Every small business is now feeling this. While the situation affects us heavily, it may be hard to stay cool-headed and realistic.
We're with you in it. And these times, we decided not to give up and move forward, no matter what. So we opened our secret box with tasks that we want to get rid of for long, but there was never enough time. And we've found out lots of what we could sort out now.
Remember what you promised yourself to deal with half-a-year ago, and it's still here? If anything just popped in your mind – use this time, and do it. Even if it's a not-so-important task. Straighten up relations with your partners? Renew Facebook description? Or move your online store from your old platform?
We heard about a lot of trouble with the last one. So here's a guide about switching to the new CMS - Content Management System. What is it, signs that you need it, the major reasons for a switch, and all the underlying nuances of the whole process.
Learn how all the migration happens in a nutshell, get a handy e-commerce replatforming checklist and pro tips for e-commerce website migration done right. This piece is a little crowded with technical terms, so if you're not a pro-level ninja senior developer (we neither), let's use cute dog gifs as the one above. Just to let our mind chill once in a while.
What is CMS Replatforming?
Ecommerce replatforming is the process of moving a commercial website from one content management platform to another. CMS is a admin system that allows you managing, monitoring, and analyzing all that’s going on on your website. The reasons for switching it can be various: from the lack of current functionality to the problems with compatibility with other web services or over-the-top support expenses.
Simply put, at some point in time, you may simply realize that your current CMS just doesn’t meet your individual requirements or the major trends dictated by the market, and that’s where you may want to switch.
Main Reasons to Move Your eCommerce to the new CMS
All in all, a common eCommerce migration checklist that includes the main reasons for switching CMS looks as follows:
- Your eCommerce website lags often;
- Pages loads slowly;
- It's hard for you to operate within your current admin panel;
- Costs skyrocketed and now it's not profitable to use your current CMS;
- Design changes you want are impossible to do within you current platform.
Signs That Tell It’s Time to Replatform Your CMS
On the other hand, the reasons for switching to another CMS may not be so obvious and clear. One may not have the slightest idea that it is time for website replatforming.
To make a final decision, just try to understand how problematic it is for you to regularly update your online store: if you notice that it isn’t that easy to handle in 9 out of 10 cases, it certainly makes sense to change the platform. Same goes for situations where you change the development team and the new guys come to point out all the downsides of your current CMS.
Your website may also be based on an outdated CMS that doesn’t provide the required web design capabilities. In such cases, replatforming will save you lots of time and money.
Moving Your eCommerce Website, Keep These Things in Mind
Tasks that are well-handled currently
For starters, see what current tasks your CMS successfully copes with so that it doesn’t turn out that you lose some well-established functionality in the pursuit of new, more advanced capabilities. Are you staisfied with how fast you pages load? And what about search and naviagtion? Is it easy to manage your media within it? Are there any integrations, that you really need?
Another thing to settle is the basic set of features/attributes/tasks you lack now and really need to have within your updated eCommerce solution. Actually, the choice of a platform directly depends on this.
You may require some new features that cannot be implemented using the built-in capabilities of your existing CMS framework. And here, you will need to make the right choice in favor of one that supports integration with APIs you need.
Think about what features your perfect CMS should have. Perhaps, you want to get a solution with an admin panel that you can configure yourself, without the help of developers; or vice versa, only highly-versatile capabilities that need to be adjusted by profiled specialists are what you’re looking for.
Technical support of the CMS is always crucial, especially if you plan to get a custom solution to manage single-handedly. Take your time to find out which communication channels your new CMS features and how efficient they are.
Last but not least, the question of price. If your online store has started operating just recently, it may not make much sense to go for a “premium”, expensive CMS. Even some free options may as well do the trick for you.
Challenges You Can Face Moving Your Online Store
The main challenge when switching from the old CMS to a new one is to keep the same positions in the search results and maintain the existing volume of traffic – to not lose some potential shoppers. As practice shows, search engines need some time to accept all the changes and evaluate them.
Moving all content from the previous website to the new is another thing to handle. You will have to download the product catalog from your previous online store. There are 2 common solutions for this:
- import through CMS;
- import through a specialized solution (for example, UMI).
In order to import content through CMS, you need to go to the admin panel, then to the main section of the catalog, then find the “data import” icon, download the prepared file, and upload it to a new site.
Transferring graphic content is a whole other thing, however. In some cases, it will be much more rational to redo the old photos of goods to higher-quality ones. You can do this using our Squareshot product photography service, and we'll help you create eye-candy product images.
Selecting a New CMS Platform
In recent years, absolutely all popular CMS solutions have become extremely multipurpose. So if you see that someone says online that, for example, Magento sucks and it’s best to transfer your online store to Shopify, don’t be mislead. Considering all the specifics, in the vast majority of cases, the final choice of a CMS is based exclusively on personal preferences.
Your best bet is to see which CMS is the easiest to work for you (if you are going to switch from one CMS to another yourself) or find out if a CMS is advised by a trusted team of web developers whose services you plan to use for replatforming.
Top 5 Best eCommerce Platforms
BigCommerce is a widely renowned eCommerce platform, which allows you to create your own online store without coding or web design skills and knowledge required.
