Nailing Migration To New Software

Posted by: Karen Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

This post is really about the lessons we learned (and are still learning) as a company about the art of nailing migration from one software product to another. As many of you know we made the big decision a few years back to move to the ShipperHQ platform for our paid offering, away from the highly successful WebShopApps brand. This tells our story in the hope that it helps some of you, including merchants, agencies, platforms and technology parters.

So Why Move?

It’s often easier to stay with what you know, the formula that works. I read some years ago an article about this which said you have a couple of choices in software, you can ‘make hay whilst the sun shines’ or you can re-invent yourself, and to that you have to be prepared to throw away what you have today. For us at WebShopApps I can honestly say our company was something that evolved, we learned from our customers, we produced new extensions, more extensions, more complexity. And it became clear that we needed something bigger, our dreams and aspirations for the product could not be fulfilled by continually going down the pure extension route. We also saw lots of problems with the Magento marketplace, rampant copying, and it was very hard to forecast and grow revenue, we couldn’t give our customers the service they demanded in many cases as we found it hard to differentiate their needs on this ‘buy first, get support later’ model.

For us we also saw that our reliance on Magento was a danger, we needed to go cross-platform, it was necessary for our survival. We wanted to be able to follow our customers wherever they went.

Setting up for Migration

This has been very hard. Its knowing where customers are going, not just where we are going. Are they moving to Magento 2, to Shopify, BigCommerce? Then what features do they use, how is it configured. Shipping rating is not always easy to setup and its all in their database, we have to define processes for making this migration easy. Its taken us some time to get this right, I think we are still learning, there are always improvements, and sometimes unfortunately we have to say no to edge cases, you have to consider the whole because ultimately keeping the company going for the masses is what you need to do. Customisations can be the death of a technology company, so as much as we have complexity we have learned the art of just easing back on accepting these.

Putting the Business Case

So incredibly important. You can see with Magento that when people are looking at Magento 2 they are also evaluating other software. Your software needs to do something that improves things for the merchant. If its not then well you are in trouble. With ShipperHQ we have our whole interface in one place, we have advanced the technology so its way ahead of what WebShopApps ever did, and we offer a comprehensive support service with staff in the US ready to answer queries. You have to get this right, the support is needed of our agency partners (direct through slack in many cases), the merchants, and we need good communications with our logistics providers (i.e. having a direct line for UPS/FedEx/DHL queries helps).  Its also about being that centralised expert, the knowledge that is so necessary for this society today, people want accurate answers fast, they don’t want to be having to spend hours working things out themselves, especially around shipping rating which can really make or break a business.

Managing Migration of Many Customers

A tough one, we have been careful around our marketing to ensure we have had our processes right before we go sell. We still are trying to manage this, we know that if 30K+ customers come in at once this is a problem for us to be able to provide support. Whats important here is to test and be ready, don’t pull that trigger too soon else you may get a kick back.  The way we tackled this was probably around the wrong way to most, we initially dealt with the very hard Magento 1 enterprise customers that couldnt use WebShopApps, then we made sure the platform was ready for mass usage by focusing our efforts on other platform integrations with Shopify/BigCommerce. Luckily with the delayed move to Magento 2 we have had some breathing space and the last 6 months we have been managing the switch over of customers here, I expect it to ramp much more in the new year.

So How does a Customer Cope?

So what if you are a merchant and you are looking at migrating to new software?  Well evaluate carefully and I would suggest you look not just at the product but also the company underneath. Do you trust them, whats their support like, do you need someone that can get on the phone, etc.  If you arent sure make a checklist and have a chat to each company. This is your business, these decisions affect you. In terms of costings you have to really be aware of the quality side, its not always the cheapest that works out best in the long run, be very careful of cheap extensions that then have hourly based support attached as you can end up spending a fortune either with your own developers or with them and still not have a solution that works.  Taking advantage of free trials helps mitigate this.

When to Migrate?

Well not now just before Black Friday :). Plan well, find a time when you have time, or get the company to work out a plan with you. At ShipperHQ we are very conscious of the lack of time many merchants have and are able to assist with a full migration if necessary, we throw in upto 4 hours migration for free on WebShopApps customers, in many cases thats enough to get the job done.


In conclusion migration is definitely disruptive but it can be made much easier by the software providers of today. Its necessary, we all have to move forwards, you just have to think about the best way to do it and ensure you make it as painless as possible!


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