Transitioning to eCommerce: The Installation and Migration Process

ecommerce installation

As part of our Behind the Scenes series featuring local Atlanta-based business Smart Glass Jewelry, we reveal one small business owner’s approach to refreshing her online marketing strategy and expanding her digital footprint. In our first interview with Kathleen Plate, the founder and creative mastermind behind Smart Glass Jewelry, we hone in on what it was like choosing her first eCommerce platform. As if picking out the platform wasn’t hard enough, Kathleen had yet another hurdle to jump — the installation and migration process.

In this interview, we dig a little deeper and ask Kathleen about her experience installing the platform and migrating her data to Shopify. Here’s what she had to say:

Before we start talking about the install, Shopify seems to provide a lot of free templates and themes for their customers. Did you opt to use one of their themes or did you decide to build from scratch?

You’re right. Shopify has a variety of themes and templates to choose from. Some are free, others you have to pay for. While selecting a theme may not seem like a big deal, the overall look and feel of your store have a direct impact on conversion rates and customer experience. We had a few different options when it came to the design and development of the new site: customize a theme using Shopify’s theme editor, modify the code of an existing theme or build a customized theme from scratch.

Yikes! Those options seem a little overwhelming, especially for someone who doesn’t come from a technical background. Which option did you go with and what influenced your decision?

Yes, definitely overwhelming! I am a self-proclaimed tech neophyte, so I relied heavily on experts who specialize specifically in building and customizing Shopify-themed websites. We weighed all of our options, but I had a pretty clear vision of what I wanted the new site to look like. It was important that my site not only looked unique to our brand but that the functionality was built the way I needed.  

Because I wanted to set up a wholesale client portal on my new site, ended up building a customized theme. I worked with the team at Nicely Built to design an efficient process for wholesale transactions, ensuring I could bill clients at checkout versus fulfillment. The developers had to build custom features to support our wholesale functionality — it was a bit challenging navigating the logistics and limitations of the Shopify platform at times. For my situation, it definitely wasn’t a simple app install. There was a lot of pre-development work that had to go into my site before activating the actual install (hence why I needed the support from some skilled techies).

Can you tell us about the shopping cart installation process?

One of the main factors that determined my decision to move forward with Shopify was that it is a cloud-based eCommerce platform. Shopify uses an optimized server built specifically with eCommerce in mind, so I felt confident that my store’s data would be secure. Once I created my Shopify account, all I had to do on my end was activate the install on my site.  Overall, it was a pretty simple installation process once the website customization was complete. The part that was a bit more time-consuming was the prep work that I had to do to ensure the configuration and data migration process went smoothly.

What was the migration process like? Did you have to manually import your data?   

For the configuration and data migration process to go smoothly, I had to do some cleaning up on my end. The preparation and cleaning up on my end was a bit time-consuming. Because Shopify is very specific in variations and items, we had to break out our products into multiple stock keeping units (SKUs). I realized the more organized my inventory was, the more I would benefit from Shopify’s platform. The team at Nicely Built developed my product pages with new product images and variants. I followed behind with product style numbers and item colors. We basically collaborated based on our expertise; the process was very much a team effort. If you use a Shopify theme, Shopify provides support for customizations.

Have there been any learning curves since you’ve transitioned to Shopify?

It was interesting to see how Shopify wanted products and inventory organized. Using a Shopify theme allows me to see my business through someone else’s eyes. I’m able to look at my product offerings differently, which is great for any entrepreneur because you’re used to relying on the ideas in your own head. It’s helpful to have access to an expert opinion on your product inventory, and it should all be organized.

Can you share any specific results with us that you’ve noticed since migrating to Shopify from your proprietary platform?

I did poke around quickly and we’re definitely getting a lot more traffic and unique visitors. Another thing to note is Shopify’s shipping integration, which allows you to manage all aspects of your shipping in one place. Before, I calculated shipping and handled orders and invoices manually. The automation process has drastically cut down on human errors and gives me more time to focus on other aspects of my business.

Stay tuned for more details on Kathleen’s success as she explores new opportunities in eCommerce and expands her digital footprint.