If you’re one of the 100,000’s of retailers that are thinking of migrating to Shopify and its cloud-based e-commerce platform then please stop what you’re doing and continue to read this post which will guide you through the key issues you’ll need to think about before making the switch.
After successfully migrating 100’s of 6, and 7-figure stores over the years from platforms like Magento, BigCommerce, Prestashop, Volusion, OpenCart, and WooCommerce – minimizing the loss of rankings, traffic, and conversions for our clients – I can safely say my agency team can call themselves Shopify migration experts.
As a result, I have put together this guide which outlines my agency process for migrating to Shopify and outlines the things you need to consider before doing so.
This article could save you $100,000’s in lost revenue so it’s certainly worth the read.
Business Benefits of Migrating to Shopify.
There are a significant number of reasons why so many retailers across the globe are migrating to Shopify. The business benefits are endless but the most common reasons our clients have migrated to Shopify are:
- Complete and total ownership of their eCommerce platform
- The ability to manage, maintain and develop their own platform without the need of relying on expensive developers
- Free of lengthy and expensive contract ties
- Scalable e-commerce platform
- 99.98 server uptime
- 24/7 award-winning Shopify support
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Multi-channel e-commerce capabilities
Migrating platforms is a tricky process, no matter what platform you’re migrating to and from. Minimizing the risk of losing rankings, traffic and sales revenue is essential for any retailer. We’ve put together a definitive list of issues you’ll face and need to be addressed before embarking upon any kind of migration project to Shopify.
Product Feed Data
The biggest challenge you’ll face migrating to Shopify is importing your existing platform’s data into your Shopify store. Shopify provides an easy-to-use .csv template, straight forward right? Yes, importing the data can be achieved relatively easily if you know what you’re doing and you have your data readily available, but how many retailers do? If you’re an extremely well-documented retailer and you’ve kept an itemized list of all of the products you have on your existing site including, SKU’s, product titles, product descriptions, related images and GTIN’s etc. then you’re a winner and your import process will be easy. If you haven’t, and we’re yet to come across a retailer that has done this, then it won’t be.
So, the first step is to get as much data out of your existing store as you can. The amount of data you can get out of your existing store will be determined by the following factors:
- Which platform you are currently using
- What level of admin access do you have to your store
- What are your existing supplier’s policies and ethos
If you have used WordPress before and you exported all of your data before then you’ll know how easy it is. Ecommerce platforms are no different, it just depends on whether your developers will let you or not. Asking for a full data export of your website is usually a trigger to your supplier or agency that you’re leaving them and are typically extremely reluctant to ever give your data. They’ll make it as difficult as possible to move away from them. Why on earth should they? It’s your data!
Tip: see what access you currently have in your existing CMS. Can you find any kind of functionality that allows you to export data? If you’re unfortunate enough to be in this situation then don’t worry all is not lost. We can help. We have developed a fast, unique process to migrate all of your product data out of your existing store, including images, customers and previous order history data.
Shopify Developer Choice
Choosing the right developer or agency will be pivotal in the success of your migration. The cheapest option is certainly usually never the best option but we’d recommend an experienced agency that has significant experience in doing the task that you are asking them to perform. Ask your developer about their web migration process. Their process should be to minimize the risk of losing rankings, traffic, and conversions.
This is essential for good Shopify SEO and for maintaining the authority your existing store has built up in the search engines. It’s a complex process and you need to be in safe hands. Here are a few of the main questions you should be asking your developer before you decide on who to use:
- What experience do you have in developing the Shopify platform?
- What experience do you have in my sector?
- Are you a certified Shopify Partner?
- Have you migrated any sites like mine before to Shopify?
- If yes, what were the results?
- What is your web migration process? Please itemize each stage.
- How will deal with 301 redirects from the old URLs to the new URLs?
- Where are you based?
- How long have you been working with Shopify?
- Can you offer me a personalized service?
- What kind of ‘post launch’ support do you offer?
- Do you offer email and telephone support?
- What hours do you offer telephone support do you provide?
- Do you build Shopify themes or do you simply customize other people?
- Do your designs integrate with major EPOS, Finance & Accounting software?
- Can you provide Shopify API Integration support?
- Can you develop Shopify apps if additional functionality is required?
If your potential supplier can answer positively to all of the above. Then you have found your supplier. Our ULTIMATE Retail Growth 2.0 Service includes a full Shopify migration service and is priced on # of SKU’s.
Shopify Theme Choice
The theme you or your developers choose to develop your store will be crucial in its ability to perform in the search engines.
Technical SEO issues with Shopify are well documented so you need to choose a theme like the world’s fastest Shopify theme that has been engineered for the search engines and not just for looks, features and functionality.
Here are some straightforward questions you should be asking your Shopify developers before you decide on a theme:
- What theme will you be using?
- Who designed your theme?
- Who built & developed your theme?
- What level of Shopify SEO experts are they?
- How does it deal with product filter page metadata & content duplication?
- How have they dealt with ‘canonicals for your specific products?
- How well do they design your hierarchical structure to avoid duplication conflicts and penalties?
- How will images be optimized?
- Does the theme include Structured Data as standard?
- Does the theme include Open Graph metadata?
- What is the page load speed of the theme you are using?
- Will you be optimizing the product feed before you migrate?
- What kind of Shopify training do they have?
If your Shopify web designer doesn’t know what you’re talking about or can’t answer positively to all of the above then maybe you’re talking to the wrong Shopify Partner.
