Ecommerce Expertise / Ecommerce Integrations / Productivity

5 steps to ensure a successful ecommerce migration

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We’re excited to announce that Bigcommerce has teamed up with eBay to provide a new home for Magento Go and ProStores retailers when those products are discontinued February 2015. Selected for our proven track record with migrations, client-centric culture, support for eBay sellers and tight integration with PayPal, we’ve worked closely with Magento to launch a coordinated transition program. If you are currently on the Magento Go or ProStores platform, visit our migration center to learn more about these exclusive services. Our teams are ready to help all migrating merchants quickly join the Bigcommerce family and sell more before the busy holiday shopping season.

Migrating an ecommerce store from one platform to another is not as simple as copy and pasting your site. In fact, it’s a lot like moving a brick-and-mortar store from one location to the next. To execute a successful move, it takes preparation, setup and launch. Today we’ll take a look at each of the steps involved in a seamless transition.

What’s in a store?

An ecommerce platform is like a vacant store. The architecture and structure are there, but without all the pieces, it’s just an empty building waiting to be filled. It’s important to keep this in mind when preparing for a migration. And before you do anything, make sure to properly prepare your ecommerce RFP.

Step 1: Take inventory and clean out the stockroom

In the brick-and-mortar world, your store is full of everything you sell. Each item has a price tag, physical attributes and a place on the shelf. When you move your store, all your merchandise gets packed and physically moved from one location to the next.

In ecommerce, things are a little different. Instead of the physical products, you have data that represents the items you sell. This data includes things like product photo, product name, product description, price, price rules and SKUs. During a migration, this data must be moved from one platform to the next.

To get ready to move shops, you have to take an inventory of your merchandise and then box it up. You also tend to clean your stockroom, purging it of any deadweight.

With a migration, it’s no different. You’ll need to take an inventory of all your products and do a little housekeeping. Are there items that have been discontinued? Now is a good time to clear them out. Need to add products? Do it now. Remember, once your migration has begun, any changes you make to your old store will not be reflected in your new store.

Step 2: Setup design and user experience

Once the movers unload the truck, you can’t just open your store. In fact, a store with boxes is just a warehouse with higher rent. Before you can start ringing up customers, you have to unpack and make some decisions. What color will you paint the walls? Where will the signage go? How will you arrange the products? What will go in the window display? This design is what gives the store its character, brings customers in the store and makes them want to buy your merchandise.

For an online store, this is called visual and user experience design. Visual design includes your logos, banners, color scheme, or anything that goes beyond the basic skeleton provided by the platform. User experience helps your customers get where they want to go so they can buy more, faster. It encompasses things like how you organize your products, set up your navigation or tweak your checkout process. Because each platform and template is unique, these are things that don’t always migrate easily.

If you’re thinking about redesigning your logo or changing your store settings, now is the time. During the five to ten business days recommended for migration, work with a designer for any needs that go beyond changing colors and backgrounds. This is also a good time to click around inside the new platform, read some ebooks or watch Bigcommerce University videos so you can get familiar with your new home.

Step 3: Turn on the utilities

The shop is set up, all the aisles are organized perfectly, it’s beautiful. But no one can see the product without lights. And you can’t run the cash register without electricity. Before you make your first sale, you’ve got to turn on the utilities.

For an ecommerce site, you don’t have to worry about electricity—we’ve got you covered—but there are a few things that must be set up before you can ring up a customer. These are your payment gateway, so you can take customer money; your shipping provider, so you can deliver the purchase; and tax rate, so the government can get its cut. We call these “store settings.”

While you’re waiting for your store to migrate, round up your login information for your payment gateway and shipping provider. Or if you’re thinking about making a switch to other providers, now is the perfect time to sign up with them.

You’ll also need to let us know the tax rate for your state and locality. By law, we aren’t allowed to advise you on those rates, so be sure to talk to your controller, tax attorney or CPA.

Step 4: Have a soft opening

In a brick-and-mortar world, once everything is up, you don’t just open the store. You have a soft opening. During this mini-test run you invite friends and family to drink wine, shop the store and give feedback. It also allows you to watch how they react to the displays and setup of the shop.

After we’ve migrated your store data and completed Quality Assurance Testing (QA), it’s time to begin Usability Testing. This is your opportunity to see how potential customers respond to things like design, navigation and checkout flow. What is the order flow like? Are payments processed properly? Is the order being shipped with the right carrier? Most people find that a few tweaks are necessarily to deliver the great client experience you envisioned.

Step 5: Go time!

After the front doors open, good shopkeepers don’t call it quits. The move isn’t complete until a few weeks or months after opening. With real customers shopping, you’ll see trends that may make you want to rethink an endcap or change lighting that just isn’t working.

Likewise, it’s not over when the site is switched on. With the new platform, after real visitors start interacting with the site, you’ll have access to the same tools and apps that heavy hitters like Amazon and Delta Airlines use. These will help you track and refine every element on your store. This data takes the guesswork out of the equation by allowing you to see exactly where your customers are going, find out what’s working, and refine. Remember: The objective is to sell more, not just collect clicks.

Just like moving a store, migration can be a monumental task. But with the right preparation—and a little help from our Migration Team—we’re sure your new store will be up as painlessly as possible.

 

 

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  • Just curious how you migrate URL’s to your newer system? Since a majority of stores running different eCommerce platforms follow different approach for creating permalinks. Your comment is pretty interesting where you say “we do this automatically”.

    Would you mind sharing how you actually do it? I am sure this can’t be done manually.

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  • Hi Sean, that’s a great tip. When folks migrate to Bigcommerce, we automatically build the redirects in with the migration, so they don’t have to do all of that. Of course, it’s still a good idea to check in Webmaster tools after the migration just to make sure.

  • Sean Dawes

    From a architecture standpoint, the biggest thing is prior to the move scrape your site and get all your urls into excel. Than Scrape your development site you have been building on bigcommerce (the one that has the mybigcommerce in the url). And you want to match up the old url and than the new url next to it in another column as you need to 301 redirect any old urls to any new urls as most likely they will be changing. I have seen so many site owners not redirect and lose any links and even referral traffic as they now have a ton of 404 (dead pages).

    To ensure you don’t miss any, make sure you have Google Webmaster tools installed on your site and look under the section showing any errors. It will list any pages google finds when it crawls your site that register a 404 header status.

    If anyone needs further help just tweet at me @seandawes on twitter

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