September 11, 2017 admin

Shopify Migration: How do I Switch to Shopify?

If your current e-commerce store:

  • Is outdated and not mobile friendly
  • Generates high maintenance costs
  • Isn’t stable, or has hosting problems
  • Makes it difficult to develop new features
  • Doesn’t have functionality and features that you want
  • Isn’t secure

You should consider switching to Shopify!

With the design freedom to create the exact online store you’ve been looking for, along with built in analytics and valuable marketing tools, Shopify is a popular ecommerce platform.

I’m not going to introduce Shopify to you in this article. We all know it’s one of the greatest e-commerce platforms out there. If you are starting out, you can get further information in my other article why to chose Shopify for your online store.

Many online retailers are choosing Shopify, but what if you have an established store on another platform? Is Shopify a good choice? Is it possible to switch and if so, how?

The simple answer is yes!

Shopify is a good choice and migration to Shopify is possible. What’s more, it really doesn’t have to be difficult.

Any change can feel daunting, but less so if you break down the process into manageable steps. Make use of available information, such as this article and you’ll get the support you need to take action.

In this short guide, I’ll provide you with detailed information on how to transfer your online shop to Shopify from any platform. Additionally, I’ll try to cover what to think of before making the switch, so you are well prepared.

In this ‘Migration to Shopify’ article we will cover:

  • What to consider before switching to Shopify
  • The cost considerations when switching to Shopify
  • The choices you have when switching to Shopify
  • Planning for the transfer
  • How to switch to Shopify
  • Some of the tools that are available to assist you

Before you take action, you need to be clear about what’s involved. This will ensure that you have the information and tools you need to make decisions and get the job done.

What to Consider when Switching to Shopify

The main things to take care of are:

  • Data Migration: Customers, Orders, Products and Pages.
  • The Url Structure

You should also give consideration to:

  • Your business process and seeing if they can be improved with Shopify
  • The opportunity to refresh your store design

Data Migration

You need to define what data you are planning to migrate across to your new store. If you are only dealing with products, categories and customers the process should be easy enough.

If there is a high volume of data, including past multi-channel orders, hundreds of CMS pages and an extensive range of product variants, expect the process to take longer.

Either way, you should have a clear plan of what data is to be transferred across before you take any action. It will save a lot of time and effort in the long run. So, what data is important for your business, and what you can live without?

Tip: I’d recommend that you keep your old store (with past orders, statistics and any custom data) active even when the new store has gone live. Find the cheapest hosting for the site and then you’ll have access to any piece of information that is missed or doesn’t seem important at the time of switching. This can be very helpful especially when it comes to accounting.

Url structure

You should aim to retain the URL structure of your current e-commerce store, especially if you have an established online store and/or you have invested heavily in SEO.

The risk is that a change in URL structure will likely will create a lot of 404 errors and result in a drop in both search engine rank and website visitors. Let’s be honest, your organic traffic will fall apart.

Shopify platform has its own URL structure which is unlikely to match your store URL’s. For this reason, your store is going to need 301 URL redirect (also known as a permanent redirect).

With a 301 URL redirect, you can send everyone who visits the link for your old page to your new one. This is essential, as customers will be redirected to the new page on your Shopify store, instead of seeing broken link 404 page.

When it comes to search engine rank, 301 redirects are the best way to keep the majority of your link popularity and transfer it to the new URLs. They essentially inform the search engines that the indexed URL has moved and should be de-indexed and replaced with the new URL.

The good news is that there is built in functionality in Shopify to redirect your URL. If you need to create a lot of URL redirects, then there are Shopify apps to solve this problem. Here are few options:

Is Shopify a Good Choice?

In most cases, yes. You can get further information to inform your decision in my other article why to chose Shopify for your online store.

The basic and cheapest version of Shopify can be limited, so it is important to find the right package. You need one that allows you to continue with existing processes, or ideally allows for improvements to be made. The 14 day free trial can help you to work out if a package matches your business requirements.

Please note: If you run a well established business and have invested thousands to build your ecommerce empire over the years, the basic package really won’t be suitable. Shopify Plus is the way to go; you’ll be able to access hands on support at any time and the package will manage large volumes of traffic and transactions.

