Migrating to Shopify – The Definitive Guide

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Migrating to Shopify from another eCommerce platform such as; WooCommerce, Wix, Magento, BigCommerce etc. then this migrating to Shopify guide will help.

If you are working with me or heaven forbid, someone else 🙁 , then it’s a good idea to use this checklist to discuss each item and agree who is doing what.

If you are still in the consideration phase of deciding whether or not to move to Shopify, then you might want to read my Why Shopify page which takes you through why I think Shopify is often the best option for most merchants.

Migrating to Shopify table of contents:

  1. Open a Shopify Account

  2. Configure Basic Settings

  3. Import Products

  4. Import Pages (About Us, Returns etc)

  5. Import Blog Posts

  6. Import Customers and Orders

  7. Create Collections, Product Types and Tags etc.

  8. Create Contact Us Form

  9. Setup Navigation Menus

  10. Design Theme

  11. Customise Checkout Process

  12. Configure Remaining Settings

  13. Set Homepage Title and Metadescription

  14. Integrate Web Analytics

  15. Add Facebook Pixel

  16. Integrate Email System

  17. Setup 301 redirects

  18. Repoint Domain Name (when you’re ready to go live)

  19. Add link to new Sitemap in Google Search Console, Bing etc.

  20. Point of Sale System Integration (if you have a physical store)

  21. Inventory Management System

  22. Integration to other Channels and Marketplaces e.g. Google Shopping, Amazon, eBay etc.


Open a Shopify Account

Obviously the first step is to create a Shopify account.

If you are doing the migration to Shopify yourself, then you can open your account via this page. You will get a 14 day free trial, which allows you time to explore the platform and check it is right for you.

If you are using an authorised Shopify Partner or Expert, such as myself, then we will create the account for you which means there is no trial limit.

Please note: You cannot actually go live and start taking orders whilst still on the trial plan, you need to signup to a paid plan.

Configure Basic Settings

Work your way through the basic Settings area to set things like; your store name, location/s, staff accounts, Legal pages etc. For now, leave the more involved ones such as payment gateway & shipping, we’ll do those later.

I go into some of them below, but you need to go through all of them and make sure they are setup as you need.

Configure Shopify Sett

Create Legal Pages

In Shopify terminology, policies are basically the same as pages but with two key differences.

Your policies consist of; Refund policy, Privacy policy, Terms of service & Shipping policy.

Firstly, Shopify can auto-generate the wording for you, which gives you a template that you can then modify.

Secondly, Shopify also adds links to these policies in key places. For example, a link to your Shipping policy is automatically added to; product pages, cart, checkout and checkout footer.

Gift Cards

Here you just create the basic rules for electronic gift cards. You create the actual cards themselves under Products.

Import Products

One of the first big steps in migrating to Shopify is to import your products from your existing store.

This can be done manually by downloading a CSV from your current platform and uploading it to Shopify but you will need to get the file into the right format for Shopify.

If you are migrating to Shopify from an established platform such as Magento, Wix, WooCommerce, BigCommerce etc then there is probably an app you can use to do a lot of the heavy lifting for you.

Things to consider: Whilst it makes sense to import your products early in the migration process, you will still be taking orders on your old platform until you go live, so you may need to update your stock levels post live.

Import Pages

Pages are the static information pages on your site, such as ‘About Us’.

Your pages can be imported from your old website but it is likely that they will need some tweaking to get them to look right in Shopify. This is particularly the case if you are coming from something like WooCommerce and used some kind of WordPress page builder to create them.

Import Blog Posts

Blog posts can also be imported but may need some reconfiguring, particularly if you used a page builder on your old platform.

If you are migrating to Shopify from WordPress WooCommerce, then people with a lot of posts that rank well on SEO sometimes decide to leave them on WordPress and link to that blog from Shopify.

Whilst leaving you blog on WordPress has it’s benefits, I’m not really convinced it’s the best option. Personally, I’d migrate it.

Import Customers & Orders

Importing your customers from you old platform to Shopify is straightforward and works along the same lines as the product import process.

Importing your past orders is not something natively supported by Shopify, but it can be done with an app.

Create Collections, Product Types and Tags

This can get really confusing if your are new to Shopify and is one of the things I often see people make a total mess of if they’ve tried migrating to Shopify themselves.

Part of the confusion comes from people used to other systems like Magento or WooCommerce where things work a bit differently, particularly when it comes to collections.

The other reason for confusion is that until you’ve done it a few times it is very hard to know the best way to go about structuring things.

