37 Experts Reveal: How to Migrate Your Ecommerce Platform to Shopify
Shopify is one of the top ecommerce platforms in the game. So, it’s no surprise that countless ecommerce business owners flock to this platform to reach more customers, sell more products, and boost their authority in their industry.
However, there are important things to consider when it comes to ensuring that your migration goes off without a hitch.
Migrating to Shopify? Here’s What You Need to Know
From design to functionality to SEO to conversion optimization, there are multiple components involved in your site migration.
That’s why our team at Whitecap SEO partnered with the top Shopify migration pros that know best to provide you the tips you need to make your replatforming go over smoothly and without the stress.
Here, 37 experts answer the question “What is your best advice for ecommerce shops looking to migrate platforms to Shopify?”
37 Ecommerce Experts Answer: “What is your best advice for ecommerce shops looking to migrate to Shopify?”
Our chosen Shopify Experts and Plus Partners share their top advice for ecommerce business owners looking to migrate to the Shopify platform.
Hardage & Hardage
Owner, Web Developer
My best advice would be to get help. Shopify-specific designers and developers and setup experts can help you make better use of the platform sooner. You may be able to drop all kinds of plugins and apps from your old platform.
And definitely get help to migrate your content. It's good to do it manually. Migration apps make all kinds of assumptions and bring over a lot of code from your old platform's text editor. And everything is organized a little different in Shopify. Product options, navigation sub-categories, blog categories. These don't have 1-to-1 translations from other platforms.
Yeah, definitely get some help :)
Whenever you're looking to make the move over to Shopify one of the first things I instruct merchants to be cognisant of is the fact that their URL structure will likely change for their products/collections/pages.
This is vitally important as we want to make absolutely sure that any press backlinks or indexed pages on search engines are redirected to the new site.
Shopify uses /pages /blogs /collections /products as part of their URL structure. So if you're on, say...Magento, you might have a product with a URL of TestStore.com/product1 on Shopify it would be TestStore.com/products/product1instead.
If done correctly this isn't going to negatively affect your site in any way. It may actually help search engines better index your site as it knows the pattern that pages/products will take ahead of time.
Now, with the proper 301 redirects setup (which you can do right in the Shopify Backend via Online store --> Navigation --> URL Redirects), and a proper migration plan in place for all of your pages you won't lose any SEO value in the migration and it will be nothing but smooth sailing.
Take the time to develop a clear understanding of moving from the old to the new (Shopify). Pay careful attention to back-end dependencies and how these will port to Shopify. And don't forget your 301 redirects prior to launch. You don't want to lose all the Search Engine Rankings you've built up!
Digital Marketing Strategist
We wanted to take this opportunity to shed some light on the challenges we’ve faced in migrating to a Shopify or a Shopify plus store.
For custom managed websites, there were legacy systems which had been in place for many years which were of course constantly updated and changed. The database size for a number of these custom websites turned out to be quite substantial coupled with data duplication at multiple points which caused an obstruction to the data migration process. The process of identifying, filtering and developing scripts to efficiently import this data onto Shopify turned out to be quite time consuming. We needed a better solution and fortunately this is where 3rd party plugins’ offered by Shopify came to the rescue. In the case of migration from well-known platforms like Magento, third party services like Cart2Cart provide a seamless data integration experience with excellent customer support services.
While migrating content for a large store we encountered few limitations from Shopify’s end as well. Following are a few common ones that we’ve encountered:
Redirect set up – Only a maximum of 100,000 redirects are allowed to be setup
Product Tags – A maximum of 5,000 tags are allowed for set up for the entire store. Tags in Shopify are most commonly used to set up filters and smart collections and this wasn't enough for the large store we were copying over.
Smart Collections - Maximum limit of 5,000 was allowed. Again, this was an issue as the client had created more collections over a longer period of time running their legacy stores’.
A detailed checklist for a thorough migration from one platform to the other needs to be maintained for the reference of the development agency on-board.
If the platform in question has invested a substantial amount of time and effort in building keyword relevancy for their website and drives a decent amount of organic traffic, an exhaustive checklist to retain the value of those keywords needs to be in place.
Note: A site migration will of-course always result in a temporary loss of traffic. Unfortunately there is no way around it but the drop can always be limited.
