Magento to Shopify Plus Migration Checklist

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If you have made it to this guide, you must have either chosen Shopify/Shopify Plus and are about to migrate from Magento, or you are still thinking about what platform to migrate from Magento to. Either way, this guide should help you see what you are in store for when doing a migration. I have personally gone through dozens of migrations in my digital marketing career, but this is the first migration where almost everything was either done by me or under with help from me, so I have gone through everything in and out. And this last migration was for a site doing over $10,000,000 a year with over 10,000 products. So it gives me some experience on the topic. I wrote this Magento Shopify migration guide to help others who are going through or about to go through the same thing I did. I really hope it’s a big help for you!

Here are a few things you should know about our company:

·         We have been around since 2002

·         We have over 10,000 skus

·         We have over 10,000 transaction per month

·         We have over 150,000 unique visitors per month

Why we Switched from Magento (Enterprise) to Shopify (Plus)

I had used Magento (Community and Enterprise) for almost 9 years I believe now. I still remember seeing them at an SEO show when it was a couple of guys talking about it. Wow, it took off. But now it’s time to move on. When I told people we were moving to Shopify, they couldn’t believe such as large company as our self was doing that. They said that Shopify couldn’t handle everything we needed. They couldn’t handle all our products. They couldn’t handle our customization. I knew they were wrong and I wanted to prove it.

We Had a Nice Site!

Now our Magento website wasn’t that old per say. We just did a redesign the year earlier. We were on almost the latest version. Even with that, we just kept running into technical issues that we were tired of. We were spending more time and money on development and fixes than marketing and products.

Now the themes we found on Shopify are pretty stunning. We found a great one that blows anything I have seen out of the water. And it’s not custom. Works really well. You can see them at OutoftheSandbox.com

Security Issues

One thing I hated was updating the website every time a security fix needed to be done. It’s a good thing we had a great developer, but we always had to test every mod and every process when an update was done. We would always find breaks and problems, sometimes not until a customer would call us. The cost to do these was a lot…and the updates were every couple months.

Shopify resolves this issue by having the hosting in their own environment. This means its not up to you to update your site for security issues. Shopify does this. While nothing is 100% secure, I feel much better about Shopify’s security than some of the hosting companies out there.

Bugs, Bugs and More Bugs

As I mentioned before, it seemed we were always fixing bugs. Things would break for no reason! We would have “caching issues” that couldn’t be resolved. Our internal search function sometimes wouldn’t work. Our checkout would just break from time to time. A mod wouldn’t work or it would interfere with another. The costs would add up each month to fix these issues. And with all the customization our Magento website had, even with the best developers (which we had), things would still break. Over $100 per hour meant that we were spending a lot fixing this stuff.

Maintaining the Website As Is

Now depending on whether you are going with Shopify or Shopify Plus, the cost varies quite a bit. We chose Shopify Plus. You might be saying…$2,000 a month is way to high! Well, with our Magento site, we were spending about $400 per month on hosting, and another $2,000-$3,000 a month on just maintaining the website. I actually remember a couple years where it was costing us $10,000 a month for maintenance, updates and fixes! Yes…it wasn’t like most of this money was spent on improvements and advancing our website, it was on fixing constant issues that would pop up. This is not where you want to be spending your hard-earned profits. With Shopify Plus, they cover pretty much everything we need and it’s a flat $2,000 per month with hosting. That saves us a ton of money and a ton of frustration.

Magento Enterprise vs. Community

I really don’t remember why we chose to do Enterprise from Community. I believe they told us with a site our size they highly recommended it. And that was an extra $2,000 per month. I really don’t think it helped us achieve anything more either. We could probably have dropped to Community and really noticed no difference…except more money that we could use for fixes that would need to be done anyway. With Shopify Plus, the advantages were laid out why we should go with Shopify Plus and there was definitely reason for this. Very happy we chose Shopify Plus.

Marketing Issues

Another problem was whenever I wanted to make a marketing change or updated I needed to get the developer involved. Nothing was easy to update or change. This was because everything had a price. Not just cost. If you added code or a certain mod, it could break something else. Even though the apps would just say you could install them, it was never that easy. You had to be really careful about what mods/apps or changes you wanted to make. It could sometimes take a week to get certain things done and in marketing you don’t always have the time to wait. Every time we wanted something big added to the site. The company providing that service would be like, we have an app, it takes about 1 hour and you are up and running. I would always be like no…trust me, it’s going to take at least a week. And that was true. Big changes to the site took weeks to install, because it would break a ton of stuff. So many things we could have done, we didn’t because of the cost and time involved.

