Moving from Magento to Shopify Plus: The Complete Guide for Large Retailers

Home / eCommerce / Moving from Magento to Shopify Plus: The Complete Guide for Large Retailers

When you’re a large eCommerce store pushing thousands of orders every month – the last thing you want to think about is completely migrating your money-maker to another platform.  It’s a lot of work, and you’re pretty sure it will destroy sales – so you put it off.  You keep putting it off until eventually, your site is broken beyond repair or your competition is gaining too much ground.

We just did it.  We moved our giant online store from Magento to Shopify Plus.  A lot of people were actually surprised with our decision to move to Shopify Plus.  They were convinced that Shopify Plus couldn’t handle our 10,000 SKUs, our thousands of transactions, our custom widgets, etc.  They were wrong.

No site migration is without its frustrations though.  Hopefully this guide will help you navigate them.  I’m going to lay out everything that went well, everything that went wrong, how we overcame those hurdles, and why we even made the switch in the first place.

A few quick stats about us:

  1. We had about 10,000 SKUs at time of launch
  2. We process over 3,000 transactions a month
  3. Our site traffic is about 150,000 visits a month

 

Why did we switch from Magento to Shopify Plus?

Shopify Plus Trusted for Large eCommerce Stores

Our Magento site wasn’t that old.  When we started looking for a new platform – it was only about a year and a half old – and had just undergone a ton of CSS changes 6 months previous.  The problem though, is that it still wasn’t what we needed to keep growing.

 

Magento wasn’t very secure.  

Shopify security vs. Magento

The site was barely over 1 year old when we got hacked, compromising our customer’s information.  That was an awful email to have to send out to our list of over 150k people.  It broke our hearts, and frustrated our customers.  

That wasn’t entirely Magento’s fault – but it’s based on the way our Magento site was set up.  All of that data, all of that information – it was all stored on our own hosting server.  If one area of the website security was weak, it opened up issues with critical pieces in our backend.

Shopify solves this by hosting it entirely in their own environment.  Everyone gets hacked – even Sony, but being in a more locked down environment can help protect you from small code instabilities that open your site up to malware and hackers.  Shopify maintains PCI Level 1 Compliance – the same as your bank, and the way they’ve set up their platform, customer data isn’t stored on your crappy web hosting solution’s servers – it’s stored within Shopify’s ecosystem.

 

Magento was infested with bugs.

Less bugs on Shopify Plus

Again – this isn’t entirely Magento’s fault.  It’s simply a byproduct of having a solution that is so dependent on outside programmers.  Shopify has their own internal programmers keeping you perfectly up to date.  If they find a bug, they fix it, and your site keeps moving forward without having to rely on a developer to push a patch to your website – which always ended up creating more bugs and more issues for us.

Every update from Magento cost us a few hours of developer time at a rate of $150/hr, which is pretty cheap for Magento developers.  Those updates would break things on our website which we would then have to pay to fix as well – not fun.

 

Our site was junk.

Crappy Magento Website Programming

It really wasn’t programmed well to begin with.  The dev team we worked with must not have been very high on the list of good programmers.  This was the source of a ton of problems.  If you have the best Magento developers, and you pay them top rates, you could probably maintain a great Magento site at our size – but at a cost.

 

It cost way too much money to maintain it.

Shopify vs. Magento - Reason to go with hosted solution

I’m not allowed to say exactly how many thousands of dollars we spent on our Magento website every month, but it was enough that we almost felt like paying eBay and Amazon fees was a lower cost than running our own website.  It should never be that way.

The worst part about it, is that we weren’t exactly paying all that money for improvements.  We were paying for bug fixes that created more bugs that we then needed to pay to fix.  The cycle continued and we grew frustrated with our website experience.