Unfortunately, I can’t give you the definitive answer as to how best to structure your collections, product types and tags because there is no one right answer.

The right setup will vary depending on what types of products you sell, how you want to layout your menu, how many products you have etc. etc.

Tip: Usually it is best to use fairly granular product types and then group them up using Collections. It is best to use tags sparingly and remember that by default tags will appear in the front end under your filters.

Another Tip: If you are familiar with another platform, particularly Magento, which uses categories and has quite a lot of flexibility as to how you configure them. Collections in Shopify are not really the same as Categories and you cannot have ‘sub-collections’ like you can with Magento categories.

Create Contact Us Form

Don’t try importing your existing Contact Form as it won’t work. You need to create it manually in Shopify.

This is easy to do as Shopify have a page template that automatically creates your form for you.

Go to Online Store > Pages > Create New. Then under Template, select ‘page.contact’ in the Template suffix dropdown. This will automatically create your contact form, which you can then add to your menu.

Don’t forget to add a page title e.g. Contact Us and any content that you wish to appear above the form, using the fields provided.

Shopify create contact us form

By default, this template will create a basic set of fields (Name, Email, Phone Number, Message). If you need to capture additional info, then this can be done with some coding knowledge.

Creating your menus is pretty straightforward and will usually be a replica of what you had on your old store unless you fancy a change.

In Shopify you can create menus based on numerous things; Collections, Products, Pages, Blogs, Blog Posts & Policies.

Note what is missing from the above list though, which is; Product Types, Vendors and Tags. This is why you need to think about how you are going to structure your Collections first.

Design Theme

You cannot import your existing theme or its look and feel when migrating from one platform to another, so this part has to be done manually.

Replicating the exact look & feel of your current site can be tricky.

You can either start with an off the shelf theme that has the general look and features you want and then customise it, or you can have an entirely custom one built for you.

Shopify offers circa 10 free themes or circa 70 paid themes on their marketplace. There are also others available outside of the Shopify marketplace but I would generally advise avoiding those.

Customise Checkout Process

Shopify is quite restrictive when it comes to what you can do with your checkout process, unless you are on Shopify Plus, for security reasons.

But you will want to add your logo, decide if you want to capture additional notes from the customer etc.

Configure Remaining Settings

Configure Shipping

This is where you configure your postage rates.

You can set rates by; country, region, weight, order value or for individual products.

Payment Gateway Setup

Shopify has its own payment gateway as well as supporting over 100 different 3rd party gateways with availability depending on which country you are in.

For most merchants, if it is available in your country, Shopify Payments (their own gateway) is usually the best one to go for, as well as optionally adding Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, Google Pay and Paypal.

Tip: Shop Pay – If you use Shopify Payments then you can also set up Shop Pay which is an accelerated checkout process that works across all stores powered by Shopify.

Set Homepage Title and Metadescription

Again something else you’ll need to configure manually in Shopify Admin.

Go to Online Store > Preferences and add your homepage title and metadescription in the fields provided.

Tip: Although Shopify tells you to use up to 320 characters for your metadescription, this is no longer correct. The maximum length should be 160 characters. Anything more than that and Google will truncate it.

Integrate Web Analytics

If you use Google Analytics then connecting it to Shopify is easy, as Shopify have made it really simple.

In Shopify Admin, go to Online Store > Preferences and just add your Google Analytics account ID in the box provided.

How to add Google Analytics to Shopify

Also, make sure to tick the box ‘Use Enhanced Ecommerce’ and make sure you also have this enabled within Google Analytics. This will make sure that Google knows you are an Ecommerce store and will capture product prices etc. for sales made on your site.

Setting up or reconfiguring your reports in Google Analytics is another matter and will require some work depending on how much you have customised your existing analytics reports.

Shopify also has it’s own analytics reports which give you a fair amount of information but they have a different focus to the web site analytics reports you’ll find in a solution like Google Analytics.

Add Facebook Pixel

Adding your Facebook pixel to Shopify is also straightforward, as again Shopify have made it easy.

Just grab your Facebook Pixel ID and pop it in the field provided in Shopify admin.

How to add Facebook Pixel to Shopify

Tip: Even if you don’t currently use Facebook Advertising. It is worth creating an ad account to get a pixel and add it to Shopify. This way, if and when you do decide to try out Facebook Ads you will already have some retargeting and audience data.

