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The Art of Replatforming: Migrating From Shopify With Minimal Disruption

Are You Prepared to Leave Shopify?

What would you do if you were told you had just 30 days to replatform your ecommerce store?

This stressful situation is an unfortunate reality for many Shopify store owners as the platform has tightened its Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) in recent years.

Shopify may be growing, but it’s losing ground with many online store owners due to its increasingly restrictive AUP. Compared to other ecommerce platforms, Shopify has one of the longest lists of prohibited and restricted items. These limitations impact a wide range of industries, including food and beverage, health and beauty, CBD and cannabis, automotive, and medical, among others. Sporting goods and outdoor retailers have been particularly targeted.

First they came for weapons and ammunition. Then it was parts and accessories.

Any sports and outdoor retailers still standing are wise to wonder “What’s next?”

For many merchants, the answer is future-proofing their ecommerce business by migrating from Shopify and onto a more open, tolerant, and industry-friendly platform.

Don’t Fail Your Online Business - Be Prepared

Heed our advice — as a 25-year ecommerce agency that has been through hundreds of migrations and replatforming projects over the years, this is a situation you want to get ahead of. 30 days is not enough time for a smooth transition, and companies that get put in that position will feel the impact. It really is better to be prepared.

Consequences of a Rushed Website Migration

A rushed website migration can pose several potential problems and challenges. Here are a few common issues that can arise:

Technical Issues

Rushing a website migration can lead to technical glitches and errors. There is a risk of broken links, missing pages, or incorrect data transfer, which can result in a poor user experience and negatively impact search engine rankings. Proper planning and thorough testing are crucial to minimize technical issues during the migration process.

Data Loss or Corruption

When migrating a website quickly and under pressure, there is a higher chance of data loss or corruption. Important files, databases, or customer information may not be properly transferred, leading to functionality issues and data inconsistencies. A comprehensive backup strategy and meticulous data handling are necessary to mitigate this risk.

Negative SEO Impact

Search engine optimization (SEO) can be affected by a hasty website migration. If proper precautions are not taken, the new website structure and URLs may not be properly mapped or redirected, resulting in a loss of search engine rankings and organic traffic. A well-planned migration strategy, including 301 redirects and proper content optimization, is crucial to maintain SEO integrity.

User Experience Disruptions

A fast forced migration can disrupt the user experience on the website. Pages may load slowly, features may be temporarily unavailable, or the overall site functionality may be compromised. This can lead to frustrated visitors, increased bounce rates, and a negative impact on user engagement and conversions.

Communication & Training Troubles

In a rushed migration, there may be insufficient time for effective communication with stakeholders, including staff, customers, or partners. Adequate training on the new website’s features and functionality may be lacking, leading to confusion and difficulties for users. Clear and timely communication, along with proper training and support, are essential for a smooth transition.

Preparing to Migrate From Shopify

Preparing to migrate from Shopify requires careful planning and execution. Here is a checklist of key steps and considerations to help you prepare for a successful store migration. This checklist serves as a starting point for your Shopify migration process. Each migration project will have specific requirements and considerations based on your unique business needs and the chosen ecommerce platform. You should adapt this checklist to suit your specific situation, and consider consulting with experts or seeking professional assistance to help ensure a smooth transition.

Choose a New Ecommerce Platform

First you will need to evaluate different ecommerce platforms and select one that best fits your business requirements, budget, and growth plans. Consider factors like native features, scalability, customization options, pricing, integrations, and user-friendliness. For the best results, make sure your new platform will be able to integrate with other crucial business software such as your ERP, CRM, fulfillment solutions, and marketing platforms.

Explore Ecommerce Platform Options
Ecommerce Platform Comparison

Take Stock of Your Shopify Store

The next step is to review your existing Shopify store and document its structure, design, and functionality. Take note of the products, categories, collections, and any customizations or special features you have implemented. Don’t stop your assessment at the store itself. Be sure to document all of your related business processes and workflows so they can be replicated or adapted for the new platform.

