You’ve decided to migrate your online store from your existing platform to a new one. Maybe your business has outgrown your current provider’s capabilities. Perhaps you’re looking to leverage new cutting-edge features.
Whatever your reason, the one thing you might have quickly realized is that it will cost you. However, the amount you spend depends on how you go about it. There’s free data migration software you could use, but that also comes with its fair share of limitations.
Coming up is everything you need to know about how to migrate store data without spending a fortune.
3 Ways to Migrate Store Data to a New Platform
Right off the bat, you must familiarize yourself with the options available for migrating store data. The method you choose, of course, depends on several factors, key among which are the resources you have at your disposal. In other words, how much of your business budget are you willing to spare to go toward moving your store to a new solutions provider?
Free data transfer software might be ideal if your business has no provision for bringing a web developer on board or paying for a sophisticated app to handle the end-to-end process. For the latter, there’s a way to get around it, but more on that later.
Here are the three main ways to migrate store data to a new platform:
The first option would be to carry out a manual migration. It simply means copying all your existing store data and pasting it to the new site. And, yes, it is as tedious and time-consuming as it sounds.
Think about it. This method would only be feasible if you have 10-20 products in your online store. On the flip side, if you're looking at dozens of products and a buck load of backend customer, order, and supplier data to transfer, there are a million ways the entire operation could go belly-up.
Now, even if you have 10-20 products to transfer, it's still much harder than it sounds. It goes beyond merely copying-and-pasting images, descriptions, and stock quantities. You need to establish how to transfer customer data, including their payment and contact information. You also need to deal with product reviews, ongoing orders you’ve placed to suppliers, customer orders, and loads of other critical information.
Not so easy, is it? Plus, if you don’t have a background in web development, you might be biting off more than you can chew.
Hiring a Developer or a Team of Experts
The prospect of doing a manual store migration yourself, with no technical know-how to begin with, would be nothing short of shooting yourself in the foot. You might as well be setting up a brand new business from scratch with no history whatsoever.
The only possible way to successfully carry out a manual migration is by hiring web developers to do it for you. Depending on the scale of your existing enterprise and all the nuances of your operations, you might even need to hire a team of experts, not just one – and yes, it’s going to cost you a pretty penny.
A developer would essentially set up a new store and transfer all the product data, customer and supplier information, order details, and other underlying data required to run your business smoothly. They would then set up the plugins and other app extensions you need for your store to ensure that you don't run into any issues during your operations.
That sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? What could go wrong?
The answer is – a lot.
Anytime you're operating in an environment that requires any human intervention, there are many things that could go wrong. Any process that relies on manual methods is prone to errors and omissions.
Here’s what that means.
Despite contracting a developer or a team of experts to handle the migration, the fact that they’re doing it manually means there’s a pretty good chance they’ll leave something(s) out, duplicate others, or mix up information at the point of input. Think – attaching Customer X’s credit card information to Customer Y, Customer Y’s order information to Customer Z, and so forth.
The whole thing can become a nightmare when you have several products to migrate and years' worth of information to transfer. There’s also the cost implication of everything. Most developers and tech professionals bill by the hour. Multiply that by the number of individual members on the team, and you know how that goes.
While hiring experts to handle the migration for you might seem the logical way to go, it doesn't necessarily mean it's the best or most cost-effective method. When you consider the risks involved in data loss and mix-up, it may not be the best decision for your business.
Using Migration Tools
Migration tools are paid or free migration software that automates the end-to-end data transfer process. You would essentially identify a credible free migration tool, install it on your computer, and initiate the store migration process with a few easy clicks.
Data migration software is easy and convenient to use, not to mention it works rapidly. It means you can have your new store up and running in a matter of minutes or hours, depending on the scale of your business. Cart2Cart is a widely popular tool specifically designed for store migration. It eradicates any possibility of data loss and can be used by anyone – whether or not they have web development experience.
The best free data migration software, as well as the paid variety, allows store owners to migrate:
- Customer information and reviews
- Manufacturer and supplier information
- Product and order data
- Product categories
- CMS pages
- Discount codes and coupons
- Multi-store data
The best thing about using data migration tools is how cost-effective they are. They are infinitely cheaper to operate than hiring a web developer or team of experts for the migration.
Whether running a small, medium, or large-scale business, the billable amount you’ll pay boils down to how much data you have to transfer. That way, you can migrate store data without spending a fortune. That's a level of flexibility you don't get with other options.
