Your site can be switched to a new E-Commerce platform with the help of these 10-easy steps.
An innovative breakthrough in an ever-evolving E-Commerce business is to upgrade your website platform when you realize that the time is ripe for a change. Sometimes one feels that it is high time the present system needs to be upgraded. One of the main reasons is the site owners during the start of their business, on hindsight, may have opted for a low-cost website “set-up-your-website-in-a-jiffy” type of bonanza. Later the site becomes inadequate when the business achieves success.
Go kaput, fall apart and stop working these apprehensions seizes the owners when the site is operating beyond normal capacity. They become anxious whether the change will work well, whether the new service provider will offer according to the business needs or give problems. Let us face it; shifting (migration) is not always easy. It comes with new issues for adapting to the new system during the transition and afterward. We give some salient tried and tested steps, to move to a new platform.
1. Domain Name
When you have decided to move to an all-new platform, get your domain name registered properly. There could be a problem with your previous provider who has registered your domain name. It may not be difficult to wriggle out but slightly tough negotiating in order to gain control of your domain. This has to be gracefully done in the initial stage in order to have a smooth start on this process early and to outwit glitches when you are ready to take the plunge.
2. Impact on Current Processes
At a point in time, when your business reaches the point for expansion and seeks additional possibilities for generating profit, it requires streamlining and automating the business process. A little homework, if not complex research about how your new platform integrates with various processes like shipping vendors, accounting systems, payment processors, office administration system, etc. You will have to take into account as your business improves the more elaborate and modified your business turns out to be. Even before you migrate, please confirm that the new solution provides reports and systems that are compatible with your business in addition to third-party vendors that you currently use.
3. Security Certificates
The mandatory SSL or secured socket layer certificate of your current website has to be transferred to the new server. The status of the existence of an SSL can be looked up at checkout pages of your site to know if the URL in the address bar displays “https://” followed by your domain name. The catch would be only if the address shows the address of your provider and not your own domain, then you are likely to be using a shared certificate.
You have to decide if the new provider offers a similar shared certificate or you are required to go for a new one. And, you do not want to overlook the certificate transfer or leave it for the last minute.
4. Moving the Data
Relatively speaking, any system change involves adapting to a new system. Similarly, site migration can be challenging and easy at the same time. One of the principal components is to know how easy it is to move your data from one system to the other. If at all possible, you can even export your products, accounts, and orders into a simple comma-delimited or tab-delimited format. Thereafter import the data into the new system. The more complex your products are, the more difficult it will be to import your data when you have complex product options. Most E-Commerce systems will offer some explanations, charts/diagrams of their database structures. Mostly, the information could be confusing, it is therefore ideal to seek the help of a professional to get going. Product data is quite easy but order and order history data differs from system to system. You may find that moving order data from your old system to your new system might not be realistic as one would think.
5. Circumvent Search Engine and Linking Glitches
Your new system generates different page URLs and your business success has been built on good organic search engine placement but this success would fade away quickly. However, before making any move, ideally, study the page titles and URLs of some sites by using the new system. But ensure that you will be able to adjust the page titles and URLs so that they are identical and matches to your current site. But the next best option anyway is to install 301 permanent redirects of old URLs to new ones;
by creating a file on your server that will direct the web browsers and search engines to a new URL on your site which replaced a previous one; by indicating to them that the change is permanent. Double check with your new provider to be sure that one of these options will be available to you.
6. E-Mail Disruptions
The site movement is quite an upheaval but keeping your E-Mail flowing is equally a task during this time. We would advocate that you make provision to check E-Mail on the old server and the new server. Alternately, in the interim, you can forward E-Mails going to the old server, for some time say for 48-hours after the move. You have sufficient time to review all the accounts and pseudonyms that your company uses. Many a time, site owners lose track of their list of multiple E-Mail IDs and may incorrectly set them up in the new environment. Once the new site goes live, test every address and all the forms on the new site to make sure the E-Mail is functioning properly.
7. Determine the “Live” Date
Making a site transition happen quickly is a crucial step. You may require, at least 48 hours before you move your site to the new platform. Then log into the server management account at your old provider and update the DNS records so the time-to-live (TTL) is established within 300 seconds. By taking this crucial technical step and when you actually update your DNS servers, the changed address information of your website should spread across the Internet within five minutes. If you are unable to adjust the TTL, then you will be hooked on the global Internet routing system as far as whether a site visitor sees your old or new site when he enters your address.
8. Test First
Even before commissioning your site to go live, place some test orders and confirm that the new site is connected with your payment processing system. It is always better to work out those bugs before actual customers are ready to place orders on you.
9. Schedule the Transfer
We would strongly vouch for doing the cutover very early in the morning; say much earlier than the crack of dawn, before most of your customers get active with their activity. Moreover, you can do your test orders and make sure that all the links are working correctly. You can see what is happening to the traffic in your site if you have access to the log files on the old and new servers. Checking these files throughout the day is a good idea, as it will show you if visitors are getting to the pages that no longer exist.
10. Retaining the Old Site
It is in the fitness of things to keep the old site active for an overlapping month during the transition process. This strategy gives you time to archive all old files and make sure that you did not miss even any vital file, script, or any piece of information, that could be really important.
Challenges galore, when migrating your web site, but following these steps will however ease the transition and keep your website operating smoothly and seamlessly.
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