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Shopify vs Magento: eCommerce platform migration basics

This is a guest post from Kate Parish, chief marketing officer at Onilab, who has 8+ years of experience in digital marketing and eCommerce web development promotion.

One of the unexpected downsides of managing a successful eCommerce store is outgrowing the platform it launched on. Your business, like a living being, transforms along the way; what covered your needs earlier may no longer be reliable, flexible, and scalable.

Take Shopify and Magento as an example: They make frequent appearances on lists of the most popular eCommerce platforms for thousands of stores. However, they’re very different.

Shopify is the better option for small and medium-sized stores. It lets you set up an eCommerce website without having to think about hosting or hiring an IT team. Magento, in turn, outperforms Shopify in power, customization, and functionality, which is crucial for bigger and fast-growing companies. So, if you’ve been a Shopify client for a while but need to take your store to the next level, consider a platform migration to Magento.

The migration process may seem complicated, so we’ve divided it into digestible pieces for you to understand and make it easier to decide. This article will examine the two competing platforms, the reasons to switch from Shopify to Magento, and the step-by-step migration process.

Magento vs. Shopify

Magento

Magento is an open-source website builder based on the PHP scripting language. Its customers include Christian Louboutin, Agent Provocateur, Land Rover, Ahmad Tea, Nestle Nespresso, and more big names.

Magento ensures its clients receive the best functionality and security for every dollar spent. In keeping with this philosophy, the company recently released the Magento 2 upgrade and stopped supporting M1, encouraging merchants to follow their Magento migration steps for the most up-to-date experience. The Magento 2.3 version supports a headless commerce approach to build progressive web apps with an impeccable UI/UX on mobiles and desktops.

Creating an online store on Magento is challenging if you have no IT team or lack the means (or desire) to hire one. But once your store launches on the platform, you can enjoy the limitless capabilities that surpass Shopify’s offerings.

The platform has its downsides, however. Although free to use, most extensions will cost you $60–$600. You’ll also need to pay for hosting, third-party services, and developers. If you require more functionalities and tools, Magento offers a Commerce edition, which starts from $22,000 per year and may rise due to increased customer Gross Sales Revenue (GSR).

Shopify

Shopify is one of the most popular solutions for eCommerce businesses. Apart from SMBs, major brands like Heinz, Nestle, Rebecca Minkoff, and KKW Beauty also use it. Its popularity is attributed to the ease of setting up a store on the platform.

Shopify charges $29–$299 per month, plus transaction fees for 24/7 support, hosting services, and seamless themes. It provides indispensable elements for stores, including:

  • Layouts
  • A payment processor
  • A blog
  • Email marketing tools

The platform’s multi-tenant architecture can slow website performance during traffic spikes though, so an expanding store may struggle to provide a polished user experience.

Although you can use custom code in the back end to change your store, if you need to go beyond Shopify’s basic functionalities and features, you’ll have to leave Shopify for adaptable solutions like Magento.

Why migrate from Shopify to Magento 2

Magento is a free (to use) and customizable constructor, while Shopify is a paid, ready-to-use eCommerce platform.

This difference gives Shopify various limitations, while Magento offers expanded capabilities. Below, we’ll outline the reasons to migrate from Shopify to Magento.

1. Website performance

Fast loading speed is a prerequisite for an eCommerce store’s success. It ensures a better user experience and higher rankings on search, improves online store metrics, and prevents visitors from leaving the website in irritation due to long loading times.

While Shopify has a better overall performance than Magento, it may not handle the needs of a growing business. The bottom line is, you can’t improve the speed of a Shopify store. You operate on what the company offers to you. It’s also impossible to reach the perfect mobile or desktop Google PageSpeed scores.

The self-hosted Magento option provides the opportunity to choose the most suitable hosting provider and boost your store’s performance. It’s especially relevant for huge loads when the proper hosting can save you from other websites affecting your resource. Shopify, however, is unable to provide hosting controls. So, even though Shopify’s performance is initially better than Magento, you have more chances to fix the latter’s issues.

2. Full customization

A Magento store requires solid technical skills, but is customizable. As a self-hosted platform, it gives you complete control over the server and hosting environment. On the other hand, Shopify only needs beginner-level development knowledge for hosting configuration, but it limits access to fundamental performance and customization opportunities. For example, it requires merchants to use its own payment gateway, has a basic category structure, and lacks advanced search functionality.

A point in Magento’s favor is its flexibility and high customization as you gain access to the code. The layered architecture, which separates business logic from presentation logic, lets you tweak the look of your storefront without changing the core business logic.

Magento enables you to configure numerous languages and currencies, as well as different prices for various customer groups. Furthermore, the store owner can manage several stores from a single admin panel.

3. Available features

Magento boasts many extensions, giving it the upper hand in this comparison. The most popular ones (to name a few) are:

  • Facebook Business Extension
  • Google Shopping by Magenest
  • SimiCart Mobile App Builder
  • Follow Up Email by Amasty

The extensions allow users to add features to their stores right out of the box. A case in point is Follow Up Email by Amasty: This add-on streamlines sending email notifications, launching campaigns, and specifying coupon rules. Shopify also has various add-ons, but not to the same extent. For example, Magento provides more than 5,000 extensions as opposed to less than 4,000 in Shopify. Plus, Shopify’s are less adaptable, have fewer features, and are more constrained.

