Migrating your business to a new commerce platform is a huge - and fairly daunting - undertaking for any enterprise.
However, switching to a better platform is often the key to seriously boosting your ecommerce success. On the right ecommerce platform, you could save significant amounts of your business’ time, money and resources. You might even see your revenue increase by hundreds of thousands (if not millions!) each year.
Today, we want to unpack some of the most common fears we hear regarding replatforming projects - and give possible solutions to overcome them.
Our goal for this article is to help you make an informed decision about whether investing in a store migration might be the right next step for your business.
5 of the most common migration concerns - and how to sidestep them
Image: Agnieszka Boeske, Unsplash
1. “I’m not sure whether I really need to replatform. What are the signs to look out for? And is it worth the time and money?”
To answer this question, you’ll need to take an honest look at your business and answer some important questions about how well your current platform is serving you. Are those business gripes that you’re living with close to becoming a business risk?
- Can you rely on your platform to stay up and running even during your busiest sales periods?
- How much maintenance does your current platform require?
- How easy is your platform to use? Is your dashboard simple and clear? Do you find it easy to add products, manage the backend of your store and make tweaks to your website’s design?
- Is your current platform actively helping you scale?
- Are you worried about any security breaches on your platform? How sure do you feel that your customers’ data is safe?
- Are your customers consistently complaining about a negative UX (user experience)?
If many of these issues strike a chord with you, there’s a good chance the long-term benefits of moving to a more reliable platform could far outweigh the shorter-term time and monetary costs of carrying out an ecommerce store migration.
Moving forward, we’d suggest evaluating your core needs as an enterprise, researching the best ecommerce platforms on the market and then talking to a few experienced ecommerce agencies who could help you transition as quickly and seamlessly as possible.
2. “I’ll ruin my store’s SEO!”
This is a common worry among ecommerce managers on the brink of beginning a migration project. However, when you pick the right migration agency - and the right platform to switch to - you should be able to maintain (and even improve) your website’s existing SEO efforts.
A good migration process can maintain your brand’s search rankings after your transition by analyzing your existing content and ensuring the elements of it that are important for your search rankings are transferred.
A robust ecommerce platform will also have functionality in place to preserve your organic search rankings. For example, our preferred platform - Shopify Plus - has native tools that provide SEO best practice basics.
One of the most important steps in protecting your store’s rankings is accurately mapping all of your links. At Swanky, we generally start by using tools to crawl our clients’ websites and map all internal and external links directing traffic into the website. We’ll then set up URL redirects (known as 301 redirects) to ensure that all existing links (both internal and external) will work on your new website.
It’s also worth remembering that upgrading your platform is a brilliant opportunity for a refresh of your current SEO strategy – and a great chance to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your current website’s SEO plan.
3. “Store migrations are too expensive.”
Of course, there are always going to be monetary investments involved in migrating your store. As most businesses don’t have the extensive technical knowledge and migration experience needed to carry out a successful platforming project, you’ll likely have to enlist the help of an external ecommerce agency. At first, this might leave you feeling nervous about the risk of extended deadlines and hidden or additional costs.
However, a successful platforming project can help save you money in the long-term, and the cost-effectiveness of your migration project will depend hugely on the agency you pick to help you out.
Your agency should be open and transparent with you about pricing from the get-go, and should talk through the scope of the project with you (based on your business’ unique requirements and goals) until you have a contract you are both more than happy with.
With an agency you can trust alongside you - who have years of experience with migration projects and are happy to share their results with you - you’re on the right track to a replatforming project that delivers real value for your money. And all for a reasonable price.
4. "What if I lose all my data?"
With data being moved between platforms, it’s understandable that many merchants worry about whether their store’s precious information could become damaged, corrupted or lost for good.
However, as with your store’s SEO, a good migration team will be sure to transfer your business’ data (including your customers, orders, products, reviews, loyalty points, shipping rates, taxes and any other specified data) across to your new website completely intact.
Even though your data structure might be different on your new platform - and, in some cases, a customization or workaround might be needed from your migration agency - you shouldn’t be losing any active data in an efficient replatforming process (as long as you’ve done your due diligence!).