How Much Does Data Migration Cost
If you're thinking, "The definition of ‘fortune’ is relative," you would be right. The better question to pose would be: How much does data migration cost?
There’s no simple answer to this. However, we can give you ballpark figures to work with.
A manual migration that you handle in-house won't cost you or your business a dime. On the other hand, let’s explore the other two options that may require some financial input on your part.
Cost of Data Migration When Using a Web Developer or Team of Experts
As mentioned earlier on in this guide, this is the most expensive way to do a store migration. It is expensive in terms of the hourly rate for the team you’ll bring on board and expensive in terms of time, which we can all agree is just as precious.
Below are some factors that play into the cost of data migration when using a developer:
1. Website Analysis
The first thing this team of pros will do is familiarize themselves with the project at hand. Remember, they're still billing you by the hour as they do this. Some of the things they’ll want to establish from the get-go are:
- Do you want to retain all the site pages and their respective functionalities?
- Are there pages you want to get rid of entirely?
- Do you want to incorporate new functionalities to the pages that previously had none?
- Are there sections of your online store you want to redesign?
These are all critical questions they must have answers to before they can determine the cost of the whole project.
2. Scoping the Sitemap
The size of your online store will also play a huge role in determining the total migration cost. The web developer will analyze the sitemap to get a feel for the total count of your store’s pages. Here’s why that’s important.
You may have looked at your store and concluded that it has 12 pages. On the other hand, the sitemap might paint a whole other picture, revealing that it actually has 150 pages.
3. Plugins, Integrations, and Widgets
The developer will also need to analyze your site further to identify functionalities that may require extra time to implement on the new platform to which you're migrating. If you’re moving to an eCommerce platform that limits store owners to proprietary plugins, the developer will need to find replacements for them. Once they do, they’ll need to test them to ensure they’re working correctly to deliver the desired functionality.
Suppose your existing platform has a free cost calculator that is incompatible with the solution to which you're migrating. Suppose, as well, that the new platform relies on a proprietary calculator for which you would need to pay a monthly subscription. The developer would have to spend some time identifying a free cost calculator you can use in its place that works with the new platform to which you’re migrating.
As you would expect, more time equals more money.
4. Mapping the Content
Before the developer(s) can start the migration process, they must plan, mainly if your store's data contains many complex relationships. Moreover, depending on the eCommerce platform you’re migrating to, the developer(s) will spend significant time mapping your existing content to models before they can implement them on the new platform.
The mapping process involves:
- Developing the right URL paths and identifying instances where redirects might be required
- Defining the relationships between the newly developed models
- Determining the approach to take in cases where multipage models exist
This stage of the migration process will require a lot of client involvement. You can expect to spend a lot of time talking to them about your vision for your new store. They will then use that information to develop an in-depth scoping document and a project quote.
5. Code, Content, and Media Collection
The developer will then need to scrape code, content, and media off your online store to transfer it to the new platform. To do this, they will require access to the existing store throughout the migration process. They may also ask you to supply them with CSV exports of the needed data, which can be inconvenient when you have an active store to run.
As you may already have gathered by this point, your involvement in every phase of the migration process is critical. Hiring one developer or a team of experts to handle the migration process isn’t as “hands-off” as it sounds.
Depending on the scope of the migration, the entire project could cost anywhere from $3,000 to $20,000. These costs could run higher for large-scale enterprises. Now, that’s the very definition of “a fortune.”
Cost of Data Migration When Using Automated Tools
Many store owners might not know how cheap it is to migrate their websites using automated tools like Cart2Cart. How much cheaper, you might ask? Try less than a hundred bucks.
With Cart2Cart, the average migration cost for a store with about 1,500 featured products is $99. If you have fewer products listed there, then it’s going to cost you significantly less than that.
Cart2Cart is a popular choice because of its flexible pricing and the fact that it offers users a free demo to test its features. Store owners only pay for the number of records they're migrating to the new platform.
The overall cost also boils down to the platform you're migrating from (Source Cart) and where you’re migrating to (Target Cart).
That said, using 100% free data migration software (different from “free demo”) might be a viable alternative for store owners who don’t want to spend any fees transferring their store to a new platform. However, it is also worth noting that going this route does have some inherent risks associated with it. Some of these include:
1. Potential Theft of Sensitive Data
You need to be wary of potential data breaches when using free database migration tools. Using free software to carry out your store migration requires that you grant it access to sensitive store and customer information.
