To run an eCommerce site, you need to stay competitive and up to date with the current trends. Once your current eCommerce platform starts feeling restrictive, it’s time for eCommerce migration and replatforming, which enables you to keep up with evolving market trends and customer expectations.
eCommerce migration allows you to transfer an online store from one platform to another. You can relocate essential site elements to enhance functionality, improve user experience, or adapt to changing business needs.
In this article, we’ll explore eCommerce migration, the different types, why you need to replatform, and how to do it.
- eCommerce migration or replatforming improves user experience and gives you a competitive advantage
- You can migrate your eCommerce site to boost site speed and performance
- To replatform your online store, you must have a comprehensive plan to guide the entire process
- Before the migration begins, ensure that you choose the right platforms and tools that align with your business needs.
What Is eCommerce Migration or Platform Migration?
eCommerce migration, or replatforming, refers to the meticulous process of transferring an existing online store from one platform to another. It involves relocating critical data such as product listings, customer information, and order history while ensuring a seamless transition without disruptions to the eCommerce business operations.
This strategic move is often driven by the need to adopt advanced features, improve user experience, or accommodate growing business requirements. It ensures the online store remains competitive and efficient in the digital marketplace.
You need a good eCommerce data migration strategy to ensure all the information is successfully transferred to the new platform without any problems.
Types of eCommerce Migration
If you are planning to migrate your eCommerce site, there are three types of replatforming:
eCommerce Replatforming (Platform to Platform)
eCommerce replatforming involves transitioning an online store from one platform to another, aiming to enhance features, improve user experience, or adapt to changing market trends. You can switch between SaaS or cloud solutions. The process involves seamless transfer of customer data to ensure that you leverage the benefits of the new platform.
Phased migration is a structured approach where the eCommerce site is transitioned in stages. This method allows businesses to focus on specific sections or functionalities, minimizing risks and disruptions. Businesses can thoroughly test each component by breaking down the migration into manageable phases, ensuring a smooth transition.
Monolithic to Microservices
Monolithic to microservices migration involves transforming a traditional monolithic eCommerce structure into a microservices-based system. This approach separates applications into smaller, manageable services, enhancing flexibility, scalability, and development speed. With this approach, you can cover multiple parts of the customer journey.
Why Do eCommerce Businesses Replatform?
According to a Digital Commerce 360 report, more than 1 in 4 eCommerce sites want to switch platforms for different reasons.
Every eCommerce business has a unique reason for a website migration. However, there are some typical reasons why many eCommerce platforms might consider switching to another site.
Let’s examine these reasons:
|Replatforming is necessary due to poor website performance, leading to checkout problems and a sluggish site. Slow loading times and unreliable functionality hinder user experience and sales.
|Site Speed and Responsiveness
|Slow loading speeds and unresponsive interfaces frustrate customers, prompting migration in search of platforms offering swift, seamless user experiences for customer satisfaction and retention.
|Gaps in the Existing System
|Migration is needed when the current platform lacks essential features like shipping options or advanced security, bridging these gaps for a more comprehensive eCommerce solution.
|Poor Admin Functions
|Cumbersome, time-consuming, or error-prone administrative tasks necessitate replatforming. Switching to user-friendly back-end interfaces empowers efficient inventory, order, and customer data management.
|Repetitive Tasks and Time-Consuming Maintenance
|Outdated systems require repetitive manual tasks and extensive maintenance, incurring costs. Migration to platforms with automation and simplified maintenance reduces operational overheads.
|Poor User Experience
|Platforms characterized by confusing navigation or lackluster design drive the switch to intuitive interfaces and engaging designs, enhancing customer satisfaction and conversion rates.
|Streamlined, Accessible Analytics
|Businesses migrate to platforms with robust, accessible analytics tools for data-driven decisions, providing insights into customer behavior, sales patterns, and marketing effectiveness.
|Multiple, Easy-to-Use Integrations
|Replatforming aims for platforms with many integrations, simplifying business operations by seamlessly integrating with third-party services, payment gateways, shipping providers, and marketing tools.
|Customer Feedback and Complaints
|Recurring customer complaints, such as checkout difficulties or payment problems, prompt migration to platforms addressing these pain points for a positive customer experience.
