Migrate WooCommerce to Shopify


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The e-commerce landscape has changed vastly in the last few years, evolving rapidly to meet the shifting demands of consumers and the technological advancements shaping our world. This evolution has been propelled by a surge in online shopping, which has seen businesses of all sizes re-evaluating their digital strategies to stay competitive and relevant. The global pandemic further accelerated this shift, as lockdowns and social distancing measures drove consumers towards online platforms for everything from daily essentials to luxury goods.

As a result, businesses have had to adapt quickly, embracing new technologies and platforms to create engaging, seamless shopping experiences. The rise of mobile commerce, social media shopping, and personalised marketing strategies have become key components of success in this new era. Additionally, sustainability and ethical practices have moved to the forefront of consumer concerns, influencing purchasing decisions and pushing retailers to adopt more responsible operations.

Payment options have also diversified, with digital wallets, cryptocurrencies, and buy now, pay later schemes becoming increasingly popular, offering more flexibility and security to online shoppers. Behind the scenes, the integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies has revolutionised inventory management, customer service, and personalised recommendations, further enhancing the user experience.

Moreover, the competition between e-commerce platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento, and others has intensified, leading to continuous improvements and innovations in features, usability, and support. This competitive landscape has provided businesses with a plethora of options to build or migrate their online stores, each platform offering unique advantages tailored to different business needs and goals.

As a brand owner, there's no better time to look at re-evaluating your online offering to leverage new functionality that's available in platforms like Shopify (who just unveiled a huge amount of new features in thier Winter Editions 2024 announcement)

Why Migrate from WooCommerce to Shopify?

A bit about WooCommerce

WordPress and WooCommerce are incredible, cost-free platforms that empower individuals to launch an online business with almost no initial expense - they're free, and maintained by a community of incredibly dedicated individuals. This guide isn't in any way bashing WordPress or WooCommerce - It's an objective view on migrating from WooCommerce to Shopify, and why you may wish to do it.

It's also worth considering that a well-built and maintained WooCommerce site is definitely suitable for a growing, or indeed a large business. We ourselves have built WooCommerce sites; one of which has processed over 150,000 orders accounting for over £5m in revenue and has almost never missed a beat.

If you have a solid development partner, and value your site enough to understand that it requires constant maintenance, updates and support - you can succeed with WooCommerce (pats on the back for us for the achievements mentioned above).

The main issue is that WordPress and WooCommerce are incredibly popular platforms, and attract a multitude of developers with varying skill levels; those without the knowledge of how to implement performant solutions for functionality will often reach for the WordPress plugin repository to fill a knowledge gap or find a shortcut to functionality; this can be detrimental to a WooCommerce site as it can lead to complexity in maintenance, security concerns and code bloat.

A WooCommerce site undergoes frequent updates, which, while bringing new features and improvements, can sometimes introduce changes that may disrupt your site's functionality. These changes, known as deprecations, can affect various aspects of your site, from the frontend display to backend processes, potentially causing it to temporarily cease functioning as intended. You could, of course, not apply these updates 🙃 but that may lead to security concerns (which again, are ultimately your responsibility to manage). Wouldn't it be nice if you didn't have to worry about any of the infrastucture, the backend security (beyond your password) and any updates to patch any security concerns.

Other issues are around scalability challenges and responsibility of the stack. If you are hosting WooCommerce; the entire tech stack sits on your shoulders and you're ultimately responsible for ensuring that your site stays online. Sure, a good host may give you a bit of a hand when you have issues - but if you don't have to worry about the infrastructure at all - that's a benefit, right?

Benefits of Shopify for scalability, security, and ease-of-use

Shopify stands out as a leading e-commerce platform for businesses of all sizes, offering powerful tools for scalability, security, and ease of use. Here's a detailed look at these benefits:


Shopify can handle increases in traffic and sales without compromising performance, making it ideal for businesses looking to grow. Shopify manages the infrastructure and have some of the best dev-ops in the game - This means that in the event of a sudden surge in sales, your business operations continue smoothly without the burden falling on you with your online store remaining fast and reliable.

Shopify's flexible plans allow brands to start on a low, monthly payment on the basic tier and scale right up to the coveted Shopify Plus - designed for larger sites, with far greater features than the standard Shopify plans.

Pre-Migration Checklist

  • Before considering a migration you should work through a pre-migration audit to determine what you'll need to migrate, whether the structure of your site is changing and whether there's any bespoke functionity in your existing WooCommerce site that will need an equivalent in Shopify.
  • You should set clear objectives on why moving to Shopify is a good idea, some of which we've highlighted above; but others may include: checkout superiority, potential for scale, the Shopify App infrastucture or ease of future extendability and use (both for administrators and users)