Shopify solves a lot of this by keeping a ton of the functionality within their hosted ecommerce solution – so you know that it pretty much always works the way it’s supposed to.  You still have to worry about the actual website though (the HTML and CSS that your internal dev team adds) – and a lot can go wrong there regardless of which platform you’re on.  Even on Shopify, your site is still only as good as the code that went into it.

 

It wasn’t marketer friendly.

Shopify is Marketer Friendly

If I wanted to add a Facebook conversion pixel to the website, I wasn’t allowed.  The dev team had the staging site set up and the git repository locked down so that there was no way for me to do this.  I’m not afraid of using git, or code – but I wasn’t even allowed in there or it would “break something”.

To be fair – that’s probably a reasonable point, but there are a ton of things that I want to do as a growth marketer, and quickly adding a conversion pixel to a website is one of them so that I can assess the effectiveness of my marketing today – not in 3 weeks when my dev team can get around to it – and pay them for their slow work.

Shopify actually let’s me add this to my store through the admin panel.  What a relief.  Was that really so hard?

 

Apps weren’t exactly plug and play.

Shopify Apps are easy to use

I don’t think we encountered a single app on Magento that was truly just plug and play – one that allowed me the marketer to install it and not bother the dev team.  “You want to improve your customer service experience by installing Zendesk, that will cost you 12 hours of dev time and we can have that done for you in about a month.” At least – that’s what it seemed like I was always being told for everything.  It makes growing your company a very slow and expensive process.

With Shopify, I’ve run into very few apps that actually required a developer.  There are definitely ones that did – and required a lot of dev time, like our custom search solution, Algolia.  But, there’s a ton of stuff involved in custom search.  Zopim chat? Zendesk support? Signifyd fraud protection? LuckyOrange heatmaps?  Those are all things that I should be able to install in a few minutes and get my teams working on.  I was able to do all of those with ease on Shopify.

 

People actually couldn’t checkout on our site.

Shopify checkout has less errors than Magento

Everyday for about 6 months we were getting multiple emails of people that were unable to checkout on our Magento site.  They were getting a 500 error.  Our dev team looked into it, multiple times, for multiple $$, but we were never able to completely figure this out.

Thankfully we have a very loyal customer base that was willing to try checking out for several hours sometimes (crazy, right?!) and then take the time to email us with screenshots letting us know what they were experiencing.

On Shopify – the checkout is locked down pretty good by them.  This helps to ensure your checkout always works.  If people can’t checkout on your website, you lose money – you lose customers.

If you add all of these problems together – you can begin to see why we were looking for a new platform.  OK, maybe we only needed a new website, but we figured if we were going to go through the trouble of a new website, we might as well try out a new platform that seemed to offer a solution to everything that was annoying us with our current platform.  No platform is perfect – but Shopify Plus seemed to have everything we were looking for.

 

What was the process like?

Step 1: Evaluate the solutions available

The first thing we had to do was get on a call with Shopify and really see if they could handle everything we wanted to do.  I’d encourage you to map out what you need to have on your site to be happy and successful – then ask them those questions.  The rep that worked with us was incredibly helpful.  If there was something that didn’t come standard with Shopify, she knew which apps would work for that and she gave a few suggestions.

Don’t just talk to Shopify though, talk to a bunch of other options.  Talk to BigCommerce, DemandWare, LemonStand, Mozu, and even Magento.  You need to ask them all the same questions.  You need to really dig into this because once you choose a platform – you probably won’t want to change it again for a while.

 

Step 2: Find the right development team.

I had to laugh a few times when I was working with the Shopify Plus rep.  She did mention several times that many people don’t really need a programmer.  This tells me that Shopify Plus still doesn’t see a ton of clients my size.  They were good, however, at recommending some awesome development teams that are great at working with Shopify and their API.