How to Migrate an eCommerce Website Step-by-Step
Once you choose a platform to migrate to, you need to have a comprehensive migration plan. Take time to research and develop general guidelines to make your migration successful. Here’s a step-by-step guide to migrate your eCommerce website.
Step 1: Outline the Requirements and Benefits of Replatforming
Begin by defining your eCommerce goals and identifying the limitations of your current platform. You can get this information and identify gaps by talking to all company departments.
In addition, you should also assess the benefits of migrating your website, such as improved site performance, enhanced security, and better user experience.
You need to understand the need for advanced features to determine the specific requirements of your new platform. This will set the foundation for a successful eCommerce migration.
Step 2: Gather Stakeholders
eCommerce migration involves multiple stakeholders. To execute your migration effectively, assemble a team of key stakeholders, including:
Encourage open communication to understand their perspectives, concerns, and expectations regarding the migration. Collaborative input ensures a comprehensive approach, aligning the team toward common goals.
Additionally, engaging stakeholders facilitates smooth decision-making and ensures everyone’s expertise contributes to the successful eCommerce site migration. Regular updates and feedback sessions are vital to keep everyone informed and involved throughout the process.
Step 3: Review Potential eCommerce Platforms
Before migrating, thoroughly research various eCommerce platforms, evaluating their features, customization options, scalability, and support services. Check user reviews and case studies to gauge their effectiveness for businesses like yours.
During the review, look for compatibility with your existing systems and future growth potential. By analyzing these platforms meticulously, you can make an informed decision, ensuring the selected platform aligns perfectly with your business needs and objectives.
Step 4: Schedule a Demo with the Platform of Your Choice
Most eCommerce platforms will provide a demo to help you learn more about the site’s works. Arrange detailed demos with the selected eCommerce platforms. During these sessions, explore the platform’s functionalities, user interface, and ease of customization.
Interact with the platform’s representatives to address specific queries and concerns. Evaluate the platform’s ability to handle your product catalog, payment gateways, and third-party integrations.
A firsthand experience through demos is essential to confirm if the platform aligns with your vision, ensuring a seamless migration process.
Step 5: Finalize the New eCommerce Platform
After comprehensive demos and stakeholder feedback, make a well-informed decision on the eCommerce platform to migrate to. Here are the key things to pay attention to:
- Negotiate terms
- Finalize contracts
- Ensure clarity on pricing structures and support services
You also need to confirm customization options and available plugins that align with your business needs. Clear communication with the platform provider is essential at this stage to establish a strong foundation for the migration process. It also ensures a smooth transition to your new eCommerce platform.
Step 6: Plan the Migration
Implementing a migration takes time and effort. Therefore, you need a comprehensive migration plan that outlines every step of the process. Some of the key things to include:
- Specific tasks such as data migration, design implementation, and testing phases
- Allocate resources efficiently, considering the expertise of your team members
- Anticipate potential challenges
A well-structured plan serves as a roadmap, guiding your team through the migration process. It also ensures minimal disruptions and a successful transition to the new eCommerce platform.
Step 7: Crawl Your Old Website Before the Migration
To migrate all your data, utilize web crawling tools to analyze your existing website’s structure, including URLs, metadata, and content hierarchy.
This detailed crawl provides a comprehensive overview of your current site, ensuring no essential data or pages are overlooked during the migration.
By documenting the existing website’s structure, you can plan the new platform’s layout and content organization, ensuring a seamless transition for your users.
Step 8: Backup Old eCommerce Store Data
Prioritize the safety of your business data by creating secure backups of your entire eCommerce store, including:
- Product information
- Customer details
- Order history
- Other crucial data
Store these backups in a separate location or on a cloud-based service, ensuring their integrity. These backups act as a safety net, allowing you to restore critical information in case of unexpected issues during or after the migration process. This approach safeguards your business continuity.
Step 9: Design and Develop the New eCommerce Site
One of the key steps is designing and developing your new eCommerce site. Collaborate with designers to create an intuitive, visually appealing interface that aligns with your brand identity.
Simultaneously, developers bring these designs to life, incorporating essential features, payment gateways, and third-party integrations. During development, prioritize responsive design, ensuring seamless user experience across devices.
Continuous feedback loops between design and development teams are vital. This ensures the final product meets your eCommerce site’s aesthetic and functional requirements.
