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Crucial Considerations When Migrating your Store to Shopify

Published on September 13th, 2022 by Sahil Saini

Things to prioritize out of every other factor for the successful migration of a previous storefront to Shopify.

With over 2 million active users, Shopify is a leading platform for modern eCommerce businesses. Scalability, security, easy product management, customization, and access to a robust ecosystem with minimal technical experience are some of its delightful benefits. For these reasons, an increasing number of eCommerce businesses are migrating their storefronts to Shopify.

Moving an existing eCommerce store to Shopify is a big step for a business. It would be best if a business owner put in the commensurate time and effort to successfully migrate their store's data to Shopify.

Store pages, product specifications, client information, and order history are examples of data that may need to be migrated. There are two approaches to data migration:

  • Big Bang Migration: This enables businesses to migrate all of their store data within a predetermined timeframe. During the migration, the storefront will be unavailable to users.
  • Trickle migration: This involves moving the storefront data over in small batches while maintaining sync between Shopify and the previous store without any downtime.

The Big Bang method of data migration, which enables companies to move all of their store data at once, will be the focus of this article. Below are the crucial considerations when using Big Bang migration.

Migration Plan

Preparing and following a migration plan is essential to successful data migration. A comprehensive migration plan will give a holistic overview of the migration process. It will also help determine the time and resources required to complete the process. In the case of unexpected events, the migration plan will help to handle the situation effectively.

A good migration plan should tick the following boxes:

  • Understand The Data and Its Source: A comprehensive migration plan should provide insight into the type of data being migrated. The data can be images, texts, or slugs. Users should also identify the pages, files, or folders that house the data.
  • Data Backup: Prior to the migration, backing up all data that users intend to move is paramount. This will guarantee that, in the event of an error, such as a failed transfer, a corrupted file, or a missing file, the files can easily be restored to their original states.
  • Assess Resources and Tools: Once users have determined the type and size of data they want to transfer, they’ll need to determine how much storage space is needed on the new Shopify store, as well as the tools required to export and import the data to Shopify.
  • Time: The migration time should provide an estimate of the time required to complete the data migration and test it on Shopify.
  • Order of Migration: For data types like order history, there is need to import them in a particular order to maintain the relationship between the constituent data. To successfully link order history to the corresponding customers and products, Shopify advises that users import it in the following order:
    • Products
    • Customers
    • Historical orders

Protocol-Independent Assets

HTTPS, HTTP, and FTP are the common web protocols that websites load through. Migrating from an old store to Shopify may come with a change in the web protocol that a site loads through. For example, the old store website may be loading through HTTP, but the new store is loading through a secure protocol, HTTPS. In this case, store assets like JavaScript files, theme files, and stylesheets that are dependent on the old HTTP protocol may not respond properly, causing important components of the new Shopify storefront to not function properly. Therefore, it is good practice to update such assets to be protocol-independent before migrating them to Shopify.

Making an asset protocol-independent can be achieved with following these process:

  1. Open the theme files in a text editor.
  2. Search for the texts, http:// and https://
  3. Everywhere the above protocol texts are found, replace them with //.

Below is an example:

Protocol Dependent

<img src="http://mystore.sample-product.jpeg" alt="My sample product"/>

Protocol Independent

<img src="//mystore.sample-product.jpeg" alt="My sample product"/>

By updating the store assets to use protocol-independent URLs, you'll make sure that the assets load through any protocol the site uses and they continue to work correctly after the migration.

URL Redirects

When a previous store's content is migrated to Shopify, users and search engines will no longer be able to access the store via the old URLs. In such a case, the eCommerce store might lose past clients who are unaware of the migration, and if the broken URLs are not fixed promptly, the store might lose its search engine credibility. It is imperative to set up URL redirects for crucial pages to prevent such awful scenarios.

  1. To configure URL redirects, follow this process::
  2. Log in to the old eCommerce platform from which you are migrating.
  3. Find the URL redirects section in the account settings, or contact the platform's Help Center if you can’t locate the section.
  4. Click on "Add new URL redirect" in the URL redirect section.
  5. Enter the old URL you want to redirect users from in the From field. For example:
  6. Enter the new URL that you want to redirect users to in the To field. For example:
  7. Click on "Add redirect"

Manually finding and adding URL redirects on large websites will be time-consuming. Crawling tools such as Screaming Frog can crawl the old storefront, find broken links or the existing XML sitemap, and bulk export them as a CSV file. Following that, you can import the CSV file using the Shopify dashboard. On adding the redirect, customers who visit the page through the old URL will be automatically redirected to the new Shopify page.