We also spoke with a couple of other local firms that we had personal connections with, and ultimately, Foundry won our bid.  Things that are important for you to consider are:

  1. Their exposure to the Shopify setup and API – this will determine how quickly they can work on your site.  If they’re still learning the Shopify setup, it can take a lot longer than anyone planned.
  2. Their payment plan – this was a huge deciding factor for us in determining who we went with.  Cost and payment terms can make a big difference on cash flow – which you still need for inventory 🙂
  3. Their personalities – you gotta find someone that you’re comfortable working with, because you will spend 100’s of hours with each other, and will, at times, want to strangle each other.  Find someone that you can get along with.

 

Step 3: Create your POC (Proof of Concept).

Don’t skip this step.  You need to pay the few grand to really test this out before you go too far down the wrong path.  Make sure Shopify Plus really can do everything that is absolutely vital to the success of your business.  Don’t focus on style/CSS changes – this is just to make sure that the core functionality is there.

 

Step 4: Set reasonable goals, and make sure they’re in your SOW (Statement of Work).

We were all a bit over-confident in our abilities to work with a new platform.  We were convinced that we could get the basics of the site done in 45 days, tweak the bugs and test, and have it live in 3 months.

In reality, it took us 6 months to get the site live – and that was still a push.  That included 800 hours of billable dev time, and at least that same amount from all of us internally, from the product team, the marketing team, the executive team and the customer support team.  We all had to be involved and spend countless hours making sure that everything was integrated correctly.  We also did the Design and UX (User Experience) in-house, so it took even more of our time.

 

What are some of the problems we ran into?

Being a larger retailer comes with a few specifics that need to be addressed when switching to Shopify Plus.  While we enjoyed 90% of the process, there was 10% that completely irritated us, because it meant that we had to change how we did things – and we don’t like change 🙂

 

Problem 1: The Magento to Shopify importer just couldn’t handle us.

We initially thought that the easiest way to transfer everything from Magento to Shopify Plus would be to use their app.  It quit working halfway through the import dozens of times before we actually got it to work.

After that, we realized that it creates the URI for the product dynamically based on what the title of the product is.  Since we wanted to improve the URIs anyways, we figured it would be a good idea to delete all of the products the week we planned on launching and do a fresh import (we didn’t think it was a good idea but we did it anyway – hopefully you picked up on that sarcasm).

Ultimately the CSV import was so much better for importing.  The URIs ended up being cleaner, the way we wanted them, and it didn’t crash the way the app did.

 

Problem 2: The CSV import is still not a great solution.

This is really an internal problem – not a Shopify problem.  Our database is outdated and when it spits out the CSV of all our products, it puts everything in a separate column.  Most of this was easy to fix in Excel (we also over utilize Excel), but Shopify wants alternate product images to be in a separate row instead of a new column.  Not the end of the world – but if you’re used to doing things the “old” way – it can be very frustrating to change.

Also – every time you update via the CSV import, you have to include almost every single column (and row for each image) for every product.  This makes the import slower and more susceptible to overwrite something that you didn’t mean to do.

Solution

Ultimately the best solution would be to use the API and create something custom, but this is pricey and wasn’t in our budget.  If you have a lot of products, you should consider working a custom solution for importing information into your budget.

 

Problem 3: Metafields aren’t a core part of Shopify Admin.

After we get done importing the Shopify Product import CSV, we then have to import the metafields separately.  We have to do this in an app though, and we aren’t very impressed with the app.  It’s slow, and the only way to find a product in the app admin is by exact match of title – not SKU or Handle.  We will probably try a different solution for the Metafields, but I would still love to see this as a core part of Shopify.  I’d love to be able to see the metafields in the individual products admin, and have it be a part of the main Shopify import.

Solution

If you do want to see metafields in the admin – you can use this Chrome plugin call ShopifyFD.  It’s spectacular.  It’s also technically free, but I gave the guy some money through donation because it seriously saves me from headaches daily.

 

Problem 4: No DHL integration.

Being able to show live shipping prices for USPS and UPS is great, but we have a ton of international customers (about 33%), and they use DHL. This isn’t a Shopify problem though – it’s apparently a DHL problem since they don’t have an API that can do that yet.  At least that’s what our DHL rep told us.

