Your online store is an incredibly valuable asset. Your blood, sweat, and tears went into perfecting your theme, products, and blog posts. Regardless of whether it gets one order or thousands of orders per month, it’s the backbone of your ecommerce business and if something horrible happens to it, it will negatively affect every other aspect of your company.
As with all assets in your business, your online store needs to be protected.
You might be thinking “don’t all the ecommerce platforms backup the online stores for those reasons?” Or “surely if I accidentally delete my theme I can just call Customer Support and they’ll revert my store back to what it was.”
While the ecommerce providers like Shopify and BigCommerce do backup their platform, this backup is intended to be used in case of a disaster on their end, such as a server crashing and taking down hundreds of accounts. The issue is that this backup is NOT accessible for individual account restores– not even for a price. So if something goes wrong in your account and you desperately need to hit Ctrl + Z, customer support won’t be able to help you.
Without your own backups, your lost or deleted data cannot be recovered and you will be grinding away again rebuilding your store to what it was.
As a business owner, data backups and online security should be a TOP priority. If your online store is down even just for a few hours, it could mean hundreds of dollars in lost revenue.
In this article, we’ll cover the two ways you can backup your online store and protect your assets:
- Manually exporting your store data
- Automating a backup using an app
6 times an ecommerce store backup could save your life
1. You’re editing or modifying theme code yourself
Not to knock your coding skills, but even experienced website developers use a development store to test new code before publishing it to the live site. If you’re making any customizations or edits to your theme code, you need to have an easy way to reverse changes that didn’t work out the way you expected. Without a backup, reversing changes might mean spending hours redoing work or even hiring someone to help you clean up the mess.
2. You’re installing 3rd party apps
It’s important to keep in mind that ecommerce apps in the Shopify or BigCommerce app stores are built by a separate company, and often a single developer. While apps are vetted before being approved for the app store, your ecommerce platform cannot guarantee that an app will perfectly integrate with your store. And when you install an app, you are granting that app permissions to view, edit, or modify your store data.
We’ve talked with ecommerce entrepreneurs whose prices were completely wiped or their inventory counts changed by an app integration going wrong. In both cases, it took the entrepreneurs hours, even days, to recover.
Besides having a backup for the worst case scenarios, here are some best practices to keep in mind when testing new ecommerce apps.
3. You have a disgruntled employee
No entrepreneur wants to think about the possibility that their own employees could do something maliciously to hurt their business, but it does happen. Employees often have access to your online store and thus the ability to delete important files if they feel motivated to do so.
Here’s a customer story in the Shopify app store detailing this exact situation: “I almost fainted when I noticed one of our developers maliciously deleted all of our products (3000+) which we’ve been perfecting into our store for over a year and a half. We immediately contacted Shopify and they literally could do nothing! They just apologized and said we should have backed up the products.”
4. You hire freelancers to work on your store
Similarly to employees, when you hire a freelancer or contractor to work on your store, you are giving them permission to edit your store. It’s not always easy to vet freelancers and find someone you can trust, especially from websites like Fiverr.
Michelle Goyette, Founder of Unique World Inspirations, shared her story of when a web developer she hired to help with backend code edits ended up destroying her entire site. Luckily, she had a backup.
“With a very limited understanding of coding, I couldn’t even begin to understand the extent of what had been done to my store – much less, how to fix it. Of course, I no longer trusted the developer I hired to fix what they’d done, so what was I supposed to do (aside from have a mini meltdown)?” – Michelle Goyette
5. You run multiple online stores
If you’re a more experienced ecommerce entrepreneur, you might be running multiple online businesses. Or if you have an international brand, you could be running multiple online stores to better serve customers in certain geographical locations. The popular fitness brand Gymshark, for instance, has separate Shopify stores for the United Kingdom, United States, Europe. Germany, France, Australia… you get the picture.
In both cases, being highly efficient with your time is a necessity. You and your team are already spending a lot of time updating themes and products across all your online stores. It’s 100% necessary to backup all of that work.
6. You accidentally deleted your theme/products/blogs
Entrepreneurs are no strangers to mistakes and failures. You might be trying to delete a blog category and end up deleting all of the blog posts in that category. (This happens more often than you think) As long as you have a backup, you can continue building your online store fearlessly, knowing that you can recover any deleted item or undo a mistake.
A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing. – George Bernard Shaw
Manually exporting your online store data
If you look at Shopify’s help desk article on backups and duplication, it explains that “If you want to duplicate, backup, or transfer your store’s data, you will need to export a series of CSV files from your original store, and import those files into the new store.” Those CSV files need to be saved to your computer, an external hard drive, or in cloud-storage such as Dropbox until you need them.
BigCommerce gives similar instructions for backing up your store.
As any experienced ecommerce store owner knows, manually exporting your store’s data is very time consuming and restoring the files is no simple task.
The other downside is that you can’t create a single, full site backup. For Shopify, you can only export Products, Customers, and your Theme to CSV files. For other important items like blog posts, you are advised to copy + paste the content into a Word or Google Doc.
Needless to say, it’s not an ideal option for time-poor entrepreneurs who need reassurance that the backup will help them during a crisis. So let’s look at your alternative option.
Using a backup app for Shopify or BigCommerce
If you don’t want to mess around with CSV files (and we don’t blame you), you can use a backup app like Rewind to automate a daily backup of your store. You can also perform a backup at any time, such as right before you make edits to your theme.
Rewind gives you peace of mind knowing that all the hard work you’ve put into your store is protected. You have the flexibility to rewind a single item, multiple items, or your entire store to a previous version or point in time.
Here’s a demo of how to restore deleted Shopify products using Rewind:
While there are a couple of other backup apps on the market, there’s three important advantages to going with Rewind:
- It’s supported by a team of developers who regularly push software updates.
- There’s a dedicated Customer Support person (our invaluable Sarah Seguin) who can help you over the phone or email with any issues.
- It’s rated 5 stars from over 3000 customers and trusted by some of the best ecommerce brands including Endy, MVMT watches, Fashionnova, and Gymshark.
Where to download Rewind:
The best insurance policy for your online store
Just as retailers have insurance to protect their physical stores, you need insurance to protect your online store. When you think about the time and energy that went into building your ecommerce store, it’s a no-brainer decision. Using Rewind is the best way to ensure that you won’t forget to perform a backup and that if anything happens to your online store, you can quickly recover and minimize the damage in terms of lost sales and time.
Have you ever experienced data loss in your online store? Share what happened in the comments.