Migrating Your Ecommerce Store to A New Platform

Written by Jon on 24th March 2016

It is said that the three most stressful things in life are moving house, marriage and then divorce (in that order), I would argue that migrating your ecommerce business would come in a close 4th, there is a large amount of planning and preparation required and it is very important that every area is planned accordingly.

We get questions about this topic quite a lot, so I thought it makes sense to pull all our advice together in this post, and it will also act as a checklist for those contemplating a move to a new ecommerce platform.

  1.  Test your new site prior to going live

You should be happy with all areas of your new website. It will have been tested many times by a range of people to ensure all quirks, bugs and niggles have been addressed prior to going live.

  1.  Ensure 301 Redirects are in place

This part of the migration is incredibly important and, depending on how many products your store has, can be very time consuming.

Moving to a new platform will inevitably mean a change in URL structure and with that comes the risk of losing your invaluable organic traffic!

You can start to migrate legacy URL’s to the new structure by using a spreadsheet and mapping old URLs to the new URL destination.

  1.  All tracking scripts are migrated across (here is a little sub list)

Monitoring your website’s traffic and what your users are doing will be of the utmost importance during this crucial time; don’t forget to ensure all tracking code is in place.

  • Google Analytics
  • Remarketing Tag
  • Google Adwords Conversion Code
  • Bing Ad Center Conversion Code
  • Search Console File (if required)
  • Create new sitemap
  • Affiliate Tracking Code
  1.  Test your Robots.txt file

Ensure your Robot.txt has been tested within your search console to ensure there are no crawl issues.  There are many stories of websites launching and disallowing indexing until they spot their mistake.

Some example Robot.txt files:

Magento – http://inchoo.net/ecommerce/ultimate-magento-robots-txt-file-examples/

WordPress – https://yoast.com/wordpress-robots-txt-example/

  1.  Have a backup plan

Things don’t always go to plan and you should plan accordingly, in some extreme scenarios you may have to roll back to the your previous website, hopefully this would not happen but best to ensure you have the choice.

  1.  Once live test again

There are two different types of mistakes, the ones that happen and people find out about and the ones that happen but you identify it and quickly rectify before anyone notices.

Don’t email your customers the minute the website goes live, take a couple of days to test the site out, let it embed and iron out any niggles and bugs before shouting from the rooftops, I know you will be excited, but it can pay off to wait that little bit longer!

  1.  Keep your eyes glued to Google Analytics & Search Console

It is worth annotating Google Analytics with the date you migrated to a new platform, this will make it easier to identify any patterns/issues.

You should be looking at a number of metrics:

  • User Increase/Decrease by device
  • Bounce Rate by device
  • Avg Time on Site
  • Conversion Rate

Traffic levels by referral source should be closely monitored, particularly organic to ensure any drop is quickly identified.

A drop in organic traffic is a website owner’s worst fear, so you should closely monitor this. I think it is worth investing in Moz or Postionly (or similar) so you can monitor current rankings and this will then be easier to identify the source of lost traffic.

  1.  Carry out an audit of your website 1 month after launch

As I said, if budget allows, you could invest in a tool such as Moz or Postionly that will allow you to measure search visibility, keyword position (and a lot more), giving you more insight into how the migration has affected rankings.

Any changes made that could have an impact on the website should be documented, and if things get a bit bumpy try and resist the urge to change too much too soon.  When too many changes are made in quick succession it can sometimes be difficult to measure the impact, including what has worked (and what hasn’t).

  1.  Paid Campaigns

If you are running paid campaigns i.e. Adwords and/or Bing, then ensure all landing page URL’s have been updated.  If you do not run a branded campaign for your website you might consider setting one up for a month to minimise any potential loss of traffic.

If you are are running feeds from your website i.e. Google Shopping, Affiliates, Amazon you should also ensure that these are updated to minimise any loss of traffic from these channels.

Paid search is completely under your control so therefore time should be made to ensure that all areas are covered and incur no loss of visibility.

  1.  Good Luck

It’s always easy to focus on the negatives of migrating your website however with some careful planning you can yield the benefits – an increase of traffic, conversion rate and more!

P.S. We have a rule that is always wise to follow, never migrate your website on a Friday, support can be limited and if things don’t quite go to plan it might become a very long 48 hours.

Create a plan, ensure all steps are followed and then you can sit back, relax and admire your hard work.