BigCommerce online stores are easily connected with Facebook, PriceGrabber, Shopping.com, Shopzilla, and other solutions, as well as eBay auction. The framework greatly supports mobile commerce, so that readymade solutions work great on Apple, Android, Blackberry, and other mobile devices. It has many built-in design templates, as well as extensive opportunities for changing the appearance of your online store.
As for prices, the most budget plan will require you to pay $29,95 per month.
Many online store owners rightly consider Shopify the best CMS for commerce. Indeed, this is a great solution for those who find WooCommerce too difficult to work with and who want to create a really cool, modern online store with excellent UX using a single graphical interface.
Out of the box, it offers prepaid hosting, integration with popular social networks, such as Facebook or Instagram, its own POS-terminal, SEO modules, a lot of both paid and free themes (namely, 10 pieces are free), and much more. If you are looking to establish a large-scale online store, however, you may want to either go for Shopify Plus or other frameworks that are better suitable for building marketplaces and large eCommerce.
The platform starts at $30 per month.
Magento is almost the most popular CMS for the creation of online stores in the world, yet it is rather specific in work. The biggest advantage of Magento is its extensive out-of-box functionality. You get such features as multicurrency, multilingualism, the ability to organize a mulitistore (several stores in one admin panel with one database for all), and many others right away.
Moreover, it helps to efficiently solve the issue of importing goods (using Magmi). Magento has both paid and free versions. This solution is perfect for those who want to build something very custom, extraordinary.
3dcart is another widely used CMS which default features include integration with Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, expanded support for the mobile version of online stores, CRM features. The backend panel is well-designed here, so this one is just perfect for self-taught developers.
Note also that 3dcart has a powerful API for integration with other applications and tools. Along with selling via social networks, you can connect your online store to marketplace realms on Amazon, eBay, and Shopzilla.
3dcart starts at $19 per month.
WP WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin that arguably managed to exceed its “parent” in popularity.
Being a WordPress offspring, the plugin is backed by the enormous online community, which makes it simple to figure out any nuances and handle any challenges that may come along the way.
We can’t say that this is the easiest solution to work with, however. But if you are looking for the best compromise between flexibility and learning curve, WooCommerce is where you should start your search.
On top of all, it is absolutely free of charge.
Choose your future partner-in-crime wisely. Your goal is to be with your new solution as happy, as this puppy is with his dinner:
How to Get Prepared for Data Migration
In order to carefully carry out eCommerce product data migration (i.e., export data from one database to another), you should make a full copy of all the old site files and make a backup of the previous database. Some databases are problematic to archive (for example, in gzip) - this moment must be checked particularly.
We already mentioned above that it is especially worth thinking about the rationality of transferring old images - they simply may not correspond to your new website concept. If you wanted to refresh the look overall, you can use Squareshot help in creating cleand and bright, new product shots.
How to Migrate eCommerce Store to the New CMS
All in all, your website migration plan may look as follows.
Creating a strategy
Usually, the complexity of creating an eCommerce migration strategy is that newcomers are not familiar with such nuances as data transfer, updating access policies, etc. For this reason, we recommend that you carefully study the corresponding section in the manual for your chosen CMS, so as not to lose sight of any single detail.
An updated design is, perhaps, one of the main reasons for migrating from one CMS to another. At this point, it is very important to understand whether all things related to UI/UX can be implemented using your new choice of CMS. Just so that you won’t have to do any extra motions later on if your particular CMS is unable to maintain some previous visual elements of the site.
Development, as a rule, involves connecting third-party solutions through APIs and other integrations. This is far from always necessary - sometimes, developers cope with all the tasks at the stage of redesign mentioned above.
After the deployment of your updated site, you will have to figure out what kind of technical support will be required for your new CMS. Obviously, your new platform will require timely updates and troubleshooting to be handled.
eCommerce CMS Migration Myths
Last but not least, here are the four most frequently mentioned myths about the website migration process.
We lose sales while data migration takes place
Switching the platform, you don’t necessarily have to deactivate your existing eCommerce on the Internet. Everything is implemented on a test server first, and then, after successful testing, the site automatically restarts in an updated form.
We’ll lose our design if we replatform
This isn’t always true and depends on how seriously you approach the replatforming. BigCommerce, for instance, contains open templates that allow you to keep your previous design as it is on an updated resource.
When we move the store to a new host, we’ll lose all our traffic
Surely, with incorrect linking, you can lose the search positions of your updated site. For this reason, we do not recommend to switch eCommerce CMS on your own - it would be much better if you entrust this task to experienced and qualified web developers.
Replatforming means we can clone our store exactly
Well, firstly, if the initial task of replatforming is to somehow modify the design or functionality of the store, copying it would be meaningless. As for transferring data to a new backend, it’s not that difficult to do. But with design, things can be more complicated because not all CMSs support fully customizable templates.
As you can see, the eCommerce platform migration process involves so many aspects, it may be a bit frightening. Still, remember – preparation is half of the battle. Create a list of annoyances you want to get rid of, create a list of features you want and need, compare them with your budget and make a decision.
We hope that we helped you with a handy guide to use. Wish you a smooth transitioning!