Think of all the credit card data, address details, and contact information stored in your website’s database. Think of what this would mean for you and your enterprise if an unauthorized third party somehow harvested this information during the migration process. Think about the implications of cybercriminals using this data for sinister motives.
What kind of liability would that expose you to? What would that mean for the future of your business?
These are all very real risks to think about when choosing the best free data migration software to use. Some “free” apps could very well be malware masked as legit migration tools when they are not.
2. Potential Decline in Conversion Rate, Ranking, or Organic Traffic
When choosing the best free data migration tool to move your online store from its existing platform to a new one, one thing you need to consider is its potential impact on your site traffic. While it is not uncommon for rankings and traffic to fluctuate during migration, the software you pick will impact how big or small that fluctuation is.
With a robust tool like Cart2Cart, that’s not a risk you need to worry about. It runs a sophisticated algorithm that maps historic URLs to new URLs while minimizing content gaps to ensure traffic to your site on the new platform remains unfazed.
3. Potential Store Downtime
The reality most store owners using free database migration tools have to grapple with is the potential for website downtime. The last thing your online enterprise needs is to miss out on sales because your site is out of service for the transfer duration. Store downtime can have far-reaching consequences, including conversions, traffic, and subsequent revenue decline.
The best way to mitigate this problem or avoid it altogether is to pick a solid data migration tool that guarantees uptime during the site migration process. Cart2Cart is one of the few tools on the market that guarantee visitors to your website will enjoy a seamless shopping experience as you switch to a new eCommerce platform. It ensures that your site stays up and running until the new store is ready to launch.
4. Potential UX Interruption
When choosing the best data migration software for your store transfer process, one of the critical things you need to consider is whether it will retain your existing site structure. If customers, particularly those who frequent your site regularly, find how they navigate your site has changed, this may impact their user experience.
They may even end up ditching your store when they can't find the item they're looking for – not because you no longer stock it, but because your site’s new navigation structure has made it difficult to locate. If the free data transfer online tool you’re using interrupts your customers’ user experience, that’s not a tool you need to be using.
Cart2Cart can migrate your store without changing how your customers view the site. Once you’ve switched, they won’t even be able to tell there’s anything different. It retains the frontend structure, so customers enjoy the seamless shopping experience they always have.
5. Potential De-linking of Internal and External Links
Before Cart2Cart came around, most of the data migration tools on the market, especially the free variety, shared one common flaw. When the newly migrated site URLs changed, all the existing internal links and external backlinks leading to pages on the website would redirect users to 404-error pages.
Fortunately, Cart2Cart covers all those bases. It maps all your existing URLs as-is to the new platform. You don't have to deal with or be concerned about manually updating each of them. It reclaims historical backlinks and passes that equity to your new store's pages.
Free Data Migration Software vs. Free Demo Tools – What’s the Difference?
So far, this guide has talked a lot about free migration software. It's worth noting that free software differs from tools that offer a free demo. Generally, when dealing with sensitive data, such as when migrating online stores from one platform to another, you want to steer clear of free software, and here's why.
More often than not, free software is simply masked malware. Don't get us wrong – it will do what you want and expect it to do: Switch your existing online store to a new platform. Whether it does it properly is a whole other matter.
The biggest risk posed by using any free data transfer software is the potential for data theft. Cybercriminals could end up stealing your customers’ payment and contact information, jeopardizing their financial well-being.
A free demo in software means something completely different. It is not common practice for reputable technology solution providers to develop cutting-edge software only to avail them to the public freely. However, they offer free demos to give users a feel for the tool. Cart2Cart is one such tech solution.
While this data migration tool isn’t free, it does offer users a Cart2Cart demo migration, allowing store owners to migrate a limited number of site entries to their new eCommerce platform. They will have to pay a small fee if they wish to migrate their entire website. This amount ranges anywhere from $29 to $299, depending on the size of your store.
The great thing about Cart2Cart is that it guarantees the safety and security of sensitive store data, especially customers’ payment information. The migration process is end-to-end encrypted, so you don’t have to worry about your data falling into the wrong hands.
If you’re looking for a safe and somewhat free migration tool to transfer a handful of data to a new platform, Cart2Cart gives you the best of both worlds.
Watch the video to discover the dominating mistakes during the store migration to increase the chances of a smooth transition.
