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eCommerce Store migrations of custom stores to Shopify

With the Cloud movement going strong, more and more businesses are switching to Shopify as the tools and the platform becomes increasingly more inviting to make the transition.


Shopify Market share

Looking at USA data between 2018 and 2019, Shopify has grown its market share considerably from 24% to 31% (source: Builtwith). Businesses are deciding to reduce their cost, minimizing their maintenance and hosting work by going to the cloud. With Shopify having an endless pool of Themes, Tools, Card processing options – what looks easier to manage, it actually is.


Shopify Considerations

While there is plenty of Migration “How To’s” published, discussions of is it right for your business model are not as well covered. What is great about Magento and WooCommerce is the ability to take an eCommerce framework, modify it to your business model. This means, that behind the front-end marketing, there is the back-end processing of engagement from a client – how that get’s handled is not standard.

What’s considered standard in eCommerce on Product based sites is a fulfillment delivery of a purchase. Non-standard are customizations of products, or added Services along with products. These custom processes such as custom-printed T-Shirts, where you upload your pet and the photo gets processes, you get a proof before printing can be quite involved. However, not all is lost when considering Shopify in these more complex scenarios.

Custom processes can be mapped, and thankfully, Shopify has an API. Back-end processes can be handled outside of Shopify on its own server, and then hand the order back to Shopify when these processes are done to finalize the shipping and delivery steps. These are hybrid setups, but you get to enjoy all the front-end goodness of Shopify all the while maintaining your business processes that are customer-centric.


Planning Process – 10 steps to make a change.

If you have a custom back-end for your business and are considering Shopify as your next move for the benefits in cost, tools, time-saving benefits, here are the steps to consider approaching.


  1. Process Map from front to back the customer journey annotating all the details of how an order is handled, what the client has to provide, and how the business processes the order. This includes systems, permission levels, roles of staff that handle that are, departments, and clearly identify the hand-offs between departments.

  2. Draw up the architecture of how your current eCommerce store operates for that process.

  3. Plan-out the NEW architecture with Shopify as your front-end, with the order processed, what information is going to be handed off to the back-end processing.

  4. Define the architecture of the back-end processing to support your process.

  5. Investigate the new architecture with your development team, even venturing to prototype a test processing to reach a level of confidence that the steps can be preserved.

  6. Once a Proof-of-concept is reached, budgeting and time scales can be drawn up for the business to consider the ROI and the benefits that taking this direction will yield.

  7. Project Planning – it’s obvious that the above steps are all part of the planning phase, and provide you the baseline of why you are getting this project done, however, to communicate to others on “how” this is being executed needs to be documented, with agreements, roles and responsibilities all laid out.

  8. Like most software development efforts, where a process of development has to unfold, using Agile, IEEE, or Microsoft Framework might be involved, the development has to take place to a point where all the modules/components are coded, reviewed, and deliver to the process defined and the plan’s goals.

  9. After several reviews of the programming effort, the refinements, testing, bug fixes, and the mirroring of your current site is being reviewed and refined for a launch date. This requires minor training of who/where the new system is, where can you continue to do your work, and process orders.

  10. Once you are ready – time to set a time for the deployment and swap out IP addresses to your domain, and get the staff to start using the new system.


Note: Always replicate, then improve it two different steps to have a clean delivery of each step – doing both at the same time, only confuses staff, and delays the deployment of change.


Conclusion

Where it might be daunting to take on a change of an eCommerce platform, reviewing the benefits and risks can be worthwhile when taking the business to the next level of technology and reap the benefits of the cloud. You don’t have to give up how your business operates to get these benefits, as the software is a tool that needs to serve the business and not the other way around. You can be confident that taking this consideration in steps to achieve your goal will yield a very satisfying outcome where you can further your marketing, get the speed and features for your site all the while maintaining production and have a new architecture to enhance your processes.

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