With Shopify, you can add apps and make changes so easily without any issues at all. There whole system is very user friendly.

The Checkout

This is one area that really upset me. I mentioned earlier that our checkout would break from time to time. And we wouldn’t know it until a customer called about it. Who knows why it would break. Even if we weren’t making changes to the site at the time it would break. We really never figured it out either. Not only that, the checkout was ugly. Not the most user friendly at all.

With Shopify the checkout is simple and straight forward. No issues at all. Shopify has it working right.

Final Thoughts About Magento

I think Magento can be a great platform…for a fortune 500 company that has an in-house development team. For large retailers not fitting that picture, I don’t think the high costs are worth it. I would rather spend my money on products, marketing and increasing customers than fixes and maintenance any day.

The Shopify Plus Process

I did look at other platforms before choosing Shopify Plus. The only other two I considered were Magento 2 (see above why that didn’t happen) and BigCommerce. Now I have had clients that used BigCommerce is the past, but I really didn’t like them as much. The designs, the user interface, the apps available. They just couldn’t compete with Shopify. I would highly suggest you talk with them before making a decision though. This is a big change and you want to make sure you are making an educated decision.

Custom or Theme?

This is one thing we talked about. Do we were with a development company to make a custom Shopify site or do we find a theme that we like. Since we wanted to stay as lean as possible, we chose to purchase a theme. As I mentioned before, after weeks of searching, we found OutsidetheSandbox.com and loved their Turbo theme. You will find a lot of sites out there use the Turbo Theme too. You can customize it to make it your own though. Plus after playing around with a demo, it was really easy to use and we would make it pretty “customized”. It was fast (Google loves speed), it looked good and had a lot of the options we wanted built into it. I actually used it for another website in another industry and you would could never tell that they were both using the same Turbo theme.

Time Frame

We reviewed everything we needed to do and I was sure I could have this thing completed in 60 days. Well that was wrong. It actually took 120 days due to issues we ran into. I expect even after reviewing this guide, you will as well. Whatever time you think it will take, double it. I can tell you what took the majority of the time though.

·         Design Work (20%)

·         App Implementation (20%)

·         Redirections/Migration (60%)

Ok…Issues…The Good Stuff!

Product Importer

If you have a lot of products like we did, you want to use a company that can help you migrate all your products over. We had over 10,000. Even if you have a 100 products, I still highly recommend it. While we did look at a couple companies, the best out there is Cart2Cart. They have a ton of experience. I even used them back in the day when we migrated our site from X-Cart to Magento.

They will charge you based on the number of products. Because we had a ton of products, it was a custom job and cost over $1000 to do, but it’s one of the most important things to be done, so well worth it. They were able to bring over the products with very few issues. The main issue we ran into was that some of our disabled products came over as enabled. We worked with them a couple times to resolve this. I highly recommend after you do this to test out a couple dozen products to make sure everything looks correct.

·         Is the image correct?

·         Is the meta data correct?

·         Is the description there?

·         Is the product title correct?

·         Is the price correct?

We also ran into smaller issues such as tiered pricing not coming over. That’s something that wasn’t possible. Some of the mapping was incorrect…such as the MSRP. It took a few tries, but eventually we got it to work.

This process took about 3 weeks to finally get correct. Because the number of products, migrations took a while and we probably had to do it 3-4 times.

Redirects (So Important!)

If you breeze through this entire guide, please stop here. This is one of the most important areas! I have seen problems with websites over and over because they didn’t properly set up redirects…and redirects on everything I mean! This was what took the longest to get all correct. Was probably close to 6 weeks to have everything up and running correctly. It’s so important though, we needed to get it correct.

Products

You of course want to redirect old product URL’s to the new product URL’s on Shopify. Because Magento and Shopify use different file structures, they will not stay the same. Cart2Cart can  handle this process for you. It costs more but totally worth it if you have over 100 products. You do not want to do this manually. Again, once this is done, make sure to review the redirects, which you can in your admin. Make sure the old URL’s are correct as well as the new ones.

Categories/Vendors/Manufacturers

Depending the amount of these you have, you can have Cart2Cart do this for you. We had over 500 vendors and category pages. Nothing I wanted to handle on my own. Now the categories/collections came over fine, but I ran into issues when bringing over the vendors (see below). I found many were not redirecting correctly or didn’t have redirects at all. After finding a couple like this I decided to go through them manually (had 300 of them) and found about 50 with issues. I highly recommend you reviews all category/vendor redirects manually if you have a 3rd party service do them for you.

