Migrating from a monolithic eCommerce platform affords B2B operators greater flexibility, improved buyer journies and higher ROI. Next-generation eCommerce platforms are based entirely upon APIs (application programming interfaces) that connect in standardized ways to other software applications. This is a shift from cloud-computing or UI-based experiences. Modern eCommerce platforms can be deployed as microservices that have a specific role in online commerce.
The architectural shift from monolithic platforms to tiered platforms is challenging B2B sites to make leading choices. If they choose to stay with an older-generation commerce platform they pay for software development and maintenance rather than focusing resources on an improved customer journey and higher ROI. Many IT departments are reluctant to implement changes as they are all too aware of the difficulties in migration, the prohibitive time frames, sometimes more than 12 months of migration, and the mounting costs. This is due to the complexity of B2B site product offerings, pricing and buying cycles.
‘Headless’ commerce replaces ‘lift and shift’
The “lift and shift” approach of building and customizing an enterprise platform to then moving it to an entirely new platform, has been redundant for some time now. Cloud commerce services and “headless” commerce platforms mean that B2B companies can manage platform migration in phases. A headless eCommerce platform means that the customer-facing front end (or the UI) is decoupled from the back-end so that merchants can use any presentation layer, customer management system or digital experience platform to create engaging customer experiences, while making every customer contact point shoppable, including mobile apps, social media, IoT devices, chatbots, etc.
A phased approach to shifting your platform means that you are in control of the operations of the site. You are still operating and able to do business even while a segment of your site is offline or in migration. This is because the planning and execution of the migration are conducted in stages.
In a phased migration, continual transformation is the new normal because the project is divided into distinct business areas so that the functionality and data can be transferred out of the legacy platform to a new infrastructure one piece at a time. Once the legacy platform is replaced by the new system, continuous iterations can be made in each functional area.
For a company-wide digital transformation, you need to ensure that you have the support of your whole team. Migrations from legacy systems to tiered architecture do require teams to learn new technologies, even if it is as simple as basic interface changes.
Plotting a course that shows the expected migration date and anticipated transfer time for each department helps teams to be prepared for changes. If you are updating your entire system, planning a domino succession of logical changes will help to ensure that your organisation has a thorough understanding of the update schedule and put in place any crisis responses should anything go wrong during migration? The phased approach also mitigates issues such as downtime and massive loss of data.
The architecture is the blueprint for migration. It describes the different components, the ways they are linked and where the information is stored. The architecture selected must fit the needs of the company considering factors such as the number of channels, the number of touchpoints, the size of the organization and the overall go-to-market approach. Many enterprise-size B2B organizations are opting for next-generation platforms that become part of an overall digital ecosystem.
A focus for B2B organizations should be on customizing the buyer journey. The more customer-centric your approach, the better your ability to close sales. When you can offer your clients a truly interactive and responsive experience they are more likely to engage. When this experience is seamless across devices, your business proves it is also engaged and wanting to serve customers.
One of the biggest challenges in eCommerce is online security. However, tired architecture is one of the best ways to improve your site security fast. With layered architecture, your site is dense so it becomes not only less penetrable but also less attractive as an option for hackers.
The Persistence Layer is typically closed and opens only to the Business Logic Layer and the database itself. A hacker coming in through the UI Layer would have to hack multiple independent systems to penetrate anything worth hacking into.
The biggest benefit to a phased migration from monolithic architecture is time. You can create a strategy that ensures your system has no or little downtime, your employees are prepared for the change and your data is stored and secure before you begin to migrate.
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