The inside scoop on how to migrate your online store to Shopify

The inside scoop on how to migrate your online store to Shopify

4 min read

Outdated software, lack of integration, slow loading speed and limited features. These are just some of the reasons you might want to migrate your store to Shopify from a different Ecommerce platform. Migrating or ‘replatforming’ can potentially be complex, even if your store is basic, with limited products.

We look at how Shopify store migration works and what the pros and cons of migrating are.

Scoping out the migration

"Before starting the process, you will need to establish the volume and structure of resources being brought across to the Shopify store,”

says ShopCreatify founder and CEO, Ross Allchorn. “Things need to fit and unfortunately Ecommerce platforms’ data structures can differ greatly from their competitors. A fully automated and seamless migration is unlikely.”

During scoping, you will need to figure out what methods exist for moving the information over and what those solutions can and can’t do. You’ll need to see how well the source data ‘maps’ to Shopify’s structure and what might be required to alter it to fit.

Determine what volumes you’ll be dealing with so that you know how much manual cleanup will be needed. This can be time-consuming on a large volume of data. Non-standard modifications to existing data, like custom fields and tabs in the product descriptions can also affect the speed and ease at which you’re able to migrate your store to Shopify.

“No two store migration projects will be the same and the extent of work required to successfully migrate from one Ecommerce platform to another must be determined on a case-by-case basis,” Allchorn points out.

How to migrate your store to Shopify

There are several steps to take when migrating your store to Shopify and the platform has manuals to help you get started. Once you’ve configured your administrative settings, you’ll need to import your store’s content and data to Shopify. It is likely that the following will need to be migrated from the existing store to Shopify:

  1. Products
  2. Collections
  3. Customers
  4. Orders
  5. Product reviews
  6. Page content

Data can be migrated in several ways. This includes copying and pasting content from your old site, using existing migration apps from the Shopify app store, or transferring data manually using CSV files. You can also hire a partner – such as ShopCreatify - to create or use an app that uses the Admin API (application programming interface). An excellent example of this kind of app would be Matrixify.

How you do the migration will depend on the amount of data that you need to move and the developer resources you have at your disposal.

Once the data has been moved you can organize your products; add a theme; set up your domain, shipping and payment providers; and configure your taxes. You will also need to place some test orders, invite customers to create accounts on your new site and set up URL redirects.

Migrating to Shopify Plus

Extra tools are available for merchants who are migrating their store to Shopify Plus. The Transporter app can import customer, product and order records into your new store. It includes the command-line tool which extracts and converts records from your existing store into CSV files that are supported by the Transporter app.

Shopify Plus also has a bulk account inviter option which merchants can use to send customers an email to prompt them to reset their password and activate their accounts.

The pros of Shopify store migration

There are many benefits to migrating your store to Shopify, such as:

  1. Better customer experience
    Migrating to a stronger Ecommerce platform can help you to better meet the needs of your customers. A site that is responsive, easy to navigate and looks good can result in a more convenient, enjoyable shopping experience on desktop and mobile.
  2. Scalable
    A platform like Shopify can grow along with your business allowing a merchant more flexibility at the same time.
  3. Faster loading times
    High-speed loading is a must these days, as most shoppers will abandon a site that is slow to load.
  4. Better security
    Shoppers won’t buy from a site if they don’t trust it. Shopify is a secure platform, which offers safer shopping for users.
  5. More features and integrations
    Shopify has many built-in features including marketing and analytics. It also offers third-party integrations which can expand the functionality on your site.
  6. Cost-effective
    All sites need maintenance and security and feature updates, which cost money. While you might pay more for a plan on a new Ecommerce platform, it will be cheaper to run and you will spend less overall.

The cons of migrating your online store

As mentioned, migrating an online store is a complicated process and there are bound to be challenges along the way. These may include:

  1. Data loss
    There might be incompatibilities between the two platforms causing data to be lost in the process.
  2. SEO value at risk
    SEO value and page rankings can be harmed if a migration isn’t done correctly.
  3. Retraining
    Using a new platform will require an investment of time (and possibly money too) as you and your team learn how to use it.
  4. Losing features and integrations
    Some of the features or integrations from your former platform might not be available on the new site. It can be complicated and tedious to find new payment processors and other features to replace the old ones.
  5. Rebranding
    You will need to put some work in to ensure continuity between the old and new sites so that customers still recognize it.
  6. Store downtime
    Your store might experience downtime during the actual migration process. If this is going to be the case, schedule the migration for a time when the store is usually the least busy.
  7. Broken links
    A store migration can cause several broken links if the migration isn’t done correctly, which will confuse and frustrate customers.

Migrate with the experts

Shopify is a versatile, cost-effective, feature-rich and highly customizable Ecommerce platform, which is well worth migrating to. It is vital to plan your Shopify store migration carefully and to back all your data up beforehand.

Enlisting the help of a professional development company, like ShopCreatify, with the relevant expertise will require a larger upfront investment, but getting the work done right will be more cost-effective in the long-term. Many of the above ‘cons’ can be mitigated if the migration is done properly by experienced developers.

We look forward to handling your Shopify store migration for you! Please get in touch to get started.

Masthead photo by Todd Trapani

Gabi Falanga
Gabi Falanga

Hi, I’m Gabi, a communication specialist who loves writing about interesting topics. Follow me for more information.