Looking to understand the process of moving from Magento 2 (or Magento 1 for that matter) to Shopify Plus? We explore the reasons why merchants are making the change, as well as some of the key considerations to look out for when determining if the change is right for you.

Can’t be bothered reading the entire article? Here are some links to the key topics we cover:

As a former Magento Certified Development agency, managing more than $100 million of client revenue through the platform, we know the ins and outs of the platform and the types of businesses it suits (and doesn’t). Read on to find out more.

 

Why do merchants move from Magento to Shopify Plus?

There are a plethora of reasons our clients and businesses all around the world are shifting from Magento to Shopify Plus, however, we’ve outlined the most common reasons that come up when we step our clients through this process.

  1. Too much time is spent managing the platform, not growing the business.
  2. The initial investment and ongoing running costs outweigh the benefits of the platform.
  3. Each customisation has moved the business further away from standard Magento, and each update is becoming more expensive & risky to roll out.
  4. eCommerce and Marketing teams are frustrated they can’t control the customer experience without development support.
  5. The speed and stability of the site are always top of mind.

 

While Magento has been the platform of choice for many businesses for many years, Google Trends tells the same story we’re seeing; people have had enough.

 

 

 

 

What are the differences between Magento and Shopify Plus?

Migrating to or from any platform can seem daunting and will require a lot of planning, consideration, and internal resources. While Magento and Shopify Plus are both eCommerce platforms, and naturally have some similarities, the key differences outlined below are why we see businesses deciding to move to Shopify Plus.

Hosting

Shopify and Shopify Plus are licensed as a SaaS (Software as a Service) product, meaning that the hosting and infrastructure elements are taken care of by Shopify. You pay a monthly fee to access the platform, and Shopify ensures that all the hosting requirements are taken care of, giving you a guaranteed 99.99% uptime.

This does mean there is limited or no access to the server-side of the Shopify architecture, however, with the ability to create custom apps leveraging all of Shopify’s APIs, as well as fully headless environments, most backend functionality can be achieved on Shopify Plus without access to the server. The major benefit of using a SaaS-based product is that you no longer need to think about hosting, security, load balancing, server elasticity, and all the other words that come with a self-hosted solution like Magento.

With Magento, you are required to host the platform yourself, unless you spring for the very pricey Enterprise Cloud option. For most people, this means configuring a cloud-based environment with a range of dependencies in case of outages, massive traffic spikes (which in eCommerce is something you crave!), or security issues. You’re effectively forced to try and reproduce what Shopify does for you at an individual business level, which can often cost far more than the Shopify Plus fees alone.

The risk of being hacked or attacked is much higher on a Magento platform, and without a reactive hosting and development team on hand, this can soon spiral out of control. This can have serious implications on business operations.

Security

Because Shopify and Shopify Plus have a closed hosting/server environment, and the overall infrastructure is their responsibility. Any attacks (or server issues) are contained and managed very quickly. To date, there have been no widespread hacks throughout the entire Shopify platform.

As with any web-based service, there are always risks of security breaches or vulnerabilities, however, Shopify has teams of people who look after the ongoing and ever-changing maintenance, security, and compliance requirements of the platform. They even have an ethical hacking bounty programme that pays developers if they’re able to find any potential areas of exploitation.

This is one of the major reasons why businesses make the shift from Magento to Shopify Plus; peace of mind that their customer, product, and order data will remain secure.

While Magento releases security patches regularly (and in the case of Magento 2, very regularly), it takes time, money, and energy to have these applied and tested, which often means they fall down the priority list. We’ve had businesses approach us saying their monthly eCommerce budget is used on Magento security patches and platform updates alone, leaving no budget for changes that will enhance the customer experience and make them more money.

Not sure if your Magento instance is up to date and secure? You can run a report here and see how you stack up.

Scalability

Between Shopify and Shopify Plus, the platform is incredibly scalable. We have clients who process their first sale ever on Shopify, and overs turning over $10m+ each month without breaking a sweat.

You can easily change plans, adding functionality and capability without the need to set up a new backend instance. Your hosting requirements scale with the business too, so if you go from having 10 sessions a day to 10,000, Shopify has your back. This flexibility is essential for any retail business, especially during peak sales periods like BFCM and Christmas.

Often with Magento, you either need to set your infrastructure up based on your best day (and pay for it every other day too) or plan your key sales periods with your development agency so they can scale up hosting on those specific days. Either way, you’re going to be thinking about whether your platform can handle the traffic instead of celebrating the huge number of sessions on your site, and that’s no fun, right? 

Updates

Updates to Shopify and Shopify Plus are a regular occurrence (take a look at the Shopify Changelog if you’re curious just how regular). Thankfully, merchants don’t have to apply these updates themselves as they’re all done automatically by Shopify. New functionality,  performance updates, and security enhancements are done in the background, while merchants continue to run their business, often completely (and blissfully) unaware these changes are being made. There’s no need for Shopify Plus merchants to fully test their site every time an update is made either, ensuring the focus stays where it should be; growing the business.

