Triple website migration for Marshalls

Migration of three websites into a new Shopify Plus eCommerce platform.

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Client: Marshalls
Sector: Horticulture, eCommerce
Website: marshallsgarden.com
Services: Migration planning and execution, SEO best practice consultancy

We reviewed and prioritised three branded websites' essential pages to migrate to a new Shopify platform and reviewed the new eCommerce site for SEO accessibility and best practice.

Top level results

Having enjoyed a long relationship with Marshalls and the evolution of their gardening sites, we were delighted when allowed to provide best practice advice concerning the design and architecture of their new customer-facing eCommerce websites. The brief included the supervision and the migration of three of their flagship brands (Marshalls Seeds, Unwins Seeds and Birds & Bees) into the new platform.

We reviewed each of the legacy websites to identify the essential pages to migrate, advised on SEO accessibility issues and the new platform's performance during the design process. We also completed a comprehensive URL mapping exercise so the old URLs would redirect to their new location, preserving equity, inbound links and visits to bookmarked pages.

The Challenge

Marshalls own several brands that are well-known by keen gardeners. Each of these brands had a website and identity. These provided a confusing array of styles, content and functionality, and failed to reinforce the overall brand design. Additionally, some of the legacy websites were not mobile-friendly, utilising a dated mobile subdomain for the product pages.

All three legacy sites received the majority of traffic from mobile devices looking at the year before launch.

After launching Marshalls Garden, mobile traffic now accounts for over half (51.2%) of traffic, a 17% growth in this channel YoY.

The new platform migration allowed for the consolidation of the legacy sites into a single mobile-accessible, user-friendly integrated domain. The new platform boasted an updated CMS and design intended to display products quickly and create product publication efficiencies via the Shopify platform.

Key challenges

  • The new information architecture (IA) had to take into account legacy user journeys from three different websites
  • Users needed to be able to locate the existing product range, as well as locate new content features provided by the updated design
  • The legacy websites all used different methods to identify and list their products
  • A thorough inventory of items required identification and de-duping before the creation of an optimal URL format
  • The Shopify platform uses single-page application scripting (SPA), which has challenges for organic visibility
  • Extensive review and testing of the website to ensure that search engine crawlers could access the full range of products and content categories on launch

This project was a complex migration; merging three brands into one, relaunching our brand identity and re-platforming. Fresh Egg is our trusted partner for a reason - they are experts within their field and apply a data and insight-led approach to their work. As a small team, the advice and guidance given by them, particularly on the more technical aspects of the project, were invaluable.

The project's URL mapping element alone was a huge undertaking and not something we could do ourselves, and we wanted to get it right. The Fresh Egg team were there at every step of the way, acting as an extension of our team to ensure we delivered the project on time and within budget with some fantastic results that followed.

Sarah Leach, Head of Marketing & Ecommerce at Marshalls Seeds

Our solution

Our extensive site auditing identified the essential pages required to migrate from the legacy websites, in addition to the product inventory transferring to the new platform. The audit process included crossover areas, such as supporting advice for gardeners and blog content that had attracted considerable interest (such as recipe information).

Regular reviews of the Shopify eCommerce store occurred throughout the website build. We worked with Marshalls' designer to ensure an optimal menu and navigation. Our team also identified some inherent flaws in the default Shopify setting that would potentially interfere with organic visibility.

The team undertook extensive testing to ensure the product pages functioned correctly. We compiled any enhancements that were not in scope for the launch date and added them to the future development roadmap.

Lastly, the product URLs and site pages were migrated over, with all redirects checked for the correct destination.

Headshot of Fresh Egg's Stephen Jones

Although the migration project was a complicated one, the value of performing an SEO review became apparent when looking at the target platform. Even though off-the-shelf eCommerce systems may market themselves as 'SEO ready', there are often severe configuration issues that would potentially damage the launch of a new brand if not addressed in the development phase.

Stephen Jones, Senior SEO manager
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The outcome

The site launched in 2020 with the refreshed, clean design, and the legacy domains switched over individually in the following days.

Performance compared against the same metrics of the three legacy sites combined in the previous period (Aug 6 2019 - Feb 24 2020).

Users: + 102%
Sessions: +168%
Transactions: +269%
Revenue: +365%

Following one year of operation (Feb 25 2020 - Feb 24 2021)
Organic traffic of Marshalls Garden compared to all three legacy sites YoY (up to launch)

Users: +15.7%
Sessions: +28.7%
Transactions: +140.5%
Revenue: +234%

Headshot of Fresh Egg's Account Director, Lisa Rippon

The project was particularly satisfying and great to work on with Sarah and her team. We were involved right from the beginning of the customer research and taxonomy projects through to launch. The website migration was well planned and executed, with clear timelines and deliverables. The new website looks great and has significantly improved performance. We are looking forward to working with Sarah and her team, optimising the site further, and driving future growth.

Lisa Rippon, Account director