What to expect from a migration project by Linda Bleijenberg
Preliminary risk assessment (1 hour)
Before we do anything else our team will go through your requirements to determine:
- if Shopify is really what you need
- how complex your project is
- how much time we expect to need for the
first phase of the project, the discovery.
This takes about an hour. Of course, we’ll communicate the outcome to you afterwards. If we think Shopify and Code are a good match for your project, and if you agree to our proposal for the discovery, we’ll move on to the next step.
Before we do this, it might be useful for you as the client to have a look at all your contracts with current suppliers, to see when they expire or when you can discontinue them. We also advise you to already appoint an e-commerce manager or project manager for the migration.
Want to read some more about preparing for a migration?
The people at Shopify Plus wrote an excellent replatforming guide that covers some topics we didn’t discuss here. You can find it here.
Discovery (up to 60 hours)
This is where we have an in-depth look at your current set-up, as well as your wishes for the future, to determine what the biggest challenges and potential bottlenecks of the migration project are. Based on our assessment we will be able to give you an estimate of how much time we will need for the project - and hence, tell you a lot more about planning and cost. At the end of the discovery we will know how many sprints we will need, when those sprints will take place, and what important deadlines we can commit to.
Why is this such a crucial step? Because at Code we very much dislike unpleasant surprises along the way. Not only will this set the project back in terms of cost and planning, it will also piss off our clients and taint our assessment we will be able to give you an estimate of how much time we will need for the project - and hence, tell you a lot more about planning and cost.
At the end of the discovery we will know how many sprints we will need, when those sprints will take place, and what important deadlines we can commit to.
Why is this such a crucial step? Because at Code we very much dislike unpleasant surprises along the way. Not only will this set the project back in terms of cost and planning, it will also piss off our clients and taint our reputation. So naturally we will do everything in our power to prevent this.
On a side note: sometimes our clients themselves change their plans halfway through the project. Usually because they got inspired and recalibrated their ambitions, now that they have seen what is possible with Shopify and Code. In that case we will do our very best to update the project to fit your new vision, together we will maximise the value for your business.
A note on Code’s Agile approach
Before we tell you what we look at during a discovery, it might be good for you to know a bit about our general style of working. Us Coders are very pragmatic, no-nonsense people. When we look at your systems and determine how to translate that into Shopify, we won’t aim for total perfection - unless you want us to of course.
Instead, we aim for something that works. We love our agile way of working and look for the most efficient way to go about things - because that will keep costs low and ensure that the project doesn’t waste time on (re)building stuff from scratch when it’s not strictly necessary. We invest your budget where it results in the most value. If you have custom legacy systems in your business that function well, we usually keep it and connect it to Shopify. If you need some functionality that Shopify doesn’t offer, we will happily find some other supplier for you. If there is an app that would be perfect for your store if they only added this one little extra feature, Code will give them a call and see if it can be arranged. We also seek to stay close to our platform. Whatever we build, we set things up in such a way that it moves with Shopify. That way you don’t have to update any custom additions with every Shopify update.
After the migration, you are free to do whatever you want with your brand new store. We will happily share our code with your own IT people so they can take it from there. If you want Code to be your IT people: you’re very welcome. If Code can help you with anything, just give us a call. We are your growth partner: you can make good use of our expertise whenever you need it, but we will never get in your way.
What we look at during the Discovery
Here’s a list of the things we map out during the discovery phase:
1. Your current data-structure
More often than not, our clients need to migrate a lot of data: customers, products and orders. You could consider starting on your new platform with a clean slate, but for most merchants there is a solid reason why they need to move their entire order history to the new platform - when they offer their customers warranties, for instance, or when they use a loyalty program.
Data migration is a big deal. It is not difficult but it takes quite a long time, anywhere between 40 to 60 hours depending on the amount of data. What’s more, the data has to be converted to fit Shopify’s data structure - which differs from that of other platforms. With Magento databases we often see a lot of customization, too: all of that has to be translated into something that fits Shopify.
To speed up the data-migration process a bit we often use a tool called Matrixify. This works wonderfully well with Excel. Recommended!
2. Apps and integrations
What other systems is your business using? And do they play well with Shopify? We will of course seek to integrate Shopify with your whole tech stack, in order to make things work smoothly for your business.
If you’re using ERP software, for instance, can it be connected with Shopify or might you consider switching to another, more compatible ERP while you’re at it? If so, this has consequences for the planning.
Or if you’re offering subscriptions to your customers, can they be imported to Shopify or do you need to ask customers to renew any SEPA Direct Debit Mandates? Again: these things take time and will have to be taken into consideration when scheduling the project.
Code will take care to assess your current set- up and see how it can be done in Shopify. What third-party functionality are you currently using, and does it work with Shopify or do we have to find good alternatives?
3. SEO redirects
Obviously SEO is a big deal in e-commerce, and you don’t want to lose any traction in search engines because of your platform switch. During the discovery phase we make a plan to redirect all URL’s from the old situation to the new one. The actual redirection happens just before we launch your new store.
Usually, what happens SEO-wise after a store migrates is this: immediately after launch there is a dip in traffic, but soon enough Shopify will gain momentum and outperform the old platform. For this reason we advise you to plan the launch at a relatively quiet time, when it won’t interfere with lucrative times like Black Friday.
4. On-site search
What search engine will you be using in your online store? With a single-product business this won’t be much of an issue, but if you have a lot of SKUs in your catalogue you will need something powerful, like Algolia. Thing is, Algolia takes quite a bit of time to implement: by making this decision with you during the discovery we will be able to reserve enough time for the task.
A platform migration is an ideal opportunity to also reconsider and/or refresh your branding. If you’re asking us to build a pixel-perfect storefront, you might as well hand us a new and improved design to work from.
At Code we often refer replatforming clients to one of our design partners like Bolden or Morrow for a rebrand. Our teams work very well together, which will also help us plan realistically. That way the rebranding project won’t slow down or delay the migration project.
In case of a no-go
Sometimes the outcome of the discovery might be that your current set-up has key features that cannot be done in Shopify. In that case we will give you some good advice on where to go next, hand you all the knowledge and experience we already shared with you about your business, and send you on your way to find a more suitable platform.
If the discovery yields a green light, we can start building! We’ll start with the hard stuff, like product pages and collections, and then gradually move through the list of other tasks:Front-end design: turn your design into a Shopify storefront, setting up collections, navigation, product pages and other pages
Data migration: customers, products and orders
Settings: take care of payment methods, shipping rules, tax rates and currencies Backend development: installing apps and working on integrations with e.g. ERP, POS, fulfilment partner
Testing for launch: we always plan a ‘dress rehearsal’ for importing data. We make a script and test it, so we know it will work during pre-launch.
Pre-launch and launch
During the pre-launch phase we will check if everything is ready and take care of all the final touches before going live. Some of the things we do in this phase we already tested out earlier, to make sure it runs smoothly:
- Import all the order data that’s gathered on your old platform during the migration project, according to the script we made and tested during the building phase.
- Redirect SEO, according to the plan we made during the discovery phase.
For the actual launch, we always try to find a smart day. We obviously steer clear of Black Friday, or the day a new collection drops, or the start of a new season, and find a relatively quiet month to make the switch. On this day we test some key functionality when the new site is live, like the checkout, email notifications, and if the data needed for reports in your Shopify dashboard is coming in correctly. After that, your new and improved online store is ready to soar!
Download our migration e-book and learn more about migrating to Shopify.