Solution

There are apps that do allow you to get DHL rates in your shopping cart – unfortunately for us it would mean changing who we use for shipping and fulfilling orders.  Not the end of the world – but not a project we were ready to tackle at the same time.

Since we didn’t want to change. I had to manually build out hundreds of custom shipping rates and options for different shipping zones. No way to import them, so I had to do it all by hand 🙁

 

Problem 5: We already had a blog set up on WordPress.

Trust me – this really isn’t a problem.  Just work with someone that knows how to keep your blog intact as you switch over.  Everything moved over nicely.  We kept our wordpress blog.

Solution

Use your dev team to make sure you keep your WordPress blog intact through the move – and stick with the blogging platform that you’re used to.

 

Problem 6:  No social login.

We wanted to have social login on our site.  We installed an app called Social Login – and it worked great, except that when someone creates an account with you using the social plugin, it appends your URL to their email address, creating a new account (if they had one already).  So I ended up with an account myemail@mysite.com and myemail+mysite@mysite.com – the problem with that is that I now had two accounts.  This is because of the way Shopify handles the social login.

Solution

There isn’t one that I could find.  We simply turned off social login.  Not a deal killer – but not the greatest news.  This is something Shopify should include in their core product.

 

What are the tools and Shopify apps we used?

These are the tools and apps that we found to be most helpful to us.  They might be good for you, they might not – but at least this gives you a starting point.  You can try these tools out and then recommend some better ones to me in the comments below 🙂 Oh – and another great thing to keep in mind, is that a lot of these apps offer discounts for Shopify Plus users.

 

Asana

Website Migration Tool for Communication - Asana

I can’t stress the importance of this tool enough.  This is how we managed all of the tasks internally among the different departments – as well as critical discussions with our developers.

You can assign people tasks, add a due date, and even a due time.  You can also assign subtasks because sometimes there are 5 things that need to happen before you complete that one big task.  This was the lifeline that kept us all moving, on the same page, and not lost in chat messages and cluttered email inboxes.

 

Slack

eCommerce Migration Tools - Slack

This is my personal favorite chat application and that one that we used to communicate our critical site issues with our developers.  It’s also a great place to share GIFs when you’re excited with the progress of your new website.

 

Zendesk (Shopify App)

eCommerce Tool for Customer Service - Zendesk

We used to just use a shared Microsoft Outlook inbox for all of our customer service requests from the website, eBay, Amazon and more.  I honestly don’t know how those incredible Customer Support reps kept it all organized.  It was a daunting task for sure.  Now we use Zendesk, and I didn’t need to work with our dev team to set it up.  It organizes everything, helps you assign people so that you don’t double up your work, and helps you find quick responses you can use for frequently asked questions.

 

Zopim (Shopify App)

eCommerce Chat Tool - Zopim

Zopim chat integrates nicely with Zendesk – so you can create support tickets directly from your chat sessions.  Having live chat was crucial to the early success of our new website.  We have so many customers that are used to our old site, old navigation, old checkout flow, etc. – and we wanted to make sure that we were able to help them navigate the new site and find what they were looking for.  

 

Back In Stock (Shopify App)

Shopify App for Out of Stock Products

We had something rudimentary on our old site, but it didn’t work – at least that’s what our customers told us.  With this app though, we’ve been getting a ton of requests for products to come back in stock.  Seeing what people are excited to purchase helps us prioritize what we need to be spending our money on.

 

YotPo Reviews (Shopify App)

Product Reviews App for Shopify - Yotto

Site reviews are huge for increasing conversions.  Yotpo does a great job of keeping them clean, easy to read and easy to contribute.  They also have a tab that allows customers to ask questions about specific products, and get feedback from other customers that have purchased that product before.  This is critical when you have nearly 10,000 SKUs and can’t possibly be a real world expert on every one of them.