Getting a New Look

Migrating to new platform provides the ideal opportunity to redesign your store front, product pages, banners, logos, icons with a fresh and appealing look. As an established business, you’ll have a good idea about what appeals to your target customer. Now’s the chance to give them what they are looking for.

Cost Considerations when Switching to Shopify

The cost of migration depends on few things:

  • The volume of data that you wish to transfer
  • The nature of the data that needs to be transferred
  • Who is going to undertake the process
  • Whether you use the opportunity to update your design and content

If you are clear about your requirements, it will be easier to get an accurate idea of costs before making a decision.

Aside from the cost of switching, you’ll also need to factor in the cost of running your Shopify store. There are a number of different options, so you can find the best match for your business.

Have you decided which Shopify pricing plan to choose?

If not, there’s nothing to worry at this stage. You can signup for 14 days trial and play with Shopify before you make any decision. I encourage you to give it a try if you haven’t done it yet.
How do I switch to Shopify

You have options on how best to undertake the migration to the Shopify process:

  • You can do it yourself
  • You can pay someone to do it
  • Find app or external service to do this for you
  • Find the web developer who will do it free of charge

You can do it yourself.
If you have the confidence, you can complete the migration to Shopify process. It will be time-consuming, but there are plenty of resources to help you along the way. If you are operating on a tight budget, this is a good way to keep costs to a minimum.

I’m going try to cover the DIY method in this short guide, but first I’ll let you know about the other migration options that you have.

You can pay someone to do it.
Find a freelancer or Shopify agency to do the job for you. This way you don’t have to worry about all the technical stuff and you can focus your time on other aspects of your business.

You will still need to know what data you want to transfer to the new shop. This will ensure that you get the results that work for you, as well as an accurate quote for the work.

I’d advise you to make a list what you need to transfer and ask the Shopify agency to quote based on your requirements. You will also have to provide them with access to your current platform, or provide CSV files with all necessary data. They can handle the rest.

You can find app or external service to do this for you.
There are automatic solutions which will do a large proportion of the work for you. Please be aware that whilst these can save time and money, there are often issues. As an example, different platforms will have incompatible fields and the outcome may not be sufficiently accurate.

There is a possibility that some of your data simply can’t be migrated automatically, especially if you have more complex data within your ecommerce store.

I’m not saying you should avoid choosing automatic solution. I would however suggest that if you are considering a automatic switch, make a list of the data you want to transfer and check if this is possible through your automatic migration tool. It is also worth consulting with support before you start the process.

As the most popular option for migrating to Shopify, it is worth exploring this option:

The company support over 75 e-commerce platforms and the process is straightforward.

You can set up a free demo migration to see how it turns out.

You can also check out shopify app store, there are many other applications that can help you with migration from specific platforms.

Find a web developer who is going to transfer your store free of charge
If you are planning to sell your goods with Shopify, you will need a storefront. You can use a free basic theme, but if you prefer a tailored, branded store, you might engage the services of a Shopify web developer. If this is the case, there is a strong chance that developer will offer you free migration as part of their service.

Understanding the Migration Process

Every ecommerce store data includes product names, product photos, categories, prices, product descriptions, customers and many additional information that is related to the specific online shop, product type or brand. When migrating an online store, this data must be moved from one platform to another.

If you decided to migrate your online business to Shopify you want to keep as much data as possible. As I’ve mentioned previously, even historical data should be preserved, as this could be useful for marketing, statistics, accounting etc.

Successful migration begins by being very clear about what you need and retaining as much useful data as possible.
Getting prepared for Manual Migration to Shopify

Shopify Setup
The first step in the process is to complete the initial setup of Shopify, which is quite self explanatory.

Preparing CSV Files
CSV stands for Comma Separated Values, and it’s a file format (.csv) for spreadsheets. Most of ecommerce platforms including BigCommerce, WooCommerce, PrestaShop, Magento accepts the import and export of CSV files for categories (known as collections in Shopify), products, orders and more.

The problem is that each platform will store data in different format. So, an exported CSV file from your current platform won’t match the Shopify fields; don’t panic! This simply means that you need to prepare your data for Shopify and I’ll explain how.

Please note that you will need Google Spreadsheet in order to edit a CSV file. Avoid using Numbers or Excel, as they complicate things unnecessarily.

Start by downloading your store data in CSV format.

