everything. Leave your feedback with the company and move on to another support person, but don’t give up over one interaction.

When it comes to a lack of support altogether, one thing I find interesting is that a large majority of merchants simply aren’t aware of all the support channels and options they have available. I’m going to use Yahoo as an example, because we’ve been part of their developer network for nearly 20 years. They have an entire community with help articles, training materials, and community forums. They also have direct support options by phone and email. Large merchants typically enjoy having a dedicated account manager. Yahoo also has numerous social media profiles they can be contacted through. On top of that, you have the entire developer network, which is a great resource to find professional help on technical problems. Some developers, like All Web, even offer store training. So, when I get contacted by a Yahoo merchant who is complaining about support, it’s usually a really simple problem to resolve.

Now, if you’ve had multiple interactions with a company and still haven’t gotten anywhere and you’ve exhausted all of your support avenues, migrating to a platform that actually cares about your success (like Yahoo Small Business) is probably something to consider more seriously.

I need more widgets, gizmos, doohickeys, and whatchamacallits!

Ok, so price and support are things that can be worked around unless there is a major issue. However, when it comes to features, this could be a make or break for your store. Maybe there is some functionality that is a deal breaker for your store that just doesn’t come out of the box. Before you throw in the towel and jet off to another platform because they offer XYZ functionality, do a bit of research.

Sometimes the functionality you’re looking for is available as a plugin (add-on or extension). If not, it never hurts to reach out to a few developers. For example, Yahoo is just about the most customizable e-commerce platform there is when it comes to adding functionality. It just has to be custom built. The key here is finding the right developer that can accomplish what you need. Often times, this is more affordable than you think and is almost always cheaper than the cost of migrating to an entirely new platform.

What if you’ve tried that, but it really is just a limitation and can’t be done on your platform? Before chalking up a loss, talk to your platform provider. Pretty much all major platforms take feedback on feature requests. It’s possible that if it’s that important or if enough merchants request it, that your provider will build it in a future release. We’ve seen a lot of this lately with Merchant Solutions by Yahoo Small Business. We’ve taken feedback from our clients and our own feedback as well and have put in a slew of requests to Yahoo. Much to our delight, many of these have been released and some of them have even had amazingly quick turnaround times. If you can hold out for a bit, try seeing if this is an option for you.

Hopefully, my tips here can help you work through whatever kinks you’re experiencing in your workflow if you’re considering moving. I generally don’t recommend moving. However, if you are still considering moving, make sure that you check out our next blog post: “Ready to Change E-Commerce Platforms? Be Prepared!

Stephanie Rawson

Stephanie has 15 years of self-taught HTML and web design experience along with an associates degree in Information Technology from Colorado Tech. Her previous experience in eCommerce and customer service gives her a unique insight into what clients and their customers are looking for. Outside of work, Stephanie is active in Christian ministry and loves geeky hobbies.

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