 

Spently (Shopify App)

Shopify app for email - Spently

The stock emails for Shopify aren’t exactly the most exciting.  We used this app to brand them better and add our own personal flare to them.  Our customers love the personality we put into our emails and the ease of using Spently (along with the low cost) made this app a no-brainer for our team.

 

Traffic Control (Shopify App)

301 Redirection App for Shopify Plus

Making sure you redirect all of your old URLs is absolutely critical to the success of your new site.  I won’t go into an SEO 101 lesson for you.  Traffic Control made it incredibly easy to bulk import our 301 redirects, since you can’t do that in the .htaccess file like you would for other sites.

 

Signifyd (Shopify App)

Fraud Protection App for Shopify Plus - Signifyd

Shopify does a decent job of highlighting orders that it suspects are fraud, but if you are as big of a retailer as we are, you need something more.  And, since so many of our clients are international – we were getting notified for a bunch of APO/FPO addresses.  Signifyd helped us keep better tabs and get more relevant information about every order – and they also allow you to submit questionable orders to them for guarantee.  If they approve it, you pay them 4% of the sale, if they don’t approve it, you pay nothing.  Pretty nice deal.

 

DataFeedWatch (Shopify App)

Data Feed Management app for Shopify

This app made it crazy easy for us to set up and map our new feeds to Google Merchant Center, Bing Ads, Facebook Ads, and more.  Setup took me almost no time at all.

 

LuckyOrange: Heatmaps (Shopify App)

Heat map tool for Shopify Plus - LuckyOrange

When you launch your new site, you need to start getting metrics on how well it’s performing.  What areas are people getting stuck on, what pages are doing the best, how far are people scrolling, where are people clicking – all of that is critical to solve any unforeseen issues as soon as they arise.  

 

Persistent Cart (Shopify App)

Persistent Cart tool for Shopify Plus

People don’t want to have to add things to their cart, and then log in later and re-add them.  This app makes it so that logged in users see their cart, regardless of the device they’re in.  If they created the cart on their phone, and then later went to their desktop to complete their order, the cart is still there for them.

 

Metafields Pro (Shopify App)

App for editing Metafields in Shophify

This is the metafields editor that we’re using.  I’m not the biggest fan, but I haven’t found a better one.  In my opinion – Shopify needs to just add this as a core part of the Shopify Plus product.

 

Buy X Get 1 (Shopify App)

BOGO app for discounts in Shopify store

The stock Shopify Discounts generator is pretty bland and basic.  This app let’s us create a ton of other options for discounts and sales – which is usually a pretty big part of any big online retailer’s game plan.

 

Algolia (Shopify App)

Custom Search Widget for Shopify eCommerce

This is our custom search app – and we love it.  We have so many products, that a facet menu is absolutely necessary so people can find exactly what they’re looking for.  Algolia solves that and so much more for a great price.  We helped them work out a bunch of the kinks (you’re welcome), and they are pretty good about daily improving their product for us larger eCommerce stores.

 

Minifier (Shopify App)

Make smaller product images with Shopify

This is a great way to quickly get some optimized Image titles, image sizes, and image alt text without a ton of manual labor.  It’s not the perfect way to do it – but it sure beats an image that’s too large of file size named picture1.jpg with no ALT text.

 

S Loyalty (Shopify App)

Customer Loyalty Program for Shopify

You should probably have a great cutomer loyalty and referral program on board.  We’ve been very pleased with the team at S Loyalty – it offers everything we want, at the price we want, without being bogged down with a ton of unnecessary features.  

 

Conclusion

All things considered, this was a very easy, smooth transition – which is saying a lot for a large retailer migrating its entire online platform to another one in only 6 months.  

Hopefully this guide gives you a taste of what to expect when making the switch from Magento to Shopify Plus.  If you have any questions about it – I am seriously willing and able to help – just shoot me a comment.  