Additional Functionality Requirements
Linked to the section above on themes, you’ll need to fully understand what additional functionality may or may not be required. Your theme will come with standard functionality. You’ll need to assess what functionality your existing site has that you can’t do without and then compare that with the functionality for your new theme development. Any features that it doesn’t have, may cost you extra.
Google Shopping & Merchant Center
If you’re currently advertising on Google Comparison Shopping Service then you’ll need to know how your current platform is integrated with Google Merchant Center as this is what is feeding your Google Ads account. Is your Merchant Center receiving your product data manually or via a feed? You can check this by logging into your Merchant Center dashboard and by clicking on ‘Go To Diagnostics’ and then ‘Feeds’. It should look something like this:
This feed currently using Shopify’s API feed but if your feed is being imported in a different way, it should say here. Most commonly used e-commerce platforms feed Merchant Center with an XML Feed which is a URL. Shopify uses its own Content API and has a free-to-use app for Google Shopping. You’ll need to configure this app and optimize your product feed either before you upload your product feed to Shopify with the required Google Shopping fields or subsequent to uploading your feed with Shopify’s Google Shopping App. Either way, you’ll need access to your Merchant Center to integrate with Shopify and remove the old link so it doesn’t conflict and hinder paid search performance.
Does your current store integrate with any back office systems for stock management, EPOS systems, finance, affiliate and or accounting packages?
Either way, you’ll need to know which one’s you integrate with and find out if your new theme is configurable with the necessary software. There are over 1000’s of apps in the Shopify app store to deal with 3rd party software integrations but if there is one, you’ll need to know if your developer is able to work with Shopify API integrations. We do here are Integrity Search and our theme is integration-ready but others may not be so you’ll need to check.
Many retailers often forget about the process of importing all of your existing store’s client data. The most recent Shopify migration I have worked on (August 2022) is a UK-based store with a nearly £3 million annual turnover. The team is currently in the process of migrating 160,000 records of historical client data including; names, addresses, email addresses, previous order history, and discount codes etc.
Client data is often overlooked and the more data you have to migrate – the more your migration will cost.
Ongoing Shopify Support Post Migration
Once your migration has been completed, you’ll need to think about who and how your new Shopify is going to be supported. Shopify’s core features and functionality are supported 24/7 via phone, email, and chat, completely free of charge. Your theme, however, will not be supported by Shopify which will be the responsibility of your Shopify developers. If you’ve bought a theme from the theme store then you’ll usually find that most come with a few months of free support but be wary, most themes in the store are built by designers and developers outside the UK and don’t offer telephone support so do your homework when choosing a theme provider that can support you during office hours here in the UK.
Shopify Pricing & Plans
Shopify’s cloud-based e-commerce platform has four main pricing models. They do have 5th in Shopify Lite but this simply allows you to sell through Facebook and will not be covered in this guide. Shopify has its own ‘Shopify Payments’ system so you don’t need to go through any lengthy Internet Merchant & Online Payment Provider applications. As long as you have a legitimate bank account and card payment details, you can trade online. The barriers to entry are extremely low compared to other more traditional routes to trading online.
You can, however, use other third-party payment providers to get lower transaction fees but you’ll find you’ll still get hit with additional ‘per transaction’ scaling fees of 2.0%, 1.0, and 0.5% respectively whether you’re on the Basic, Shopify or Advanced Shopify Pricing plans so it’s just much more cost-effective to move to the Shopify Payments model. Yes, you’re paying more per transaction but you’ll find the business benefits mentioned above will soon recover your costs. You’ll own your own e-commerce store, you’ll be able to self-administer, no monthly hosting or bandwidth costs, award-winning 24/7 support, and 99.98% uptime with no server administration costs. Shopify’s pricing plans are as follows.
Basic Shopify @ $29 per month – ideal for start-up e-commerce businesses. You get the vast majority of features and functionality except for Gift Cards, Professional Reports, Advanced Report builders, and Third-party Calculated Shipping rates which all you to show calculated rates with your own account or third-party apps at checkout. Transaction fees are however a little higher with each transaction costing 2.2% + 20p per transaction.
Shopify @ $79 per month – ideal for established e-commerce businesses. You get 99% of the features and functionality except for the Advanced Report Builder but if you’re currently using Google Analytics, this won’t be a problem. Transaction fees are a little lower per transaction costing just 1.9% + 20p per transaction.
Advanced Shopify @ $299 per month – suitable for established e-commerce businesses. You get 100% of the features and functionality. Transaction fees are only slightly lower per transaction costing 1.6% + 20p per transaction. This pricing plan is only recommended for retailers with exceptionally high numbers of monthly transactions as the fees are only marginally lower than the $79 per month package above.
Shopify Plus @ $2000 per month – suitable for global e-commerce businesses. You get 100% of the features and functionality plus an additional level of support, a few server-side scripts that will allow you to customize the checkout a little further and you will get Shopify’s new Business Automation software called Flow which can offer a much more personalized shopping experience. Transaction fees are the same per transaction costing 1.6% + 20p per transaction.
All in all, migrating to Shopify can be an extremely simple process if you chose the right Shopify Partner. Once complete, you’ll enjoy the substantial business and financial benefits Shopify has to offer.
If you’d like your Shopify migration managed by Shopify Migration experts who will protect your rankings, traffic, and conversions, then our multi-award-winning search marketing agency of Shopify migration experts are waiting to hear from you. Click here to tell us more and book a free strategy session.