Step 10: Use a Data Migration Service
Engage a reputable eCommerce data migration service provider specializing in eCommerce transitions. Utilizing their expertise and tools, smoothly transfer your data from the old platform to the new one.
These data migration services help with data accuracy, mapping product details, customer information, and order history. Their experience minimizes the risk of data loss or corruption, ensuring a seamless transition.
You also need to regularly verify the migrated data for accuracy to maintain the integrity of your eCommerce operations post-migration.
Step 11: Perform eCommerce Migration
Once you have a data migration service provider, you can execute the planned migration process. This ensures a systematic transfer of data, design elements, and functionalities from the old eCommerce platform to the new one.
Supervise the migration process closely, resolving any unexpected issues promptly.
Furthermore, rigorous testing is crucial during this phase to guarantee that all features, payment gateways, and integrations work seamlessly in the new environment. This approach ensures a smooth transition, minimizing downtime and user disruptions.
Step 12: Optimize the Checkout Experience
Once you move to a new platform, you can improve your checkout experience. Refine the checkout process to enhance user satisfaction and increase conversions. You can achieve this by streamlining the steps, minimizing form fields, and ensuring a straightforward, intuitive flow.
Additionally, you should optimize payment gateways for various options, including credit cards and digital wallets. Implement address auto-fill features and provide clear, concise error messages. This will ensure a hassle-free and secure checkout experience for your customers in the new eCommerce store.
Step 13: Conduct an SEO Audit Prior to Launch
Before you launch your new eCommerce store, perform a comprehensive SEO audit of your new website to ensure optimal search engine visibility. Check for proper meta tags, headers, and keyword usage across the site.
Verify that URLs are SEO-friendly and implement redirects for any changes. Take time to audit internal and external links for relevance and correctness.
Additionally, ensure mobile-friendliness and fast loading times. Address any SEO issues discovered during the audit to maximize your website’s online presence and rankings.
Step 14: Test and Retest
Ensure you conduct comprehensive testing in the front and back end before the launch. Testing all aspects of your new eCommerce website allows you to identify and fix bugs quickly. Test functionality across browsers and devices to confirm compatibility.
Verify that all features, from product browsing to payment processing, work flawlessly. You should also perform security tests to identify and fix vulnerabilities. Check loading speeds and optimize where necessary.
Go an extra step by collaborating with real users or testers to gather feedback addressing any usability issues. After modifications, you can retest all features to confirm that the website is error-free and user-friendly before launch.
Step 15: Launch the New Website
With thorough testing completed and all issues resolved, it’s time to officially launch your new eCommerce website. Coordinate with the best eCommerce hosting provider to set up your website domain.
Double-check all configurations, ensuring everything is set up correctly. Monitor the site closely during the initial launch period, addressing any unforeseen issues promptly. Ensure you inform your stakeholders and customers about the launch and be prepared to support any inquiries or concerns.
Step 16: Communicate the Migration to Your Existing Customers
Once the website migration is done, communicate with your customer base. Craft clear, informative messages explaining the change, emphasizing the benefits they will experience, such as improved user interface and enhanced services.
Utilize various channels like emails, social media, and your existing website to reach out to customers. Address frequently asked questions proactively and provide accessible customer support channels to address concerns.
Key Considerations When Creating an eCommerce Migration Plan
Failing to create an eCommerce migration plan can be costly for your business. You might miss some key steps and eventually spend more than your budget. To avoid these mistakes, here are the key considerations to take:
Think About Your Business Needs
You should start by identifying your specific business requirements, such as scalability, payment gateways, and inventory management. Understand your current pain points and future goals.
Once you have these needs outlined, tailor your migration plan to address these needs effectively. Consider factors like peak traffic times, product catalog size, and customer data security. Aligning the migration with your business needs ensures a seamless transition.
Develop an eCommerce RFP
Creating a comprehensive Request for Proposal (RFP) provides your list of requirements for your vendors. Use this RFP to clearly outline your project objectives, budget constraints, and desired features. You can also detail your technical requirements, including integration needs and data migration specifics.
Include a timeline and criteria for vendor selection and add support expectations post-migration. A well-crafted RFP ensures potential service providers understand your expectations, enabling more accurate proposals tailored to your eCommerce migration project.