BONUS: Ok, because of the SEO in me, I was very specific about this. Especially the vendors/manufacturers. The reason is that when you bring over vendors or even create them on your own, they show up like this - https://mysupplementstoreonline.myshopify.com/collections/vendors?q=vendor-1. This is not a clean URL. You want them to show up like https://mysupplementstoreonline.myshopify.com/collections/vendor-1 instead, which is how collections show up. You can ask Cart2Cart to do this for you. Just tell them you want to migrate the vendors over as collections. Now an additional step with this. Make sure to make https://mysupplementstoreonline.myshopify.com/collections/vendors?q=vendor-1 a canonical URL of https://mysupplementstoreonline.myshopify.com/collections/vendor-1 so you don’t run into duplicate content issues. This may be nothing you heard of before. If you have any questions about it, please message me and I can help. This is VERY important to do…especially in the beginning.

With this, we also needed an area for our Brands page. With over 300 brands, I needed some sort of app to link to all the Vendor collections and all on one brand. I didn’t want to do this manually. I eventually found the “Brand Page - Instant A-Z Vendor List” app which at $10 a month was worth it for the number of vendors we had. Now if you just a have a dozen or so, you should just do it manually and save yourself the monthly fee. But it was easy to do and the page looks exactly like I wanted it to be.

One thing I would recommend is downloading all your URL’s from your website using Screaming Frog before you migrate. Then when you are done you can upload those same URL’s and it will display any 404 errors once the new site goes live (I am writing this after the migration and so glad I did this. Found a ton that Cart 2 Cart missed).

Legacy Redirects

What is a legacy redirect you ask? Remember I am an SEO! With your Magento site you may…and you should have created redirects anytime you removed a page from your website. This list should be in your Magento Admin. You don’t want to have those redirects doing a double redirect. That is why you want to take the original URL you redirected and now redirect it to the new URL in Shopify instead. Confusing right? Not so much. Now there is no easy way to do this so I did it manually. Took probably 4-5 hours for me. If you have questions about this, feel free to contact me.

Image Redirects

Bet you didn’t think of this one! Yes, you can redirect images. Why is this important you ask? Well Google Images is a big and those images of yours show up there and sometimes even in Google Search. Why lose those customers to a 404 error or lose the positioning of those images? It wasn’t too much more to have Cart2Cart handle these as well. I highly recommend that you have them do this. While it’s not common, they will provide this service.

Internal Search

This is a type of redirect. Depending on how much you modified your internal search you may have added redirects to search keywords. For example, maybe people searched for “watches” on your website. And instead of having them go to a search page, you added a redirect to have them go right to the “Watches” category on your site. You did this for a reason and you want to make sure to do this same thing on the new site. This is actually something I waited to do until the entire site was finished and on live. We changed the way our search worked, so I wanted to use the new data to update this. I did make sure to download the old internal search results though in order to be able to consider them with the new site.

Blog Posts

Did you have a blog? If not, skip this. If you did, read on. You want to make sure to redirect and move those blog posts over as well. We received a lot of traffic to our blog and didn’t want to lose it. We had some issues with the right kind of URL’s coming from Magento. For some reason, the URL’s coming over were not the same that were live on the web. After a few tries, we were able to figure it out…well Cart2Cart was with my guidance. The second part of the whole blog migration was the formatting. Wow was it off from Magento. We started updating the look of the posts with the most popular ones and went from there. Depending on the amount of blog posts you have, this could take some time. Take a look at your Analytics and start with the most popular.

Product Bundles

We knew about this issue going into Shopify. Shopify has this stupid rule about having a max of 3 options. We needed some products with 6-7 options, each with it's own sku/upc that would be shown in checkout in order to sync with our inventory. See the issue? We were unable to find any app or Shopify rep that could come up with an answer. But the thing I have is an excellent developer. Jan Myszkier from Coding Mice was able to build a custom way around it. So far it is working great. Shopify really needs to look at other ways to do this, as it is very important for many customers.

Formatting Issues

So, you are moving from a customer or close to custom Magento site to a custom Shopify or Shopify theme. Think everything is going to look the same…lol! I guess we could have found a theme that matched up everything, but honestly, we didn’t like the look of the old site. We wanted bigger pictures, nicer looking text, different layouts. And almost everything worked out actually.

