Woocommerce to Shopify

This was a bit of an undertaking. My wife runs a small shop and workshop space and we’ve been been through a couple of e-commerce platforms.

First we have Squarespace. This was a great first website the designer got it all looking sweet and boom. It worked. We had workshops on the website and then sold products in the shop with a SquareUp POS.

This was autumn/winter 2019. You can guess what came next – March 2020 and we had to quickly get all the product accessible online.

It needed to be cheap – we didn’t know if it was going to be a success and it needed to sync with Square. I knew my way around WordPress and I had some hosting we could use. So in two weeks we put together the site and transferred from Squarespace to Woocommerce.

There were a few teething issues with sync to Square and us not understanding the system but eventually we got to grips with the flow.
We had everything syncing with Xero through a Woocommerce plugin on the websites and Amaka integration for Square.

We had gift card plugins, we had gift wrap plugins, we had events plugins, we had SEO plugins, we had custom functions to hide categories, we had a custom secondary navigation I built in javascript and css, we had… the list grew and grew and the process for getting products on to the site grew more as we grew. Tax implications and shipping rates and sometimes the website wouldn’t send new product to Square – it just got stuck on something. I would have to login and reset the sync and then start it manually.

It was annoying for my wife and it took up a lot of her time.
She had a request. She wanted it to be simpler. She wanted to barcode items. She wanted her time back and to do things just once on one system.

We explored a couple options.

  1. Vend/Lightspeed
    • looked interesting to start with but they couldn’t offer a solution that would be properly unified for us with the features we wanted at a price that we were willing to pay.
  2. Shopify
    • An all in one solution that had a great entry point and unified solution. POS and online with a growing apps market to add functionality.

We went with Shopify and spent a while getting used to the platform in 14 day free trial, understanding the themes and the app market. We imported the products with an XML file. This brought in the data, the inventory levels it even imported the photos. We played with the idea of a paid theme but thought best to go with a free one and then further down the line get a paid one or a developer/designer who knows liquid to create one.

After this initial fortnight a new free 14 day trial was started – this was going to be the real one. My wife is the content person, I’m the behind the scenes making sure stuff works person. The platform is great. It is fast. It has great support pages and video and the chat feature works well if you need a question answered when you can’t find the answer. We had trouble getting the payments setup but it turned out to be a developer problem and they gave us a workaround while they figured out what was wrong.

My wife went live with the instore POS to test the water and it all went well. A couple of days later we switched the domain to point the Shopify website. Barcodes are the next big project. Either using the existing product ones or creating ones from the SKU.

One big problem with all of this was emails and I didn’t;t want any downtime with that as I have had problem in the past with moving emails during a domain transfer. I’ll write about that in another blog though.

I’ll report back in a couple of months with an update on this process and what we like and don’t like about the platform. I imagine we might update to the more expensive Shopify Pro POS for a more detailed view of products sold.

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