4. Options for international trade

The multi-site capability with Magento allows store owners to maintain a single codebase for several websites. As a result, you can have a separate domain for each country and localize websites according to local regulations, taxation, shipping partners, and payment methods.

Consider countries in the European Union, whose laws require you to follow a cookie policy. Magento ensures European domains will display the EU cookie policy.

Magento is also beneficial for running many online stores, which is crucial for taking country-specific localization to the next level, including:

  • Local currencies
  • Translated text
  • Local SEO
  • And more

Magento’s multi-warehouse capability assists in managing scattered warehouses from a single source. It boosts operational efficiency, enhances global inventory management, and streamlines resource allocation.

Before opting for Magento, determine if you plan to grow your company. Should the store cover a considerable turnover? Will you need to launch the store at the international level? If you have no intention to scale, you’ll pay extra costs for unnecessary functionalities.

How to migrate from Shopify to Magento

Magento is the upgrade you need to help your growing business continue to flourish. You can migrate from Shopify to Magento manually, with automation tools, or by hiring specialists to do the job for you.

Manual migration is possible for stores with fewer data arrays. However, if each CSV file contains more than 9,000 rows, you’ll need to employ automated tools like LitExtension or Cart2Cart.

Preparing to migrate

Whether you choose to migrate manually or through automation, you have to set up the environment and build a Magento store:

  1. Install the software, including MySQL, PHP, and Apache, and review the system requirements.
  2. Install the Magento program on your computer.
  3. View your storefront and the Magento Admin to confirm the installation and see if you installed the Magento software correctly.

Before changing Shopify, back up crucial files and export data from your back end to CSV files. A CSV file stores data in a table-structured format, which you can use to import and export product, customer, and order information to and from the store.

1. Manual migration from Shopify to Magento 

It’s relatively easy to migrate from Shopify to Magento manually: Determine the data to move from the Shopify store, download it, and transfer the Shopify CSV files to the Magento store. Navigate to the Magento admin panel and select “System” => “Import/Export profiles.” It supports data such as:

  • Customer main files
  • Advanced pricing
  • Products
  • Customers and addresses

Unfortunately, exporting themes is impossible; the only option for moving unsupported data is copying and pasting it from your old website. Be aware, though, you may lose the relationships between the data tables after importing. 

2. Automating the Shopify to Magento migration

Automation tools ensure a smoother transfer. We’ll illustrate this migration method using LitExtension. This is a Magento add-on to move your data from one platform to another without the need for coding experience. Its price depends on your store’s number of customers, products, and orders and starts from $29 (the tool conveniently provides a cost estimator on its website).

Set up an account or sign in with Facebook or Gmail, then click “Create New Migration” on the admin board.

Specify the source (Shopify) and target (Magento) stores. Then, insert the store’s URL and API password in the lines shown below.

Download LitExtension Connector to receive a zip file named “le_connector.” You’ll need to upload this to Magento’s root folder and insert the store’s URL as in the source cart step.

The next stage involves selecting entities to migrate, such as products, customers, coupons, pages, etc. You can choose to move all elements or only the necessary ones, and there are extra options to configure the store and map the language or order status as well.

Click the “Next: Start Free Demo Migration” button or skip it and proceed to the “Start Full Migration” button.

After the full migration, you’ll receive an email notification. Hit the “Check result” button to see if everything moved successfully. You can go to the Catalog section to review the imported products.

Dealing with the transferred data

Clear the cache and reindex the data through the following CLI commands:

  • php bin/magento indexer:reindex
  • php bin/magento cache:clean

Check whether the out-of-stock products are activated and visible from the front end. Install a free or paid Magento theme or develop a new one to restore your storefront’s previous design.

On a regular basis, migrate recent data while the store operates after the full migration. New orders and customers will arrive, which you’ll need to transfer to your new resource. Take advantage of LitExtension Recent Data Migration to update data three months after the complete migration.

Purchase and customize one of the Magento templates for higher quality design and functionality to make your store stand out. Lastly, finalize the migration by changing DNS and switching the domain to your new Magento 2 store.

3. Hiring specialists to handle the migration

Because Magento is a knowledge-intensive platform, you may need experienced programmers to transmit the files to a new platform and obtain the best results from the migration. Budget roughly $18 to $40 per hour for each team member needed for your migration.

Migration specialists will study your needs and budget to determine how best to help you. The team will eliminate issues while keeping you up to date, customize the design, and ensure smooth operations so customers have a seamless shopping experience.

Programmers will also take care of your website’s marketing. This includes configuring the proper redirects, optimizing the home page, and notifying existing customers about the new store.

Final thoughts

Platform migration is about transferring an online store and its data, content, and systems from one platform to another. The reasons to change the platform vary as you’re forced to adapt to customer needs, trends, and an expanding product range.

A migration opens up opportunities to manage more orders, customize your store to changing needs, and download advanced features. We focused on comparing Shopify and Magento, examining their pros and cons, why you should switch to Magento, and the migration options.

If your store is rapidly scaling up and requires more customization, Magento is an excellent choice. It’ll boost your website performance, allow you to deal with large, complex orders, and make the store an international selling point.

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