Evaluate the Total Cost of Ownership
Assessing the total cost of ownership (TCO) is crucial for budgeting and long-term planning. Consider the initial platform costs and ongoing expenses like hosting, maintenance, and potential upgrades.
Factor in costs associated with:
- Data migration
- Staff training
- Support services
Evaluate the TCO over several years to get a comprehensive understanding. Understanding the full financial picture helps in making informed decisions and avoiding unexpected expenses down the line.
Identify the Necessary Integrations
Thoroughly assess the integrations essential for your eCommerce operations. Consider payment gateways, shipping solutions, CRM systems, and marketing tools that you’ll get on the new platform.
You also need to identify how these integrations will enhance customer experience and streamline business processes. Evaluate the compatibility of your current integrations with the new eCommerce solution.
During this evaluation, prioritize flexible APIs and robust integration capabilities to adapt to future business needs, ensuring a cohesive and efficient eCommerce ecosystem.
Consider Skills and Ability of Your Team
As you create your eCommerce migration plan, you need to evaluate the skill set and expertise of your internal team. Assess their familiarity with the new platform and the technologies involved in the eCommerce platform migration.
Identify potential skill gaps and plan for training or hiring as needed. Additionally, consider the workload of your team members alongside the migration tasks. Adequate support and expertise within your team are vital for a successful migration.
Review Features and Capabilities of the New Platform
Thoroughly evaluate the features and capabilities offered by the new eCommerce store. Consider essential aspects like product management, order processing, payment gateways, and third-party integrations.
You should also assess advanced functionalities such as AI-powered recommendations, mobile responsiveness, and multichannel support. Align these features with your business goals and customer expectations. A comprehensive understanding of the features you need ensures you select a platform that fulfills your business goals.
Choose the Data Transfer Method
Selecting the right data transfer method is pivotal for a smooth eCommerce migration. If you choose to use manual, in-house transfers, remember that they provide direct control but demand meticulous attention to detail and time.
Alternatively, specialized apps can simplify the process, automating data transfer tasks. On the other hand, APIs offer a robust solution, ensuring seamless, real-time data synchronization between systems. Evaluate the complexity of your data to help you choose a method that balances efficiency, accuracy, and your team’s technical capabilities.
Meet with the Right People
Engage in discussions with diverse stakeholders, including internal team members, platform partners, and in-house marketing teams.
Internal stakeholders provide insights into specific business requirements, ensuring the migration aligns with organizational goals. When you closely collaborate with platform partners, you can access technical expertise and seamless integration support.
You should also involve in-house marketing teams to address customer experience concerns and align promotional strategies. Planning regular meetings will foster collaboration and utilize everyone’s expertise to contribute to the successful planning and execution of the eCommerce migration.
Plan for Future Improvements and Needs
If your business is growing rapidly, you should anticipate the scalability and changing market demands. Strategically plan for future improvements and needs during the eCommerce migration.
Ensure the chosen platform can accommodate increasing product lines and customer base. You can evaluate potential upgrades, such as incorporating emerging technologies like AI or AR for enhanced customer experiences, and plan for ongoing optimizations and feature enhancements. This approach allows your eCommerce platform to evolve seamlessly as your business expands.
Think About Customer Service and Support
Prioritize customer service and support considerations throughout the eCommerce migration process. Assess how the new platform enhances customer service capabilities, such as:
- Live chat
- Ticketing systems
- Self-service options
Ensure seamless integration with your CRM system for efficient customer data management. At this stage, you should also plan for adequate training of customer support staff to handle inquiries related to the migration.
Choose the Right Time to Run the Migration
You can’t migrate your website at any random time. Carefully select the timing for your eCommerce migration. Before picking a time, consider your business’s seasonal patterns, ensuring minimal impact on peak sales periods.
Avoid major product launches or marketing campaigns during the migration window. To achieve this, you should coordinate with marketing and sales teams to choose a low-traffic period, minimizing disruption to customer experience.
Timing the migration right reduces risks and ensures a smoother transition.
Transfer Only Up-to-Date Content
Prioritize data accuracy by transferring only the most recent and relevant content to the new eCommerce store. Conduct a thorough content audit, identifying obsolete products, outdated descriptions, or redundant media files.