  • Products
  • Categories
  • Orders
  • Customers

Below is advice on how to export data for some of most popular platforms:





If your current platform isn’t covered, or you are unsure about the process, I’ll suggest you search on Google for detailed instructions, ask your current web developer, or contact us.

Transferring Products to Shopify

The next step is to download a sample CSV file from Shopify, as it will show the new format how the data should be prepared.

  1. Login to your Shopify dashboard
  2. Head to the Products page
  3. Find the Import button and click the link (image to go here)
  4. Download a sample CSV template to see the required format
  5. It can be useful to save this sample file to your computer.
  6. Import your sample file into Google Spreadsheet

Once you open the CSV file via Google Spreadsheet you will notice there are a lot of columns with different headings. You don’t have to fill all of them! It all comes down to being clear about what you need.

The ones that are most important and often used are:

  • Handle
  • Title
  • Body (HTML)
  • Vendor
  • Type
  • Tags
  • Published
  • Variant Fulfillment Service
  • Variant Inventory Policy
  • Variant Grams
  • Variant Price
  • Variant Taxable
  • Variant Requires Shipping
  • Image Src

Now, you need to fill these columns (and others of importance) with the relevant column from your store. When your CSV is prepared, you can import your products to Shopify.

Remember: The CSV file format needs to match for your product to be uploaded to Shopify.

Migrate Customers to Shopify

The next stage is to move your client data across.

This process almost repeats the steps used for migrating the products.

  1. Export your customer CSV from your current store
  2. Download sample CSV file for Shopify here
  3. Import both files into the Google Spreadsheet
  4. Fill columns of Shopify sample file with appropriate data and save
  5. Import file into the Shopify customers page

Transferring Historical Orders to Shopify

Unfortunately Shopify doesn’t offer this functionality as a standard feature. For this reason, you’ll need to import all your past orders data using an app like this:

This app is an ideal solution for importing your orders into Shopify, as it enables you to import via CSV file, which normally isn’t possible.

The process of importing orders to Shopify with this app is:

  1. Upload a CSV or Excel File
  2. Map Your Column Fields
  3. Import Your Orders

Alternatively, you can always use a developer, who is experienced in working with Shopify API.

Migrating CMS Pages to Shopify

All of the content on your website pages (Home, About Us, T&Cs) have to be copied manually. There is no app or built in functionality to support this.

The good thing about manually migrating the content over to Shopify is that it provides an opportunity to review your page content and update the look of your online store. Analytics data proves highly valuable when it comes to deciding which pages are working and which can and should be improved.

Whether you are preparing fresh content or copying from your old site remember to include the following pages:

  • About us
  • Shipping & Returns
  • Customer information
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms & Conditions
  • Contact us
  • FAQ

Time to Switch
The final step is taking the live site off-line and switching on the newly developed site. It’s best to do this during a quiet time.

Once you are ready take the following steps:

  1. In the Shopify Dashboard navigate to the Settings page, select Domains and locate the button that says “Connect Existing Domain”
  2. Login to your domain provider
  3. Edit your DNS settings and change your A record to point to Shopify’s IP address
  4. Change your www CNAME record to point to
  5. Save the DNS records
  6. Now you need to verify your connection in Shopify
  7. Finally choose your newly added domain as ‘primary’

Now take time to check that everything is in place and then test it by processing some orders. Make any necessary amends and when you are happy, you can actively promote your store.

Final thoughts
Migration to Shopify doesn’t have to be difficult. You don’t need to be highly technical to do it on your own. Just be prepared to spend some time on the process and don’t be afraid to ask the Shopify support team for assistance.

This is basic guide, and I’m sure I have missed some stuff here, but it should help you with the process and I’ll make updates in a future.

Be aware that things do get more complicated when your products have variety of custom parameters, attributes and involve a high volume of data. This is when the skills of a Shopify expert are worth investing in.

If you are ready to switch to Shopify and want help with planning, organising and executing the process, Webgrow can assist. Our expertise in migration to Shopify ensures that we are familiar with each stage of the process, the prevention of common mistakes and the resolution of any issues that may arise.

I’d love to hear how you got on with the migration process, especially as this will inform future updates to this article. Did you face any particular challenges? Did this guide prove helpful? Let me know!


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