Oh – and a friendly full disclosure, I own a few stocks in Shopify and Zendesk.  That didn’t play any bias though – because the amount I own is really worth a hill of beans.  I own their stock because I like their product – not the other way around.

Also – if you’re interested in working with a stellar development company for your eCommerce store, especially if you’re moving to Shopify Plus, I highly recommend the team that built our site – The Foundry.  Mention me by name, William Harris, and they should give you a better rate – and who knows, maybe they will even give me a kickback (I’m probably dreaming on that part, though).  On a serious note – they kick butt.

 

Again, let me know if you have any questions – I’ll help you out the best I can.

Featured image credit: Nathan Peck of dollarhobbyz.com

 

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Showing 35 comments
  • Nathan Peck

    Great insight, William! This is indeed a huge jump to make, but glad it can be done!

    • William Harris

      Thanks Nathan – doable, but we worked our butts off to make it happen that fast.

  • Kunle Campbell

    Hey Will, first off – huge congrats and very well done with the migration as it required a LOT of attention to detail to ensure it was glitch free (or at least catastrophe-free, as glitches are bound to occur at this scale). I can also relate with the 6 month time scale 😉

    VERY plausible reasons to make a move away from Magento as is it so human resource, capital resource and CPU/hardware intensive!
    Although Magento is no doubt one of the most flexible ecommerce platforms at enterprise, if see the need to migrate to fully managed platform like Shopify Plus if managing Magento was a nightmare. For the money you pay Shopify, you save yourselves server management time, bug fixing, worrying about security etc.
    You can now focus of actually growing the business…
    p.s. keep us posted on the overall flexibility and limitations of Shopify Plus…

    • William Harris

      Right on, Kunle. I don’t think anyone could deny the great and might Magento – but they seem to be fading away to better options like Shopify Plus, Mozu, Lemonstand, etc.

      I will definitely keep you posted on the long term success of this move.

  • Dylan Whitman

    Stoked you moved to Shopify and that’s a great solution for you! Fantastic! I have to say though, having worked on many of the largest sites on Shopify, 800 hours of dev time for this project is insane. I would have expected about 400-500 MAX, and that’s pushing it. Congrats though I think it’s a great move!

    • William Harris

      LOL – I agree with you. You may be underestimating the pickiness of the store owners – I would liken them to Steve Jobs 🙂

      • Dylan Whitman

        I hear you – that can happen 🙂

  • Anders Søgaard

    Very great article. I might use this to convince from Magento shops to migrate 😀
    I’m glad you haven’t met Shopify limitations yet.

    • William Harris

      Yeah Anders – I’m happy to answer any questions about it too. Just let me know.

  • Deepak Jha

    Great Article William, this will help lots of people who are thinking to move from magento to shopify.

    • William Harris

      Thanks Deepak – I hope so!

  • Karyn Bordoni

    Thanks for the mention! Glad our app makes life a little easier.

    • William Harris

      Easier for sure – and much better at identifying fraudulent orders.

  • Luiz Centenaro

    William this is a resources I will present to every Magento client I work with. WOW you did your diligence and made it SO much easier for anyone else trying to replicate the process. Thanks for sharing your learnings.

    • William Harris

      Thanks Luiz – it was one heck of a ride, and we are still just getting started, but I really do hope this helps a lot of others in the same situation.

  • Francis Kim

    I do like Shopify – what does Shopify Plus cost to run/setup?

    • William Harris

      It’s entirely based on how big your site is. I can hook you up with the lady that I worked with there if you’d like.

  • Lillian Anselmi

    Hi William, this is a fabulous article and so helpful for those that are timid about switching platforms. We hear similar pain points for those retailers that are on Magento. It is one of the reasons that we choose to start with Shopify for our app integration – glad to hear so far it seems worth the effort! Look forward to hearing more about it!