Before the transfer, you can cleanse your data by removing irrelevant information. Prioritize high-performing products and update customer data for migration. This enhances the new platform’s efficiency and improves user experience.
eCommerce Migration Checklist
Once it’s time to migrate, here’s an eCommerce migration checklist to guide you:
- Audit your existing eCommerce platform: Evaluate existing functionalities, data structures, and performance to identify strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement.
- Gather key internal stakeholders: Assemble a team of developers, designers, marketers, and decision-makers and brief them on the migration objectives.
- Define migration goals and requirements: Clearly outline the purpose of the migration.
- Research and choose the new platform: Investigate potential eCommerce platforms based on your requirements.
- Develop a detailed migration plan: Create a step-by-step plan outlining tasks, responsibilities, and timelines.
- Backup data and important files: Safeguard critical data, including products, customer information, and order history.
- Prepare for post-migration support: Train staff to use the new platform effectively.
- Create a post-launch plan: Monitor the site closely and address any issues promptly. Gather feedback from internal teams and customers to help you evaluate the migration’s success and plan for continuous improvements.
eCommerce Platform Types to Consider
The type of eCommerce platform you choose will impact your scalability and maintenance costs. Here are the three platforms to consider:
SaaS (Software as a Service) platforms are hosted online and accessed via a web browser. They are typically developed and maintained by a third-party provider.
Their key features include easy setup, automatic updates, and scalability. In the long term, SaaS eCommerce platforms are more affordable.
The benefits of this platform include:
- Hassle-free maintenance
- Low costs than cloud and premise
- Continuous updates
- Automated security updates
However, they also have a downside because customization might be limited. Additionally, businesses rely on the provider’s servers and security.
On-premise platforms involve hosting the eCommerce system on servers within the organization’s internal storage facility. They offer high customization, complete control over data, and robust security.
Their pros include:
- Full autonomy over the site
- Flexibility, which allows you to make any changes to the site
However, this eCommerce platform has high upfront costs, extensive maintenance, and IT expertise requirements.
Cloud eCommerce platforms utilize cloud computing infrastructure, offering flexibility and accessibility from anywhere. They are a mix of SaaS and premise platforms. Their key features include scalability, reliability, and seamless integrations.
The benefits of using this option include:
- Automated backups
- Rapid scalability
The disadvantages of this platform include the potential security concerns and dependency on internet connectivity.
Top 5 Options for eCommerce Replatforming
If you plan to replatform, here are the top options to consider:
According to 2023 statistics, WordPress is used by about 45.8% of all websites on the internet. This popular eCommerce platform offers multiple themes, layouts, and templates to help users customize their eCommerce sites.
- Multiple integrations
- No learning curve for beginners
- SEO optimization tools
- Limited built-in security features
- Heavy reliance on plugins
This eCommerce platform operates on WordPress. It uses the available tools and integrations. WooCommerce has an efficient product catalog management, which includes variations and downloadable products. It also supports multiple payment gateways, providing flexibility for customers.
- Ideal for WordPress users
- Versatile to accommodate different users
- Lower initial costs
- Built-in SEO tools
- It requires constant updates
- Limited to WordPress
- You need technical expertise for customization
Adobe Commerce, formerly known as Magento, provides eCommerce businesses with advanced features for product management, marketing, and analytics. Switching to this platform gives you full control over the site design.
- Ideal for large enterprises
- Innovative features and tools
- Open-source platform
- Highly customizable
- It’s costly for small businesses
- A steeper learning curve, requiring skilled developers
- It takes a lot of time to set up
Shopify is an eCommerce site that offers an intuitive dashboard for easy store management. The extensive marketplace offers various apps and plugins.
It also has mobile-responsive themes and a mobile app for on-the-go management. Shopify scales effectively for businesses of all sizes, accommodating growth seamlessly.
- Streamlined setup and user-friendly interface, perfect for beginners
- Rapid deployment for quick launch
- Quality security features
- Extensive app store for integrations
- Extra fees for external payment gateways
- Monthly subscription fees may add up
- Challenges when migrating data
Another eCommerce platform to consider is BigCommerce. This multi-channel selling platform accommodates businesses of all sizes, from startups to enterprise-level. It has built-in marketing tools to help with SEO, email marketing, and abandoned cart recovery.
Also, it has extensive design options with built-in themes and HTML/CSS access.
