October, 7th 2019 (Monday) marked a very important milestone for ShaShinKi. After 14 years of using the first generation ecommerce software that developed and coded by myself (Dr Koh) entirely, I have finally moved on to a new design coded by professional programmers.
It was a hard decision, very hard indeed, but necessity.
ShaShinKi V0.0 was very primitive, using the very basic open source software, required lots of modifications and editing to make it usable commercially. It all happen on the night of in one of the day in Oct 2005, in a very cold day in Saijyo, Hiroshima, Japan, when I first moved there to start my PhD (in Marine Engineering) journey.
Fast forward to what I called as ShaShinKi V1.0, where I have done a lot of modifications to the site (probably over 100 install and uninstall), having it run for years and serving tens of thousands of customers, it has reached my capability to push it further. The site was so feature rich and complicated, making it hard for me to switch or move to other platform. Deep down there, I was a little proud of what I was able to achieve, not from a programming background. (I was studying Marine Engineering)
In 2016, I decided to engage a programmer to install several features into ShaShinKi website which I have always wanted but beyond my knowhow, eg. Facebook Login, Newsletter improvement, etc.. It took a few weeks to tweak and finalize the features, and they were running great. One big step forward for ShaShinKi, I called this ShaShinKi V1.1. (There are some other features I hope to have them installed on my website, but not able to be done by my programmer. He wasn’t into ecommerce software design.
The Dilemma…the problems…
Moving forward to June 2018, I have hit the limitation of my website performance and design. Sales are dropping, and I received many complaints from customers on the difficulties and confusing design and outdated interface of ShaShinKi V1.1 website. My server provider also advised me to upgrade our codes to be compatible with the latest PHP for security purpose. They no longer able to support the old PHP 5.3 which was released 10 years ago, and my old codes can’t support the newer version of PHP without heavy modifications.
ShaShinKi V1.1 was using two different templates for desktop and mobile sites, which is a pain to keep. I have to upload two different banners to both sites at different sizes, upkeeping two different designs, and doing two mods for both designs all the time. Not to mention the old dated design of my mobile site as well. But the biggest problem of ShaShinKi V1.1 is detecting the browser my visitors are using, should it redirecting them to mobile site or keeping them in desktop site. This is extremely important as viewing ShaShinKi desktop site in a mobile phone screen is extremely small and difficult to browse. While viewing ShaShinKi mobile site on a desktop is a joke. Another big problem is that both mobile site and desktop site are using two different URLs, hence when sharing product or site URL with customers, or even google indexing our site URLs, it becomes confusing and difficult.
All these pushed me for a change. A MUST CHANGE.
In June 2019, I discussed with my programmer on the needs and requirements, there are several ways of improving my site and solving my problems:
a) Reinstalling the latest version of my current software, add the mods that I need one by one, import my current database into the new software.
b) Modifying the codes of my current software to the latest version, comparing the codes of the old and new codes. There are hundreds of files…so will be very a tough and time consuming job.
c) Move on to a new software / design platform. Importing the database of my old site to the new site.
This is a very tough decision for me, as I am very familiar with my old site and codes, I hope to keep it and continue using it, but it will be quite impossible going through options a) and b) without spending lots of time and troubleshooting. Option c) seems to be the best way, as finding a more suitable ready made software with the features that I want and import my old site data to it seems to be the more practical and faster way. So I started googling around for some best ecommerce software available in the market…
Fast forward to Aug 2019, I found another programmer from oversea. He seems to know inside out of my current software, and he has the latest version with ready made template. After several days of communications, I decided to give him a try. (I informed my previous programmer on my decision as well.)
It took nearly 2 months with over 100+ extra tasks on the modifications and requirements, and finally my new site is launched on the 7th Oct 2019 (Monday). Installation and site move was done at the night of 6th Oct 2019 (started at 8pm), and I stayed till 2pm to do some troubleshooting with my programmer. Some bugs were not solved immediately but it was running at least. Payment gateway were having some issues, which need to be solved immediately (we solved it the next day).
It s an exciting time for this transition from ShaShinKi V1.1 to V2.0.
The move is completed, but the journey has just began.