ECommerce platform migration: how five founders made it work for them
Modern IT environment constantly advances in its requirements for software products. In order to meet them and keep up with the times in general, one must pay close attention to versatility and flexibility of the developed software, in particular, online-stores and -marketplaces.
Having chosen a dedicated platform and started development of certain software, you will notice with time that there are new, more accessible and advanced in functionality options appearing time after time. Market’s requirements will vary in their form in the years to come as well.
There is, however, an ultimate solution to mentioned problems and that is platform migration. This article analyzes two particular developmental environments dedicated to creation of online-marketplaces – Magento and Shopify considering clients’ experience of migration from the first mentioned platform to the latter one.
Why would I employ platform migration in the first place?
To stay popular, a good site must constantly evolve - offer new features and options, respond to user comments, update design and so on. A rapidly growing company may in time be faced with the fact that the opportunities offered by the current platform or its performance have ceased to meet the increased needs. In addition, platforms can morally become obsolete, ignoring the methods, principles and innovations offered by competitors.
And the last reason is that sometimes critical vulnerabilities or flaws in the platform can manifest themselves after all the work on the site are close to finish or even deep in the operation. What to do then? The development budget is spent already, starting anew is not an option. In all these cases, migration to another platform will help.
“...our traffic and sales started to grow for no apparent reason” - Ostap Bosak
“We switched over to Shopify after using Magento and it was the best decision we ever made.” says Brandon Chopp - Digital Marketing Strategist at iHeartRaves and a renowned figure in festival fashion. iHeartRaves is a prominent enterprise in festival fashion the team of which consists of ravers and dance music enthusiasts and claims to be “the leading lifestyle brand for the EDM movement”.
According to Brandon, Shopify is much easier to use and provides an ability to focus more on selling products to customers instead of dealing with technical issues. In other words, you don’t have to be a developer to launch your ecommerce store with Shopify.
“Everything is easy to understand, straightforward, and to the point.” says Brandon, “The platform also has a ton of useful apps that you’re able to download. Unlike some other platforms, you can trial and error with as many apps as you want without the risk of breaking your site.”
Platform migration is a transition of existing software to a new, more fitting developmental environment with the goal of its continuous support and update. If you ever met mentioned issues of flaws indication, strive for a new, cheaper solution or are not satisfied with your initial choice in general, migration to another platform is just the choice for you.
Let us inspect the advantages and disadvantages of both platforms in discussion.
Pros and cons of Magento
Popularity. Magento is the most renowned ecommerce framework in the world. The number of famous businesses it powers is enormous and includes such giants as Samsung, Ghirardelli, Brown-Forman etc.
Flexibility. The platform utilizes an open-source technology and features versatile functionality. These are the main reasons why it is preferred by huge companies. It also supports various extensions and integrations.
Marketing. Magento features elaborate SEO functions with site mapping and Google content API. It also utilizes many promotion features such as flexible coupons, product bundling etc.
Interface. The platform has complicated interface. Admin section is interspersed with a huge number of options which can be confusing at times.
Community edition. Though free, Magento’s community edition is going to require a dedicated full-time team of developers to setup and configure it. The platform is, initially, downloaded to one’s local machine. That and the setup/configuration process can take a significant amount of time.
“Every day of delay is a day of lost sales, marketing, and getting feedback from visitors that shape where you go.” - Jason Debel
Overall design. Themes in Magento are numerous but seem a bit too old-fashioned and lack in elegance.
Complexity. Magento is a complex system and requires extensive knowledge in order to apply its resources to the fullest extent, not mentioning its customization and configuration.
Resource-intensiveness. The platform utilizes a huge amount of memory and space. In order to achieve its optimal performance, one would need to reduce these expenses manually.
Pros and cons of Shopify
Initial accessibility. Shopify does not require any in-depth technical knowledge in order to launch it. Unless you want to make custom modifications or configurations, you do not have to apply any developmental processes.
Remoteness. Shopify is a hosted solution and does not require a server or any space whatsoever as all the system files are stored on a host server.
Customizability. The platform features a personal .liquid framework which allows unadvanced users that do not possess developer’s skills customize its visual as well as functioning part following tutorials. Such feature can save you a lot of money.
Design. There is an enormous amount of both free and premium Shopify themes. It is your choice whether to apply most standing out free theme or spend $140-$180 on fancy premium one.
Overall accessibility. Shopify platform provides an easiest, most comfortable way of creating and supporting one’s own online-stores as it is, basically, dedicated to this topic. Shopify developers did everything they possibly could in order to make it a perfect solution for development and support of developing online-marketplaces without deep knowledge of its working principles (which are required, however, if you want to build something special).
Payment processor. Shopify almost exclusively allows the use of its own payment processor and sets an additional 1% fee for processing via PayPal standard. This puts off many people who are not ready for extra expenses.
Standard URLs. The platform does not provide an ability to specify one’s own simple URL (except for a home page). Instead, there are standard Shopify URL paths and if your pages have already been repeatedly backlinked, you will have to 301-redirect your old URLs to new ones. That can cause temporary low ranking of those pages in the search engine.
