Migrating an e-commerce store is often seen as necessary evil; we all know the benefits, but the process itself is the most daunting factor. This is arguably one of the biggest reasons people put off moving from Magento to Shopify.
This is something we’ve done countless times, so we’ve gotten pretty good at it! If you’re looking to migrate from Magento to Shopify, we’ve prepared a handy guide that will hopefully put those fears to rest and even highlight the best ways to streamline and automate the work for you!
First off… why?
Magento and Shopify are two of the world’s most popular e-commerce platforms, so it’s not always clear at first why someone may be willing to migrate. However, with our experience, we’ve noticed a number of reasons why this might be the case.
Here are some of the biggest limitations of Magento:
- Magento requires significant time to get up and running. Shopify is much quicker to get started with.
- Magento supports a maximum bandwidth of 32GB. Shopify has no such limits in either bandwidth or throttling.
- Magento requires hosting, which means you have to invest in servers. Shopify is self-hosted and takes care of traffic and performance for you.
- This also applies to 3rd party tools - with Shopify, all your hosting concerns are taken care of, whereas Magento requires further capacity if you rely on additional services.
- Magento limits the number of products you’re able to publish at any given time. Shopify doesn’t limit you in this way.
It’s also worth pointing out that Shopify is an increasingly popular option compared to Magento.
Of course, no solution is perfect either. While Magento is open source, Shopify is based on a subscription model. However, we strongly believe its technical capabilities make it a worthwhile investment for any store planning to expand. Magento is great for very small stores, although it requires more work and development know-how to get off the ground.
Now is also a good time to migrate as support for Magento 1 is coming to a close, forcing e-commerce owners to switch to Magento 2. Since migration is unavoidable, many are choosing to simply migrate away from Magento’s limitations completely.
How To Migrate To Shopify
1: Get A Shopify Account
We already mentioned that Shopify uses a subscription model, so you can’t just click on over - you need to register your account.
If you’re worried about costs, Shopify does offer a 14-day free trial, which starts as soon as you register. This way, you have some room to try it out and confirm that Shopify works for you.
However, even though the free trial is a great start, you should find the pricing plan that fits your expectations. Have a look at the payment fees, staff accounts and shipping discounts to determine what is best for you, based on both your current business and projected growth. If you need any more help, you can also ask an expert!
2. Create A Migration Plan
Selecting what you need to migrate is the hardest part of this process.
A good place to start is Shopify’s app store. Have a look here and see what can easily be replaced from the store and if it’s a cost you’re willing to accommodate (vs the cost and effort of migrating the existing solution) - but you’ll be surprised at the amount of free options here.
After this, unless you’re tech-savvy and planning to do the migration yourself, it’s worth having a technical partner experienced in Shopify development and migrations. They’ll be able to better recommend what can be recreated on Shopify, what should be migrated over and even if any custom solutions can help streamline your operations. Take it from us, it’s better to spend an extra moment here then rush in unprepared.
Here are the most essential elements that we recommend you take with you:
- Products - well, that’s a no-brainer!
- Customer details - you’ll need these too.
- Sales and orders history - if you want to plan any data strategies or customizations, you’re going to need that actual data.
- Gift cards - if you’ve offered store credit or anything similar in the past, your new Shopify store should continue to honor these, so migrate them over.
- Non-store pages - a lot of shops have additional pages, such as contact details, company information or even blogs and other marketing materials.
- SEO settings - all e-commerce stores need to perform well online, so migrating your existing settings (such as what’s crawlable, the SEO work done in the background etc) is still a good baseline to start off with.
3. Create A Backup
This is the golden rule of any migration. Always create a backup - no exceptions.
Since you’re migrating from Magento, you’ve had to use your own hosting, which means you can keep this backup here during the process. Your backup should be kept safe throughout the migration - but we also recommend keeping hold off after this, too, just in case. Keep an offline copy somewhere, as you don’t want to pay for hosting the backup alone.
4. Migrate Your Data
E-commerce stores thrive on data, so let’s take care of this essential information first.
Please note: with Shopify, we recommend a very specific order for migrating data: start with Products, then Customers, and then Historical Orders. This will ensure everything loads properly in Shopify and you have a complete history for every customer.
So, how do we migrate the data? There are a few ways:
- If you have a Shopify Plus account, the Transporter app does a lot of the work for you! This app will convert your existing data into CSV files that are then imported into Shopify.
- You can also use other migration apps, such as Cart2Cart or LitExtension. However, these are free to install, but are still paid services. The free limitations won’t get you very far, so factor these costs in.
- If you have the assistance of a Shopify developer (we hope you were paying attention in Step 2), let them take care of the migration. This will ensure everything is taken care of properly and not left to an automated process that doesn’t factor in any unique attributes of your data - or anything else you wish to migrate, for that matter!
We may be a little biased, but we recommend the last option. Not everyone wants to jump straight into a Shopify Plus account and, if you’re coming from Magento, you likely have some custom features that need a little care when being migrated anyway.
