There are a variety of common website migration issues that retailers face when moving to a new platform. Moreover, when carried out improperly, merchants can face a dramatic drop in visibility, traffic and sales. Given that an eCommerce website is the core of most online retail businesses, this kind of blunder is not an option.
That said, properly migrating to a new platform comes with tons of benefits.
No matter if retailers want access to more contemporary tools, aim to rebrand their business or are just looking for the room to grow, replatforming can be extremely valuable.
However, to obtain the benefits that can be reaped from such an exercise, detailed planning and execution are critical. If something goes wrong and deadlines get missed, the project can quickly enter into a tailspin.
If your business is looking to initiate a WooCommerce to Magento migration, make a smooth transition to Shopify Plus or is just looking to upgrade from Magento 1 to Magento 2, this guide can help to lay the groundwork for a successful eCommerce site migration.
On that note, let’s dive in!
Find a More Suitable Platform
In today’s age, consumers (and, in this instance, the retailer is the consumer) have a panoply of options at their fingertips. Fortunately, eCommerce platforms are no exception.
As far as Visiture is concerned, we tend to favor Magento and Shopify, with Magento being the perfect platform for B2B businesses. That said, each company is different and has different needs. Therefore, what might work splendidly for one brand might be pure chaos for another.
A great place to start in figuring out what would work best for a business is to start with the current frustrations. Is the platform complicated? Is it too slow? Is it not flexible enough?
Whatever the current grievance, look for the new platform to resolve that issue. Read reviews from different sources, take notes from similar retailers, conduct some market research.
Something else that merchants might want to consider is the level of customer support available for a platform. Replatforming is a delicate task and if a seller opts out of leveraging eCommerce migration services, it is critical that the platform can offer some assistance along the way.
Plan the Project
After establishing which platform is suitable for the business, the next step is to define and plan out explicit objectives. Possessing a clear plan of action will enable the migration process to flow as seamlessly and efficiently as possible.
Establish clear goals for the project overall, as well as smaller objectives for each aspect of the migration process such as content and data migration, app implementation, launch sequences and more.
The reasoning for deciding to replatform should help to guide these goals.
Additionally, some things that sellers must contemplate are whether they want to overhaul their site’s design or keep it relatively the same, new features and functionalities the site should possess, SEO migration considerations and similar improvements that should be present after the migration.
Establish a Realistic Timeline
Once a merchant has a clear understanding of what they wish to achieve, the next step is to establish a timeline for realizing those goals. Working with a company’s team can help to provide a better understanding of how long each task might take.
However, because many businesses don’t have the acumen or resources to manage a site migration on their own, it is wise to hire a certified developer or procure eCommerce migration services to gain a genuine understanding of how long each task will take.
Clearly define deadlines for important replatforming milestones such as transferring products, moving over content, migrating customer data, testing the new site and so forth.
Partner with the Right Agency
Again, replatforming is a complex and delicate process. In order to avoid website migration catastrophe, it is highly recommended that sellers partner with an agency that provides eCommerce migration services.
When it comes to picking an agency, this can be the factor that separates success from failure.
Working shoulder-to-shoulder with an agency that is well-versed in overseeing website migration projects can provide massive advantages to merchants. Not only will partnering with a premier agency help ensure that the transition goes smoothly, but it will also provide assurances that the end product will be highly optimized.
The key here is to look for agencies that are certified Shopify and Shopify Plus partners (like Visiture, cough, cough), Magento partners or are, in some way, a certified developer for the retailer’s platform of choice. These types of agencies are developers who are sure to provide industry-leading knowledge, skills and experience in eCommerce migration services.
The right agency will also be capable of informing retailers on what is possible and what isn’t in terms of timetables, goals, functionality and the rest.
As a business leader, it will be incumbent upon merchants to assign responsibilities and crucial assignments for each portion of the site migration to the most capable members of their team. Therefore, it is necessary to collaborate with team members to assign the right tasks to the right people.
Possessing working knowledge of who is responsible for which assignments will help to ensure that nothing falls between the cracks and that the project stays on schedule.
For this part of the planning process, it is wise to keep in contact with the chosen eCommerce migration service provider, as these folks can also potentially guide the task assignment proceedings, thereby ensuring that the project is carried out in the most competent way possible.
Incorporating a list of who is responsible for what into the project’s plans and timeline is the best way to keep everything organized and moving efficiently.
Work in Tandem with the Agency
When migrating to a new platform, it is imperative to work alongside the chosen agency, as these folks are best positioned to aid with all aspects of the transition from platform to platform.
The agency that is providing eCommerce migration services can help to recommend different kinds of functionality, apps and other valuable advice in the replatforming process.
