Why Move From Volusion To Shopify?
Moving shopping cart platforms is not an easy decision—there are many things to consider and you must make sure that you will be gaining substantial benefits from the process because it’s a real pain in the arse.
After being in ecommerce for over a decade and using Oscommerce, Volusion, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Magento and now Shopify—my hands down favorite is Shopify.
I won’t go into the reasons why a move is vital—you need to do your own research and digital soul searching to figure out if the cart switch will bring you enough benefits to warrant the hassle. With this in mind, my main objective in moving to Shopify was to give my customers a better experience—especially on mobile.
If I had to pick the #1 reason I embarked on the move to Shopify, it’d be mobile. Our mobile traffic has exploded over the last few years with phone and tablet traffic representing 40% of website visits. I don’t have to tell you that this trend is just going upwards—are you reading this on your phone?
Let’s get back to the customer. Happier customers equate to more sales, and at the core of any successful business is growth. What is the saying, if you aren’t growing, you’re dying.
In my opinion, moving to Shopify was a movement toward growth, and staying with Volusion was a walk toward death. I know that sounds dramatic, but if your business is anything like mine then it’s an extension of you and does feel alive.
This article will specifically talk about moving from Volusion to Shopify— nevertheless, the basic principles and tactics are applicable to other cart migrations as well.
Sign-up for a New Shopify Cart
The first thing to do is to sign-up for a Shopify store and to pick a professional theme—new accounts are free for 14 days—I love the try it before you buy it model and so will you.
I’d grab an account several months before your official domain move so that you can get accustomed to the Shopify back-end and learn how to drive your new ecommerce vehicle. The more time you have to practice in the new store environment the easier the transition will be.
Take your time and test drive professional themes in the Shopify Theme Store. Choose a theme that matches your branding—look for advanced cart functionality like product tabs, checkout customization, and photo display options.
The plethora of custom applications available in their app store alone is worth the move, do some research and try out some of the apps—here are a few that I recommend:
- AfterShip – send customers shipping updates each step of the way;
- BlogFeeder – import your WordPress blog into a feed;
- Cart2Cart – import the data from your old cart to Shopify;
- Live Insights – see what people are looking at in realtime;
- MailSync – synchronize your Shopify store and Mailchimp;
- PluginSEO – we all need better search engine optimization;
- Product Description Tabs – create detailed product pages with tabs;
- Sales Motivator – upsell and add gifts to price points;
- SumoMe – marketing on steroids;
- Traffic Control – control your 404 errors and 301 redirects.
The Shopify back-end menu and page placement can be a little tricky to get wired, if you can’t find something google it or look through their help section. They also offer 24/7 online chat support which I found very helpful during the migration process. Try making a cheat-sheet of the main links you go to often by cutting and pasting the urls and placing them in a text document.
Once you feel comfortable with the Shopify cart, create a product page and understand how the elements are arranged—especially the variants, collections, and product pages. You are moving from a Pinto (remember those) to a Mercedes, so it’s going to take you a while to learn how to drive it.
Importing vs Recreating Product Data
Once you are ready to bring over your products from Volusion to Shopify you have two options: 1) rebuild all your product pages from scratch with new copy, photos and variations or: 2) use an application like Cart-2-Cart to sync your cart data using their intermediary api platform.
If you choose the latter option, all the data in your new cart will be replaced with the data from your older Volusion store. Thus, don’t build out a bunch of new product pages because if you decided to sync the entire store that data will be erased and replaced with the imported data from the Volusion store.
With Cart-2-Cart you may choose to bring over reviews, customers and order data also from Volusion—though I have read about many inconsistencies with the data once you bring it into Shopify.
For example, Cart-2-Cart does not migrate the actual customer account to Shopify—it simply dumps the data into Shopify’s database. Once a customer does create an account with an email address, Shopify will look back through all orders and auto-merge any past orders under that email address that were migrated with Cart-2-Cart.
Andrew Youderian, head chef at Ecommerce Fuel, suggests the following work around to ‘get’ customers to recreate their new account.
Have people re-create their account during or after their first Shopify purchase. If they do this, their account history will be automatically re-built from Shopify’s database by looking at all orders under that email. The only caveat is that you need to give people a heads-up about this.
I personally decided not to migrate any data using Cart-2-Cart. I felt this was a good moment for me to edit and improve all the marketing copy on my product pages and to tweak my SEO and product pictures. One-by-one, I redesigned and reconfigured my entire shopping cart with over 300 skus.
Move Your Domain To Shopify
Make sure you are ready for this—once you move over your domain all your new traffic will be diverted to the Shopify site—my domain resolved in 1 hour once I changed the A record on my isp.
An A record is used to find the address of a computer connected to the internet from a name—Shopify will give you detailed instructions about where to point your A record—it’s easier than it sounds.
Volusion has a temporary root domain and your old cart will resolve back to that old domain structure once you move your live domain to the new shopping cart—it looks something like zhvgk.extxp.servertrust.com and can be found in your my.volusion.com administration account. Once I moved my domain I had to contact support at Volusion to have them reset the servertrust domain—be prepared to do that if you can’t get to your old cart.
You also need to clear your cache on your browsers—I downloaded a new browser and opened the old cart in that browser whenever I needed to access the original data—I used Opera, not a bad browser at all.
404 Errors & 301 Redirects – Move From Volusion To Shopify
One of the biggest challenges in this entire process—and perhaps the most tedious—is redirecting your old Volsuion urls to your new Shopify urls.
Because each shopping cart uses different url structures, you won’t be able to maintain the url structures that were used in Volusion—in fact, you wouldn’t want to retain the old Volusion urls even if you could because they are very SEO unfriendly (i.e. www.domain.com/article?316).
You are going to need a tool to manage your redirects. I originally used a program called Screaming Frog to download a complete list of my current urls from Volusion—free for under 500 pages.
My plan was to then cut and paste all my new urls into a csv file and upload them to another tool I had read about in the Shopify forums. That tool, Traffic Control, is available through the Shopify app store and was essential to managing my 404 errors.
However, things didn’t quite work out as planned. Instead of cutting and pasting all the new urls into the csv file I just tackled them one-by-one (with the help of staff) using Traffic Control.
Traffic Control will give you a daily list of all the current 404s (dead links) on your site and it will allow you to redirect those links to live pages on Shopify. Please note you can’t do this until you switch your domain name over to Shopify—Doh!
I bought the one year plan from Traffic Control but you really only need their 7 day plan, if you stay on it and fix all the 404s that they list you will be able to knock out all the redirects in a week—save the $100 and get the 7 days plan. Another 301 / 404 management option, one I didn’t use, is Trasportr.
In our next article we’ll take a deep dive into the best apps for Shopify and offer advice on increasing conversions and collecting leads.