Switching to Shopify
+ Bulk adding Products to Shopify

6 Min. Read

Choosing to migrate away from any ecommerce platform to another is a stressful proposition at the best of times. Concerns over data + ownership, analytics, and scalability weigh heavily on the mind. The truth is, – no matter how well you plan for such a move, things do go wrong, and therefore you should expect and plan for things to go wrong.  This typically happens during the process of bulk adding products to Shopify, when switching to Shopify or to any other ecommerce platform. 

All you can do is as much as you can to prevent such problems from arising. Each platform has their own unique ways of doing things.

eCommerce Platforms - Battle for Supremacy

No matter which ecommerce platform you choose, the battle between the leading ecommerce providers tends to be around the following key areas.

  • Ease of use
  • Self-management, no external developers needed.
  • Apps (ecosystem)+ Themes
  • Security
  • Fees (no long expensive contracts, no hosting or bandwidth fees)
  • Scalability (including unlimited bandwidth)
  • Award-Winning Support
  • Reliability

The following list of the top 5 ecommerce platforms most searched for on Google. Therefore you may also want to consider these options for your needs or exclude if going through a process of elimination.

  1. Shopify
  2. Magento (Now owned by Adobe)
  3. WooCommerce
  4. PrestaShop
  5. BigCommerce.

The take-away from this analysis of the top 5 is that Shopify is twice as popular as the next nearest competitor, and for good reason, in part, it is because you own your store, but it is also because of the sheer number of available Shopify apps.  

Therefore, this article will focus on migrating to Shopify rather than away to some other ecommerce platform.

How to Migrate to Shopify

Shopify has several great articles about how to migrate from other ecommerce platforms to Shopify. While useful, there is much that is missing from these guides. The process requires you to generate a CSV text file from your existing ecommerce store, but this is often easier said than done, with existing providers often reluctant to co-operate because they know you plan to migrate away, costing them money. In many cases, they will charge you to export your data.

Before migrating away you need to understand the consequences of moving and not just in terms of Shopify itself, but for the complete app ecosystem that supplies your ecommerce business with its existing features.
You also need to know which Shopify apps can supply the functionality that you need, and how much it will cost to implement.

In all likelihood your previous/current app data will not be imported smoothly, information such as SEO metadata and custom fields are areas that can prove problematic in terms of data transfer. Always have multiple copies of your database and allow for additional time to manually add data for these extra Shopify apps you will need to implement. If data needs to be added for every product, then this can be very time consuming especially if you have 1000’s of products.

Shopify API Integrations

Beyond your store functionality considerations, there is the external SaaS ecosystem, in terms of back-office, tools like ERP/finance or accounting packages as well as separate stock management. shipping or EPOS systems.

Then there is your email or marketing automation platform, or lead generation/conversion rate optimization platform (CRO).
Consider that there may be better options in terms of tool functionality available on Shopify that were not available for your prior ecommerce platform.

Consider migrating to Shopify is an opportunity to update your entire ecosystem. One area of particular importance is analytics for your new store. Shopify’s native analytics and reporting are limited by plan and by Store, so it is well worth future-proofing your move by augmenting your Shopify data with Google Analytics data. Use a single Google Analytics account for all of your Shopify Stores and benefit from using just one tool (Conversific) for integration and interpretation of your data across all of your stores (different stores are often used on a country by country basis for the same brand/business) and so this can be greatly beneficial.

Shopify Bulk Import

The basic, or standard Shopify store has an import tool, however, it has limitations and is notably slow. Bulk image uploads are limited to a few hundred images (300 max), anything above will result in your upload failing. 

You will also need to make alterations to your exported CSV file. You will need to strip http: and https: from URLs from all theme files, stylesheets, and images. Although this is easily done with a decent editor that can recursively edit files in a folder (automatically), a tool like Notepad++ will suffice. In addition to this, you will need to set up redirects on your existing store and maintain these for quite some time (ideally for around a year).

If you are considering moving to a Shopify Plus account then bulk importing your store shouldn’t be a problem because you will have access to Shopify’s Transporter application along with the command-line tool, confusingly, – also known as Shopify Transporter. When used together the functionality is a far superior method for importing your store and x10 faster, – ideal for bigger ecommerce stores.  

For those who do not want to pony up the price of Shopify Plus, especially if your sales don’t equate to more than just a few thousands of orders a month (if your area of business is highly competitive and the profit is small then luckily there are alternatives.

Shopify Migration Applications

One of the best things about Shopify is that because they are the leading ecommerce platform, they have hundreds if not thousands of applications providing all kinds of useful functionality, including store migration. There are even ecommerce platform-specific migrators including:-

These applications should all be carefully considered with regards to the security of data during transfer and GDPR rules (make sure transfer is over HTTPS). The benefit of using a 3rd party Shopify migration application is that some do not need a Shopify Plus account, so if you have a large store you can manage to import all your data without a Shopify Plus account ($2000 per month).

There are also ways to have better reports (without upgrading to Shopify Plus) by utilizing your Google Analytics data and the Conversific application, which is invaluable if you are relying on a multi-Shopify store environment for ecommerce globally.

Besides the advice written above, there are Shopify Experts to consider, that, for a fee will import your store. In many cases, they will suggest working with specific Shopify apps. Choose a different expert and you will get a different set of advice because ultimately they all have different experiences (and may have agreements with app suppliers).

Conclusion

Whether you choose to use a Shopify expert or not, the secret to a successful migration is to know exactly what you want from your Shopify Store feature-wise and understand what Shopify apps and other SaaS tools integrations you will need to be able to implement your ideal store. Therefore take your time, and do your due diligence on the issues raised above and plan to futureproof all aspects of your ecommerce.   A period of at least 6 months should be allowed for.

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