Product Pages

The only big issue (no pun intended) was the size of the pictures.  The new Shopify theme displayed larger images, that looked so much better. Problem is our old Magento website had smaller images and when we brought them over, they were pixelated or too small to look good with the theme. And we have about 5,000 products! Now some of them were ok…I would say maybe about 25%. This is only because we started updating the old’s site images a few months prior to the migration. Now with the other 75% we had one person is our office focused on updating those. Took her about 4-5 weeks to complete them all. It sucked indeed but needed to be done and it looked so goo when it was completed. One thing we also noted. If you use Magento, you may have old pictures that you chose to “exclude” in Magento’s product page admin. We found a lot of times these products came over as well. I would request if you use a 3rd party service for those “excluded” images to not be broughtover. The rest of the product page information came over fine. No issues with text, headings or images within the descriptions. Normally what will happen if you use a service like Cart2Cart is that they will bring over a dozen or so products for you to review to make sure there are no major issues. This should allow you to see what changes you will need to make when completed.

Category/Collection/Vendor Pages

Again, we didn’t run into really any formatting issues other than image problems. Once we fixed the images mentioned above, of course this fixed these issues too. One thing to look at is your theme as well. Many times, you can choose the size to make the images here, so even shrinking them slightly could resolve all the image formatting problems you are having.

Other Issues

Reviews & Q/A

Depending on your size, you might have many reviews and Q/A on your website. This is not something you want to forget to bring over either! Reviews and Questions/Answers are very important to not only helping to answer the customers questions and helping them choose a product, but it’s also a ton of unique content for your product pages! To help me migrate things over, I used Stamped.io. Now they were great and their app for Shopify is awesome too. It’s expensive compared to others, but it does so much. Now we ran into quite a few formatting problems getting reviews, questions and answers over, but we had almost 5,000 of them. Took a couple weeks to get it right. And when one issue was resolved, another one popped up. If you do this, just make sure to go through and compare the amount of reviews on the new site vs the Magento site. I found a lot of cases where review counts didn’t match up, or reviews didn’t show up after migrating…but with a few tweaks it worked. But compared to companies like Yotpo…this app is a steal.

Special Offers & Customizations on Magento

Like I said before, we did a lot of customization on Magento. So we needed to make sure we could do those same types of offers through Shopify. While some of them we could do with the “flows” in Shopify Plus, sometimes it was just easier to purchase an app to do it for us. The best thing about the apps are that you yourself could install them, test them, and see if they work for you. If not, you just cancel them. Most have a free trial that allow you to really test them out and see if they are right for what you need.

BOGO Deals

This was one area we needed to make sure we had covered. We do a lot of Buy X, Get Y free or 50% off. Ultimate Special Offers is the app we decided on. It’s so easy to use and did all the different special offers we needed. There are like a dozen options at least. And it looked good on the site too. The only issue we ran into was the way it looked on mobile along with our theme. The pop up message with the offer was covered by the top menu of our website. We contacted the developer at Ultimate Special Offers and he fixed it my moving the default location to the bottom of the screen…for free. Looks so much better now.

Post Launch

Bot Accounts & Customers

One thing we ran into a lot with Magento was fake bot accounts signing up as customers. This filled out account with a ton of BS customers and it was hard to filter through it. What was highly recommended to us was Shop Protector. Only $4.99 per month. From what I have seen since we launched, we haven’t had any of these issues, which is very positive!

404 Errors & Redirects

Because I installed Traffic Control and paid for one year, this tracks and 404 errors and redirect errors. It makes it really easy to add a correct redirect too. Even with using Cart 2 Cart, this tool found a lot of redirects we missed and new 404 errors. The one thing I never thought about was links out in the web or in emails that went to search pages. We got a lot of customers continuing to come in through them. I was able to use this tool to make sure they redirected to the correct page. This is a must for every migration. And it doesn’t stop at just the first day. This tool will continue to monitor 404 errors as they come in per day. Because we paid for the tool for a year, I will have to continue to update this as they come in.

I am also using Screaming Frog. I used this only once though. Remember when I said to use it to download all the URL’s of your old site. Well now you can re-upload those URL’s and find any redirects you missed. A lifesaver! Or if you still have the old sitemap hosted somewhere, you can import that URL instead.

As I run into other issues or discoveries I will definitely post them here. In the meantime if you have any questions on your own migration, let me know how I can help!

Jeff Moriarty