    • William Harris

      Cool – thanks Lillian. I just checked out your website and it looks great. Definitely a nice niche to fill. Excited to see more from you guys!

  • Andrew McCracken

    Hi William,
    Was there a reason you didn’t use USPS for your international shipping so that you could just get the live rates with them? Does DHL offer good enough rates to justify going to all the trouble of making all those rates?

    • William Harris

      Big time. We ship to something like 150 countries. I don’t handle the shipping side of the business – but I know the guy that does has rate shopped a ton and says that USPS can’t even come close. The trouble to set it up is short lived. You put in some hours upfront adding it all in there and then you’re set to save a lot of money – for us it’s several thousands of dollars in shipping less each month.

      Just be careful. With all of that manual entry you run the risk of putting a decimal point in the wrong place. I did 🙁 One rate was wrong and charging a fraction of what it should be charging. Luckily we caught it pretty quickly (thanks to our great shipping team). But it could have been much worse. We even had more than one person double check the rates – but it’s easy to miss something like that.

  • Jenna

    Hi William,

    First of all – GREAT post! Must have taken ages to put together. Thanks for the really good content.

    Secondly, I’m just curious to know: you mention Shopify being more “marketer-friendly” which is also a comparison we made in our article here: http://bluestout.com/blog/shopify-vs-magento-the-ultimate-enterprise-solution-comparison-guide/#marketer

    Do you think that Magento 2 would’ve been any friendlier? Given you’d have to basically build your site from scratch to upgrade to version 2, are you still sold on the Shopify choice? Did you demo Magento 2? If so, thoughts on the admin panel in terms of more user-friendly?

    Thanks!

    • William Harris

      Great question, Jenna. Magento 2 wasn’t even an option for us, mostly because of the bad taste we had with Magento. I do think Magento 2 seems like a great platform – but I really can’t say if it is better/worse. If I get a chance to test it out sometime though, I will definitely weigh in.

  • Elena Verlee

    Hi William, I just wanted to say thanks again for the chat and this great article. We eventually moved from Magento to Shopify – as you know we are a much smaller business – and I couldn’t be happier. The Magento to Shopify app worked fine for us, it took about a month for us from start to finish and I am so excited that the Shopify platform is so user friendly!

    • William Harris

      Hey Elena – that’s great news! Anytime you have questions, feel free to shoot them my way and I’ll answer to the best of my ability. Glad to hear the transition went well for you.

  • Humayun Rashid

    Fantastic article William. I really appreciate your deep insight into this topic as we have had numerous clients deal with the exact issues you laid out with re-platforming. Personally speaking, Magento Enterprise is a great platform depending on your needs and if you know what you’re doing from a technical standpoint (if you’re a developer) or if you have enough resources to hire an in house team to handle all technical aspects of maintenance and management of your online store. Even still the idea of managing security and hosting is a scary situation for most growing brands thinking about their business more than the platform itself. Most of our clients are non technical founders and worrying about managing and maintaining their technology infrastructure is a non starter.

    I recently wrote a detailed post about the eCommerce landscape and how more SMB brands are adopting on-demand software like Shopify Plus. I would love to get your insight if possible.
    Here’s the link: bit.ly/1pxAtPr

    Thanks William,
    Humayun Rashid
    DBNY

    • William Harris

      Just checked out that article – looks like you did a great job of sizing up the matter. Thanks Humayun!

  • Tim Silver

    Hi William,

    Great post, thanks for sharing this with the world. We are currently sizing up a switch to Shopify Plus and this is certainly eye opening. I think a key take away from this is that you need to be ready to get your hands dirty when it comes to getting data prepared and in to Shopify.

    Have you seen any issues with having a large volume of SKU’s? We have about 50,000 so there is quite a few!

    What has your post launch growth been like? In your data what has seen growth and decline over the last quarter?
    Any information that you would be willing to share would offer great insight to the many readers of this article.