Integrate Email System

This is usually straightforward as you don’t normally need to migrate anything. All of the big players (except Mailchimp) have an app for Shopify that seamlessly connects the two systems, so any new customers that get created in Shopify automatically get passed to your email solution.

Shopify also has its own outbound marketing email solution which is free for up to 2,500 emails per month.

It has only recently launched and it lacks some functionality compared to the established players. But it may suit your needs.

The most popular options are Klaviyo, Mailchimp and OmniSend amongst others.

If you currently use Mailchimp, then you will need to use a 3rd party app to connect the two systems. This is because Shopify withdrew the official MailChimp app after the two companies had a bit of a falling out.

Setup 301 Redirects

In order to preserve your natural search rankings for the pages on your old website when migrating to Shopify you will want to make sure to set up 301 redirects for all of them.

Shopify will almost certainly have a different URL structure to your existing site.

E.g. whilst your URL may currently look like:

www.mystore.com/scooters/electric-scooters/segway-ninebot-es2-electric-scooter.html

It will look more like this on Shopify:

www.mystore.com/collections/electric-scooters/products/segway-ninebot-es2-electric-scooter.html

I have highlighted ‘collections’ and ‘products’ in red to show you the main difference with Shopify and its URL structure.

Unfortunately you cannot change the way Shopify structures your URL path i.e. you are stuck with ‘collections’ and ‘products’ in your URL.

Again there are various apps that will help you create 301s for all the URLs on your old website and map them to the URLs on your new Shopify store.

Repoint Domain Name

Assuming you already have a domain name that is held with a registrar such as GoDaddy, NameCheap, Google or whomever, then at the point you are ready to go live you will need to edit the A record and the CNAME record in your DNS settings to point to your new Shopify store.

Your Shopify A record and CNAME details are:

A record is 23.227.38.65
CNAME is shops.myshopify.com

Shopify have a more detailed article on setting all this up.

Add link to new Sitemap in Google Search Console, Bing etc

You may need to update the link to your sitemap in Google Search Console, Bing Webmaster Tools etc. If your current sitemap url is different.

The url for your Shopify sitemap will be https://mystore.com/sitemap.xml


I’m covering these last 3 points, as whilst they don’t apply to everyone migrating to Shopify, they do apply to a lot of my clients.

Many larger merchants, or those with physical stores, have various other systems in the mix and one of the reasons they are looking to migrate to Shopify is that it can massively simplify things for them.

Point of Sale System Integration

If you have a physical store/s then you will have some sort of point of sale system. A number of the larger players have an integration to Shopify that allows you to sync; sales, customers, products and stock.

Initial integration can be tricky as I usually find data inconsistencies which need to be worked through. Also some systems have functionality that isn’t compatible with Shopify (bundles for example).

Shopify also offer their own POS system. Which seamlessly integrates to your Shopify store (it is basically an app that ‘hangs off’ your main Shopify account).

The Shopify Point of Sale system has recently had a major overhaul. It works off an iPad, iPhone or Android tablet or phone. It also has hardware available such as; a till, card reader, barcode scanner.

The Shopify POS works well if you want a simple, hassle free solution, but despite the recent overhaul it still lacks features found on most dedicated third party POS systems.

Inventory Management Systems

Shopify itself has two inventory management systems.

One is built in to Shopify Admin and is available to everyone. It is very basic and really doesn’t do much other than offer a quick way to check and update stock levels.

The other is an app, which is now owned by Shopify, called Stocky and it is available to all those on anything above the Basic plan. It has a lot more functionality, including the ability to raise purchase orders, enter all your suppliers details, do inventory forecasting etc.

If you are planning on using Stocky and are migrating from another platform then you will need to import or enter some data into Stocky directly e.g. supplier details.

Many stores use a third party inventory management system, where it acts as the central source for products, prices, stock etc.

This can make migrating to Shopify easier because you are simply connecting Shopify to it and it will synchronise everything to Shopify. The 3rd party inventory system remains as ‘master’ and links all your channels, including Shopify, together.

Other Channels and Marketplaces

Channels

By channels I mean places you advertise your products to drive traffic to your store e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Google Shopping etc.

Shopify has numerous tools built in to make this easy and automatically provide a feed of your products, so you will want to set these up to use Shopify rather than your existing platform.

Marketplaces

By marketplaces I mean places you list your products and those products are sold on that marketplace e.g. Amazon, eBay etc.

What you need to do here depends on your current setup but again Shopify has automated feeds built in for Amazon & eBay (for certain countries).

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