Due to the imminent renewal of their annual Magento 2 licence, we were given an urgent project to replatform Urban Gifts from Magento to a new platform, as yet undetermined. Cake advised Urban Gifts on a number of platform options but it was clear that Shopify bespoke built theme was the obvious choice. Once this had been decided, it was all systems go, we had just 30 days in which to deliver a new site and ensure a seamless transition from their old platform of their customer data, product information and perhaps most importantly of all ensure that their existing traffic footprint was maintained.
The main issue with Magento for Urban Gifts was the inflexibility of the platform which continually hampered the ambitions to augment their website and deploy methodical and systematic conversion rate optimisation. The website was often facing code freezes and the cost and times involved in implementing and trialling new innovations. The final straw came just a couple of months earlier in the weeks leading up to Black Friday when they were desperate to make changes to the onsite UX in advance of peak trading, however due to a code freeze enforced by their development support agency they were unable to effect any of the critical changes they wanted.
We often say that the biggest cost of your website is not what your spending it's what your not spending. The opportunity cost of not being able to quickly innovate on your website platform over time can mean you become uncompetitive. Investing in your website platform and doing so consistently, improving on your onsite proposition gradually every month is not an option it is a simple must. The online world is always moving forward.
There were other key goals from the project too, most noticeably website speed. So this was a key consideration in the decision to proceed with a bespoke theme build. Bespoke theme builds offer lean, mean coding cut perfectly to fit your design. They can be expensive though so have developed our own 'Cake Themes' which offer a nice blend between the benefits of a theme and the advantages of a bespoke build.
Ultimately our aim was to create and deliver a new website within 30 days which would resolve the common issues that they had with their previous platform while also continuing to deliver a retail experience for their customers.
Sounds like the perfect project for Cake...
The three most important things to consider when undertaking any replatforming project are data, then data and then data again.
You are essentially taking all your data from one place and moving it somewhere else, so just like moving house you need to make sure that everything is boxed up nicely, well labelled, marked fragile where appropriate, loaded in the right sequence, secured for transport and carefully moved before unpacking it again, so you can enjoy your first night in the new house.
The better your data is cleansed and audited the smoother and more accurate the transfer will be. This is the ultimate challenge when approaching a replatforming project.
In this regard, replatforming from Magento is better than most because the data tends to be well organised in the various data tables and there is an open API allowing relatively easy access. It's also a well trodden path so there is plenty of documentation out there on how to approach it.
You can transfer most of your data from Magento such as customers, products, categories and order history, although you cannot do them all at the same time. You must reconstruct the blocks of data one at a time, in the right sequence so that relational data connects correctly. You can't put the roof on before you've built the foundations.
You cannot, however, transfer customer account passwords. This is always something that you will lose when platforming as you simply cannot decrpyt passwords. Therefore, customer accounts can be migrated but customers will need to create a new password when they login again. Look at this as a good excuse to email your entire database and ask them to log back in again when the new website is launched...
Once your data is taken care of your attention must focus on ensuring your traffic footprint finds your new home. Probably the single biggest concern a client has when replatforming is whether the move is going to kill website traffic. The good news is that this used to be a bigger problem 10 years ago than it is today as Google is far bette at reindexing new URLs and recognising when websites change.
The correct application of 301 redirects will ensure all your traffic seamlessly finds your website and also minimises any potential loss in SEO equity meaning that your organic ranks should switch without much of a shock. There may be some temporary disruption but we are seeing this be more and more short-lived. Furthermore, if you approach the project as an opportunity to improve your SEO, then the benefits you see on day one will outweigh any of the temporary drawbacks.
So, how can we see as an opportunity to improve your traffic not simply to protect it?
Moving to a new home offers the opportunity to improve the technical health of your site, your site's architecture and most importantly your site speed. All of these are significant ranking factors for Google. Get this right and you can sit back and relax and watch your organic traffic fly!
Shopify was a breath of fresh air to the team at Urban Gifts. Trust us when we say that no-one ever has opened up their Shopify CMS for the first time and regretted it! Urban Gifts loved the accessibility of the new platform, it provided their internal team with more data, insights, control and editability, empowering their team with the knowledge and tools needed to successfully run their website.
Our first task was moving Urban Gifts over to the Standard Shopify package. This package costs $80 which is the standard package, bearing in mind they were paying over £20,000 a year for a Magento 2.0 licence this provided a very nice cost saving straight away.
The first thing you notice about a Shopify CMS is the clean layout and smooth UX. You are instantly presented with data insights and trading information. Knowledge is power and the more people who can understand your website's performance the better. There are many other standard features designed for the easy management and administration of the site such as the ability to upload an unlimited number of products, automatic category sequencing, creation of discount codes, to name but a few! It's also handy to have a 24/7 support team for any enquiries that may arise. Setting up the store first provided us the test environment to build their new store, whilst the Magento store continued until the switch was ready to be made.
Upon go-live, we recommended Urban Gifts keep the Magento store live on a sub-domain on a standard licence for at least 6 months. This allowed the team to have access to their customer's transaction and payment history for a period of time following the transition. One of challenges to bear in mind is that you would not be able to process a refund on Shopify for customers who placed the order on the old platform, so keeping the database live with a hidden checkout means that refunds can still be processed.
Whilst this does present a period of duplicated costs and some extra admin, it is usually seen as a necessity and a net benefit to look after your customers.
We successfully replatformed Urban Gifts from Magento to Shopify within just 30 days which we were able to deliver as the UX was largely remaining the same as the original. This meant we could skip the design and wireframing stage of the project which typically adds 6-8 weeks onto a bespoke build. That being said, it's a huge testament to the working relationship between agency and client. Projects only move at the speed of all parties involved and when there's a tight integration with the team and robust project management, the unachievable becomes achievable!
After the site went live we saw some great results:
1. Site speed increased to 95% on a GT Metrix site speed test from 45% on their Magento site
2. Conversion Rates improved 20%, principally driven by the switch to the Shopify checkout which improved cart to funnel conversion
3. Organic traffic saw 165% improvement over a 6 month period
Considering a move to Shopify? Get in touch with Cake, your Shopify experts, to find out more!
1. Read more on switching from Magento to Shopify in our Blog > Are you ready to make the switch? Magento vs Shopify
2 Read more about the value of using Shopify Experts to build your new website > Why and how to hire Shopify Experts?
3 Readv more about the dark arts of SEO > What is SEO and why is it so important?
Every great relationship starts with a conversation. We’d love to talk with you about your next project and answer any questions you might have about Shopify. But be warned… once we get talking about this stuff, it’s hard to shut us up!