We like to maintain a ‘pre’ and a ‘post’ migration checklist to cover all corners of the process based on whatever the reason might be for the migration process. The critical areas we take into account (but not limited to) are:
Make sure your site migration takes place during a lull period in order to regain lost traffic
Export your current sitemap
Export all Google Search Console & Google Analytics data for maintaining a record
Map out your complete URL – Keyword structure onto a spreadsheet, taking into account:
All Meta Tags, Alt Tags, H1/ H2/ H3 etc and of course the Web Content
Assigning the new URL’s once created to this spreadsheet to plug any gaps
Benchmark important data e.g. keyword rankings, organic traffic, search visibility, number of indexed pages and site speed.
Use 301 redirects to point all old URLs to new. (All pages, images, pdf)
Ensure all canonical tags are in place for the new site structure
Ensure all internal linking is passed on to the new URLs
Test the redirects. You can use Fetch as Google for testing individual URLs or command line tools or scripts to test large numbers of URLs
Optimize and update new site with keywords, meta titles, content, heading tags, alt tags and internal linking
Keep the redirects for as long as possible, and consider keeping them indefinitely
Create new Google Analytics & Google Search Console account for the new website
Utilize Google Analytics data to keep a track of traffic fluctuations and compare it with the data exported for the previous domain
Keep a track of Google Search Console for 404 pages
Ensure all duplicate content issues are resolved
Update robots.txt file
Essential to update all citations across local listing websites (in the event of a change in domain name)
We mentioned before that there will be a loss of traffic no matter what. However, in the event that one does not keep the above checklist handy it might result in a substantial loss of traffic and possible penalties from Google, which can even take months to recover. Keeping the above checklist in place during your transition process and it will shield you from any major traffic loss.
Work with a Shopify Partner who has walked the walk before!
Whilst that may seem a self-fulfilling answer, there is a seriousness to it, too. Whilst your project is bespoke and of a high importance to all stakeholders, most challenges have been tackled before and working with someone who can be calm in the middle of the storm is invaluable.
Lastly, don't just move the same old site across and fail to benefit from the advantages of Shopify. There are huge automation opportunities with Shopify Flow and making the best of them will allow your ecommerce team to feel like they've multiplied overnight.
Webso Media Inc.
Agency Owner, Shopify Expert
Make a list of everything you want to migrate to Shopify. It is not as simple as import/export your products. What about your blog articles, your shipping rules, your payment method, your current URL (think of making redirects to not lose on SEO ranking and traffic),etc.? It is ok to overlook things in order to make sure you don't forget anything. If you also want to transfer the design of your current store, don't assume it is as simple as copy/paste. In doubt, ask for help.
Chief Operating Officer
Take the necessary time to analyze your product data. Shopify provides a variety of ways you can manage product attributes that drive content, filtering, badges, etc. It's important to make the right decision on where/how you store data depending on the outcome you're hoping to achieve. The best way to tackle this is to export a sample of your current platform's product data and map out field-by-field how that data will be stored within Shopify.
Embark on a thorough discovery process up front to ensure you’re choosing the right platform, apps and integrations, establishing a clear sense of cost and time, and mitigating risks down the line by investing in planning up front.
Migrating is so much more than relocating from one ecommerce platform to another. With the right approach and the right partner, it's an opportunity to reinvest in your brand and take your business to the next level. Many agencies will offer to securely migrate your data, but few combine the necessary technical expertise with world-class ecommerce design. Here at Pixel Union, we specialize in helping digital and direct-to-consumer brands grow on Shopify and Shopify Plus. With our extensive platform knowledge and legacy of ecommerce expertise, we're equipped to help you not just transfer platforms but reimagine your brand and position your business for long-term growth.
My main advice is to check out all custom fields and make sure that if those are important (usually the case) that you have a way to get that data over to Shopify.
We'll usually use one of the meta fields apps for that. While my company is all-in on Shopify, WooCommerce admittedly does a great job with subscriptions. We use ReCharge for Shopify, and subscription migration has been the most difficult type of migration we have tackled, as you can imagine. Keep in mind that both user order history AND credit card tokens will have to both be migrated for the most seamless transition possible, and you'll obviously need to keep the same payments provider for this to work.
Definitely let your customers know sooner rather than later that you are "upgrading" your user experience, and they will need to reset their password after the migration is complete. You can then send an email to all of your current customers asking them to reset their password. Clear messaging on the login page will also help with customer retention. Maybe most importantly, plan to put some extra time into customer service during any migration. Many customers will not read your messages and will have no idea what's going on. Hold their hand through the transition, and look at it as an opportunity to provide excellent customer service. Kustomer and other omni-channel communication platforms are great for this.
