Our resources are some of the most highly regarded in ecommerce. They are utilised by brands, platforms and agencies around the world to navigate the complex world of modern commerce, enhancing knowledge and guiding strategy.

Case Studies







Changing Your Shopify Subscription Platform: What Does a Subscription Migration Look Like With Swanky?

Find out what a typical subscription migration project looks like, what the most common challenges are when changing your subscription provider, and how Swanky helps mitigate risk during this process.

Written By
Hannah Smiddy

Changing Shopify subscription providers – and therefore having to migrate subscription data from one platform to another – can be incredibly daunting for retailers.

Indeed, with data security to consider, downtime to avoid, and a high-quality subscriber experience to maintain, the subscription migration process isn’t without its challenges.

However, you may be stuck on a legacy subscription platform that’s struggling to meet your evolving needs, or which overcomplicates the subscription management process. Transitioning to a different subscription platform could unlock significant benefits for both your team and your customers.

With careful preparation and execution, subscription migrations don’t have to be stressful. We’ve supported the smooth transfer of subscription data across a range of platforms, including successful migrations from Bold Subscriptions to Recharge and Appstle to Yotpo. We also have experience migrating subscriptions from bespoke platforms to established solutions. Plus, Swanky has recently been appointed as the first Ordergroove agency partner in the UK.

Over time, we’ve developed clear best practices to maximise subscription migration success.

This article draws on our experience to explore:

  • the main stages of the subscription migration process, and how different parties can support each phase;
  • common challenges when migrating subscription data; and
  • how Swanky mitigates risk during subscription migrations.

Key stages of a Shopify subscription migration

Whilst the process of changing Shopify subscription platforms will look a little different for each retailer, here is a general idea of what to expect in a subscription migration project.

1. Review: Understanding existing subscription setup

Firstly, we’ll familiarise ourselves with your current subscription setup. In this initial phase, we want to learn as much as possible about your subscription offering and the apps that power it.

Here are some of the questions we consider during this review stage:

  • What type of product is in the subscription?
  • How many subscription plans are there to migrate?
  • What does the user journey look like for a customer coming to the website, selecting their plan, checking out, receiving their first shipment, etc.?
  • Is there any custom logic being implemented? For instance, in previous cases, subscribers have received a free sample every fortnight, or a subscription plan has expired after a defined amount of shipments.
  • Do subscribers receive notifications from the existing platform?
  • What does subscription management look like for subscribers? What functionality do they have within their account (i.e ability to change delivery frequency, swap products, skip or pause subscriptions)? Do end users need to change out products at regular intervals?
  • What time of day are the current payments taken?
  • What payment gateway is currently being used (including specific version) and will this need migrating?

This question around payment gateways is particularly important. Shopify only has a few allowed payment gateways, so you might need to do both a payment gateway and subscription plan migration. Getting the payment token ID  – needed to migrate the payments over from one platform to another – is another key step and might need some development to manipulate into the right format.


2. Consultation: Selecting a new subscription platform & replicating current functionality

Next, with your required functionality in mind, as well as your future subscription goals, we provide consultation around which subscription platform can best handle your requirements.

Sometimes, a client already has an idea of which subscription platform they want to migrate to when they engage our services. Our consultation process will typically explore whether any alternative platforms might be a better fit, to ensure we’re equipping our client with the most appropriate tech to scale.

Then, with a platform decided on, we think about how we can translate your current subscription flow onto the new platform.

Where possible, our team will reach out to the new subscription provider to discuss the migration, as they can sometimes offer materials and guidance to support the migration process or to keep us abreast of changes to their platforms.

We’ll also clarify with you whether you’re looking for a like-for-like migration, or if you’d like to take the opportunity to change the implementation in any way. We leverage our vast experience in subscription ecommerce to suggest ideas for improvements, considering strategies that will help to enhance user experience for subscribers and drive key subscription metrics.

Typical improvements we’ve suggested on recent projects include things like adding gifting functionality and introducing more options for delivery frequency. Our specific advice will depend on your specific vertical, audience and goals.


3. Data mapping: Exporting subscription data & reconfiguring if necessary

Your subscription data can then be exported from the existing platform and mapped to suitable fields ready for import into the new platform. Whilst we can provide consultation around what goes where during this stage, you as the client would typically be responsible for mapping data in a CSV file.

In some cases, more time is required to reconfigure data to align with the new platform.

Different subscription platforms often require data to be formatted differently. For example, during past projects we’ve had to reconfigure frequency data where the client’s previous solution used numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 and so on to indicate frequency, whilst their new solution, e.g. Recharge, uses 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month etc.

Once everyone is happy with the data being mapped, some subscription providers allow you to do a ‘dry run’ to flag if there are any issues.


4. Import: Migrating data to the new subscription tool

Prior to the data import, we ask that you liaise with your payment gateway provider to get the relevant payment tokens needed for migration.