    • William Harris

      Thanks Tim – yep, the thing that has been our biggest struggle is dealing with meta fields and data. Thinking of building our own private app because we’ve tried all of them and they all pretty much stink.

      The only issue with large SKU counts that I’ve seen is that some of the apps just can’t handle that. It’s no problem for Shopify – but not all of the apps have caught up to truly be worth of plus. That said – some of them we should be building in house anyway.

      Post launch growth is still going strong – just changed up some of our navigation and saw a 20% increase in sales that’s now holding strong for a whole month despite going into our slow season. So that’s encouraging.

      Happy to help out in any way, Tim – just shoot me an email.

  • Richard Protheroe

    Great article William, I had no idea larger retailers used that many apps!

    Do you use anything for inventory management? I assume you must sell on other channels like eBay and Amazon.

    Once again, great stuff very thorough!

    • William Harris

      Hey Richard – we are in the middle of being TRULY large, and just large compared to everyone else 🙂

      I do sell on many of the other channels. We use Seller Active (in fact, you can see a video of us on their homepage).

      I’ve also started doing some growth work for Sellbrite because I think they have the cleanest and easiest platform for managing inventory and listings across multiple channels – and a fraction of the cost of Channel Advisor.

  • Tom

    I am probably wont be approved for this comment here. But wow. Seriously?

    You spent so many thousands of dollars for magento maintenance, you couldn’t move it to a secure and magento optimized and managed server?

    And how exactly did you get hacked? It is really hard for me to believe that you spend $$$$ for your magento site every month and still get hacked with security bugs. You probably worked with offshore people who overcharged you with no promise.

    Moving from freedom to some paid service is a suicide. We know it from our own experience (shopify – bigcommerce – volusion). The main excuse is “you sell a lot, we gotta charge you more”. Even though the traffic of the sites were very minimal compared to big sites, they did not care. From $70 to $3,000 we had to pay monthly until we migrated to magento. Daily visitors range from 5,000 to 20,000.

    You want to pay? Go pay for magento Go. You won’t get hacked. Or go get yourself magento Enterprise. This article smells like paid by shopify.

    You basically are telling people all the big companies like Nike, Vizio, Nordstom, Adidas, North Face, TOMS and Zumiez made a huge mistake by using magento. 😀

    If you are not ready for a good website, you were not supposed to invest $$$ for magento anyway. You could migrate to magento go from magento CE or Enterprise within minutes instead of going thru all these steps…

    Biased.

    • William Harris

      Hey Tom – sounds like you are pretty fired up about this. That’s good though. We need to have passions in life.

      Not biased.

      Not paid by Shopify (but if Shopify is reading and would like to donate to the time I spend managing comments like this, I can send you a paypal invoice, just let me know what email address).

      Here’s the deal. We were working with a US Based Magento Gold partner. Sony got hacked too – so don’t forget that. Sites get hacked.

      I never claimed that Magento was the reason, but the setup that we had was ripe for allowing us to be hacked.

      We had a bad experience. That’s it. We switched to another service and we love it. There are so many reasons why we love it. There are so many reasons why our old site frustrated all of us. I wrote about it to document the frustrations we had, the successes we found in migration, and how exactly we did it.

      It’s not meant to be the final word on which platform is better. Some people love Apple products even though they’re locked down. Those same people experience less viruses. Other people prefer Android because it’s NOT locked down. Those people enjoy more freedom.

      Each merchant has to pick and chose from the experiences that make the most sense to them at the current rate of business that they’re seeing.

  • Anna Hayley

    I moved from Magento to Shopify last year and I know why – it offers a lot of helpful apps. If I may recommend something here – please take a look at SimplyTick, a reporting tool for Shopify (it’s available to download in Shopify app store as well as on their website. I will be more than happy to read your feedback!

    • William Harris

      Hey Anna – this looks pretty cool. I’ll have to give it a shot sometime when things slow down a bit for me.

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