Customer Accounts and Passwords

Customer records are another important consideration when migrating a store to Shopify to ensure the continuity of the eCommerce business. Customer data can be imported into Shopify by doing the following:

  • Create a CSV file with the customer profiles and 
  • Import it via the Shopify admin dashboard or the Shopify Import Store App.
  • To create a customer record, use the Shopify customer CSV template or build one from scratch. You can import the customer CSV file into Shopify after creating it by following the steps outlined below:

    • From the Shopify admin dashboard, go to “Customers”.
    • Click “Import.”
    • Click “Add file”, and then select the customers CSV file.
    • Click “Import customers”.

    Passwords cannot be transferred from another platform to Shopify, as they are encrypted data. Instead, send customers an email asking them to reset their passwords. After resetting their passwords, the new password will be associated with the previously imported records, making their account available on the new Shopify storefront.

    Users of Shopify Plus can send the reset password emails in bulk using the Bulk Account Inviter.

    Blogs and articles

    In addition to importing crucial store data like products, orders, and customer records, users should also consider importing blog posts and articles to the new Shopify-hosted storefront. Maintaining a store's SEO and increasing conversions are benefits of having the blogs and articles on the same website as the storefront. 

    Chances are that you currently host blog posts and articles on WordPress. If so, the Shopify WordPress Importer App will allow you to import them into Shopify quickly. The app will handle every aspect of the blog, including the posts, comments, and images.

    If the articles are on platforms other than WordPress, you can search for a suitable app on the Shopify App Store or opt for the copy and paste method. However, you must update the embedded image URLs to use a relative path.

    As a best practice, filter the current articles before migrating them to Shopify. Check the previous store’s Google Analytics to see which articles are receiving the most SEO traffic and conversions. Any other blog post that generates less than 1% of traffic should be updated and re-optimized before being transferred to the new Shopify store

    Product Specifications and Customer Feedback

    If you're transitioning from a popular e-commerce platform like Amazon or eBay, Shopify offers official Apps to help users get started. Using the Amazon Webstore Importer or eBay Importer app from the Shopify App Store will import all product details, including the title, variants, SKUs, and product images.

    Other third-party Apps such as LitExtension or Matrixify can be used for platforms that do not have an official importer app on Shopify. If you do not want to use these third-party tools, importing them via a CSV file is the best bet.

    Migration Tools

    Depending on the size of data to be migrated, migrating to Shopify can be a simple or complex task. Therefore, Shopify provides different methods and apps to help users achieve a successful migration.

    Copy and Paste

    Copying and pasting data from the previous platform to Shopify is the most basic form of data migration. Even though it can be error-prone, it is a perfect option for migrating a small data size.

    Bulk Account Inviter

    When migrating customer records to Shopify, you need to email the existing customers to reset their passwords, since passwords are encrypted data. The Bulk Account Inviter app makes it easy for Shopify Plus users. You can configure the app as follows:

  • Invite customers to update their passwords in bulk.
  • Store Importer App

    The Shopify Store Importer app is a data importer with multiple functions. It simplifies online store data migration by integrating with popular platforms such as WooCommerce, Squarespace, Etsy, Square, and BigCommerce. Additionally, you can use it to import products, customer records, and order data as CSV files from other platforms.

    Transporter App

    Data about products, clients, and orders can be transferred from other platforms to Shopify Plus more easily with the help of the Transporter app. It consists of two tools:

    1. The transporter command-line tool makes it easy to convert records to CSV.
    2. The Transporter App imports the CSV files into the Shopify Plus dashboard.

    It is imperative that you select the tool that is best suited for the size and type of data you are migrating. Apart from the official Shopify Apps, there are numerous third-party apps available in the Shopify Store that can help you streamline the migration process even further.

    Final Words

    From corrupted files to a broken theme, many things can go wrong during a data migration to Shopify. Therefore, it is essential to adhere to best practices to guarantee the success of data migration.

    After successfully migrating the data to Shopify, users should schedule time to review the migrated data and ensure that everything is functioning properly.

    How Can AKOS Help?

    At AKOS, we pride ourselves on building accessible, secure, and scalable Shopify storefronts. Our experience in having tested and integrated multiple external Headless CMSs with Shopify helps us lead the charge in building Headless Shopify Plus stores with knowledge and experience. We’re happy to schedule a consultation and figure out the best Headless CMS for your Shopify Plus store, just say Hello!

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