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Migrating to Magento 2

5th March 2020

It’s been 5 years since the release of the Magento 2 platform to market.

The question is, why after 5 years are more than half of Magento e-commerce sites still running on Magento 1 -despite Magento repeatedly stating that support for Magento 1 is going to end?

Magento solution providers and integrators have expressed the benefits of Magento 2 and what it takes to migrate from Magento 1 to Magento 2, but no one is talking about why businesses remain sceptical about migrating.

The majority of Magento 1 clients experience decision paralysis. Magento 2 is superior and more robust when compared to Magento 1 and clients know this, yet refuse to take the plunge as they are too often consumed by the migration process itself.

Common concerns of business owners/technology leads:
  1. Magento 1 sites have a lot of customisation - how will these customisations play out with the migration? Will they be lost? Any loss will impact the experience users have and the businesses’ bottom line.
  2. Magento 1 uses a number of third-party extensions to enable key business functions, does Magento 2 include these functionalities natively or have an equivalent extension?
  3. The storefront site is bespoke, but how seamless is the migration. Will I lose key elements of the experiences visual design?
  4. The data structure is customised on Magento 1, how seamless is the data migration – will data be lost or compromised?

These are valid concerns and anyone in charge of customer experience would need answers before initiating the migration process. The migration needs to be seamless without disrupting the experience they offer to their customers and their current business operation.

Why aren’t people migrating to Magento 2?

In the interest of getting business, solution providers are trying to make the migration process seem easy, which is not the case.

Magento does provide tools to migrate data, codebase, theme etc. but this comes with the caveat that these tools only help when there are no customisations. I find it hard to imagine a site without customisation – customers have unique needs which have to be met, ecommerce is a highly competitive field.

Magento have also made it clear that Magento 2 is different from Magento 1 when it comes to the core platform architecture. This raises questions around migration and how it may not be as seamless with Magento 2’s all-new core infrastructure.

The bottom line is, migrating to Magento 2 is not a simple click and point operation. It’s like migrating to a new platform, things can go wrong if the finer details are not considered. Most Magento 1 clients know these risks and fail to take anything at face value; nor should they.

Technological innovation and competition vs vulnerabilities

If businesses are serious about remaining competitive, they need to innovate – not just their strategy but their technology too. If they plan to do that by using Magento’s platforms to deliver experiences, a migration to Magento 2 is inevitable for survival - considering the benefits it offers, from features to performance through to scalability.

Magento has announced a June 2020 deadline for turning off support for Magento 1. Businesses can continue to stay on Magento 1 beyond that deadline, but there will be issues:

  1. Security patches for vulnerabilities
  2. Feature upgrades
  3. Extension support
How should you approach migration to Magento 2?

Looking for your solution partner 

Firstly, look out for a solutions provider who is not just a Magento expert but an ecommerce specialist with Magento 1 to Magento 2 migration experience.

Even though your current Magento 1 partner might be well versed with all aspects of your  platform, it doesn’t guarantee they are equipped to carry out the migration - Magento 2 is a new platform. In either case, make sure you vet the vendors thoroughly before migrating here’s some tips on doing this.

Audit and analyse

Migrating to Magento 2 without auditing your Magento 1 site is going be painful. Once you gain confidence with a solution provider, ask them to audit your current Magento 1 platform focusing on customisations, extensions, data structure and theme.

Then conduct a mapping exercise, listing out all the customisations and complexities. The auditing team should review each customisation/extension in detail and figure out if there is an out of the box functionality in Magento 2 that can replace the customisation/extension you currently use, or an equivalent extension from the marketplace.

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 define the migration plan, timelines and cost.

Experience and visual design

Now that you have decided to take the migration plunge, you need to think about conducting an experience and visual design audit. Based on this audit and your desire to improve your experience, you need to assign an owner i.e. your team, agency partner or Magneto migration supplier.

Make sure you focus on creating a better experience for customers by grounding this element of the migration in user needs. That means primary research with customers, not just using out of the box functionality because you can without knowing how it will impact your customers.

It’s also worth noting that any change to the front-end experience can make migration more complicated because the existing theme code cannot be leveraged. This means additional development will be required.

Migrating data, settings and content

Even with a detailed project plan and a solid team performing the migration - there are risks. Data mapping and migration is challenging, especially when you have customised data tables and aggregated a lot of data in Magento 1 - data which powers your business. Your solution provider will need to map out the data structure and ensure the data is migrated to the Magento 2 system before anything else.

Your current settings also need to be mapped out and configured in Magento 2. Key settings include user access, payments, shipping, tax, analytics, SEO etc. You’ll also have aggregated lots of content including images, videos and content blocks - these are important assets that should be migrated in tandem.

Migration and theme

Theme migration depends on whether you have decided to redesign your experience or not. If you are migrating the theme as is, minor theme level fixes are required due to the differences in Magento 2’s file structure.

If your experience is changing wholesale, your project plan should include theme development activities in parallel to the other migration aspects including customer wants, needs and expectations.

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 in-depth user acceptance testing (UAT) phase in the project plan – if there isn’t one don’t sign off the project. This is time for you to stress test what you’ve migrated to Magento 2 against expected functionality, high usage, and business processes.

Depending on the team you have, it’s recommended you allot sufficient resources to perform the UAT. This ensures all aspects are covered. Your solutions provider should include at least 3 weeks of UAT in the plan.

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. That’s why your solutions partner should perform a mapping exercise, consult an SEO partner and create appropriate redirects prior to launch.

Wrapping up

Each business is unique, as are industries this has to be considered during the migration. There’s a lot to be done while migrating to Magento 2, but I hope what I’ve written here helps you kick-start your journey toward considered migration.

Remember: be careful, changes will impact the customer experience you provide – continuous evaluation of the experience should be part of the roadmap.


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