In terms of what your team can do to help make the data transfer process as smooth as possible, we always recommend mapping out and accurately re-labeling your store’s data early on in the migration process.
So, begin by making a list of the types of data that you’re storing in your current platform. Then, decide what you need and want to migrate over to your new one. Here are some of the data types you might want to migrate:
- Page content
- Blog content
- Customer credits
- Discount codes
- SEO data (including redirects and image alt tags)
When you have ‘tidy data’, it will be much easier for your agency to carry out a successful migration. If your data is ‘untidy’, you could be asked to audit your data, or there might be an additional cost for your agency to complete this for you. If your company stores product data which isn’t correctly inputted, or that translates into a mile-long spreadsheet, you should add a considerable buffer into the timeline of your migration project.
So, mapping out your store’s data from the get-go is key to a swift platform transition that’ll see all your store’s data transferred completely intact.
5. “When should I migrate? I think a migration project would take too long.”
Depending on the size and complexity of your store, the time it takes to complete your replatforming project can vary considerably.
It’s reasonable to expect the replatforming process to take a couple of months from start to finish. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and no complex enterprise website switched platforms in a weekend (not least when you consider the testing that comes with a migration project!).
Still, it’s important to strike a balance between thoroughness and time efficiency. You don’t want to rush a project as large and important as a store migration. A credible agency with extensive migration skills should keep you updated at all stages on what’s happening - and be working every day to keep your project moving forward successfully.
Make sure you have a dedicated team member from your business in charge of the project, as when replatforming delays happen, they’re often caused by a delay in a particular change being signed off. Also, pick a time of year when you’ll have a bit of a buffer between launch and peak trading season, as you’ll want to fine-tune your store’s front and back ends before that traffic wave hits.
With your team and your migration agency constantly communicating, you’ll be well on your way to a quick, thorough and successful store migration.
How to make your transition swift and seamless
1. Pick the right ecommerce platform.
Crucially, you need to make sure your replatforming project is really worth your investment in the long term. So, make sure you do lots of thorough research into the different options available to you. Make an informed decision based on your business’ unique goals, budget and requirements.
2. Pick the right agency.
As we’ve touched on several times in this article, choosing the right ecommerce agency to work with is key to ensuring that your SEO and data remain intact throughout your transition - and to making sure that your project is completed quickly and seamlessly, with your team kept in the loop every step of the way. Do your research when choosing the right agency for you, meet with each agency and ensure you only do business with a team of experienced experts who you genuinely get on well with - and whose previous migration results speak for themselves.
3. Make a data migration plan.
As we covered earlier, mapping out and accurately re-labeling your product data is key to a successful store migration. We’d recommend starting as early as possible to make things easier for your chosen migration agency - and to get your replatforming project up and running as quickly and smoothly as possible.
4. Communicate frequently with your migration partner.
Ensure you have a dedicated staff member who is responsible for checking in with your migration agency daily. Make sure you keep on top of all of your partner’s sign-offs and approvals to keep things ticking along smoothly.
5. Familiarize yourself with your new platform as much as possible.
While you wait for your new store to be finished, take the time to look into how you can make the most of your new ecommerce platform. This means getting to grips with its new features, functionality and automation tools. This way, you’ll be feeling confident, prepared and ready by the time your replatforming project is complete. Assuming you’ve picked the right platform, their support team will no doubt be more than happy to show you the ins and outs of your new ecommerce solution.
Swanky is a leading end-to-end ecommerce agency, with offices in the UK and Australia. As official Shopify Plus Partners, we provide full in-house delivery of services to maximize growth and revenue for enterprise-scale ecommerce retailers, including Shopify Plus migrations, web design, development, conversion rate optimization and digital marketing strategy. These services drive transformative growth at velocity, propeling our clients to the forefront of their industries.
For more information on whether migrating to Shopify Plus could be the right move for your business - and how to transition quickly, seamlessly and efficiently from one platform to another - check out our in-depth migration ebook and replatforming webinar.