For anyone starting an ecommerce business, it’s unlikely you’ll find a better solution for setting up an online store than Shopify. It’s quick, easy, elegant, and affordable.
It’s probably fair to say that no other ecommerce platform has had such a huge impact on lowering the barrier to entry for starting an online store.
However, for larger, more established online stores locked into legacy platforms, the ease of use, agility, extensibility, and elegance of Shopify can be seemingly out of reach.
Replatforming to Shopify from older ecommerce platforms can seem like a daunting task. Can we migrate all our customers? What about past orders? Products? Pages? Categories? It all sounds rather scary—and like a lot of work!
In reality, migrating to Shopify—or Shopify Plus—is not such a major ordeal. Sure, it takes careful planning and methodical processes; but there are tools and services that make the process relatively straightforward.
Are Shopify-powered stores more successful?
There is a misconception that Shopify sites have a greater chance of success. This isn’t exactly true.
A big part of the reason Shopify has grown so quickly—and why Shopify merchants are so successful—is more to do with how intuitive, agile, and customisable Shopify is. And it’s also likely a reflection of the generation of business people who are able to set up a store and succeed online.
Where this was once a space dominated by large companies with deep pockets, ecommerce is now accessible to virtually anyone. And gone are the days when a store owner has no choice but to hire an agency or professional to make even the smallest changes.
How can larger companies get “the Shopify edge”?
Replatforming to Shopify doesn’t automatically give stores an advantage. But it does arguably set the foundation to iterate more freely, run experiments, try new things, tweak, optimize, etc.
Shopify makes it easier for larger companies to be more dynamic and to run their online stores like startups—with more flexibility, greater freedom, and the capacity to evolve more quickly and easily.
Succeeding online is increasingly about storytelling, building relationships with one’s market, engaging with customers and building communities.
It’s vital to be agile and to be able to try new things and respond quickly to changes in the market and customer sentiment.
Shopify makes it so much easier to do this—whether doing it yourself or working with partners and experts.
So, when is a good time to consider replatforming?
Simply rebuilding a successful online store on Shopify for the sake of change is probably not the wisest investment of time and money.
But there will come a time when your existing platform is reaching it’s limits—perhaps the servers need work, the theme code is a mess, or the underlying codebase is needing an upgrade.
For those on Magento 1.x, there is a very good time to consider migrating to Shopify.
Some time ago, Magento announced “a new era of commerce innovation” with the launch of Magento 2.0.
No doubt, for many, this was an exciting announcement—and certainly for the agencies that have built their success on developing and maintaining Magento sites.
Magento has been around since 2007 and there are hundreds of thousands of ecommerce stores powered by the platform. In fact, there was a time when Mageno was by far the most popular ecommerce platform in the world. Probably not the case these days.
Over the years, Magento has had numerous “point upgrades”—1.1, 1.2, etc. These have been relatively easy to implement.
Unfortunately, upgrading from Magento 1.x to 2.x is a major upgrade that is more akin to a replatforming (albeit while staying on Magento).
The steps to “upgrade” from Magento 1.x to 2.x go something like this…
Build and test Magento 2. To prepare for the migration, make sure you do all of the following: Set up a Magento 2.0 system using a topology and design that at least matches your existing Magento 1 system; to provide redundancy in the event of unexpected issues, we advise you to replicate your Magento 1.x database and use this Magento 1.x data for your migration; install Magento 2 on a system that meets our system requirements.
Next steps. Follow the links below to learn more about each of the four components: Theme Migration; Extension Migration; Customizations Migration; Data Migration.
Oh boy. Yikes!
Looks more like a migration than an upgrade. And a painful one at that.
And, worse, a hard deadline is approaching to perform this “upgrade.” All merchants on Magento 1.x will be required to upgrade to Magento 2.x by the “sunset date” some time in November 2018.
Isn’t replatforming to Shopify way more work than simply upgrading to Magento 2?
In short, probably not.
A big part of migrating to Magento 2 is setting up the system—and making sure the “topology and design” at least match the existing system. Not sure exactly what that means but it doesn’t sound trivial.
Next is duplicating and migrating databases and installing Magento 2 “on a system that meets system requirements.” Then migrate theme, extensions, customisations, and data. I doubt many merchants are even capable of—let alone desire to—do this themselves.
With Shopify, “installation” and set up is trivial—and, seriously, almost anyone can do it.
Because Shopify is a hosted ecommerce platform, all of the back-end side of things is handled by Shopify. Merchants do not need to even thinking about—much less worry about—security, speed, scalability, updates, etc. And they don’t have to hire agencies or experts to look after this either—although many choose to as they grow.
The ecommerce platform itself is managed by Shopify. And they’re darn good at what they do.
Scalability and reliability—and handling growth or traffic surges—are not an issue with Shopify. No more spinning up extra servers for one peak weekend a year. No more sysadmin contracts or server crashes. No more bug patches or security fixes. No more upgrades, actually. Shopify scales automatically and can handle virtually anything your store (or your customers) can throw at it.
What about migrating customers, products, content, and orders?
There are a number of dedicated services that manage this entire process.
For high-volume merchants moving from Magento, for a limited time, Shopify will cover the cost of standard migrations and waive the Shopify Plus fees for the first six months—plus, Lucid will throw in free monthly check-in calls for six months to help merchants get more value out of their stores. Find out more
What about the look-and-feel?
Chances are, if you are looking to replatform and have been on Magento for a while, it might be time for a design refresh.
This is one of the great things about Shopify, too—it’s relatively easy and doesn’t have to be expensive to design a beautiful site.
If you’re considering replatforming, now is a good time to think about all the things that are working well and not working so well on your existing site and put all that knowledge and experience into an intentional, well-considered redesign.
Depending on the needs and expectations, it can be less expensive and less time-consuming to redesign an established site than to build a new site from scratch.
All Shopify sites kind of look the same
We have heard this before…. Often in the context of “I want to move to Shopify because the sites look so nice” but also there is a misconception that all Shopify sites look a certain way.
The reality is that, despite the simplicity of Shopify, it is possible to do almost anything when it comes to design. This is the magic of Shopify. The Liquid templating language is simple and elegant but very powerful. And there are really not many limitations in terms of what can or can not be done design-wise.
If sites have a common look, it’s probably because they’re using the same theme—which could happen on any platform. Or merchants are simply following design trends.
There really is no “Shopify look.” You have full freedom to design your store and user-experience however you desire.
I’m still not convinced. What makes Shopify better than Magento?
There are always going to be pros and cons of one system vs. another. And this is a bit beyond the scope of this article.
We have a bunch of articles on our website that go into more detail on some of the common questions that arise when people are considering moving from Magento to Shopify.