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Ultimate Guide: How to Migrate Your E-Commerce Website

June 14, 2023 | Author:  Andrew Maff
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About 27% of the global population are online shoppers, and that statistic grows daily with new eCommerce websites springing up. Competition is fierce, and your existing platform might not be equipped to keep you in the race and retain your customers. Hence, eCommerce migration presents a viable solution to expand your capacity, solve pending technical problems, and stay in the race.

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E-commerce website migration is common among retailers who want to scale their online businesses and improve site performance for online shoppers. It often begins with auditing your existing site and outlining its significant drawbacks and possible solutions for the new platform. Then, complete a search engine optimization  (SEO) audit before the site launches to ensure you don’t lose valuable progress.

Website migration can be expensive, with interested eCommerce businesses expecting to spend from $25,000 to $500,000 as of 2022. There are several things, like eCommerce platforms, to consider when migrating to a new site. We will cover them and other essential details in this guide to eCommerce platform migration.

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What E-Commerce Website Migration Entails

E-commerce migration, or e-commerce re-platforming, involves taking your entire site, including products, pages, customer data, etc., from one platform to another. Your entire tech stack (front end and back end) moves to the new platform. However, the migration process is risky, especially with the potential loss of progress in SEO.

Migrating your eCommerce website to a new platform takes time and requires funding. Depending on which platform you opt for, you might need to hire a website development team.

The major problem with migrating to a new eCommerce website is a loss in traffic (search engine rankings) and conversions. You risk losing existing customers if it is not executed smoothly.

Furthermore, platform migration is time-consuming. You cannot complete it in a few days, especially if you have extensive eCommerce store data on your current platform.

Successful migration of your website involves paying attention to several aspects, which we will discuss as we progress.

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When to Migrate Your E-Commerce Website

E-commerce site migration is a big move for companies. Hence, it is not something you should do without probable cause.

Time, effort, and resources must be factored in to determine if the migration process is worth the investment. Nevertheless, it can be a stepping stone to scaling your eCommerce business.

When should you consider a platform migration for your website? Here are a few things to consider before you migrate from your current eCommerce platform to another:

Poor Website Performance

Performance refers primarily to loading times and stability. Do you receive complaints about slow loading from existing customers? Does your website crash after opening a few pages?

These performance issues warrant a platform migration, as your current platform may not suffice. Increased online shopping can strain the existing servers, causing crashes and slow loading times.

Limited Scalability

You chose your current eCommerce platform for a reason. It might have served its purpose, but it might not have features for scalability.

Limited scalability will always lead to poor performance, as seen in the previous section. Hence, consider platform migration if the existing platform capabilities do not support scaling.

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Limited Features

We are in an era of integration, and the more robust and receptive the platform provider is, the more you can expand. Take omnichannel marketing as an example. 

Outdated eCommerce platforms do not have the tools and features to implement them. Hence, it is best to migrate to a new site with features for omnichannel marketing.

Other essential features may be lacking on your current site. If you believe your digital store needs them to expand and grow, it is time for an eCommerce platform migration.

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Higher Total Cost of Ownership

We can thank the competition for bringing more quality at a more affordable price. Conversely, it necessitates mandatory growth for eCommerce businesses, an industry now in a "grow or die” phase.

How can your eCommerce store grow if you spend too much on the total cost of ownership? Little will be left to invest in and expand other areas, like products.

It is time to consider platform migration if you spend too much time running the site. That is when you have a more affordable yet robust platform you can migrate to.

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More Reasons to Migrate

Outside of the conditions listed above, you might want to open a new store for the following reasons:

  • Easy online store maintenance and upgrade
  • Improved customer experience
  • Better online store security
  • Improved customer data security
  • Better optimization for mobile devices
  • Access to more integrations

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Types of E-Commerce Platforms

It is worth looking into the new eCommerce platform before you take your online business there. We have different eCommerce solution providers with advantages and disadvantages.

Here are the types of platforms you can take your eCommerce store to:

SaaS

Software as a Service (SaaS) is famous for eCommerce stores because another party builds and maintains the platform. You simply rent the software for your eCommerce store with little infrastructure development.

These third-party apps are often easy to use and reliable. Also, you can expect them to improve with increased industry competition. The SaaS industry, worth $167.53 billion in 2022, is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 18.5% to 2028.

Opting for SaaS frees you from dealing with technical issues, downtime, and site security. This means you can get away with a thin in-house development team.

Various eCommerce platforms like Shopify Plus, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Amazon Marketplace, etc., are SaaS. They are scalable to accommodate business growth.

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On-site

This eCommerce solution is developed and maintained by you. The primary storage facility and resources are internal. Then, you can bring in a third-party team for technical development and maintenance.

The on-site or on-premise solution gives you complete control over the infrastructure. Your eCommerce development team has the upper hand in the re-platforming project.

While this solution gives you independence, it is often expensive. All technical issues, ongoing running costs, performance, and security rest with you. The approach might align more with customer expectations, but you must be ready for the running costs.

Cloud

Cloud or Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) services bridges the gap between on-premise and SaaS. You rent the storage and hardware infrastructure, but the eCommerce site development is on you. The service primarily provides cloud storage and hardware infrastructure.

This approach reduces costs, but not as much as letting third-party apps do all the heavy lifting. You are in charge of how much your new eCommerce platform outclasses the previous site.

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The Best Approach to Migrating Your E-Commerce Website

We will divide this section into the plan and the execution. Moving from one platform to another is a challenging feat. Hence, even when hiring eCommerce migration services, you must get your approach right.

The Plan

The planning stage includes the following:

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1. Assess Business Goals and Needs

The essence of migrating to a new site is to provide better service—maybe improve the customer experience, scale your product lineup, or solve other technical issues.

Capture all the constraints that have made your outdated platform incapable of propelling business growth. You should also consider the cost of managing your current site. This information will streamline what to look for in the new eCommerce platform.

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2. Run a Technical Analysis

This step involves evaluating the integrations you need for growth. Audit your current third-party apps, if any, to know the best way forward.

3. Send out RFPs

The request for proposals contains what your eCommerce re-platforming project hopes to achieve. It can be as detailed as you want and draws much from step one.

4. Evaluate the Cost of Ownership

Some advice planning for no profits in the first six months after the site migration. How would you bear the cost during this period? Evaluate the total cost of ownership based on the proposals.

5. Map Out Data Migration

Data is the lifeblood of eCommerce sites. Determine if you will use data migration services, APIs, or in-house teams. Whatever you decide, back up your data before the migration process.

Execution

In this stage, you put things in motion and implement the eCommerce migration plan. Here are a few steps you can take:

1. Pick Your Solution Provider

Choose your preferred platform, data migration service, etc. Finalize contracts and get ready to begin the migration process.

2. Design and Develop the New E-Commerce Site

This stage often takes the longest. It is also essential, as the entire infrastructure, from performance to customer experience, rests on this stage.

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3. Conduct an SEO Audit

Ensure you run checks on your new site, whether it is a technical SEO or content audit. That ensures you don’t leave anything that could ruin your organic traffic and search rankings.

4. Test and Launch the Site

How is the user interface? Do the pages load quickly, or do they crash in heavy traffic? These questions should come up during the testing phase. Once the test is complete, launch the new eCommerce platform.

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Conclusion

Online stores often need to grow their current platforms. You don’t have to wait until downtime becomes recurrent or the customer experience worsens before considering migration.

The eCommerce re-platforming process (migration) can take a few weeks to months, depending on the size of the store. Ensure you continue monitoring and running analytics after launch. That will help you catch bugs quickly before they become widespread.

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