This is a guest post by Lily Varon, a researcher serving eBusiness & Channel Strategy professionals. 

The breakneck pace of technology innovation and changing consumer behavior is having a profound impact on business. To keep up with business growth plans, competitive threats, and consumer demands, online companies must support global markets, digitally empowered customers, and evolving sales and service channels, putting ever-more stress on the eCommerce engine.

eBusiness professionals are taking stock of their legacy or incumbent eCommerce technology and finding that the solutions aren’t tactically functional, aren’t omnichannel-ready, and/or aren’t leveraging sophisticated enough data insights to deliver on the demands in the age of the customer.

The technology powering eCommerce is becoming more complicated, too. There are more stakeholders than ever, more data, more integrations, and so on. In many cases, replatforming projects run over budget and are delivered late. Talk to any eBusiness leader who has been through the process, and you're bound to hear a war story or two. These projects are never easy, but as eCommerce technology — and the market that drives it — evolves, replatforming initiatives are inevitable.

Selecting the right commerce platform for your business is important. But a car needs more than an engine to both function and be used to its full potential. eBusiness professionals must understand the following before embarking on an eCommerce replatforming program:

  • The commerce platform is the foundation of business transformation. A new eCommerce engine enables new agility, capabilities, experiences, integrations, even new products. Be prepared to revamp business processes and take an ongoing, iterative approach to what is, essentially, a business transformation project.
  • eCommerce doesn't live in a vacuum. A replatforming initiative cannot happen in isolation. Take stock of integral back-end systems that might need to be replaced first (or in unison) and the quality of the data entities these systems rely on to provide value.
  • Business readiness and integration are as (or more) important as choosing the right technology. If the company doesn't have a clearly defined vision for the impending business transformation and still has eCommerce functioning in a vacuum, the integration and engineering process will be a big, hairy mess. Keep in mind, you may buy the Ferrari of all eCommerce platforms, but without the proper preparation, all it will do is allow you to drive off the cliff that much faster.

Commerce technology analyst Peter Sheldon and I have just published a report to help eBusiness professionals identify and limit 10 major challenges associated with the replatforming journey and provide a framework for improving the likelihood of success when replatforming an eCommerce platform and associated infrastructure.

Forrester clients who are keen to learn more about these pitfalls should schedule an inquiry with us to discuss them further. I look forward to your comments.