Being a London based Magento agency, objectsource have managed countless migrations to Magento since our inception in 2009. Each one has come with its complexities and challenges and some more than others but we’ve always overcome each and every challenge. This blog talks about how we reduce these challenges for our projects, so you can do the same and as a result, have a highly successful result.
Make sure your agency understands your business
We like to ensure we have a 360° view of our clients’ business so we can help them make the best decisions at the right time. Once we have a full understanding of their business, from customers, competitors, market trends, business objectives, growth strategies and any decisions and milestones that will be happening at the same time as their migration we are then able to work with them better, as a partnership and not just a supplier!. We want to be an extension of your team and work with our client to help them make more cost and time effective decisions.
Have a schedule for your project
We’ve seen so many businesses suffer from not having a well-thought out action plan for their platform migration. There are so many variables that can negatively impact your business during this arduous process that being able to have a clear view of what needs to be done and by when is the vital ingredient to a successful migration. Here are some tips for a good project plan:
- The more detailed the plan the better.
- All stakeholders to agree it.
- Putting together a plan of top-level milestones, ones that can be easily tracked throughout the project.
- Ensure that all milestones where you are required to either deliver something, sign something off or do something, are all detailed. You don’t want any surprises.
Revisit and revise business processes
Business processes is another area which needs a lot of attention. A new platform means new business processes will be needed. If it hasn’t been done already every process that is linked to your old eCommerce platform should be detailed in a flow chart process diagram and then charted to your new Magento store.
‘The devil is in the details’ as they say so it’s imperative that every step in every process is detailed. These are processes like; product uploads, fulfillment, promotions etc. Work hard to get the details correct so you have a clear view of what the processes currently look like and only then can you understand what processes are critical and cannot be amended as well as the ones that need to be refined or may even be made redundant. Some new requirements may come out of this which can then be discussed and the appropriate processes can then be amended. Be warned though, Magento has been built with best practice in mind, be careful to set requirements that may be costly to achieve when in fact a tweak to your processes could be cheaper and more effective.
Verify and test business processes
Too many times we’ve seen businesses not spend enough time validating and testing the new processes that have been created and then issues surface post migration. You must spend time testing the new processes as having glitches with a process is not what you want once you’ve moved over to your new platform as the focus should be on driving sales, not getting your products out the door!
SEO to be taken care of
We get so focussed on developing the site and getting it up and running that we forget about this area until it is too late or has to be done in a panic, then you risk your Search Rankings dropping.
Important areas of your SEO migration plan that can cause issues if not executed correctly or at all:
- Changes URL structure
301 redirects need to be in place if URLs are being changed. This will ensure domain and page authority is not affected. If this has not been put in place traffic can quickly plummet meaning your search ranking will fall dramatically.
The new chosen focus keywords are not as good as previous keywords in generating traffic because no keyword research or competitor analysis has been carried out or it has not been done correctly meaning the client is left with less effective keywords.
- Media compatibility
Website has not been optimised well enough for smartphones and tablets. Mobile user experience is now a very important ranking factor for Google.
- Switching to Https://
Safety is very important to Google so ensuring you have a valid SSL certificate and that all pages are under https:// and not just the checkout pages, is an important ranking factor.
- Referral links
It’s also worth making sure your top referral links have 301 redirects on the destination URLs. However, this should not be a permanent solution and I advise you to get in contact with the site owners to ask them to change them to the new URLs on the basis the URLs have been changed.
Make sure you have SEO experts involved at the outset to ensure SEO best practice is upheld and all site pages are constructed with SEO in mind.
Customer communication emails designed and tested
This may not be as bad an issue as some others on this list of migration challenges but very often it get’s overlooked. Magento and most other established eCommerce platforms will have default templates for each transactional email. Transactional emails are normally emails auto-sent to customers which might be anything from an ‘account registration’, ‘order confirmation’ or maybe a ‘subscribe to newsletter’ emails.
The first step should be to list all the transactional emails that will need to be designed and have content prepared for. As soon as the website design has been signed off the design of transactional emails should be underway including the preparation of the content for each email.
Lastly, once development is complete test all transactional emails to see if they’re automatically sending and that you are happy to sign off.
Have some key metrics to measure the success of the migration
This is one of the most common problems and is often only realised once launched. You’ve got your new website and new efficient processes but….
- What does success look like? Is it more traffic? Increase in conversion rate? Increase in AOV? Increase customer retention? Increase in existing customer spend?
- How do you know if the new processes are more efficient? What is in place to help you measure the performance of your new processes?
You should set these objectives before you start your migration project.
All the relevant stakeholders should work out as early as possible what the metrics are that will be monitored in order to measure success. Each function within the business will have different perspectives on what success looks like for them which will mean different metrics.
Analytics software should be installed and tested prior to launch and should be checked to ensure the chosen metrics are setup correctly.
Get your product/catalogue ready
This is the area where clients seem to have the most issues and challenges. This needs extra attention and a well-thought out product management plan. A migration is the perfect time to re-evaluate how you currently manage product data.
Your current processes should be reviewed and evaluated and any inefficiencies in the process should be highlighted and resolved to make it faster and more efficient.
Also if the current products require completely new content and a significant number of new products are being added then this process needs to be looked at as early as possible as so many merchants do not realise how much resource and time is actually required to prepare all new product and catalog data. Also ensure all content is SEO friendly. Without products and decent product data you don’t have a site or one that has the best conversion.
Carefully migrate your customer data!
Decisions need to made about what customer data is currently being stored and what needs to be carried over. Some merchants require order history to be carried over so this would need to be highlighted early on, this can be tricky with any eCommerce platform.
Customers should also be required to change or at least re-enter their passwords for the new system. Also don’t forget account balances, store credits, existing gift cards, loyalty programs and individual interaction history with social media.
Invest in staff training of the new platform
Magento is really easy to use, but to get the best from it, you need to know how to use it!
At the very least, make sure you have a basic understanding of the platform and disseminate this across each team member that will need to use the platform.
Make sure you have tested and tested again
Depending on which project delivery methodology your team or agency use to execute your project, will dictate how frequently you conduct testing. We always recommend using a methodology e.g. Agile, where testing is conducted throughout the development process, this way our clients get an early sight of their Magento website and can identify any issues early on.
Before go live do one last test and ensure all main functionality is working as desired i.e making payments, choose shipping options,using loyalty points, sign up to newsletter, account registration, cancel an order etc.
Do the same again once the site has gone live. And Voila!
Final words of wisdom
Moving to a new platform can be a daunting task for any sized merchant but it needs to be done in order to drive business growth. Whether it’s Magento or not think about what your business objectives are, how quickly you want that growth and the budget you are going to allocate.
If you are wanting to migrate to Magento please feel free to get in touch with one of our consultants today for some advice!