Ecommerce Re-platforming – budget considerations

If you are looking at migrating to another ecommerce platform it can be an exciting time. It’s a chance to do away with all the constraints and bugs of the current platform and start afresh with an abundance of new technology and functionality.

However, there is often one factor that can put a damper on things – the cost. This post looks at 5 of the costs to consider associated with an ecommerce re-platform.

Platform licensing

Some ecommerce platforms are free to use such as Magento Open Source or as with Shopify have a relatively low monthly cost. Whilst these can be suitable for smaller ecommerce merchants, for many the functionality and technology set up will not be suitable and instead an enterprise option is required. These will often come with a significant licensing cost.

When looking at your new ecommerce platform options, it is important to weigh up the benefits of the platform vs the cost of the license at the start as it helps to rule out options as soon as possible.

The good news is that most ecommerce platforms will be open to negotiations on their license so it is always worth a chat if you like a platform but feel that the costs might be prohibitive.

Modules and Plugins

No matter how feature-rich your chosen ecommerce platform is, it’s unlikely that it will cater for every single requirement you have for your website. For this you will need to implement 3rd party modules or plugins which often come with a cost attached.

When embarking on a re-platforming project, it is a great time to take a look at the modules you have in place and decide whether they are still required and if so, are their better options out there in the market. This is a vital part of improving any ecommerce website and time should be taken ensure you put in place the best modules for your businesses needs but with the understanding that the fewer modules implemented, the less the chance that things can go wrong!

A few areas to revisit when starting an ecommerce re-platform include:

  • Site search
  • Payment provider
  • Reviews (site and product)
  • ESP (email provider)
  • Live chat
  • Q&A functionality
  • Personalisation software

Integrations

You may well have an ERP, WMS and/or PIM that needs to be integrated into the new platform. This will almost certainly come at a cost, both in time and money – and a considerable one at that.

When choosing your ecommerce platform it is always worth taking time to see what integrations are already available as modules or plugins vs ones that will need a custom solution. Whilst this won’t (or at least shouldn’t) be the defining factor in which ecommerce platform your choose, it will make a dent in the overall budget so will need to be carefully considered.

I would also throw hosting and security into this pot. Your current host may not be able to support your new platform or if they do, require a more expensive technology stack to support it – understanding this as early on as possible is important.

The build itself

This is one area where there is probably the most detail and where most time is spent. This is a whole topic in itself but ensuring that the project requirements are detailed, ideally in a discovery session and there is no ambiguity will ensure that the development house/agency will have the best chance of being able to provide and accurate cost and stick to budgets/deadlines.

Ongoing costs

Whilst you may have a separate budget for ongoing costs once the website is complete, it is important from the outset to understand what these will be to avoid any nasty surprises later down the line. Ongoing costs can include:

  • Agency support (for bug fixing/security updates etc)
  • Roadmap development
  • Hosting
  • Security
  • Module/plugin ongoing costs or updates

Summary

These are 5 costs that need to be considered when embarking on an ecommerce re-platforming project. There will probably be more that apply to your own individual website so it’s important to spent time working this out and documenting.

Whilst this post looked at the financial costs associated with a re-platforming project, you shouldn’t overlook the time cost to your internal team either which I’ll go into more detail in another post.