Moving Your Store to BigCommerce
Why Should I Move My Store to BigCommerce?
Making a change to your ecommerce platform can represent an important step in growing your business and promoting your brand. Understanding your unique needs as a merchant, identifying weaknesses, discovering opportunities for improvement, and conducting market research are all keys to finding the best solution for you and your business. BigCommerce can help reduce the total cost of ownership for your ecommerce operation, which isn't just relegated to subscription and license fees, but also includes cost and time related to setting up, supporting and maintaining your online store.
The two most common scenarios for merchants moving their existing online stores are:
- changing hosting provider, but keeping existing domain name
- changing both hosting provider and domain name
Changing Hosting Providers
There are a number of legitimate reasons for changing your ecommerce hosting provider — your current solution could be prohibitively expensive, too slow, hard to learn, or unwieldy to operate. You might be dissatisfied with your current uptime availability, your system might present security or privacy concerns, or your overall setup might just lack the features and functionality you need to help grow and run your business.
Many online merchants have found that making the switch from an on-premises / self-hosted setup to a cloud-based ecommerce solution like BigCommerce has made their ecommerce operations:
- more cost-effective
- more widely available (less downtime)
- easier to operate and administer
- more robust and agile with new features and functionality
Changing Domain Names
Deciding to change your domain name is a major decision, and you should take the effect on your search engine ranking into heavy consideration before making any switch. However, you can take steps to help minimize the effect. See Changing From One Custom Domain to Another for more information.
Some of the more common reasons to change your domain name include:
- rebranding — A new domain name is needed to better identify with your business’s brand.
- acquisition / partnership — Your business or company name changes.
- vanity — A shorter, sought-after, or easy-to-remember domain name becomes available.
- specialization — You have an established informational site, and you’re ready to expand to a “shop.” or “store.” subdomain.
You can choose to register your domain name through BigCommerce, or use any third-party registrar. Your BigCommerce store will work with either.
It’s important to note that if you are just changing hosts but keeping your domain name, it is not necessary to change your domain name registrar (the website or service where you registered your domain name). Your domain name can be used with any web hosting service, regardless or where it was registered. If you originally registered your domain name with another ecommerce provider, you can still use it with BigCommerce without having to purchase a new one or initiate a transfer.
Before You Begin
Changing your domain name or moving your store from one host to another can have a significant impact to your established search engine ranking. Both scenarios present unique challenges and potential issues. However, solid preparation and following best practices when making these kinds of changes can help mitigate or even neutralize the negative effects.
Back Up Everything
This may seem obvious, but this is the most important safeguard you can make in the migration process. You will want to back up as much order, customer, product data and website content as possible prior to making any major changes to your existing site. Many ecommerce platforms allow you to export this information to a database file or archive.
Before moving too far along in the process, you’ll want to make sure your proposed new host has all the requirements and functionality that your ecommerce operation needs. Can the new store do everything that the old store can do? Will it require any additional third-party software accomplish the same tasks? Does your business have any special or uncommon needs?
Create a simple working model on the platform to test for any functionality or design shortcomings. Study the available documentation and support offered to try to get ahead of any issues or questions you might encounter later. Asking a lot of questions and doing due diligence prior to making a commitment to change can save a lot of potential heartache down the road.
Create a Plan
For an established online business, moving your store can be a daunting task. It’s important to recognize that it is not a fast process, but you can help make it more predictable and efficient by creating a migration schedule. Consider the amount of time it will take to develop the new site, transfer data, thoroughly test, and finally launch the new store. Documenting your steps as you go through the migration will help you track progress and pinpoint issues should they pop up.
Make the Move
BigCommerce sports a number of features to help make the move from another platform smooth and easy. Find more information on:
- Importing Products
- Importing Product Images
- Importing Product Options
- Importing Customers
- Syncing Your Products with Square
- How do I transfer products from one BigCommerce store to another?
- Migration Apps (for migrating from another ecommerce platform)
Checking Off the Essentials
To make sure your store is ready to take orders, you should:
- Select and set up your payment gateway.
- Configure your shipping settings.
- Configure your tax settings.
- Purchase an SSL certificate (or move an existing one).
- Test your checkout, shipping, tax, and payment settings.
See our Store Launch Guide for a comprehensive walkthrough on getting started with your new BigCommerce store.
Allow for Continuity
When switching from one web hosting provider to another, you’ll want to have the old site available for as long as possible so that your potential downtime for the switch is minimized.
You’ll be able to develop and configure your BigCommerce store in the background while your current store continues to operate. When you’re ready, you can change the nameservers for the domain to start pointing visitors to your new BigCommerce store.
Here’s a few things you can do to help minimize lost traffic after making the switch:
- Register and verify both your old domain and new domain in Google Search Console.
- Create a 404 error page for the old site to inform and recommend visitors to go to the new site.
- Pull a list of URLs from the existing site, and create 301 redirects for each to ensure every URL from the old site has a correlating URL on the new site.
- Submit the old sitemap to Google and Bing so it can document the new redirects.
- Use the Change of Address tool in Google Search Console.
- Use the Site Move tool in Bing Webmaster Tools.
- Submit your new sitemap.
Promote Your New Store
Email your existing clients, announce to your social media channels, and write a blog post that you've moved or your site has changed. This is also the perfect time to offer an incentive so they'll check out the new site — try a discount offer, gift certificate, or shipping promotion.