The Migration Process: Step-by-Step

  1. Preparing Your Shopify Account
    • Firstly, you're going to need a Shopify account for your brand - Sign up to Shopify and create your store. You don't need to link your domain to Shopify whilst you're building your store and migrating your data from WooCommerce to Shopify; you'll be given a .myshopify.com domain you can use for the administrative backend, as well as the preview store. An alternative solution would be to engage with a Shopify Partner Agency (like us) and have them create you a development store within thier partner account.
  2. Migrating Products and Categories
    • You should have established a list of what needs migrating, but for the sake of this guide; let's consider you're just migrating products and categories (now called collections, remember?) - You've got a few options on how to handle this;
      • Manual Input - Thanks, but no thanks
      • CSV Transfer - Shopify has an opinionated CSV template for product imports which will create products, and collections but it will mean that you'll need to wrangle your data from the format WooCommerce will export, into the format Shopify will accept, which again, may lead to a lot of manual intervention. Given we've done plenty of migrations, we've got some internal tools we've developed to migrate WooCommerce products to Shopify which could make this step much smoother.
      • Third Party Applications - You could rely on a bespoke application by a third-party Shopify App developer to import all of your products from WooCommerce to Shopify. You'll find some of these on the Shopify App Store
  3. Transferring Customer Data and Order History
    • Part of your migration requirements may be to migrate all customers, and historical orders from WooCommerce to Shopify - given you're working with a lot of sensitive data here, your audit requirements should include using a trusted partner to handle the migration manually, or engaging with a third-party application (similar to importing products). This process should be handled with care to ensure data integrity, and ensure that all orders are mapped to customer profiles correctly.
    • There are two schools of thought when migrating customer accounts. Shopify has 2 methods of account management - 'Classic Customer Accounts' and 'New Customer Accounts'
      • 'Classic Customer Accounts' are the standard account that we're all used to, it's the email address and password combo.
      • 'New Customer Accounts' are logged in using a 2FA code sent to the users email (which is handy given it's a method of authentication and a method of logging in that doesn't require a password; which, as you'll fine out below, you can't transfer) This is also beneficial, as it means it's a single-sign-on for all Shopify stores (hooray for that superior checkout experience)
    It's worth noting that you cannot transfer any of your users passwords across to Shopify's 'Classic Accounts', and will need to notify your customers that a password reset has to take place in order for them to access thier account.

One of the largest problems we encounter is migrating data in a way that ensures the live site and the Shopify development site remain up to date with one another - you don't want frustrated customers who can't log in due to their account not being migrated, or products not being synced across from site to site when you're ready to go live. We've worked on bespoke migrations that feature synchronous migrations that have a data-sync from the existing site through Shopify's API into the new site - meaning we can build your new web experience whilst ensuring that all new products, customers and orders are synced in real-time, as they happen from your existing site to your new site. This isn't always a concern for smaller retailers, but for stores that are processing thousands of orders an hour, and regularly updating products on the existing store, it can serve as an essential part of the migration process.

  1. SEO Considerations and Redirects
    • Migrating platforms is just about the most dangerous thing a brand can do, unless it's handled with care - bad migrations will leave sites limping in search, users frustrated with broken links and lost revenue. So, before embarking on such a journey, it's imperative to strategise, test rigorously, and involve all stakeholders to ensure a smooth transition and mitigate any potential pitfalls.
    • In our experience, you don't want to rock the boat as much as possible so not to upset the delicate relationship you already have with search engines. We've found that if you change as little as possible initially (really, you should be limiting changes to URL structures - which are unavoidlable) and progressively enhancing content and strucutre thereafter and monitoring results closely.
    • Ensure you have a plan for redirect mapping that goes back as far as possible. If you've had a few sites built in the last few years, you'll want to do an audit of all pages that have been crawled in Google Search Console to gather requirements for your redirects - ensure you have a spreadsheet that has your old URL and your new URL that you can import into Shopify.
    • Keep a copy of your existing websites sitemap handy, as well as your spreadsheet to do a post-migration check - this will be important to ascertain whether your new sites URL redirects are working. The old websites sitemap is particularly handy, as it's a known point of reference that Google will have used hisotirically to review content on your existing site; assuming it's been historically correct of course.
  2. Payment Gateways
    • Shopify's default payment gate 'Shopify Pay' is likely to be your first port of call for a payment processor - it's tightly baked into the Shopify checkout and provides a slick (and super familiar) checkout flow. It also has the added benefit of being able to function with Shop Pay (Shopify's one-tap checkout, tracking and shopping assistant).
      • It's worth noting that Shopify Payments have limitations in certain markets (such as regulated industries like cannabis, tobacco, and medical). Given we're migrating a store here, you may already have approval from a payment gate that allows your vertical - it's extremely likely that your payment gate will have an extension that will function in Shopify's checkout.
  3. Testing Your Shopify Store
    • Testing your store can come in may forms - the easiest of which would be UAT (User Acceptance Testing). During UAT, stakeholders, including business owners, developers, and end-users, interact with the store to validate that it functions correctly, displays content accurately, and provides a seamless shopping experience. This testing phase typically involves tasks such as placing orders, navigating through different pages, testing checkout processes, and ensuring that integrations with payment gateways and third-party apps work smoothly. Through UAT, any issues or discrepancies can be identified and addressed before the store goes live, helping to ensure a successful launch and positive user experience.
    • Automated testing plays a crucial role in the development cycle by defining tests that detect potential failures in a website. When failures could significantly impact the business, integrating automated testing into the deployment process is essential. This ensures that all code undergoes automated tests before being deployed to the production store, thereby mitigating the risk of introducing issues that could disrupt the website's functionality.

Launching Your Shopify Store

  • Ensuring all elements are in order beforehand will enable you to effortlessly add your domain to Shopify and adjust your DNS settings for a smooth transition. With providers like Cloudflare, downtime is virtually eliminated, and propagation is nearly instantaneous, allowing your store to render on your production domain without disruption.
  • It would be sensible to run through all of your UAT again once the site is on the production domain, just to ensure that everything looks and works as expected.

Post-Migration: Maximizing Your Shopify Experience

  • A set of standard operating procedures should be established for administrative users to ensure that knowledge doesn't sit with one person. This ensures continuity and efficiency in managing your Shopify store, preventing bottlenecks and dependencies on specific individuals.
  • Enhancing your store through Shopify's App Store offers a plethora of opportunities to expand functionality and improve user experience. Explore a diverse range of apps tailored to various needs - some of which we've recommended in our Best Shopify Apps