If that wasn’t enough, we already mentioned how it’s best to migrate data in a certain order. If you use Shopify’s native product management, your only option is to import all the product data - Magent’s tools (such as uRapidflow) simply aren’t up to the challenge. It’s better go the 3rd party route, whether it’s an experienced developer or a premium, 3rd party app.
However, there are a few more things you need to consider when it comes to data migration, as it’s one of the most important steps…
Migrating Data from Magento to Shopify: Key Differences
At this point, it’s also highly worth mentioning some of the key differences between Magento and Shopify’s product systems. While they both use flat product architecture, the variations between Shopify’s collections and Magento’s categories means some work is always needed (especially in the case of collections, where it’s worth setting these up now to give your new Shopify store some future-facing efficiency). Shopify also has a tag-based system, which should be inherently familiar to any experienced e-commerce owner.
This is why it’s better to avoid the purely manual route. Automated services, or using an experienced developer, will ensure categories are safely moved to collections. However, it’s still worth reviewing the final results to ensure it’s done correctly.
Another decision that needs to be made here is whether to utilize folksonomy or taxonomy. The latter is what most ecommerce owners are used to - it uses a top-down view to ensure products can’t stray into other categories through rigid parent/child categorization.
Furthermore, everything is designated by your business, not the customers. This requires more work, but it’s a little more SEO friendly. What’s more, with Shopify’s collections, it can be automated so future products always fall into the right location.
With folksonomy, your customers can add tags and provide more information to various products. While this gives more freedom, it also means the resulting categorization can be quite wide and lacks the levels or orders or defined relationships between parent and child categories. If you’re utilizing SEO as part of your strategy, this can often be counterintuitive as you have less control over how individual products are defined (and, subsequently, the products that make up larger categories). Because of this, while folksonomy might be useful, it’s worth setting up some sort of control or review process, if you’re willing to put a little extra work in.
Tags & Attributes
On this same topic, this is also a good time to look into how your products are tagged. Magento’s product attributes operate similarly to Shopify’s tag system - it’s Shopify own meta attributes that give you more potential.
Where as tags refer to static entries or options, attributes can pull rich content, including external content via API. This can be used to serve up custom options, or options that might even change over time. For example, meta attributes can recall official product descriptions, or even calculate the price difference between your Shopify product and the same listing on Amazon.
If all of this is looking daunting, don’t worry! There are a number of 3rd party tools available to help automate and validate this process - Power Tools being our recommendation.
5. Check & Organize The Data
Now, you should have all the data needed to operate on Shopify. Within the platform, we can easily test that this data works. Make sure that all your products have their respective information, images and meta descriptions.
If everything is here, you can also start creating collections to help better organize your products into useful categories.
6. Shipping, Taxes & Payment Providers
Once all the product and customer information is loaded, we need to ensure we have all of our shipping and payment provider options on the new platform, as well as any tax systems required.
If you’re worried about migrating or integrating these functionalities, worry not: as always, third party tools are your friend! Here are our recommendations:
- EZ Exporter is a great app for integrating order exports.
- UPTracker and Massfulfill can both handle shipping imports.
- Stock Sync is a great solution for regularly updating your inventory and products.
Using these tools will take much of the hassle away from your Magento migration while also ensuring your new Shopify store performs as intended.
7. Run Test Orders
Before we put the new version up for the public, we should run a few test orders within Shopify, just to ensure everything is working.
Test the process all the way to the checkout and ensure that, not only is it smooth and performant, that the customer’s data and their chosen products are displayed correctly. Now’s the time for any last minute fixes.
8. Migrate The Rest
There may be a few things we haven’t migrated over, such as additional web pages and SEO settings. This is the step to complete the migration plan from Step 2.
Here’s what you should cover at this stage:
- Remaining data and content: now that product listings and customer information is moved, and we have all the payment and shipping functionalities working, we can send over any additional pages or content, such as the blog, for example.
- Google Analytics: if you use Google Analytics (and it’s free, so you should!) this is also quite easy to move over with Shopify. If you’re not changing URLs, then your data will remain consistent, but any new URL changes (whether it’s site-wide or through category/product changes) will mean new pages within Google Analytics.
- Redirects: on the topic of URLs, it’s already not a problem to set these up in Shopify as well. Check that all URLs from your Magento store lead to a page on your Shopify version, adding 301 redirects to any that don’t). Traffic Control is a fantastic app for managing bulk redirects - it can come in handy for larger e-commerce stores!
9. Et Voila!
While there’s certainly a lot to migrate, you can also see there are a number of ways to automate and speed up the entire process. 3rd party tools are excellent, but an experienced helping hand will also ensure your migration goes as smoothly as possible. After all, you’re only migrating from Magento to Shopify once, so it’s worth getting it right.
To get more advanced results, however, we also recommend some custom integrations to ensure all your systems are coexisting peacefully. If you’re using an ERP system to manage your stock, for example, or you need to directly connect your Product Information Management system, spending some effort now (with some expert assistance) will ensure this data exchange is automated, safe and performant. It also means you don’t need to change your ERP or PIM solutions, which are two less things to worry about.
We hope this guide is useful but, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out. Otherwise, we hope you find Shopify to be a fruitful and positive change for your e-commerce store!