Captain & Founder
I recommend creating a clear map of exactly what you'll need to do before attempting any migration steps. You may find that some steps are dependent on others, and it will save you costly re-do time to get it right on the first try.
Some things to consider:
What details do you have for each product? Does this vary based on product type?
Will you be selling on additional sales channels (POS, social media, etc.)? That may affect how you organize your data.
Will your products need to be tagged to make new features work?
What do you want to change about your content as part of the move, and how can you prepare for that in advance? For instance, if you're changing the categories in your navigation on the new site.
Does your new platform offer new features that your current data export doesn't yet account for?
My best advice for ecommerce shops looking to migrate platforms to Shopify is to first, plan what you need for your migration before you begin or work with an Shopify Expert to ensure everything needed gets ported over. Aside from the products, collections, and customers the next big thing is managing your 301 redirects - these are a large part of any migration. Using a spreadsheet to upload your redirects is a huge time saver. Use spreadsheets as much as you can for your migration.
The Chicago Web Co.
Creative Director & Owner
My best advice for those transferring platforms over to Shopify would be to make any and all adjustments beforehand. A lot of companies do the product export/import, first, and then spend time within Shopify trying to organize everything. If you have products you’ll no longer be offering - don’t transfer them! If you feel that your prices or descriptions are out of date, update them on your old platform, first, before making the export and import into Shopify.
Now is a really good time to take a look at and update your product descriptions, clean up and organize your pages, and make sure that your message is concise and clear. You want your branding to really shine through and this is the perfect time to do a full website audit, especially taking a look at content and ensuring you’re taking advantage of SEO-rich descriptions.
One thing we see clients constantly get stuck on when migrating is their broader technology stack. Modern ecommerce stores require a lot of moving parts with various vendors. Are you using a particular ERP? What about your payment processor? Fulfillment?
Take stock of what you're using to handle logistics for your online store and see which things already have integrations with Shopify and which don't. If there isn't a plug-and-play integration, research some alternatives to that particular piece of technology and see if a satisfactory option exists. If not, then you may need to consider having a custom integration written by an agency or the third-party provider themselves.
When it comes to migrating to Shopify, don't try and reinvent the wheel and if possible, don't try to do it yourself. Reach out to a professional who has done the process many times before because they'll know the in's and out's of the process and will know what potential issues to avoid. If you plan on doing it yourself, use a Shopify app like Excelify to greatly lessen the complexity of the task and lessen the room for errors.
Customer Success Manager
The most important aspect of starting your store with Shopify is selecting a theme for your store. It will save you money spent on fixes you won't need to make later. Our suggestion is purchasing a premium theme, as they are all pixel-perfect and responsive across all devices. The price is higher than run-of-the-mill themes, but in our opinion, it's well worth it. On first sight, it may seem like the best option to go with a cheaper or free theme, however, in the long run, many people realize they've already spent too much on fixes and tweaks.
When choosing your theme, pay close attention to the functionality of the product page and collection pages, to be sure it's the closest possible match to the type of product you're selling. It will also save you money because this is where most store owners end up spending a lot of cash, after purchasing the theme, which makes this the second most important aspect — your website is an online store above anything else.
Founder & CEO
Start your project with a focus on data - hygiene, curation, mapping, consistency, reliability, etc.
From our experience there is never just one thing that is most important however we have included some tops things to take into account when moving to shopify.
1) Product migration - when moving products across make sure you migrate all the information across to the new platform. Including the SEO titles and description. If there is no specific SEO titles / descriptions set up it's a great time to add them in there.
2) Product inventory - whilst you're setting up your new platform you're likely to still be selling on your old platform, with this in mind it's worth coming up with an approach for how to plan to keep stock in sync. With Shopify in particular, if you're handy with spreadsheets there is an inventory import facility that allows importing via CSV, there is sometimes just a little bit of work to get the spreadsheets right between the export from your old system and import to your new system.
The second option is to use an import service like shoppingcartmigration.com that will allow a full export import of your products - just bear in mind that any new imports will overwrite any changes you've made on the new site as well as updating the inventory.
The third option is to use a 3rd party inventory management system such as order hive or tradegecko or khaos cloud which can be used to sync stock between your new site, your old site as well as any third party channel such as ebay, amazon etc.
With all but the first option just bear in mind that not all platforms are available for integration.
3) For migrating the static content, again make sure all content is migrated along with the SEO titles / descriptions where possible.
