Business scepticism towards migration to Magento 2
It’s been 5 years since the Magento 2 platform was released in the market. Question is, why even after all these years more than half of Magento ecommerce sites are still running on the Magento 1 platform? Even despite Magento folks repeatedly shouting out that support for Magento 1 is going to end sooner rather than later?
Magento solution providers and integrators have written a lot about the benefits of Magento 2 and what it takes to migrate. But no one is talking about why majority of businesses are still sceptical about the new platform or what this scepticism is rooted in?
“Being proactive is good, waiting and making an informed reaction is better”
This is the mindset a majority of Magento 1 clients are trapped into. Magento 2 is a superior and more robust platform when compared to Magento 1 and clients know this, yet they still refuse to take the plunge because they are too concerned about the migration process itself. They don’t want to walk into the fire.
Common concerns from the business owners include:
- Magento 1 site is heavily customised, how will these customisations play out with the migration? Will they be lost?
- Magento 1 uses a number of third-party extensions to enable key business functions, does Magento 2 include these functionalities natively or has an equivalent extension?
- The storefront site is custom designed, how seamless it is to migrate with as-is design?
- The data structure is customised on Magento 1, how seamless is the data migration?
These are valid concerns and any business owner would like to get answers before initiating the migration process. They expect the migration to be seamless without disrupting their current business operation. Business leaders in this situation look for credible information sources, something only a trusted partner can provide by helping and guiding them through the journey.
The irony is that some Magento solution providers are running a scam in the name of “M1 to M2 Migration” programmes. In the interest of getting business, solution providers are trying to make the migration process seem like a walk in the park, which is not the case. It’s true that Magento provides migration tools to migrate data, codebase, theme etc. but with the caveat that these tools help only when there are no customisations. Personally, I find it pretty hard to imagine a site without customisation — customers have unique wants which needs to be met.
Magento has also made it clear that Magento 2 is pretty different from Magento 1 in terms of the core platform architecture itself. How can a migration be seamless when the core architecture is so different? The bottom line is, migrating to Magento 2 is not a simple click and point operation, it is like migrating to a new platform, things can go wrong if the finer details are not considered. The fact is, most Magento 1 clients are knowledgeable about these risks and are not taking anything at face value, nor should they.
If it’s that complex, is migration really necessary? The simple answer is “yes”.
If businesses are serious about thriving in an era of increased competition, they need to continuously innovate. If they plan to do that by staying on Magento’s platforms to deliver experiences a migration to Magento 2 is inevitable for survival considering all the benefits it offers from features to performance to scalability.
Magento has announced a firm June 2020 deadline for turning off support for Magento 1. With just over 6 months left your house is already on fire. Businesses can continue to stay on Magento 1 beyond that deadline, but it’s not hard to imagine how without these things:
- Security patches for vulnerabilities
- Feature upgrades
- Extension support
How should you approach the problem?
Hunting for your solution partner:
First and foremost, look out for a solutions provider who is not just a Magento expert but an ecommerce specialist having migrated at least 2 -3 sites from Magento 1 to Magento 2 successfully.
Even though your current Magento 1 partner might be well versed with all aspects of your Magento 1 platform, it doesn’t imply they are well equipped to carry out the migration. Keep in mind Magento 2 is a new platform! In either case, make sure you vet the vendors thoroughly before pushing ahead.
Audit and analyse:
Migrating to Magento 2 without auditing the Magento 1 site is like performing surgery without anaesthesia, it is likely to be painful! Once you gain confidence with a solution provider, ask them to audit the current Magento 1 platform focusing on customisations, extensions, data structure, theme etc.
Then carry out a mapping exercise listing out all the customisations and complexities with the recommended solutions. This will give you an edge when your chosen partner begins the migration. Ideally, the auditing team should review each customisation/extension in detail and figure out if there is an OOTB functionality in Magento 2 that can replace the customisation/extension you currently use or an equivalent extension for Magento 2 from the marketplace. The outcome of this exercise will give you a clear picture of the problems you need to consider and the solutions that can be used to address them during migration. This will help you define the migration plan, timelines, and the cost.
Experience and visual design:
Now that you have decided to take the migration plunge, it’s the right time to think about conducting an experience and visual design audit. Based on this audit if you want to improve your experience you need to assign an owner, whether that’s your team internally, an agency partner or your Magneto migration supplier. Whatever the case, make sure you focus on creating a better experience for your customers by grounding this element of the migration in user needs — that means primary research. Also, bear in mind that changing the front-end experience can make migration more complex because the existing theme code becomes useless and cannot be leveraged.
Migrating data, settings and content:
Even with a detailed project plan and a solid team performing the migration there are still risks. Data mapping and migration is challenging especially when you have customised data tables and aggregated lots of data in
Magento 1. Your solution provider will need to map out the data structure and make sure that the data is migrated into the Magento 2 system before anything else. Next, your current settings need to be mapped out and configured in Magento 2. Some of the key settings include user access, payments, shipping, tax, analytics, SEO etc. Over the years, you will have also aggregated lot of content including images, videos, content blocks etc. these are important assets that should be migrated in parallel.
Migration and theme:
Theme migration depends on whether you have decided to reimagine your experience or not. If you are migrating the theme as is, minor theme level fixes are required due to the differences in file structures in Magento 2. If your experience is changing wholesale, it’s an “elephant in the room”, your project plan should include theme development activities in parallel to the other migration aspects above. Based on the number of sprints planned for the project, theme development activities can be broken down into multiple sprints, so you get to see incremental deliverables every sprint in parallel with the migration progressing.
Validation and launch:
Your solutions partner should include an elaborated UAT phase in the project plan — if there isn’t one don’t sign it off. This is the time for you to validate and stress test the application in the new platform against expected functionality and business processes.
Depending on the team you have, its recommended to allot sufficient resources to perform the UAT to make sure all aspects are covered. Your solutions provider should include at least 3 weeks of UAT in the plan (if there’s no experience design, then 2 weeks should be good enough). Before you hit the launch button, make sure all the URL redirects are configured properly so you don’t lose traffic with the new site. Magento 2 has a different URL structure than Magento 1, hence your solutions partner should perform a mapping exercise and create appropriate redirects prior to launch to ensure the new site search engine optimized.
There may well be finer details specific to your business and industry which have to be considered during the migration. The fact is, there is a lot of ground that has to be covered while migrating to Magento 2 but hopefully what I’ve written here helps you start your journey.
Finally, a big shout out to Magento 1 businesses, it’s time to shed your scepticism and consider migration as soon as possible — obviously with the right partner, right solution and a solid plan of action!