Five Things to Consider Before Migrating to Magento 2

Effective June 2020, Magento 1 will no longer be supported. While moving to Magento 2 may seem like the obvious answer, here are five things to consider before migrating to Magento 2.
Brian Beaupied

The countdown has begun. Effective June 2020, Magento 1 will no longer be supported.

Does this mean your Magento site will just stop working come June? No. But it does mean you’ll forfeit access to any new features and capabilities and your site will stop receiving critical security and performance fixes. This will leave your site and data – including customer data – at risk for potential hackers.

As a Magento user, you have three potential options:

  • Stay on Magento 1, leaving your site at risk
  • Migrate to Magento 2, which is complicated and not as seamless as one might think
  • Move off the platform entirely

For the purpose of this post, we will focus on Option 2 and the five things to consider before migrating to Magento 2.

This won’t be fast or easy

When dealing with deprecated software, moving to a newer, more stable release is typically pretty seamless. That won’t be the case with Magento 2.

This won’t be fast or easy. Why? We’ve been intentional in our use of the term “migrate” here in talking about the process. There is no easy upgrade path or update that quickly and easily takes you and your website to Magento 2. This process will effectively resemble moving to a new platform. The migration itself will require internal resources or a third party to help you, and it will likely take several months (and a whole lot of testing) to complete.

This is because…

Customizations will not migrate

Magento empowers its users through the use of themes and extensions, which are largely sourced and maintained by the Magento community. This provides a great value for users who don’t have internal development resources or the ability to extend or further customize the solution to fit their needs.

However, as Magento 2 is built on a new database with a new architecture, any existing themes, extensions, or other customizations will not readily migrate to Magento 2. This means you’ll need to repurchase, reconfigure, and rebuild these themes, extensions, and other customizations for Magento 2. Extensions on Magento 2 have also been reported to be more expensive than its predecessor, and can still be susceptible to bugs and performance issues.

This leads us to …

Possible performance issues

A new database and architecture are not the only key differences between Magento 1 and Magento 2. Another is how the platforms approach URL structure, as well as some other considerations for SEO and site performance.

We recently spoke to a Magento 1 user interested in moving his company to Magento 2. A key consideration in the user’s decision-making is the SEO equity and page rank associated with his current Magento sites. However, after redesigning and the change to URL structures, the business could experience loss of page rank as a result. Redirects and content duplication are other post-launch concerns users will have to plan for after migrating to Magento 2.

In addition, Magento 2 is reported to have some common post-launch performance issues, including slow loading or performance. These issues are pretty well detailed here and here. Search engines like Google will pay attention to the site’s performance and may “ding” rankings as a result, not to mention the risk of losing users to slow load times. A Magento site that is heavily reliant on third-party code could also experience performance issues.

Meanwhile …

No enterprise CMS, personalization

Today’s customers need more than just a product page or shopping cart to make or complete a purchase. Content tailored to the user -- including product images and videos, demonstrations, documentation, reviews, user-generated content and more -- and having this content surfaced at the right time in the right channel, is an important consideration in the buying journey.

Enterprise content management and personalization are two features synonymous with creating a great commerce experience and are not standard with Magento 2. While recent updates to Magento 2 have brought in better CMS functions, including a drag-and-drop page builder, building out the CMS may still require extensions or the layering of separate systems for CMS and commerce. It’s a basic but far from an efficient CMS.

If on a version before Magento 2.3, users will likely experience limited content formats, a simple and dated interface for the editor experience (without the aforementioned drag-and-drop page builder), and still require front-end expertise to create truly engaging and memorable content. Magento 2 also doesn’t offer native personalization, either by audience segment, business rules, or machine learning, which are becoming standing offerings for enterprise CMS systems (which are also closing the gap in commerce capabilities offered).

This all adds up to …

It won’t be cheap

While Magento does offer a free version – Magento Open Source – it still has a reputation for being expensive for a number of reasons beyond just licensing costs. When considering the total cost of ownership for Magento 2, teams would be wise to consider:

  • Licensing for Magento 2 Commerce begins at $22K annually, while Magento 2 Commerce Cloud begins at $40k (similar to more robust, enterprise tools)
  • Magento 2 themes and extensions, on average, are reported to be more expensive than Magento 1 and will require greater maintenance over time
  • Migrating and customizing will take in-house development resources or a reliable partner to really get the most value out of a Magento 2 site and to tailor the solution to an organization’s needs

Between the costs for licensing, migrating data, purchasing themes and extensions, further configuring these themes and extensions, and testing, Adobe’s acquisition of the platform raises some concern over its long-term roadmap and the ability for users to see return on the Magento 2 investment.

Considering teams now have less than four months to make a decision, it’s time to look hard at how Magento is serving the business and meeting business requirements overall. Remember, the move to Magento 2 won’t be fast or easy, will require significant effort to replicate the current Magento 1 site, and may still subject the site to post-launch performance issues. This, all while not equipping content managers, marketers, and merchandisers with expected ecommerce tools to meet customer expectations. Oh, and it gets expensive in a hurry.

In other words, it’s a good time explore all options.

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