4) Before putting your site live make sure you set up a 301 redirect for every page / blog article and product on your old site to the equivalent page on the new site - it's a long, tedious job but it is absolutely critical for making sure you don't negatively impact your search engine rankings at all.
5) Before putting the new site live, make sure that everything has been tested, from deadlinks, to copyright through to making sure payment gateways have been set up and are working properly.
Once the new site is live, make sure you've added your Google Analytics code, tracking pixels and web consoles to the new site so everything will still be trackable.
Founder and CEO
A top priority for any platform migration is maintaining your organic presence on search engines. To ensure a seamless migration onto Shopify, you need to ensure that search engines pass the SEO strength from your current pages to your new Shopify pages.
Your URLs will change so it's critical that you 301 redirect every page on your current site to the equivalent URL on your new Shopify site.
We recommend a full audit of your site prior to the migration to fully understand which of your pages drive the majority of your organic search traffic. These are the priority pages that must redirect to a Shopify page with like-for-like content.
Sounds Good Agency
Founder | Ecommerce Consultant & Shopify Expert
4 important points: Data migration, Design, Functionality and Transition.
Make sure you have a clear strategy for each single phase in order to make the most out of this investment.
We Make Websites
Planning. There's a lot of moving parts when you switch platforms. Customers, orders, voucher codes, products, categories, URLs… diligence and timing are crucial. Making sure you have a clear plan that every stakeholder understands will yield the best results.
Also - don't just rebuild what you have already. It's tempting to simply rebuild what you have currently "because it's always been done that way".
Take the opportunity to revisit your business requirements and bring them up to date. This is an opportunity to drop old assumptions and get the most out of a modern platform.
I guess the main thing really is to do due-diligence around countering some of the core limitations (when moving from some of the other platforms) - there are some great workarounds (via third parties) for things like visual merchandising, international, managing complex product data etc, it just needs to be looked into. Some of the third parties I generally recommend include ShipperHQ (for better shipping management and handling more complex matrixes), Shogun (for better content management), Klevu (for search and category merchandising), ultimate special offers (for running more advanced promotions), Orderly (for easy, custom transactional emails) and Excelify (for better import / export functionality). I wrote this piece which covers a lot of the things we generally recommend looking at beforehand.
Prior to planning migration of data, website development, and redesign; take the opportunity to evaluate the logistical and operational components of the business. A successful replatform optimizes and improves ecommerce operations, but it should also connect and streamline inventory management, warehouse fulfillment, etc.
Creative Director & CEO
Make a wishlist of all the features you would like your new site to include, and find other brands’ websites that inspire you. This is your chance to revamp your online presence and there are no limits this time around.
Get excited! Not only will your eCommerce site look and function better, you'll have full control to maintain and update it as well. Don't feel that you have to maintain an old look and feel just because customers are used to it. Be bold and make the next version of your website the best experience possible.
Co-Founder & CCO
Your everyday life as a merchant will be much more enjoyable with Shopify Plus as your focus will be on sales and marketing instead of technology.
Don't be afraid to change from complex legacy platforms to Shopify or Shopify Plus. It can be done - we have done it many times.
With Shopify Plus you will be faster and better.
Milk Bottle Labs
Select your migration partner carefully. Have a look at your partners portfolio and talk to their previous customers. Migrating is a big step but once you take time to select your migration partner that suits your business, it's made easier.
Keep it simple - Many clients we talk try to migrate complex integrations which may not be required on the Shopify platform. Very often the best approach is to migrate and leave some of these integrations until you are familiar with the Shopify platform post-launch - treat them as a phase 2, or even phase 3, project. A phased approach reduces the effort and stress level for the client.
Finally, trust your partner. And enjoy Shopify.
Be careful with the theme/apps you choose to use. Analyze its SEO values with an expert before you make a decision. If the loading speed of your site is terrible it's not an easy fix to make it work if the right tools are not used from the get-go.
“Chief Baker & Candlestick Maker”
If you look at the Shopify platform as your 'forever' home, you know that you have a ton of flexibility with how you decorate it over the course of the years. So find the right foundation that you can live with and then you can build from there.
Find a partner who asks questions about infrastructure and can explain cause and effect rationale for their recommendations and plans.
My advice would be to determine a budget and to take a stab at your requirements before engaging an agency. You'll save time and get a better solution this way.
Front End Developer
Hire an expert. Seriously.
