Guest Column | June 16, 2020

When It's Time To Replatform (Especially, If You're On Magento 1), How Do You Find The Right Platform And Service Partner?

By Joe Harris, Whereoware


Magento 1 reaches its End of Life (EOL) at the end of June, meaning there will be no more support, software updates, or security patches. This sets users against a racing clock, needing to migrate their website to Magento 2 or find a new platform fast to avoid unacceptable levels of risk and declining performance.

Without ongoing support and updates, Visa and independent security experts say Magento 1 will be at increased risk for data breaches and no longer PCI-DSS compliant after June. Magento 1 sites may become difficult and costly to fix, update, or integrate, damaging your customer experience, sales, and brand.

Leaving Magento 1 isn’t as simple as upgrading. Migrating to Magento 2 is essentially replatforming to new database structures, a new API, and new themes, with the same kind of data preparation and testing required of any replatforming process. Looking at it another way, you’re likely starting from scratch.

Choosing a new website platform is a major process that most businesses go through at some point. It’s also a two-part question: unless you have a highly capable technology team on-staff, you’re choosing both a new platform and service provider to help you design, develop, and frequently, maintain your new website.

Having guided clients through this process countless times, I’ve shared key considerations when choosing the platform and service partner to advance your business.

Website Features You Need Now And In The Future

Industry recommendation is to re-platform every three to five years to take advantage of changing trends, technology, user behavior, and security advancements. Your new website platform must be easy for your team to manage and update while offering flexibility and features to achieve your goals now and in the future. Look for a platform offering:

  • Simple content management system (CMS). An intuitive CMS empowers your marketing team to make quick updates, modify merchandising, build landing pages, and match website promotions to outbound marketing campaigns on-the-fly, without installing add-ons or requiring developer assistance.
  • Mobile. Your website platform must make building responsive or mobile-friendly websites easy.
  • Scalability and security. Your new platform must load content quickly, handle traffic spikes without slowdowns, be flexible enough to scale with your business, and protect your site from DDoS attacks and other potential disasters.
  • Highly individualized product recommendation and search tools. Content and product recommendations increase conversions, reduce cart abandonment, and increase average order value. Intuitive search significantly improves the user experience and helps visitors find the right information and products. Your ideal website platform should include both.
  • Self-service tools. Increasingly, users turn to the web to handle most customer service issues, including tracking orders, submitting refund or exchange requests, and searching for reviews from other customers. Make sure you consider how the buyer will use your site to answer their most common questions.
  • Bonus: easy audience segmentation and dynamic content to deliver personalized content. Personalization elevates the customer experience, enabling marketers to display the right information or products to visitors based on their unique interests. It’s one of the reasons we partner with Episerver – by marrying dynamic, behavior-based user groups with a simple CMS, marketers can create truly remarkable personalized experiences.

Once you’ve identified a platform, you must find the right service partner to build your website.

Choosing The Right Website Service Partner

Choosing the right service provider is critical to the success of your website project.

Forrester interviewed more than a dozen software vendors and service partners, revealing questions to ask during the evaluation phase to ensure you don’t up with a challenging vendor-partner pairing.

Start by looking for potential service partners with experience implementing the platform. Ask questions specific to both the service provider’s expertise and their relationship with the vendor. For example, ask:

  • What developer specializations does the service partner have?
  • Can they provide examples or references?
  • How do they handle scope- or budget-creep?
  • How do all the parties in the partnership get paid?
  • What other vendors are in their partner ecosystem?
  • Who will handle ongoing concerns like data security?

We’re always happy to sit with prospective clients and their website vendor to answer these questions – if your service provider or vendors isn’t, you should be cautious. By setting expectations for the project and relationship early-on, we can be completely transparent, identify challenges, and offer solutions to ensure success.

The End Of Magento 1 Is A New Beginning

If you’re still on Magento 1, the time to evaluate new platforms and service partners is yesterday (but go ahead and start now). By clearly defining your replatforming goals, asking the right questions, and bringing all the key people to the decision making process, you ensure a seamless transition to a more secure platform that’s easier to use and delivers better customer experience.

About The Author

For 18+ years, Joe Harris has led Whereoware in selling, managing, and delivering award-winning B2B + B2C websites, data-enriched marketing programs, and mobile solutions. As Partner and Chief Revenue Officer of Whereoware, Harris propels revenue-driving strategies to create long-term client and business value. Through his strong specialization in sales, project management, and technology, Harris is dedicated to bringing together effective sales and marketing initiatives to define opportunities for achieving Whereoware’s growth objectives and holistically guiding on-going client success.