Functionality updates such as multi-currency or store pickup are rolled out automatically to merchants and require little to no setup on their behalf. Sometimes this configuration is a development change to ensure the feature sits nicely with the customer experience you’ve crafted, whereas other times it could just be a case of enabling the feature within Shopify’s settings.

Performance-based updates are rolled out periodically and are focused on accessibility and speed. Shopify is continuously refining their platform to ensure they are leading the charge when it comes to eCommerce and retail performance.

Magento on the other hand requires the merchant and their agency to review and install each patch/update as it’s released. Often, these patches require considerable testing by both the development provider and the merchant before being deployed to live as it’s likely to affect multiple areas of the site’s code, which in turn can show up in the strangest of places (trust us, we’ve been there and the stories we could tell…).

Often these patches don’t contain any worthwhile functionality improvements for the merchant’s business, however, it’s essential they are applied as the risk of security vulnerabilities increases the less up-to-date the platform is, not to mention the further behind the merchant is in the release version, the more difficult it will be to bring up to date later.

While Magento does release patches that help with the clunkiness of the platform (to see what we mean, take a look at Magento’s release notes), performance issues are usually formed at the server level, which you and your development agency are solely responsible for. While Shopify applies performance updates for you, upgrading and optimising servers for Magento is costly and time-consuming. 

Connectability & Ecosystem

Shopify now has over 1,000,000 merchants on its platform, and a community of thousands of Shopify Experts has grown up around them. These experts are not only providing design, development, and strategic support (like Pocket Square) but are also building connectors, integrations, and apps to extend Shopify’s capabilities even further.

Need to connect to Klaviyo? Klaviyo has built its own direct connection to Shopify, and thanks to the closed server environment highlighted above, it will work out of the box. The same can be said for connections to ERPs, Inventory Systems, 3PLs, and other services critical to growing and managing a retail business.

Shopify maintains a library of over 1,500 professionally-built apps, all of which are designed to minimize dependency on developers. The Shopify App Store offers a wide array of solutions, from marketing, sales, social media, shipping, inventory, and even supply chain management. Shopify’s third-party apps are available to help streamline all your enterprise needs. The best part? These apps have to be reviewed by Shopify’s App team before they can be published to ensure they meet security and compliance standards.

One of Magento’s greatest strengths has always been its ecosystem, which features hundreds of systems integrators and certified developers. With almost 280,000 Magento community sites, the number of developers and architects that have worked with Magento 1.x is staggering.

But Magento 2 alters the equation. Radical changes to architecture and deep technical competencies have had an impact on this community, leaving much to be desired where support, expertise, and execution are concerned.

Within the Magento Marketplace, you’ll find a host of “extensions” designed to allow your store to function as a custom online store should. But these rarely feature turn-key operations due to each instance being heavily modified by the merchant’s developers (remember, there’s no code on Magento that’s out of reach). The majority take a little bit (or a lot) of coding to get up and running. 

As a result, Magento extensions place added dependence on your development team and added $$ to your monthly bill. They can also conflict with your specific customisations, requiring heavy tweaks to ensure stability. Extensions should be tested with each deployment by development and QA resources.

Licensing & Cost of Ownership

Shopify Plus is licensed by the Shopify Plus team directly based on your specific requirements, however, the standard cost is $2,000 USD/month ($24,000 USD/year). This covers access to the Shopify Plus platform, features, hosting, Plus-level merchant support, and massively reduced transaction fees.

The starting cost for Magento 2 Enterprise is $22,000 USD/year and goes up in tiers based on the stores’ annual revenue. While this may seem like a slightly better deal over Shopify Plus, remember that licence doesn’t include hosting, technical support, or platform upgrades, which often doubles, or even triples the annual operating costs for Magento.

While the functionality and performance requirements will vary from store to store, on average the cost of ownership is much lower on Shopify Plus. This is due to several factors, including the cost of hosting and maintaining the security and performance updates. Integrations and custom development are often quicker and therefore more affordable on the Shopify Plus platform. 

While license fees are slightly lower on Magento 2 Enterprise solutions, these don’t include hosting fees. There is, however, a Magento Enterprise Solutions Cloud Edition, which starts at around $40,000 USD annually. This makes Magento substantially more expensive even before any development work has started.

Time to Market

The time to launch is often the most critical factor for some eCommerce businesses, especially given the current post-COVID world where eCommerce is so essential.

Shopify Plus can be rolled out in as little as one month (we’ve done that a few times), with an average project lasting 3-4 months.

Magento typically takes a minimum of 6 months to roll out, with the average rollout time sitting at about 8-9 months.

 

What does a Magento to Shopify Plus migration look like?

Any platform migration can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s a great opportunity to use the learnings from the outgoing platform including feedback from customers, internal stakeholders, and your development partner to shape a new, better, and more scalable solution.

Most of Pocket Square’s work is Magento to Shopify Plus migrations, so we know the best way to approach a project like this, what to look out for, and what to know before you get started.

 

Data Migration

While migrating the data from Magento to Shopify Plus may seem like a huge deal, it can be quite straightforward if you’re working with the right people (like us, for example). Having server and database access to Magento does mean we can easily go in and export customers, orders, products, and any other business-specific data with relative ease.

