How e-commerce migration works: what to bear in mind when changing hosting, platform, or when you decide to go online

There comes a time when every e‑commerce must make a move.

Why? Because as stores grow, their needs change over time.

And yours is no exception. It could be that you’d like to improve its performance or load speed, or that you’re looking for new functionality. In any case, the feared migration is just around the corner.

It’s a delicate process, to say the least, so you must be sure of what you’re doing.

Otherwise, you may lose information in the process, alter your site’s SEO, or miss out on traffic.

To give you a heads up, we’re going to tell you what to do in each of the three possible migration-related scenarios e‑commerce shops can face.

  • Migrating to a new webhost
  • Changing to a new platform or CMS
  • Bringing your offline shop online

You ready? Off we go.

👉 How to migrate to a new webhost (+ steps to follows)

When you got started with your e‑commerce, you probably didn’t want to overcomplicate things and may have gone for pretty basic hosting.

That’s OK, it’s perfectly normal as it fit your needs back then.

But your business has grown, and your site may now suffer frequent downtime and load too slowly, which is detrimental to your sales, user experience, and SEO.

So it’s time to change servers – but how?

Explanation coming right up!

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NOTE: Before changing servers, ask your current host since they’ll most likely have a premium plan that suits you or they may offer other – more powerful – hosting services (if you find all this jargon confusing, we suggest you read this post before continuing).

✅ 1. Choose the time with the least traffic

Nobody likes to land on a page while it’s out of order or under construction, but it’s just something you’ll have to do at some point.

That’s why you should figure out when your site’s traffic is at its lowest. And finding out only takes a visit to Google Analytics to see the time and day of the week when the fewest people are connected.

This will help you reduce the inconveniences that migrating will cause your customers.

✅ 2. Back everything up

Suppose you already know when to “move house”.

Now you need to pack and move all your stuff. Or, in this case, store and transfer all the data from your website.

Since this is such a delicate step, as a precaution, don’t forget to always create a backup of your site (as they say, “better safe than sorry”) so you can pick up where you left off in case something goes wrong.

More than likely, your current hosting service periodically creates a backup. If that’s not the case, almost every CMS has plugins or modules available to backup your entire site.

✅ 3. Make sure to keep your domain (by changing your DNS settings)

You know you’re going to change your hosting, but what happens with your domain name?

For everything to work properly when migrating, you need to change your DNS.

Does that sound Greek to you?

No worries. 😉

DNS stands for “Domain Name System”, and to put it simply, it’s what links your shop’s domain to the server. It’s just like when you move house: your name’s the same, but people need to go somewhere else to find you.

And that’s why you have to change it.

If you’re familiar with hosting dashboards (they’re all quite similar), you’ll be able to change your DNS under the “Domains” section of the panel. However, if you can’t quite wrap your head around this stuff, ask the technical support of your new webhost for help.

✅ 4. What happens with SEO during a migration?

Server changes can affect your website’s positioning (thus, your traffic and visibility too). This is true not only for hosting changes but also for domain and platform migrations.

Not cool, right?

That’s why we recommend consulting an SEO expert when making the change. He or she will know how to adjust the process to your particular circumstances to reduce (or avoid) any negative impact.

Again, as they say, “measure twice and cut once”. 😉

We’re still going to tell you a couple of things related to SEO you need to bear in mind when migrating.

  • Internal linking: Make sure you keep all your internal links after changing to the new server to avoid 404 errors.
  • Titles and meta descriptions: These factors are essential for good positioning. If your titles and meta descriptions already worked on the old site, you wouldn’t want to lose them with your new hosting, so check that they remain the same.
  • Dead ends: If any URL is to disappear, don’t forget about 301 redirections to avoid errors on those pages too.

Bear in mind that technology is unpredictable, so it sometimes fails when it shouldn’t. That’s why you should be sure to document all of your site’s URLs in case anything goes missing along the way.

Important: In this case, we’re taking for granted that you’re not going to change your name – just your server. If you change your name, you’ll modify the structure of every URL, so you’ll have to redirect the entire old site.

✅ 5. Use maintenance mode to let users know your site is down

Whenever your site is going to be unavailable, you should enable maintenance mode.

Maintenance mode is a special page that replaces your homepage when your site is under “maintenance” (while changes are being made).

Tip: Provide an email and phone number so anyone can get in touch with you in relation to an order or other query they may have during your downtime.

✅ 6. Don’t forget to give your store a thorough check

It may sound obvious, but it’s often overlooked.

Make sure everything is working properly.

Apart from navigating through your site, you should also check – using Google Search Console – that your website is fully indexed (in other word, that it’s been scanned by Google and added to its database).

👉 Migrating to other e‑commerce platforms (Magento, Shopify, PrestaShop, etc.)

It’s the same as with your hosting.

People tend to choose a very simple platform or CMS but may feel more and more constrained by it as their shop grows and they start adding new functionality or customizing things.

What can you do in such a case?

The same as when you chose it for the first time: analyze the features of every CMS to see if they fit your shop’s needs.

There are platforms galore at the moment, so spend some time analyzing what it is that each of them has to offer. Don’t rush it.

Once you’ve made up your mind, remember that certain hosting companies offer migration services. If this isn’t the case for you, we again recommend reaching out to an expert to have the migration done for you.

👉 Are you thinking of going online?

The reality is that businesses that aren’t online these days simply don’t exist.

A lot of orders are migrating to the online world, so the sooner you make a move, the sooner you’ll catch up to the competition.

Then again, we’re not telling you to rush it when creating the online version of your store. As always, having a good strategy from the get-go will save you lots of trouble down the line.

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✅ 1. Technical considerations

If you’re not great with technology, you’ll most likely be intimidated by this aspect from the start.

Fortunately, these days there are plenty e‑commerce platforms that make things so easy that anybody with basic computer skills can create a store.

Things to consider:

And now, the million-dollar question: How much does it cost to set up an online store? Here’s an in-depth post with all the calculations you must make.

✅ 2. Strategic considerations

As we mentioned earlier, a good strategy is crucial when going online, as it’ll help you begin selling as quickly as possible.

Here are the most important factors in a nutshell:

  • What are you going to be selling?: It’s advisable to get started with best-sellers before jumping into the whole market. Checking on your competitors is always a good idea.
  • Your perfect customer: You may not have defined a target audience for your physical establishment, but if you go online, it’s 100% necessary. If not, the giants such as Amazon will eat you up. Here are a few tips to define your ideal customer.
  • What selling strategies are you going to implement?: Customers don’t just appear out of thin air, so you need to come up with a plan to generate sales. There are thousands of options, but here’s some information about the most basic ones: first, SEO (to start directing traffic to your website) and then marketing (among others you have Facebook Ads, Instagram, Google Ads, Google Shopping and YouTube).

In case you want to learn more, here’s our special guide on how to start an online store.

👉 Every change feels dangerous at first…

Just keep in mind that if you’re considering migrating, it’s because your store is growing – and that’s fantastic news.

As we said earlier, ideally you should have a technical expert to help you out and minimize errors and traffic losses. If you’re thinking of bringing your store online for the first time, here’s some encouragement: online sales continue to grow, so it’s still a great time to create your online shop. 😉