Migrating to a new platform is not a decision to take lightly. If you’re moving from one hosted platform to another, you have three considerations to factor into your budget. First is the design and layout of your website, next is the umbrella of development: the 3rd party extensions, custom functionality that you’ve developed beyond the default features offered by your platform, and anything involving API integration or a sub-domain. The third is the e-commerce platform data migration. You’ll need to migrate product data, customer data, order data, categories, all of your content pages, blog archives, image galleries, and metadata for all of the aforementioned. Oh, and make sure you do 301 redirects – the internet version of giving the post office your forwarding address. Only with a website, you can have hundreds or even thousands of addresses to assign forwarding locations to. So you can see that e-commerce platform migration is not a one-article topic. For now, I’ll explain what you could expect when migrating e-commerce data. The four main areas of an e-commerce database include product data, customer data, order data, and 301 redirects. Products: Many merchants decide a migration is a good time for doing a spring cleaning with their product category hierarchy, where you’ll make product categorization different from the old website. The following steps would have to be performed:
- Export all the products in CSV format with all the details from the original cart.
- The CSV should be rewritten in the supported format of the new cart using a Custom PHP script.
- Then, import all the products, options, product image URLs and metadata to the new store
- Your last step should be to do the testing and comparing everything with the old store to make sure everything is done accurately.
Customers: To migrate customers to your new website, make sure you do it very close to the time you migrate the orders. Customers imported too early will no longer be useful because when you import the orders, you’ll have to map the order associated with the particular customer ID. So you would have to import customers with old customer IDs, which will also be mentioned in one of the custom fields in the back-end of the target platform, which will be used for order migration. Also, customers’ passwords can’t be migrated as they’re in an encrypted format. So you’d need to set a common password for all of them and then send them all email notifications with new passwords they’ll have to reset. Orders: All orders are associated with particular customers and will have to be exported and imported into the new store. You’ll have to assign all the orders to the respective customers with their preferred shipping methods. To migrate orders to some hosted carts, you’ll have to use their API and write a script that will fetch all of the information accurately, so it won’t create any issues in the future. 301 redirects: For the most part, this includes categories, products and CMS page URL redirects. There is manual work involved in this task because you have to find each old URL and check it against the new one. If there are any mismatches, you’ll have to do it manually. There are some data migration software companies that claim to be able to make this process quick and easy, getting it done for a few hundred dollars. If your data is very simply structured and you’re going from a very popular hosted platform to another, these can work very well. But if your migration has even a slight amount of complexity beyond what fits neatly into a rigid spreadsheet template, you can only imagine in the disasters that can set you back money and a lot more time. So when you’re thinking of migrating to a new platform, make sure you have an idea what’s in store for you, what it might cost, and whether you’re up to the challenge or just want it done right.