migrate your store to bigcommerceEcommerce site migration has been a popular topic lately, especially with the end of ProStores and Magento Go. Needless to say one of the biggest challenges that businesses often face is truly understanding how moving your online business to a new platform will impact your business operations. Some who are relatively new to this industry may not fully appreciate the intricate complexities that come with managing an ecommerce site. So, when you need to migrate your ecommerce store, you may not take into consideration all the little details that will either make it a success or a failure. These details can range from the ability to migrate you customer data and order history to the very functionality of your storefront. A great example is filtered search which may already be a part of your site on say Shopify, but when migrating to BigCommerce will not be a standard feature of the platform but can be added via a third party app or complex API customization. You will most definitely want to clarify details like this on the front side.

The truth is that when you choose to migrate your ecommerce store to a new platform, it will require you to do more than change a basic website address or a URL. While it may not be as complicated as becoming a computer programmer, there is a lot more involved than merely cutting and pasting. It’s actually more like what’s involved with moving a brick and mortar establishment, only with data.

Understanding Your Ecommerce Store

Your ecommerce store is just like any other vacant retail space. Once you lease the space it is up to you to fill it with merchandise. Until you do this, you are just dealing with an empty building with nothing to generate sales. This is a fact that you must understand even if your facility is only in data form. Once you realize this, you can grasp the logic behind the steps needed to migrate your ecommerce store.

Take Inventory and Tidy Up

The first step in your migration process is to learn what you’re planning to migrate. Unlike with a brick-and-mortar establishment where everything has an assigned place on the shelf and is sorted by model number, size, color, or some other detail, the ecommerce store’s merchandise comes in data form. Before you make your move, you must determine not only what you want to move to the new location, but if all of it can, in-fact, be moved. You can find out more about the specifics of migrating your store to BigCommerce here. If you’ve been in business for a while, chances are you’ll want to clear out any older merchandise that is either outdated or discontinued in some way. It’s a good time to review what you have to sell and plug in any holes that you might want to fill. Making the changes on your old store before you migrate will help to ensure that you have a successful move. Believe me it’s better to check twice an update once opposed to reimporting your store data several times, though the second and third time around usually go a lot smoother :)

ReDesign Strategy

Moving time is also a great time to decide on giving your business a new look. It is the ideal opportunity for you to give your site a well deserved face lift or correct any known flaws that hinder conversions. You’ll need to decide on a color scheme, layout, signage, and display options. What you do at this step will determine the character and appeal of your store to your customers. This phase of the move can include anything from logos to navigation throughout. There are a lot of decisions that you could make at this point depending on the impact you want to have on your customers. Your focus should be on converting your audience and one of the single most important things you can do is to get your navigational architecture dialed in on the front side. For a case study on just how important your online store’s navigation is, you may want to check out my recent case study, Case Study: How Navigation Can Make or Break Your Ecommerce Site.If you’re not sure of what steps to take, just do what many brick and mortar stores do, hire a designer. Their professional input could be the most important tool you’ll have for your new platform.

Set Up Your Gateway

Once your merchandise is on the shelf and your display is set to provide the optimum customer appeal, you’re still not ready to open your doors. Now is the time for you to set up your gateway system so that you can start collecting your money. You need to implement a means of collecting money from your customers, delivery systems, and tax formats so that Uncle Sam can get his share. With this information, you’ll be ready to accept payments and have your new site generating revenue as soon as the doors are open. It’s always surprising to me how many existing stores are only using Paypal. While I think accepting payments by Paypal is a welcome addition to any store you should definitely take the time to set up a proper payment gateway such as Authorize.net to help instill buyer confidence across the board. Also before you jump into the migration process, take a minute to make sure that the platform you are migrating to supports your existing gateway.

Do a Test Run

Even with the best of all plans, things can go wrong, so you need to do a test run on your new opening. Start off with a limited opening for preferred customers and a select list of people to shop the store and provide you with valuable feedback. This will give you the opportunity to see how well your new storefront will appeal to the public. The feedback they give will be a valuable resource in helping you to determine if you need to tweak something or not. For many a soft launch won’t be possible since you are going to be replacing your existing website at the same url. In this instance you will want to make sure that you have a team dedicated to trouble shooting any issues during transition.

It’s also the perfect time to do some Quality Assurance Testing to make sure that your new platform will be able to handle the flow of traffic to your site. Test every phase of your customer relations from the initial shopping experience to the delivery of the merchandise and make whatever adjustments are needed.

Keep Testing

Once everything is running smoothly and all the glitches are worked out, you will have to continue monitoring the new sites progress and keeping a close watch for potential problems with the new system. After a few weeks, you may notice new trends that may cause you to want to readjust the changes you’ve made in some way.

Once you’ve had real visitors interacting with your new platform, you’ll be ready to adapt and make informed adjustments to improve conversions and landing page performane. Take advantage of the tools you have and don’t be afraid to go back and refine your new system once you see what’s working and what’s not.

Remember, with an ecommerce site – your goal is to create more sales with every new change you make. Migrating from one ecommerce site to another is a big step even if you’re only moving data. If you take the time to plan each step of the move and prepare ahead of time, you’ll be able to experience a real transition from one platform to the next.