We also ask that you put a hold on your current subscriptions to avoid either missed payments or double charging.

The data import process itself varies depending on the platform that data is being migrated to. Typically, the new subscription provider will have a tool that can be used to complete the migration.

Our experienced team will be available to troubleshoot on the day of the migration. We’ll also set up new subscription widgets on your product pages.


5. Housekeeping: Deactivating subscriptions with the old platform

Lastly, we check how to deactivate the existing subscriptions on your old platform. Sometimes this can be done by the platform team via request, but in other instances it has to be done manually at the end of the migration process.

What are the main challenges involved with a subscription migration?

Below are some of the most common challenges you might encounter when changing your subscription provider.

Thanks to our experience working with subscription brands across a range of platforms, our team is well equipped to navigate these challenges with you, working towards a positive outcome for you and your subscribers.

  • Complex data migration: Transferring subscription data accurately, including customer information, subscription plans, billing details, payment tokens and order history, without loss or corruption, is critical but complex. We have processes in place to ensure a seamless migration.
  • Payment gateway compatibility: It’s important to ensure that your chosen payment gateway supports subscription billing and can integrate seamlessly with Shopify’s checkout process. Liaising with providers to get the information you need can be particularly challenging.
  • Lengthy prep and troubleshooting phases: Data mapping and configuration can often take a long time to get right. Brands can often underestimate this planning stage and how time/resource-intensive it can be. It can also take longer than expected to resolve issues that arise during the import stage. Your Swanky Project Manager will take this into consideration when planning your subscription migration.
  • Recurring billing complexities: Setting up and managing recurring billing schedules, including subscription renewals, upgrades, downgrades, and cancellations, while complying with Shopify’s billing system, can be challenging to navigate. This includes working with time zone differences when taking payments. We’ve had plenty of experience working through challenges of this nature and can provide advice where necessary.
  • Customer confusion: Communicating with your customers to ensure they’re aware that the migration is taking place is important in order to minimise any potential confusion and maintain trust.
  • Maintaining regulatory compliance: The importance of ensuring compliance with data protection regulations, payment card industry standards, and other legal requirements throughout the migration process cannot be underestimated.

How does Swanky mitigate risk during the subscription migration process?

The loss or misconfiguration of data during the subscription migration process can result in subscribers having a poor experience with a brand. This could lead to increased subscription churn, as well as a negative impact on a retailer’s reputation.

With this in mind, we work diligently to mitigate risk when migrating subscription data:

Creation of test data

We encourage our project team members to create dummy data in the original subscription platform and then transfer this into the new solution.

We can then review what this information looks like in its new home, and, because it’s our own data, we can more easily identify if any changes are required to the export/import process. It also gives us a chance to experience any notifications as real subscribers would.

Random cross-checking

After migrating data from one system to another, we typically cross-check the data of several customers at random.

We avoid checking the top or bottom three customers from the transfer list, but instead choose a random set of customers and verify if their data is correct.

Specific questions we ask ourselves are:

  • Is the subscription product (or products) correct?
  • Have all the subscription details (e.g. frequency, payment details, shipping address) been accurately translated?
  • If a customer has subscribed to multiple products with different frequencies, has this information been migrated correctly?
  • Is the customer’s preferred delivery method correct?

This will help to ensure that the migration process was successful and that the data is accurate.

Ensuring data security

Data security is paramount in any subscription migration project. We’ve implemented a number of protocols to restrict access to, and therefore ensure the security of, subscribers’ personal information.

Support from platform teams for subscription migrations

Note that most subscription platforms have teams and/or resources to support brands that are migrating to their platform. You can find examples of self-service migration documentation and articles from some of the most popular subscription tools below:

Looking for an agency to support your Shopify subscription migration?

Widely regarded as the leading authority on DTC subscriptions in the Shopify Plus ecosystem, Swanky adeptly navigates clients through subscription migrations and the challenges that they can bring.

If you’re looking to change your subscription tech, either as part of a wider ecommerce migration or as part of a subscription-focused project, and want to find out more about how we could support you, please contact us to discuss your requirements.

Talk ecommerce with us

Ready to grow your ecommerce business? Let’s talk.


Join the Swanky Community

Want to receive regular updates and inspiration to help your business stay ahead of the game? Subscribe to our newsletter and join the community of ecommerce leaders successfully navigating the world of online retail.

What are the Benefits
  • Be at the forefront of industry trends

    We develop and implement ecommerce tactics for industry-leading brands on a daily basis. Be the first to hear exclusive insights and learnings.

  • Get a monthly dose of inspiration

    Receive our newsletter straight to your inbox, packed full of useful marketing tips and growth strategies for your online store.

  • Join a community of fellow leaders

    Get to know like-minded entrepreneurs in the digital transformation space. Share experiences and learnings from your ecommerce journey.