Top 5 Free Data Migration Myths Debunked
If you’re a store owner looking to switch from your current eCommerce platform because it’s not serving you as you would like, you’ve probably encountered some myths swirling around the internet. Some of them may have left you crippled with the paralyzing fear of losing everything you’ve worked tirelessly to build up to this point in your online business journey.
This section of the guide explores and debunks the top five data migration myths that could be holding you back from making the jump.
Myth 1: You’ll Lose Sales While Migrating Your Store
Whether or not you consider this a myth depends on the software you choose for the migration. Some data migration tools require that you shut down your existing site for the duration of the transfer. If that's the tool you rely on, you’re out of luck. You will inevitably lose sales for the period your website is down.
On the other hand, if you opt for a tool like Cart2Cart that guarantees store uptime for the entire migration duration, then losing sales while migrating your store remains nothing more than a myth. Cart2Cart handles everything on the back end without affecting the front end. Customers will still be able to access your site and shop as they normally would without ever knowing anything is going on in the back end.
Myth 2: You’ll Lose Your Existing Store’s Design
Again, whether or not this is a myth depends on your data migration tool. Some free data migration tools aren’t equipped to retain your existing store’s design. Others like Cart2Cart are. That’s why choosing the right tool from the get-go is so important.
Now, it’s worth mentioning that if you're planning to re-platform your online store, upgrading its design may also be a good idea. If anything, it could add to your store’s appeal, especially if it looks outdated.
A little revamping never hurt anyone.
If your existing resources don't allow for a complete site makeover, then Cart2Cart is the best tool to use if you want to retain your store’s existing design. Additionally, some platforms offer several free, professionally-designed templates you can use to give your online store a new lease of life once you’ve successfully migrated.
Myth 3: You Can Kiss All Your Previous Traffic Goodbye
Traffic is at the heart of any thriving online store. It is what drives conversions, sales, and revenue. Losing traffic when you migrate to a new eCommerce platform can be a myth or fact, depending on how you go about it.
To better understand this, it's important to familiarize yourself with what it means to “migrate to a new platform.”
When you move your online store to a different CMS provider, you’re essentially moving your website to an entirely different server from its existing one. While everything may appear the same on the front end, the backend part of things is completely different, even when using the same domain name, you always have.
If you use the wrong tool for the migration, or the web developer you employ to do it for you fails to get it right, the move will hurt your SEO rankings. It might even end up being counterintuitive since you're likely migrating your store in the first place to improve your ranking on search engines.
Cart2Cart solves this problem by allowing you to manage your migration SEO URLs and their respective link structures. That way, your store maintains its Google ranking even after re-platforming your online store.
It also automatically creates 301-page redirects to ensure the functionality of your old store’s URLs is retained. That’s not a guarantee you get with other paid and free data migration tools.
Myth 4: You’ll Lose Valuable Store Data in the Process
Anytime you deal with any form of data migration, there's always the inherent risk of data loss. To minimize or eliminate this risk, you need to pick the right migration software for the job.
If you’re relying on manual migration methods by hiring a web developer to re-platform your online store or attempting to do it yourself, losing data during the transfer process ceases to be a myth.
On the other hand, the risk of data loss is nil if you're relying on a robust and sophisticated data migration tool like Cart2Cart to transfer your website to a new eCommerce provider. As you make the switch, you don't have to worry about losing customer information, supplier information, and order information.
Myth 5: You Need an Expert to Do the Migration for You
Do you need a pro to handle the migration? Not necessarily, but you can hire one if you want to. One of the great things about using Cart2Cart for your store migration is that it provides users with different alternatives depending on their level of tech-savviness.
If you consider yourself a non-techie, you can opt for the self-service migration option, where you can re-platform your online store in a few simple clicks. If you’re an eCommerce professional, you can opt for an invisible tool that allows you to migrate your clients’ stores between more than 85 different platforms.
On the other hand, if you would rather not get your hands dirty and, instead, have someone else handle all the heavy lifting involved in store migration, you can delegate everything to Cart2Cart’s data migration experts.
The Bottom Line
It is possible to migrate your store data to a new platform without spending a fortune. What you must do is select the right tool to work with.
While there’s no shortage of free data migration software, you need to differentiate between completely "free" and those that offer a free demo. We don't recommend using 100% free data transfer online tools. Most of them could be masked malware masquerading as legit migration software.
Paid options like Cart2Cart guarantee the safety of your store data and effective re-platforming of your old website. There’s a free demo you can opt into to get a feel for how it works. It lets you migrate a handful of data just to see how effective it is.