We typically double sales in the first year after a migration to Shopify & have recently migrated one of the world's largest food companies onto Shopify - with no dip in organic traffic. On the other side of the coin we've seen clients do it themselves and (sadly) go out of business or lose a lot of key positions.
Here's our tips for not losing a load of business through messing up a migration:
Scan your whole current site using Screaming Frog SEO spider and build your new site around that scan as well as the data Google gives you in webmaster tools. It will be boring and tedious. Make no mistake. But life will be a lot worse if you don't do it. The key SEO data on the new site should be as close as possible during a migration. There are some automations which any half decent expert will be able to help with here. Even so - it's a lot of manual work so migrate most sites.
Once content is in place - redirect EVERYTHING with a 301 including old 301 redirects. Spend a long time with your redirects. Again - if you've been clever - you can save a load of time with automations.
Use amp on the homepage if you can.
Re-submit your sitemaps.
Whenever possible, take an iterative approach to migration rather than trying to move everything in one giant scary launch.
Look for opportunities to migrate a small part of your business first in order to learn - could you launch a MVP version of your low-traffic New Zealand store before tackling the US site, or break out one of your specific product lines into its own site?
Take this opportunity to re-look into your business. It’s an opportunity to start with a clean slate with a new business model. Look into the current data that you have and try to understand your product fit with your current audience. Work with an expert to do the migration so you can focus on your business model.
Think clearly about the true pain points of your current platform. Whether it be the sites performance or the administration side, it’s worth discussing whether Shopify will make a true difference to your business. In our experience, 99% of the time, it will.
Having migrated numerous eCommerce stores to Shopify from other platforms, we would firstly recommend using a team that have proven experience!
There are a number of pitfalls a migration project can fall into, including errors in customer and order data transfers.
We would recommend using a Shopify app called Excelify which automatically links with both Shopify and the existing platform to migrate all data, including product, customer, order and blog content.
301 redirects are also a crucial element to any migration to ensure that the new site utilising a new URL structure doesn't create a load of horrible deadlinks. We've used a Shopify app called Transporter, which works excellently ;).
Analyze all your functional requirements in as much detail as possible.
Create a mapping document so that each element of your data is moved over in the optimal data type.
Every step of preparation will pay returns so that you can expect a smooth launch without minimal interruption and maximum sales.
Founder & Creative Director
Once you have decided to make the move to Shopify, it’s worth thinking about your goals for the migration.
Do you want to simply replatform with bare minimum changes to simply get up and running on Shopify as quickly as possible? Or do you want to use the migration as an opportunity to undertake a full design and usability refresh?
If you have a small team with limited bandwidth or you have a very tight deadline because your platform is shutting down or you’re launching a new product and have limited creative control, a straightforward migration with limited design might be the best approach. Keeps the investment and level of effort low and provides a solid foundation on Shopify for future growth with minimal technical debt.
If you’re migrating because you’ve had limited creative control on your previous site and/or it’s bogged down by technical debt—or it’s simply old and tired—using the migration as an opportunity to step back and revisit wireframes and user-flows, content structure, messaging and storytelling, and design could definitely be worthwhile. It’s potentially a bigger project but if you have the budget and bandwidth, the return on investment could be significantly higher—especially if you know your growth potential is being hampered by your current site.
Apply These Expert Tips to Your Shopify Migration
Migrating to your new ecommerce platform is an exciting process. Make sure you do it right and set up your website for success with these expert tips.
Our 37 Shopify Experts and Shopify Plus Partners shared their best advice for a smooth site transition. Here are the key takeaways from the interviews:
Think about your business goals – Consider what you want to accomplish before, during, and after the migration.
Ask for help – Find the right migration partner to guide you through the Shopify migration process.
Conduct a pre-migration audit – Check your old site for existing issues prior to migration
Keep SEO in mind – Work with a Shopify SEO expert to maintain your rankings and traffic
Pay attention to the details – Redirect URLs, migrate content, and avoid major hiccups.
Configure your favorite apps and integrations – Ensure that your favorite tools integrate seamlessly with your new platform.
Revamp your website’s aesthetic – Now’s your chance to give your website a whole new look.
Create a better customer experience – Design your site to be attractive, functional, and conversion- friendly.
Make the most of the Shopify platform by setting your site up for success from the very beginning!
Are you migrating to Shopify or Shopify Plus? Be sure to read The Ultimate SEO Migration to Shopify Plus Guide.
If you enjoyed this post, please share it using the icons below!