Best practices that we follow for eCommerce platform migration
It’s really essential for sometimes to change the current system to another one. It happens when your business is growing faster and you need something more scalable though when you started the platform you’re using was perfect. Whether you’re a CEO of FORTUNE 500 company or developer, a marketer or a store manager there is something which makes you worry about your eCommerce store migration to another platform. It’s not an unfounded fear. Of course, it’s indeed to make you worry about all of that headaches. The decision to re-platform your eCommerce store to a newer, faster and better platform is not something to be taken lightly. We are putting together Best practices that we follow for eCommerce platform migration here step by step. So that you could make sure there will be no pitfalls and that will happen smoothly.
The eCommerce platform migration workflow and strategy will be divided into five distinct steps: design evaluation, content planning, content migration, data migration, and launch management.
Design Evaluation Period for eCommerce platform migration
At Digital Develop, the first step we take for any eCommerce store migration is to assess our client’s store design and understand the design requirements for their new store on the new platform. We ensure that the theme we will build for them will be world-class and beautiful. We also make sure that the theme will be easy for them to changing anything on their frontend. We believe that the look and feel of our client’s store set them apart from any other in this competitive marketplace.
During this period we work closely with our client to decide if it’s best for them to use a pre-built theme from the platform’s theme marketplace (If available), or start from the scratch with a custom theme or they want to replicate their existing design on the new platform. Though we always encourage our clients to make a new custom user interface which will drive more conversions.
Option 1 — Using pre-built theme
As I have mentioned that we always want our clients to set them apart from their competitors, we always encourage for user experience centric design. But if they want to migrate their store to the new platform quickly and affordably we suggest them to use a pre-built theme from the platform’s official theme store or marketplace. We advise them to use them to use a theme from the official store cause most of them come into multiple pre-configured styles and the platform’s official theme store only accept top quality products. From our previous experience, we have some list of advantages and disadvantages to using a pre-built theme.
Advantages of using pre-built theme for platform migration
- Faster Deployment: You will be able to deploy your site faster when you’ll use a pre-built theme
- Reduced Cost: E-commerce Platform Migration with a pre-built theme will reduce your cost heavily. Cause with changing a few things you’ll be good to go.
- Quality Assurance: All most all the theme goes through a rigorous review process. So you will use a top quality product.
Disadvantages of using pre-built theme for platform migration
- Strategy second tactic first: As the pre-built theme is something for anyone so it’s not very specific. Some theme would have some extra features and some may not have those. Like some theme support Video, some themes don’t. You’ve to choose wisely if the theme really goes with your content marketing strategy.
- It’s a commodity: Though a great eCommerce branding agency can create a great on-brand experience with a pre-built theme, when your store will look pretty same as others it can be difficult to build a store that’s a true differentiator from the competition.
What is the best scenario to use a pre-built theme?
If you understand the limitations of a pre-built theme and you really don’t care about them, using a pre-built theme is viable for you. We find that pre-built themes would best fit, IF
- You want to quickly and affordably migrate to the new platform
- You have not needed a noticeable uniqueness or any kinds of complex design requirements.
- You’re early in your growth period.
Option 2 — Building a custom storefront
At Digital Develop, if any of our eCommerce platform migration client find pre-built themes are too limited for them we suggest them to go with a custom theme development. This kind of job we really enjoy to do so. Cause these design and development jobs lead us to some award-winning works and this return our clients more revenue. For this kind of client base, we first research, gather data and then make a strategy for them. Then we make a wireframe for them if they approve that we go with the user experience and user interfaces design for them. Once they approve the design we make our hands dirty in the development flow.
Let’s take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of custom storefront design and when you need that.
Advantages of custom storefront design
- It’s strategy focused: When any of the pre-built theme can’t help with your marketing and content strategy you need a custom design. As that will meet every portion of your strategy you will make more revenue and drive your conversion crazy.
- No more coding pitfall: When you’ll go with a custom design and development that you will have not to worry about any coding restrictions which will enable you to play with more stuff. And last but not least this freedom will ensure your store will perform well.