While most fields can be exported out, mapped, and migrated into Shopify Plus, migrating passwords is not a viable option as this data is encrypted in Magento (and Shopify). We always highlight this as a great opportunity to reach out to your customers with news of a new experience awaiting them and ask them to reset a password. It also really highlights that we care about their privacy, which I’m sure they’ll thank you for.

Order data can be migrated over and assigned to the correct customer and products so customer service teams and customers can see their order history under their account section in Shopify Plus.

There may be some data that can’t be migrated over via scripts and other development methods, however, we tend to find this is a relatively small list, and often our clients choose not to migrate this data anyway as it’s old and outdated (an example could be lookbooks in a CMS page in Magento that are no longer relevant to the business).

 

Code & Theme Migration

Magento and Shopify use a completely different codebase, and as such, it’s not just a matter of copying and pasting code from one site to another. Although both have HTML, CSS, and JS elements, the fundamental language of how the pages and functionality are built is different between the two.

While it can be tempting to ‘lift and shift’ from Magento to Shopify Plus, especially if you feel the current front-experience is pretty good, it’s always worth critically reviewing that experience and working out how the shift to Shopify Plus can push it even further.

 

SEO

Organic traffic or traffic coming to your site from Google or other search engines must not be ignored or underestimated. Migrating to a new platform can have huge impacts on your SEO rankings if not carefully planned and implemented during the development and go-live process.

Understanding how Google and other search engines look at migrations will help retain (and in many cases, increase) your rankings. Luckily, we know what to look out for.

Content

In any migration, it’s important to look forward to the experience we want to offer our customers on the new site, however, it’s critical to keep content as close to what it was on Magento for the go-live stage. Often pages will be designed out in favour of simpler UX, however, these pages may have carried significant SEO value and organic rankings. It’s important to copy these pages over, even if it’s just until the new site is indexed to ensure they aren’t lost into the ether.

Redirects

Before launching the new Shopify Plus store, all URLs must be mapped from Magento to their new location in Shopify. We recommend using a mixture of Google Analytics Landing Page data as well as an SEO tool (like ahrefs) to pull all indexed/ranked URLs to ensure those are mapped correctly to their new home.

This way, not only does Google pass over the ranking power to the new URL, but any customers with saved links will still land on a relevant page. 

Speed

Speed isn’t just a conversion factor anymore. If increasing your conversion rate wasn’t a good enough reason to keep your site’s speed at the top of your mind, it’s also critical in relation to your SEO rankings.

Google and other search engines want to give their customers (people conducting searches) the best experience when they click through to a site, and a slow loading website doesn’t make for a good experience.

Shopify is constantly doing as much as they can to ensure the infrastructure is performing at its peak, however, it doesn’t stop there. You need to work with a Shopify Plus partner that knows they have a part to play in that process too, ensuring that all code is written with speed in mind. 10MB images on the homepage won’t please Google or your customers.

Integration & App Migration

Shopify Plus has an extensive ecosystem of technology partners, which means if you have a service (eg Klaviyo) that you’re migrating over, there will likely be a solution ready to go. With Shopify’s global reach, it’s very uncommon to find a service provider who hasn’t had to create an integration before so often even local 3PLs and services have connectors built.

In rare instances where there isn’t a solution on the app store, custom apps and integrations can be built to meet your specific requirements using Shopify Plus’s APIs.

Automation & Process Refinement

Using the migration process is a great opportunity to review and streamline key business activities and processes to free up more time (on top of what you’ll already free up just being on Shopify Plus).

Shopify Plus has tools like Shopify Flow & Shopify Launchpad that are specifically designed to take repetitive tasks, and automate them and if that’s not enough, using Shopify’s APIs to create specific integrations and workflows that specifically meet your needs is a cinch.

 

Trilogy Natural Products migrated from Magento 1 to Magento 2 then to Shopify Plus. Why?

Trilogy Natural Products is one of the global world leaders when it comes to natural skin care products. Having pioneered the use of Rosehip Oil in skincare back in 2007, Trilogy Natural Products are now sold around the world in some of the biggest retailers as well as directly to consumers through Trilogy’s owned channels.

When Trilogy approached Pocket Square, they had a clunky eCommerce site running on Magento 2, servicing their three main regions; New Zealand, Australia, and the USA within one backend. Their internal team had limited control over the platform and its connections to other business systems, causing frustration at the inability to innovate quickly,

If that wasn’t bad enough, they had only recently gone through the process of moving from Magento 1 to Magento 2, under the assumption that they would be leaving their Magento platform woes behind. It didn’t take long for them to see that what was holding them back before, was still holding them back and for an innovative brand like them, it just wasn’t good enough.

Enter Pocket Square. We worked with Trilogy’s marketing and IT teams to plan the migration of their global infrastructure into Shopify Plus, ensuring a smooth transition as we headed into their most critical time of the year; Christmas.

 

“The Pocket Square team are a high performing, incredibly astute team and in my view experts in everything Shopify Plus. I cannot commend them highly enough on the Magento 2 to Shopify Plus migration work we just recently collaborated on."

Gisela Montello-Bruce, Digital Marketing Manager, Trilogy Natural Products

 

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