WooCommerce Subscriptions Migration Case Study

How we Migrated an e-learning Website (with 26000 Students) to WooCommerce Subscriptions

Remember that time when you ordered a DIY cupboard online?
You were all excited the day it arrived, smelling of fresh wood and sawdust, with lovely varnish on the smooth and unetched surface. In a fit of enthusiasm you decided to build it all by your own self, with no help from a carpenter or anyone else! 

You pulled out all your clothes from the old wardrobe, arranged them in neat piles on the floor and dismantled the old cupboard to make room for the new one. Then armed with a screwdriver and nails, you went ahead and started building yourself the most beautiful perfect wardrobe in the world.

For the first few hours it was fun…. Then the excitement wagged out and you were left facing a half-done, partially shelved, loose-door cupboard with its boxes like broken teeth.

Sound familiar in an alternative context? This is what happens if you don’t do WooCommerce Subscriptions migration right.

Fortunately, our client realized this well in advance and came to us well before all his students were rendered virtually school-less. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s hear the complete story. 

WooCommerce Subscriptions Migration Project - The Backstory

Occupation – Professional Photographer and Mentor

Industry (with respect to the project) – e-Learning

How it all began...

The client is a renowned photographer who has worked with some of the leading brands in the world, for photography and cinematography. 

He created his own website to share his vast experience and knowledge through a series of courses designed for people who were relative amateurs but wanted to increase their working knowledge about photography and photographic techniques. 

Initially it was based on Infusionsoft, but as the number of students and enrollments increased, he wanted to migrate to the more scalable and robust WordPress+WooCommerce solution. 

WooCommerce Subscriptions has a ton of highly-useful features which extend your normal subscription modules into highly customised, user-friendly, and flexible plans and that was the main reason why WooCommerce Subscriptions was chosen as the go-to platform for migration. 

The to-be-migrated website had these statistics:

  • Number of courses = 5
  • Number of orders = 49,000+
  • Number of customers/students = 26,000

The biggest concern here was that there were a lot of live payments and subscriptions on the site, and the client did not want them messed up during migration, as that would ruin the user experience. 

After a lot of discussion as to how this could be done without disturbing the experience at the front-end, we decided to migrate the site in 5 stages, where a fixed number of users and products would be migrated at periodic intervals.

Here’s how the actual process took place.

Project Workflow - As we burned the virtual midnight oil

The complete project took place in 5 stages, each of which was implemented as follows. This is a step-by-step account of how we successfully migrated the client’s entire site to WooCommerce Subscriptions. 

Step 1 - Making sure things won’t go wrong

The first and most important aspect of subscription migration was the staging site that we received from the client. To ensure that the user experience was not affected at any point and the migration was completely smooth, we decided to migrate and test the subscriptions on the staging site. Once everything was perfect, we would make the site live.

Step 2 - Getting all the data ready

One of the crucial steps of migrating to WooCommerce Subscriptions is the creation of the CSV file which contains all the data to be transferred. The hardest part is mapping the fields from the old website to the appropriate fields on the new site. There are specific guidelines for the CSV file format, which, if not followed, can result in erroneous upload of data. 

Creating this file for the client, with his 2600 subscriptions, was challenging. Given the fact that the payment cycles for any subscription weren’t to be disturbed, we doubled and tripled checked our field mapping to ensure that all columns were mapped correctly.

Then came D-Day (Part 1 ;)) 

Step 3 - Uploading the first entry and then the complete file

We were migrating the subscriptions in batches. As an additional precaution, we uploaded just one entry first, to check if all the data was migrated in the appropriate format. Success!

To our joy, the mapping was perfect and so, the road ahead seemed clear. We uploaded the rest of the entries and imported all the data on the new website. We’re glad to say, there were no errors in import and all products and subscriptions got set up bee-yew-ti-fully! 

But, we did not stop there. There was the all-important step of testing. 

Step 4 - Testing and Verification

We followed a highly systematic process for testing. This included: 

  • Checking the payments’ system Dashboard to see if the right Customer ID and Card ID were allocated to the appropriate user.
  • Checking if the payments were scheduled correctly in the ‘Scheduled Actions’ section of WooCommerce. This is an important check to confirm that eerie payment is scheduled correctly, as per the dates on the previous website.
  • Making a test run of the subscription on the migrated website, i.e. making a test purchase of the course using a valid payment method, to verify that it successfully passed in the WooCommerce Dashboard, as well as the Payments Dashboard.
    WooCommerce has an option to process a scheduled action immediately, which means, even if the payment is due after some interval, you can test it out beforehand. This helped us see if there were any real-world problems that could crop up once people started using the site in real-time.
  • Lastly, after verifying that the pending subscription payment is being processed properly, the next payment date for every subscription was set correctly, considering the interval that was to be included in the payment cycle.

And the migration to WooCommerce Subscriptions was done! 

Planning to migrate your website to WooCommerce Subscriptions?

The Happily Ever After

The experience of migrating an eLearning site to WooCommerce Subscriptions, that too which had such a significant number of orders and users, was a great one. Creating a flawless CSV was the most interesting part, as we assessed and analysed every tiny detail to make the data mapping perfect. 

icon About

Our experience of 125+ migrations as the official WooCommerce Subscriptions Migration partners certainly helped us quickly get a good grasp of the project, especially since it had to be delivered in a short timeframe.

– Akshaya Rane, Expert WooCommerce Developer at WisdmLabs

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