- Reduce Extensions or App overload: Any extension gives you the opportunity to extend your functions. But often it comes with financial costs and performance issues. With a custom development, you can reduce the app/extensions uses mostly on the frontend. This will also reduce the loading time of your store and reduce the costs.
Disadvantages of custom storefront design
- It’s time-consuming: Custom storefront design can require extensive design and development phases, cause as I’ve previously pointed there will be some build and approval process which make it time-consuming.
- It’s costly: This kind of project often comes with extensive design and development need, your custom theme sometimes ends up with a highly customised and costly than any pre-built theme. But if you really care about your brand image and tone then it’s nothing comparing to the return on investment.
Benefits of custom user experience centric design
There are couples of benefits for using a user experience centric custom design, you’ll be different than any other which will pop up from others. You’ll able to scale your business as you want by setting a well brand communication by combining with a user experience centric design. It’s really important nowadays to standout from the crowd. And only a custom design would give you that thing.
Option 3 — Replicating the current store design
Sometimes clients want the benefits of a new platform by migrating their current eCommerce platform to the new one. But they don’t want to change their current store look. For them, we offer to do a replication of their current store’s storefront. This is as same as custom theme development. The only thing is missing here is the design process. We will directly jump into the development process.
Content Planning Period for eCommerce platform migration
After deciding on design strategy it’s time to prepare the content planning for the new platform. At Digital Develop we always work closely with our clients during this period to carefully laying out what content should be migrated, if they needed to add additional content, revised or removed before migrating to the new platform. I am sharing the planning process shortly here for eCommerce content migration.
For this period we will divide our content migration planning process into four major steps: Generating a sitemap, creating content inventory, understanding the current product architecture and doing a content audit.
Step 1 — Generating sitemap for eCommerce store migration
We start our content migration process by creating some sitemaps. That gives us an overview of our client’s current store’s content. A sitemap is a list of associated URLs of a website’s primary domain. We will have to generate both sitemaps; one from the existing store and one for the new platform. This is important cause it will give us the basic idea of the content of the store.
For generating sitemaps of an existing store we use some tools internally and sometimes we use google’s sitemap tools for that. Then we create a new sitemap for the new store. For an instance example if our client wants to move to Shopify Plus or Shopify we create that with Shopify for the new store. If you want to generate a sitemap on Shopify simply add sitemap.xml at the end of the store’s URL.
We prefer Shopify Plus for enterprise eCommerce retailers. We are listed as Shopify Expert as well.
Step 2 — Creating content inventory for eCommerce store migration
Now we have the sitemaps of the existing store and from the new platform as well, now it’s time to work on content inventory. Cause this will allow us to track all the important peace of attributes which are associated with the current platform and content. The content inventory should track a variety of attributes such as each URLs, SEO Data like page title, permalinks, meta information, content excerpt, and status. For this step, we use some tools internally to lay out everything. This ensures that the eCommerce re-platform won’t affect your SEO.
Once everything is done for content planning we start to migrate the content to Shopify. Then we setting up everything and map the content as it needed to be on Shopify. It may take few times to do depending on how much data you’ve on your existing store.
Preparing for launching the store
After everything is done in the staging period and content migration we are in the final stage. Before launching the store we will do some rigorous testing. First of all, we will do the cross browsers and platforms testing so that we can make sure that the store will run smoothly 80% of devices and browsers. Then we will do some on-page search engine optimization to make sure it’s good to go live and impress search engines, for on-page search engine optimization we will give every collection, page, product meta description. To make sure it’s good to go we will also cross-check the performance of the store. We will take look at performance metrics and if we need to change fix anything we will do that and finally, we will take a backup of the store. After all of that, we will go live with the store.
Clearly, there are a lot of moving parts for an eCommerce replatfrom. We know how much stressful it is to take this decision and why it’s important to change the eCommerce platform to a new one. It’s time-consuming but worth it if that done in right way. It’s strategic and that requires seamless co-operation. By integrating a great team who can handle all of that by proper planning and actual execution of the migration the result will be fruitful
Originally published at Digital Develop.