- Ease of use
- Built-in marketing features
- App marketplace for integrations
- Handles high traffic
- Limited free themes
- A steep learning curve for customization
- Users need coding language for advanced customization
Top 7 eCommerce Migration Services for Replatforming
There are different tools and services that can be used for eCommerce migration. Here are their key features, pros, and cons:
Transporter is a cloud-based eCommerce migration service that facilitates seamless platform transitions. It’s available for Shopify Plus users. You can use it to import orders, customer and product records.
Its benefits include accurate data transfer, customization, and the ability to streamline complex migration processes, saving time and effort. However, it has a learning curve and can be expensive depending on the customization needs.
To get the pricing, you have to contact the Shopify team to get the quote for Shopify Plus.
Image source: Cart2Cart
Cart2Cart is an automated eCommerce migration tool that helps with replatforming. This tool automatically migrates customer and product data. It’s a simple tool for beginners thanks to the simple, guided steps.
This migration tool is easy to use, offers a free demo, and is highly automated. The downside of using this tool is that the migration speeds vary, and some advanced features require additional payments.
To get a quote, you must request an estimate from the team.
Image source: LitExtension
If you are looking for a simple eCommerce store migration tool, consider LitExtension. You don’t need technical expertise to use this tool; the migration process is automated.
When you use LitExtension, you are assured of efficiency, data integration, and 24/7 customer support. However, the platform has limited customization, which is not ideal for large businesses.
This tool has a basic migration package at $79 and an all-in-one package at $139.
Image source: Next-Cart
Next-Cart allows you to migrate your store from one platform to the next in a few steps. Since it’s automated, you can use the site tool even as a beginner. You just need to key in the platform names and start the migration process.
The advantages of using Next-Cart include automated migration. 24/7 customer support and easy migration. However, users might need familiarity with the platform to use it.
The entry price is $20, but this changes based on your number of customers, products, orders, and blog posts.
Bulk Account Invite Sender
This eCommerce migration tool is available for Shopify Plus customers. Your online store can bulk invite users to re-activate their accounts on your online platform once you have migrated.
You can use this bulk account invite sender post-migration to rebuild your customer base. It’s an ideal tool if you have many customer accounts. This tool saves you time because you can contact multiple people at once.
To get the pricing for this tool, you’ll have to first pay for Shopify Plus.
The other alternative is by using APIs to transfer your data. You can hire an external developer or source internally to help you migrate data to your new site.
APIs automate the data transfer process, making them ideal for large enterprises. They also have real-time updates to help you keep up with the transfers.
If your eCommerce store has limited resources, you can hire external agencies to handle the data migration on your behalf.
Agency partners have the expertise for this job, offer end-to-end support, and can tailor the migration process to your needs. However, keep in mind that engaging them can be costly, and you have to rely on external help throughout.
eCommerce Migration Case Study
Great Little Trading Company (GLTC) partnered with Underwaterpistol, a London-based eCommerce expert, to migrate 800 products and 1.1 million customer records. The agency managed the seamless transition, preserving user experience, design, and SEO optimization.
Post-migration, GLTC experienced enhanced website performance, user engagement, and a streamlined shopping journey. This collaboration exemplified migration excellence, showcasing the expertise of both GLTC and Underwaterpistol
In the dynamic world of eCommerce, strategic migration and re-platforming are crucial for sustained success.
This guide has provided key tips to help you get started. To ensure a seamless transition, collaborate with the best eCommerce hosting providers who can help you shape your online business future.
Next Steps: What Now?
- Start by creating an eCommerce migration plan
- Choose your platform, domain name, and web hosting.
- Check HostAdvice to find the best eCommerce platforms
Learn More About eCommerce Migration
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- eCommerce Website Cost
- Types Of e-Commerce
- What is B2B eCommerce?
- What is C2C eCommerce?
- Business Models In eCommerce
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- What is a Subscription Service? From Monthly Boxes to Premium Access
- eCommerce Payment Methods
- How to Start an eCommerce Business: The Ultimate Guide
- How to Create an Online Store
- What Is a Private Label?
- Common E-Commerce Applications and Their Benefits
- Understanding Ecommerce PIM: Streamline Your Product Information
- Ecommerce ERP Integration and Its Features
- The Essential Guide to E-commerce Shipping Solutions