You have decided to create a Shopify site, but you have an existing site, now what? Let’s make some assumptions. Your current site already runs on an existing content management system (CMS) such as WordPress. You now want to add e-commerce functionality. Your CMS already has options available for adding a cart, but these options don’t have all the features you feel you need. You don’t want to switch because the search engines have already indexed your content and that content may even have comments from existing users. You have come across Shopify and it looks perfect. Of course! It’s a dedicated e-commerce system and it’s an excellent choice, among the top 5 most used. What can you do?

The best approach depends on many different variables, just as when you built the site to begin with. Going forward, we’ll continue to assume that you’re using WordPress. Shopify has all the major features that WordPress has. Shopify may be an e-commerce platform, but it’s also a fully capable content management system.

These features include templating, customer accounts and even a blogging engine with commenting. With Shopify, you could create a blog with no store if you wanted to. Despite this functionality, you probably don’t want to rock the boat with the search engines by ripping out WordPress and generating different URL’s with Shopify. WordPress is also a great CMS for managing content, let’s keep it.

WordPress and Shopify don’t perfectly integrate, but together they can put up a convincing front as being one property. Your main concern is that the customers trust you with their credit cards after making the jump from your WordPress property to your Shopify property. Shopify already does a great job at this because the platform handles millions of e-commerce transactions (as opposed to zero transactions for most self hosted WordPress sites). What do you need to pair these two up?

Perhaps the most important in unifying Shopify and WordPress is to put them on the same domain name. If your existing site is www.mysite.com, then you can put Shopify on store.mysite.com, which is a subdomain on the main name. You need to do this because Shopify hosts the software for you, while WordPress is hosted elsewhere. You just need to tell Shopify what name you want it to use, which you can do in the Shopify control panel. You can use any subdomain and there are more steps involved, so check the Shopify knowledge base for instructions.

An important and more technically challenging consideration is how to handle user accounts between WordPress and Shopify. Unfortunately, there is no way for a WordPress account to fully integrate with a Shopify account. Every system which requires a login uses different password handling schemes, otherwise this sensitive information would be at risk. Shopify allows importing of users through a CSV file. This requires exporting all your users into a CSV format (an Excel file saved as CSV for example) and then running the import from the Shopify control panel. Your users would have to update their passwords, but you could include a message notifying users of the change so they aren’t surprised when they have to change passwords when attempting to login. There are scenarios where you might want to migrate your users to Shopify, keep them on WordPress or require them to use different logins for each. Which option you may want to go with is beyond the scope of this article, but it’s important to know the options which are available.

There are many other tools available such as using the Shopify “buy button” to display products from your Shopify store on your WordPress site. Of course, given that Shopify is a fully featured content management system, you can also change the appearance of your store to match the main site. There are many more tools and considerations which are outside the scope of this article. Remember that the most important considerations is that your customers trust the new addition and that you make it easy for them to make a purchase. It’s worth hiring a professional web developer familiar with Shopify to help you as the investment will pay for itself.