April 1, 2012, 12:00 AM

Think Ahead

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You'll need to have a plan in place outlining how the transfer of the new system will occur. What data, such as product descriptions, must be converted and how long will it take? Will you continue to run the legacy system for a period of time? If so, you must have a solid, well-tested plan for quickly moving back to the legacy system if the implementation of the new system fails.

After the Relaunch

10. Modify as needed.

The best e-commerce sites are ones that are fine-tuned over time and evolve with the fast-paced e-commerce market. Use web analytics and trending tools to monitor what's working and what's not, and make the necessary changes.

Here are two examples of retailers, both clients of ours, who took this kind of multi-step approach and how it changed their business:

One sells graphic images online, but its customers couldn't interact with its site content, search through its more than 1 million images or configure or review their orders. After laying out its priorities, it worked with us to develop a new user-friendly site supported by a new content management system.

A new navigational structure and order process allows customers to browse, search, configure and preview custom orders. Customers can filter results by category, colors and other criteria, and they can select images by size and type of paper, matting and framing. And they can preview their orders as single images or inside a room setting, where they can change wall colors and textures to see how their ordered pictures would look in their own homes.

In another case, an online retailer of scientific and educational products related to global environmental conservation wanted to add social networking features to support its brand, and to ready its site for the added traffic that it expected as a result. We worked with the retailer to redesign the site's architecture, enabling the retailer to handle more traffic while minimizing hardware costs. We also added a new content management system designed with two-level caching of static and dynamic content to speed page loads even during peak traffic. The new site can now maintain surges in traffic as it handles high volumes of visitors from multiple social networking sites.

What these examples show is that the right planning is essential if a rebuilt e-commerce site is to meet a retailer's goals.

Leon Fayer is vice president, business development for OmniTI, a provider of web infrastructures and applications. He has also worked in content management systems at the White House and for IBM Corp. He can be contacted at leon@omniti.com.

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