Migrating from Magento to Shopify with Retail Express
"I am paying hundreds of dollars a month for a store that does not synchronise any more!"
With so many clients moving off Magento 1.X we thought it would be good to discuss some key expectations on the migration. Importantly as we are not a typical Web Developer but more data mechanics and finance people instead. As such we care more about your ongoing data quality and less about a one to one replacement. We have a longer term view than other commentators.
Magento was king of the hill, it offered tight control and the ability to run your own host. No one got fired for choosing Magento. As the need for eCommerce has evolved these tight controls are no longer delivering better outcomes, once again the phrase “stick to what differentiates you from your competition” applies. Yes not so long ago we had our own servers, however having these system no longer delivers additional reasons for customers to shop with you. In fact quite the opposite.
Both platforms have been around for more than 12 years, but recent upgrades have been evidence of very different trajectories and growth. Magento 2.0 was a cliff upgrade, you needed a rebuild, a leap of faith that the new UI was going to be worth the pain. Shopify, on the other hand, went upmarket with Shopify Plus, more features on the same core platform. Unfortunately getting this decision wrong has seen a number of high profile failures. People are now losing their jobs by choosing Magento (or more accurately not choosing a change).
PCI Compliance, system security, efficiency, reliability and privacy now outweigh any cute features. Shopify has evolved so many new ideas on being able to sell are available on its platform within weeks of appearing on custom build sites. The advantage of “bleeding edge” has compressed. “Fast Follow” means delivering these new features so quickly that no one notices/cares you were not first.
Migrating or building a new website always has risks, and these risks can be managed so the impacts are mitigated and controlled. BUT there are also risks to remaining on a platform that is aging or whose integration is broken.
All successful integrations have one thing in common, everyone is on the same wavelength. If there is no alignment of these goals the results will also be misaligned. The tight alignment with Web Designers, integrations, Retail Express and Shopify is critical. With the stampede of Magento to Shopify experts, it is important for you to not be “our first Shopify project”. Do your own check, use the Wayback machine to take a look at how your Web Developer looked this time last year?
Web Designers have a stark new reality with Shopify, they do not “own” your site. You do. This means you do not have to continue paying them unless they are providing a valuable service. This is a tough new business model and many have not adapted. Consider their business model and how they are going to remain viable in the future. Getting a great rate or a part-time student seems like a bargain but … Consider the example of a home builder, do you really want someone you will not be able to find again? We see so many eCommerce sites treating their service suppliers poorly, this is bad business, you might get a short-term buzz but you are burning bridges and ensuring a lack of any continuity of support.
So since we have many successful migrations under our belts and many more in the pipeline here are some lessons learned.
- There is a big word for it, taxonomy, but a simple difference. In Magento and older systems, you control how people view and catalog and how they can “drill down”. In Shopify, the end user is in control. If you have lots of products you have to completely rethink from Product Types to “tags”
- Configurable products versus Variations
There is no such thing as a one to one migration for multiple sizes/colours etc. Shopify rebuilt their system to handle these in a simple fashion. I have yet to see anyone map them one to one with a good result. They are going to need a rebuild / re-create. We use Retail Express and the Manufacturer SKU as the source of truth.
- Options – many sites try to offer one product with lots and lots of drop downs. Customers hate this trying to locate what IS in stock. If you have massive stock levels then this is ok but for fashion keep it simple. The best sites have only one colour in each product, no confusion.
- Tags – Shopify is flat, there is no field for Material, Calibre etc. The temptation is to use metafields but please try some other ideas first like using tags.
- Imports and Exports – Shopify offers a simple tool but it will not help you to restore. Get used to using Apps and get a backup application like Rewind.
- The App store is huge but very different from Magento plugins. Must plugins, like in WooCommerce, you buy them and then they are yours until they die or your site. Apps (from Shopify) are not like this, they will have a recurring charge but someone will look after them working each month. Get used to REMOVING apps that are no longer delivering value. Remember, as well, that the app is running on the supplier’s systems and not Shopify’s so it is only as good as their support.
- Product Feeds – These are going to need to be rebuilt. Get a good idea BEFORE you migrate and try to drag them up to be a modern interface rather than CSV files.
- Order Processing – Shopify is very friendly and always evolving. Do not try to replace or interfere with the process as an “improvement” as you will be doomed to failure. Accept what is there and you will be rewarded with continuous improvement and full compatibility.