Additionally, the company is sure to prove highly valuable after the replatforming process is complete, as retailers may require some additional support.
Audit Existing Content
Before migrating any content over to the new site, it is wise to review the material that is present on the current website so that merchants can determine what to transition and what to leave behind. Replatforming is an ideal time to engage in some potentially much-needed content pruning.
The fact is that all of a site’s content likely is not adding value to the site. Therefore, determining what should be left behind can actually improve SEO performance. This is often the case with old content that is no longer suitable or relevant.
In addition to dropping outdated, underperforming pieces, merchants will also want to consider new content for the updated site, as it will likely require new blogs and copy.
Again, working with the eCommerce migration services provider can help to pinpoint advantageous pieces to be crafted and ensure a high level of quality for the copy that is relevant, persuasive and on-brand.
Ensure Some Stylistic Stability
While merchants will have to carry over their products from their previous store, practically everything else is wide open for alterations.
Businesses can institute a new theme and navigational elements, write all new copy and even revamp the brand voice.
That said, it is not advisable to alter everything at once. The fact is that if a store changes too much, consumers may no longer recognize the retailer that they have come to trust. If all familiarity is removed, it could impact sales negatively.
Therefore, it is wise for merchants to maintain some level of stylistic consistency between the old site and the new one to let customers know that they are in the right place. An excellent way to do this is to maintain the same color scheme and possibly carry over some of the images utilized on essential destinations like the homepage.
Ensure Data Migration Is Secure
One of the most critical tasks in replatforming an eCommerce website is transferring all of the products and customer data from the existing store to the new site.
This task is often seen as a bit risky as it involves moving the entirety of a site’s data. If merchants get this wrong, the ramifications can be severe. For that reason, it is wise to procure eCommerce migration services, if for this task alone.
Merchants must formulate a plan for moving all of this vital information over in a logical and methodical fashion. This means ensuring that everything is present and accounted for, without duplicates and formatted correctly.
There are a variety of applications that merchants can integrate with their eCommerce store to help safely manage the process of importing the data. When it comes to Magento, the most popular of the bunch is the Magento Data Migration Tool.
Magento’s Data Migration Tool is a critical piece of software for migrating without damaging your site. However, even with this tool, the process is lengthy and delicate, meaning that merchants should leverage a knowledgeable developer to aid the process along.
Alternatively, for those moving to Shopify, the Cart2Cart app can be a massive help, as this tool imports all of a seller’s data including, but not limited to:
Preserve the Customer Experience
When merchants are migrating to Magento 2 or a similar eCommerce platform, it is necessary to maintain the customer experience throughout the entirety of the transition.
This means that retailers must do their best to keep downtime to a minimum and notify shoppers if there will be periods when the shop will be unavailable.
The best way to do this is to send out an email to current customers informing them of any potential interruptions. Moreover, it is essential to post a notice on the site’s homepage as well to help keep new customers–for whom the merchant does not have an email address–in the loop.
Test, Test and Test Again
Prior to launching the new site, it is necessary to thoroughly test all elements to ensure that the migration has been completed adequately. Moreover, it is important to quality check all aspects, features and functionality to verify that there are no typos, bugs, errors or the like that have slipped through the cracks.
Sellers will want to pay close attention to any new features or implementations made, verifying that the on-site experience is top-notch. The new site is kind of like a first impression all over again. Therefore, merchants want to ensure they impress.
Additionally, at this time, it is necessary to check that the site’s speed is super-fast. As Google research has shown, “53% of mobile website visitors will leave if a webpage doesn’t load within three seconds.”
Therefore, site speeds must be optimized to the fullest to ensure that the newly minted website is lightning fast and retains as many visitors as possible. Again, an eCommerce migration services provider can help to secure a speedy site.
Migrating to a new eCommerce platform is a massive undertaking and one that can cause a brand significant damage if it is not handled correctly. Given that the brand’s website is likely its most significant source of revenue, chances should not be taken when replatforming.
That said, by following the advice listed above, retailers should be able to compile a plan that will help them migrate successfully.
However, if your brand would rather place the task in the hands of an award-winning team of eCommerce marketers, developers and designers, reach out to Visiture’s web development experts. We can help migrate your site to a new platform when it has the room to grow to new heights of prosperity.
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Ronald Dod is the Chief Marketing Officer and Co-founder of Visiture, an end-to-end eCommerce marketing agency focused on helping online merchants acquire more customers through the use of search engines, social media platforms, marketplaces, and their online storefronts. His passion is helping leading brands use data to make more effective decisions in order to drive new traffic and conversions.
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