Magento has a reputation for being the most powerful eCommerce platform on the market. It’s something that’s tough to quantify, but it’s hard to argue with a client list that include companies like Gant, Louboutin, Sierra Nevada and Zumiez. It’s incredibly robust and highly customizable, making it a great option for businesses that are looking to take their eCommerce to the next level. Here at 1Digital, we hear from lots of people asking about migrating to Magento once they’ve started to run into obstacles with their current platform. It’s a business move that will allow you to grow bigger and stronger, but a migration to Magento isn’t a task that should be taken lightly. Here’s what you should know before you start migrating to Magento.
Backup Your Data
This is something you should already be doing on a regular and frequent basis, but it’s even more important that you do it now. Before you go any further with your migration to Magento, make sure you are backing up your store data. If something goes wrong and you don’t have a backup you could lose all your data. Think of how much time and energy you’ve spent making your eCommerce store into what it is today — and how stressful and disheartening it would be to lose it all. It’s also important that your backups are up to date, otherwise you could still end up losing days or weeks of work.
Migrating to Magento is a lengthy process, and there isn’t really any easy way around that. There’s an incredible amount of data to move on even a medium-sized eCommerce store, and it all has to be correctly formatted for the migration to Magento to happen properly. It’s tough for developers to determine exactly how long it will take to migrate to Magento, no matter how experienced and qualified they are. If you need it done quickly, then start working on your migration to Magento as soon as possible. Ideally you would have started a few weeks ago, but there’s no time for that now. If you’re already certain that you are migrating to Magento, call a digital agency up and ask them how soon they can start. Otherwise, you could be in for some long and stressful nights trying to get everything done on time.
Pick a Name
Once you are certain that you are migrating to Magento, you’ll have to decide whether you will use the same name or not. Keeping the same name will make your life a little easier, but you can change your name without penalty as well so long as you take a few extra steps. Transferring your new site over to the old URL will ensure that you enjoy all the SEO you have accrued so far. If you’ve been running a blog or hired an agency to work on your SEO, this is something you definitely want to preserve. Organic search is one of the best ways to draw traffic in an eCommerce situation.
However, if you want to keep the benefits of all your SEO work while also changing your name, there are a few extra things you will have to take care of. The most important is adding 301 redirects to your old site. These redirects let Google’s crawlers know that your website has permanently moved and to apply all of the data they have gathered about your old site to your new one. Once you’ve done this, make sure you keep hosting your site for a few weeks. Google will have to crawl your site again for it to recognize the redirects, and it does this a few pages at a time. It will take a little while for the crawlers to go through your entire site.
Migrating to Magento – Data
When you migrate to Magento, one thing you want to be sure goes smoothly is bringing your products over to your new site. This is done by importing a comma-separated values (CSV) file to your new store. You can download CSV files for your old store somewhere in the API, you can find out exactly where in the documentation for your platform. These files contain all of the information about your products, like size, color and product variations, in a spreadsheet format that is easy for computers to understand.
This is one area where things often go wrong in a migration to Magento. There is no standard formula for CSV files, so each platform interprets CSVs a little differently. The only way to fix this is to manually go through the CSV and make the necessary corrections. This is one area where having an experienced developer helping you is more or less essential. You have to have an in-depth knowledge of how the platform works and an incredible attention to detail to make sure everything is in place. You could learn how to do it yourself, but it would likely take hours and hours of work and intense study.
Migrating to Magento – Customers and Order History
You can also bring over your customer information and order history when you are migrating to Magento. This will make sure that the transition is easy for your customers as well. Customer information and order history are also migrated through a CSV. There tend to be fewer hiccups here than with migrating a product CSV, but problems can occur if you have changed the fields that customers have to fill out since you have started your site. This is another area where hiring a developer to help is a huge benefit. They know exactly how to modify the CSV to make it work within Magento.
You are likely also considering bringing over your site design as well when you migrate to Magento. This is possible, but it’s nowhere near as simple as migrating products or customer information. Like the product information, each eCommerce platform interprets template information a little differently. If you just apply the code to the new site, you will almost certainly see parts — or all of it — break.
Taking a template along on your migration to Magento is much more akin to rebuilding it for the new platform. Unless you have experience with code, you are definitely going to need the help of a digital agency here. One small mistake in the code could have huge consequences on your site’s appearance. If you want to learn how to do it yourself, be prepared to put in some serious hours taking classes and practicing coding.
Launching the New Site
At 1Digital Agency, we work on your migration to Magento in a sandbox first. Once you are satisfied with it and have approved it, we will begin the process of launching your new site. We launch all sites overnight so there is as little interruption to your business as possible. You can continue selling on your old site up until the point of the launch. Most site launches happen fairly quickly, but you should be prepared for it to take as long as 24 hours.
Migrating to Magento is a lengthy process, and is likely too much for one person to handle unless they are dedicating all of their working hours to it. It’s worth hiring a digital agency to help you with your migration to Magento. They have the expertise and the manpower needed to get the job done right. Don’t wait to migrate to the most powerful eCommerce platform on the market — give us a call and get started today.
- Joe Chilson
- January 6, 2016
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