[Guest post by Taras Kopchak from Cart2Cart]
The number of e-Commerce platforms is getting so obscenely big that it can confuse even an experienced e-merchant. osCommerce had been a solution #1 for many years, but then Magento came out and bam! Everything has changed. What if your platform choice turned out to be not so great as it seemed a year ago? Well, there is only one way out – shopping cart migration. Your online retailer deserves the second chance, doesn’t it?
Platform migration is a complex process that starts a long time before an actual data transfer. That is why it requires a high awareness of your actions before, during and after the switch. Solid migration plan win combination with conscious, prudent and strategic approach will help you to avoid all possible risks, such as data corruption or duplication. Besides technical hurdles, you might encounter with financial ones – migration can become a rather costly idea, especially for a big-sized store. Nevertheless, don’t let the fear of hazards get in your way – if you don’t risk anything you risk even more.
You need to start with the analysis of what you’re currently having and what are you trying to get. Appease your feverish nature and do research before making a start on migration – calmly and patiently.
- Determine your goals. What are the drawbacks of your current e-solution? What benefits are you expecting to get from a new one? Do you lack built-in SEO features, more flexible design templates or convenient multi-store management? In order to choose the right path, you need to know what goals you’re following.
- Study out the market. Take your time and spend several nights on e-Commerce forums or websites to find out what e-solutions are the most discussed ones. Get the latest data on platform popularity and their specific characteristics. It would be a good idea to start with choosing between a “hosted” or “self-hosted” shopping cart type and continue digging in one of the directions.
Choosing the Way
Confident about your platform choice, you’re on the verge of making another important decision. Though all 3 migration ways cope with the data transfer perfectly fine, they have different principles of implementation. Let’s take a look on each of them.
- Manual Migration – can become a perfect and absolutely costless variant for a small-sized store migration. The point of it lays in copying and pasting all the entities from one platform to another. Being a skillful programmer, you could either try to write some sort of migration script to make your life easier. Nevertheless, manual migration is too much time-consuming for middle/big-sized stores.
- Hiring a Freelancer – fast and qualitative, but luxurious way of platform switch. The migration is being entrusted to a specialist, who would perform data transfer with the help of special-purpose scripts and other programing means. The only drawback of such a migration way is the price – the work of an experienced professional is never cheap. Therefore, it often becomes too costly for an average entrepreneur with a tight budget.
- Automated Migration – is a happy medium between the first two migration ways, combining the advantages of both. As follows, it doesn’t require any technical skills, unlike manual migration, and costs incomparably less than hiring a freelancer (still isn’t free though). Automated re-platforming, brightly represented by Cart2Cart, virtually excludes the possibility of data loss or corruption because of a human factor and can be finished in terms of hours. On the other hand, automated migration deals with entity transfer only, meaning that you’ll have to take care of the design after the switch on your own.
Pre-Migration and Post-Migration Must Do’s
As it was said earlier, the migration starts before data transfer process and doesn’t end with the “Finished!” message on your screen. Here are several tips on what to do before and after migration.
- Choose the right time.Analyze the statistics of your store and find the time when the traffic is the lowest to avoid inconveniences.
- Inform about the migration.Notify concerned people about your migration, such as stockholders, suppliers, employees.
- Make a Backup. Data safety is the first thing you should care about, so it’s strongly recommended to make a backup before any serious manipulations with your store.
- Make sure everything has transferred correctly.Choose several random entities to examine if everything is on its places.
- Manage SEO.Set 301 redirects, create custom 404 pages and generate the sitemap.
- Take care of website design. Make sure a new design template is looking neatly and your internal linking structure is optimized.
- Recover passwords. Ask your customers to recover their passwords.
Business is full of choices, and the more options we have, the harder they get. When the amount of shopping carts grows bigger with every day, you might start seriously hesitating which one to choose instead. Nevertheless, being an entrepreneur, you have no other choice than to take risks. So if you’re dissatisfied with the current platform or just looking for new possibilities, feel free to give it a try.