Differences in pricing
Magento. Community edition of Magento is free due to the fact that it is an open source solution. However, its setup and configuration, which can only be executed by a team of experts, will cost $5000-$50,000 depending on one’s developmental objectives and the team’s expenses. Magento enterprise edition (provides many additional advanced features like in-depth product management and customization etc.) will cost around $18,000 per year.
Shopify. The platform offers three options to choose from which represent respectively filled packages: basic plan - $29/month; average plan - $79/month; advanced Shopify - $299/month. An arguably expensive pricing which, in turn, pays off by providing the buyer with most comfortable, technically friendly means of online-store development to date.
There are also options of custom services provided by OpsWay - a team of eCommerce experts that can develop and customize your Shopify solutions.
Which platform is most optimal to migrate to?
If, eventually, you decided to migrate from Magento or some other platform, Shopify would be the most accessible AND elaborate choice, especially if you are a small-mid developing business, and not only due to its technical advantages.
The platform features the smoothest migrating process provided by the dedicated team of experts who have in their possession tools specialized just for that. It is also an incredibly easy shopping cart to set up, use and customize.
Online-store Marquis Gardens, the largest Water Feature and Pond Supply Retailer in the Toronto area with an extensive line of products used to run its eCommerce on WordPress. But, according to its manager - Ostap Bosak, initial platform turned out to be inadequate for a growing online-store; as soon the website hit more than 5000 SKUs, technical and management problems started appearing:
“We have switched to Shopify in early 2016, and our problems disappeared. Moreover, our traffic and sales started to grow for no apparent reason. As we were just discovering the world of SEO, we had no clue that there are SEO Titles and Descriptions, Alt Tags, Schema markup and lots more. The good thing was Shopify had it all, and most of it was pre-built into the system.”
Comments of many representatives as well as established online-stores indicate that their switching to Shopify eliminated many technical issues and errors in their project’s functionality. The overall management also becomes easier and more carefree. Here are some real stories about successful platform switching.
Axe & Hammer, an online print gallery based in Denver, Colorado migrated to Shopify after a year of hosting by Squarespace. Its cofounder Stanley Sigalov and his team made the switch happen because they wanted a platform that would make it easier to manage a large number of products.
“In Squarespace, editing the page details or pricing of 100+ products would take us several hours of editing, while in Shopify a lot of these functions can be done in bulk. Since we're a pretty new business,” says Stanley, “it's really important for us to be able to stay nimble, and Shopify lets us make large changes in a fraction of the time.”
“We were able to launch our store within 1 day...” - Jason Debel
Chris Gronkowski runs two businesses on Shopify, the domains IceShaker.com and EverythingDecorated.com. The first online-store sells an original Ice Shaker Water Bottle and Protein Shaker Cup that can hold ice for 30+ hours. The second one is dedicated to distribution of personalized gifts for various occasions and has been at first running on WooCommerce.
Initially, Chris worked with that platform as well as with Wordpress but, eventually, switched to Shopify and have been using it for two years. According to Chris the platform fits all his needs as it is easy to set up and does not require you to look for a separate hosting company to host your website.
“We were able to get by with WooCommerce for 2 years but as our sales increased it became harder and harder to use.”, says Chris, “You have to use an external method of shipping and once we started shipping 50+ packages a day we couldn't keep up. We have since switched to Shopify and the process has been a lot easier. You no longer have to find your own hosting service and don't need to try and figure out which hosting package to buy.”
Representative of online-store Urban Strength - Jason Debel, says that there are three reasons why he and his team chose the Shopify platform. The first one being its speed of implementation. It is important as some projects can be stuck in development for months.
“Every day of delay is a day of lost sales, marketing, and getting feedback from visitors that shape where you go.” , says Jason, “We were able to launch our store within 1 day. That is unheard of with Magento.”
The second reason is similar to the first, the platform alleviates tech headache of server issues, software updates, and compatibility issues of different apps having different versions and code bases. “This saves money from developers fixing things, saves money on upgrading things, and saves money from missed sales when the website fails to function.”
“The third reason is the strength of the community. With the large community of Shopify, someone has likely encountered the problem you have and figured out how to solve it.”
Here we can see the headship of Magento and Shopify has not yet become an ultimate leader in arms race for most elaborate framework dedicated to online-store development and maintenance. It is a certain winner, however, in the aspect of accessibility and proper functioning. According to Shopify users’ reviews, migration to the platform, even after the years of work with other dedicated frameworks, made them forget about many issues related to website’s proper work.
If you feel that your online-store suffers unnecessary flaws that can, in perspective, be eliminated, then Shopify is a perfect choice for you. The choice that will help you optimize the operation of your online-marketing project without the need of excessive developmental resources.
Nonetheless, Shopify cannot fit the requirements of every online-store. There are many other options which can be better for a certain project but more expensive.
Shopify, however, is an ideal solution for growing businesses of small and average sizes, especially in the retail field as indicated by numerous feedbacks. Both platforms have their bright sides as well as disadvantages. The thing is to make the right choice.