Questions You Should Ask Before Moving Your Data

blog_header_holidayWith the end of one year comes the beginning of another.  For many of us, that means 2015 planning.  And some wineries might be considering moving platforms, (eCommerce or POS) or at least augmenting or switching databases in 2015.

I moved a couple dozen wineries from one platform to another in 2014 and I see some commonalities and pitfalls.  Here is a quick cheat sheet to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Familiarize Yourself with Your Existing Systems Before you StartDepositphotos_11137007_xs

This will help you give good information to anyone you’re bidding to help you with the transition.  Is your data recent and clean?  Or are there a lot of duplicates and old email addresses?  Do you have multiple databases that have given the same customer multiple customer numbers?  What is the unique identifier for your customers (e.g. an email address, or a customer number).  How many records do you have?  What does this system need to connect to, for instance what does your fulfillment house need? All this information will help someone like myself organize your move, and help a new database, eCommerce or POS vendor know your needs.

It’s What’s on the Inside that Counts

Sad broken down cartoon carA CRM/eCommerce/POS system is like a car – it has an exterior and an interior.  You don’t want it to look gorgeous outside but be in the body shop all the time.  Spend more time and effort (and money) on making sure the non-sexy things like shipping tables and taxes and Wine Clubs and promotions or allocations will meet you needs, and don’t worry about your design until after you’re sure the functionality is a fit.  Everyone’s first instinct when they’re rebuilding the website is to hire a designer.  Buy/test/know the platform and it’s functionality first, and make sure the back-end can be set up to your needs.  THEN, worry about what it will look like.

Treat your Customer Data With RespectCartoon thief

Gather all the records you can from all your existing channels.  Now is the time to clean it and de-dupe it.  Yes, you want old customer orders to keep track of customer lifetime value.  Keep things like skus and products consistent for the same reason.  For your Wine Club members, the credit cards should be encrypted and sent in an encrypted file – don’t print them or email them.  You’ve spent a lot of your time and money collecting this data and it is valuable.  Make sure it is migrated carefully and deliberately.

It’s Like a Band-aid – Rip it Off

Boxer emoticonMoving your database is scary.  But resist the temptation to do it in stages.  My advice is always to do as much as you can handle at once.  Any new system is disruptive to your business, staff and productivity.  When you roll out a new allocation page, then Wine Club, then POS and then eCommerce over a series of months, you just prolong the chaos and learning curve for your staff and your customers.  Most systems are integrated now so by setting up a product or customer in one place, you can actually access it in another, so there really is no reason for this except fear of change.  Your first days will be rough.  Your first Wine Club run will be awkward.  But in 3 months you’ll be humming along like nothing changed.

With a little forethought and planning, moving your systems can be pretty painless … it doesn’t have to be overly disruptive.  Just take a moment while it’s quiet over the holidays for a little research and you’ll be ready for success in 2015.