Data Backup & Export

You will need to export and backup your Shopify store’s data, including products, customer information, orders, and other relevant data. You can use Shopify’s export functionality or specialized apps to ensure you have a copy of your data for the migration. An accurate and complete data migration is crucial to ensure a smooth transition for your business and your customers.

Product & Inventory Management

Once all your data is backed up, you will prepare your product catalog for migration, ensuring accurate information, images, variants, pricing, and inventory levels. Consider how you will map and transfer your products to the new platform, whether through manual entry, direct CSV import/export, automated platform-to-platform migration tools, or via your enterprise resource planning solution.

Explore Ecommerce ERP & Inventory Solutions

Consider SEO Carefully

You should evaluate the SEO impact of your ecommerce migration and develop a strategy to minimize any negative effects on search engine rankings. Start by conducting an audit of your pre-migration SEO to assess your current rankings and winning strategies, as well as any opportunities for improvement. Maintain URL structures where possible and map out 301 redirects from your old Shopify URLs to the corresponding new page URLs to retain SEO value. Proper management of your URL redirects is absolutely essential.

Request an SEO Audit

Design & Customization

Congratulations! You’ve reached what many people consider to be the “fun part” of their website migration project: dreaming up the design and customizations. Some companies launch an entirely new design and enhanced user experience with their migration; others simply seek to recreate their existing look on the new platform without rocking the boat. The choice is yours!

Whatever design path you ultimately choose, you will need to consider the layout, colors, branding, and other design elements you will need to create your desired look and feel. Take some time to look around the web and take notes (and screenshots!) of what you like and dislike. Check around other sites in your industry to see what users might be expecting from you. This will help you hone in on a list of design features you want and need on your new ecommerce store. From there, it’s a matter of how to make it happen.

Your platform most likely works with pre-designed themes or templates — check out the marketplace to explore your options and get inspired. Review your platform and agency partner’s portfolios of past work for a good idea of what can be realistically achieved. Don’t be intimidated or afraid to think outside the box! Many surprising things can be accomplished with a little bit of custom development.

See Inspiring Ecommerce Store Designs

Select Payment Gateways, Tax Compliance & Shipping Options

After your ERP and ecommerce platform, the next most important pieces of your ecommerce technology stack are your Payment, Tax, and Shipping solutions. These cover the essential steps of getting paid, complying with tax regulations, and delivering purchased items to your customers.

Figure out if your current solutions can migrate with you or if new solutions will be needed. When evaluating these solutions, you will need to carefully consider your business model, legal obligations, and desired customer experience. Good payment solutions offer a wide range of payment options and low processing fees. Tax solutions should make compliance a breeze by automating revenue tracking, nexus reporting, and return filing. Fulfillment solutions should make it easy to ship your products your way at a price that keeps your customers clicking “Buy Now.”

Ecommerce Payment Solutions
Shipping & Fulfillment Solutions

Evaluate Apps & Integrations

Your ERP, shipping, payments, and taxes are just the cornerstones of your ecommerce tech stack development. Amazing things can be built on top of this foundation! Assess the apps and integrations used in your Shopify store and research compatible alternatives on the new platform. Determine which integrations are necessary for your business operations and ensure they are available on the new platform. Effective planning early on will help prevent problems, bridge gaps, and ensure an easy transition in your customer experience.

Explore Our Favorite Ecommerce Apps & Integrations

Timing Is Everything

It is wise to schedule a planned downtime period for the migration to minimize disruption to your customers and business operations. Plan the go-live date and time for the new ecommerce platform, considering the migration completion, testing, and any necessary post-migration tasks. You will need to monitor the new platform closely after the migration to swiftly address any issues, bugs, or performance concerns that might arise. You should plan to have a support system in place to assist customers and resolve any inquiries or technical problems encountered during the transition.

Get Guidance From Ecommerce Experts

If you’d like some help assessing your ecommerce risk factors, weighing your platform options, and deciding which way to go from here, Blayzer Digital would be happy to help out. We’ve got a solid handle on the ecommerce tech stack and how the pieces fit together. With a little more info about your business, we’re confident we can steer you in the right direction.

Feel free to drop a meeting on our calendar anytime.