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Here are the options we came up with:
1) Redirect a certain amount of global traffic coming from all sources to the new site while the rest land on the old site.
2) redirect traffic based on specific IP range. For instance all visitors from Colorado will only see the new site
3) Add a link to the current home page "visit the new site"
4) Use different destination URLs within an ad group on Google Adwords.
All options have their pros and cons, in our opinion only the option 1 is statistically correct but we are open to suggestions
Let us know your thoughts
I like the #3 option -- a link on the established site to the new one.
Either way, I think it depends on the overall amount of traffic, the total number of products, product options, categories, payment and shipping methods, and if you handle multiple currencies, have assorted customer types, run any affiliate programs, need to test CRM ticketing system, promo codes, etc..
If it's not a small simple store, then I'd run both sites for some time -- leave the older established site up as www.example.com and run the new one as store2.example.com, (or some other domain or sub-domain). That makes it easy to temporarily close the new store if there is a critical problem.
I'd invite established customers to use the new store first, (ones you can count on for good feedback -- ones that know how the old store worked and can tell you what they do or don't like about the new one).
Even if you get all the products, prices, images, etc.. all looking good, you need to find out if order processing, inventory control and any CRM, marketing or reporting functions are working.. etc.. etc..
It can take a while to fine tune a large ecommerce site. Since money is involved, I'm sure you wouldn't want to find out you didn't test enough and are losing money, rankings, customers or anything else.
You asked, so that's my $0.02