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All About Platform Migration

Are you unhappy with your current e-commerce platform and thinking about moving to another platform?  If so, there are a few things to take into consideration before you decide to plunge in and make the move.

Design Considerations

Today’s e-commerce platforms are built on templates and depending on the platform changing those templates to fit your current site’s design may be difficult and you may need to make design changes to the site to fit the new template on the platform you are moving to. A move to a new platform can also give you the impetus and opportunity to update the current design of your site, so this could be a good thing.

Product and Category Migration

This is probably the biggest challenges you will face if you decide to migrate your site from one platform to another, particularly if you have thousands of products, complex product options, and a complex category and subcategory system for your products on your current platform. If a product migration doesn’t go smoothly it can be an absolute nightmare and take many, many hours to fix it and get it correct. Imagine thousands of items and hundreds of categories that don’t match up with your current store, and then imagine going through every one of them to figure out what issues need to be fixed.

Customizations

If the platform you are on now allows for you to add custom variables, has a flexible database that lets you add custom attributes to your products, and lets you write code to take advantage of those variables and database attributes, you need to be aware that the platform you move to may not allow you to customize your site in this way. The advantage of the new platforms is they are easier to operate and run, allowing more non-tech savvy people to open online businesses. To achieve this simplicity they lock down the database and prevent you from writing code and logic to customize your site, basically, what you get is what you get with these platforms.  This is a big consideration if you currently take advantage of the customization that your current platform allows.  If you want to keep those customizations make sure the new platform supports what you need.

Customer Reviews

Many of today’s e-commerce platforms have built in review systems.  If you are using a third party review system on your current site, it may be difficult to migrate those reviews over to the new platform.  In many cases the third party review systems have more features than the simple ones the platforms have implemented.  If you want to keep your third party reviews there will most likely be extra costs associated to have those moved to the new platform.

URLS

The likelihood that the URL structure on the platform you are migrating to having the exact same structure of your current site is extremely low.  Most likely during migration your product and category pages will have different URLs than what they currently are.  This means you will need to 301 redirect the old URLs to the new pages; otherwise you will lose any SEO link juice that those old pages had.

DNS

The final step to a platform migration is to update your DNS so the new site can go live.  DNS stands for Domain Name System. This system is used to point to the server that your website lives on.  If you change platform, you are changing servers.  So you will need to point your domain name to the new server.  For the most part this is a pretty simple step, and the platform you are migrating to will have instructions on how to point your domain name to their servers, but if you aren’t familiar with changing your DNS settings it can seem a bit daunting.  There are a few things to be aware of though. The main thing is you need to aware of with this is whether you will be changing your mail server or keeping it where it is. A wrong setting can prevent your web site from working or prevent you from receiving or sending your email.

 

With careful planning and expert advice, migrating to a new e-commerce platform does not have to be difficult, and a professional design and marketing firm can help ease the transition and assist you in avoiding any pitfalls that come along.

The Importance of Online Reviews

If you’ve ever shopped online, chances are that you’ve seen and considered reviews for merchants you shop with and products that you’ve browsed. Customers prefer real testimonials to marketing fluff, so it’s no surprise that reviews are the fastest growing social marketing tool for online stores. According to a 2012 study, almost 33% of shoppers trust reviews over a particular brand or its marketing. If you’re considering adding reviews to your website or online store, there are a few things you should know.

Online reviews are a becoming a big factor in determining your placement in search and shopping results. Total number of reviews, review quality and length, and trust of your review platform all play a big role. A 2013 study reported that almost 85% of users considered reviews before visiting a new restaurant, hiring a contractor, or making a major purchase, so it’s no wonder that search engines take reviews into account more than in the past.

In general, there are 3 different types of reviews.

Merchant reviews are a measure of trust in your business in general. When someone fills out a merchant review, they’re reviewing your customer service, shipping time, and overall quality of shopping experience. Merchant reviews are powerful incentives to trust your brand.

Product reviews rate the quality of individual products. Product reviews help build trust in the particular brand of a product, and allow customers to read personal stories from other buyers who’ve used that product, as well as share those reviews on social media. In fact, 42% of all Amazon customers have left product reviews, and products with postiive review have sold 200% more than those with no ratings. The best and most trusted review programs only allow reviews from someone who has actually bought that product.

Local Reviews are reviews you collect either in your physical business location or on the go (using a tablet or phone, for instance). You can then syndicate that review to many online lists and social media platforms to get you the most exposure available when someone searches your business.

While you can always install a simple review plugin or use whatever comes built-in with your e-commerce platform of choice, it’s far better to have reviews collected by a Google and/or Microsoft approved third-party review company. Those reviews are guaranteed to be from actual customers, which means they can’t be faked. Depending on who is collecting your reviews, can be used to boost your visibility and attractiveness in Google Adwords, Google Shopping, Yahoo and Bing ad networks.

We’ve found Shopper Approved to be the best review company overall. Their prices are highly competitive and their customer service is top notch. Their review management tools are easy to use, and they’re one of the most trusted names in the business. Shopper Approved collected 70% more review and are historically more visible on search engines than their competitors. Most importantly, their ratings are fed to Google so shoppers will see your review stars when browsing Google shopping.

Want to get started with reviews for your website or online store today? VenturaU can set you up with a 30-day free trial of Shopper Approved. For more information, contact us today.