Magento Commerce is one of the most powerful ecommerce platforms on the market. But with support for Magento 1 versions ending in June 2020, it’s time for retailers to make the move from Magento 1 to 2 in the interests of security and performance, and to take advantage of other benefits that come with migrating to Magento 2, including revenue growth, increased site conversion, and increased site traffic.
In this complete Magento 2 upgrade guide, we look at everything you’ll need to consider in your migration plan if you’re thinking of moving to Magento 2.
The benefits of Magento 2
Magento Commerce (Magento 2) has proven itself to be a significant step-up from Magento 1.x versions, especially when it comes to usability and performance. It features a new backend admin panel, a better UX and cleaner interface for admin users, an improved native frontend, more native features, and enhanced B2B functionality.
Magento 2 sites are typically 20% faster than Magento 1 sites thanks to speed and performance enhancements, and other advantages include a streamlined checkout process and emphasis on mobile responsiveness.
Retailers that have migrated to Magento 2 are already experiencing cost savings of 62% when deploying new content, thanks to the improved user experience design which is making it far easier to create and manage content.
(Note: check-out some of our favourite Magento 2 examples to see what’s possible with the platform).
So yes, Magento 2 is clearly superior to its predecessor. But does that mean that retailers on Magento 1 should make the tricky and time-consuming move to the newer, feature-rice version?
Should I migrate to Magento 2?
The first thing to say here is that any decisions you make about a platform should be based on an understanding of that platform's ability to support your business goals.
As with any digital investment, the success of your project will come down to careful planning and assessment of your business requirements, conducted as part of a detailed Discovery or investigation phase.
This needs to happen before you make any major decisions about your next ecommerce platform. Because ultimately all key stakeholders need to clearly agree on the goals of the project, the best approach, and the requirements for succeeding with the project.
This process helps an organisation assess the requirements of the project – i.e. whether/why an upgrade is needed, the current pain points, how these can be solved, the required functionality, the effort and estimated budget requirements, and so on.
Once you know these things, you can then decide how best to proceed. Most importantly, you can estimate the project as accurately as possible and work out a reasonable budget.
For the purposes of this guide we’ll assume that you’ve done your due diligence and have decided to move to Magento 2.
Is it an upgrade or a replatform?
What’s important to understand is that a Magento 1 to 2 migration is essentially a re-build or a re-platforming project. That's because, unlike going from version 1.13 to 1.14, for example, there's no direct upgrade path from 1 to 2.
Of course, much of the functionality remains, but there are many new features and a redesigned admin panel. Magento 2 is very different to Magento 1, which means custom work on your site will need to be reproduced for the new store (as opposed to just being moved over).
So yes, you are going to need to re-build your site from scratch, but fear not; there are a great number of advantages to migrating to Magento 2, rather than to an entirely new platform, and there a number of things that will make the re-build a lot easier:
- You won’t have to re-learn the platform; Magento 2 has a lot of admin improvements but the user experience and processes won’t be alien to you or your teams
- Magento 2 offers a lot more out-of-the-box functionality (e.g. Page Builder, multi source inventory and B2B features)
- Magento’s Data Migration Tool simplifies the task of transferring data and checking its consistency to your new Magento 2 website
As with any digital investment, the success of your project will come down to careful planning and assessment of your business requirements. We recommend that this is conducted as part of a detailed Discovery process.
We always recommend retailers undertaking a rebuild to 'release light and release early'. Resist the temptation to add too many features in your first release, because you’ll learn more about your platform if you can rapidly get to market quickly and start capturing real feedback and analysis to inform your decisions regarding any further development.
Don’t try to ‘lift & shift’
Approaching your Magento 2 move as a straight port of your Magento 1 platform’s features to the new platform may seem like a lower-risk option. But a ‘lift and shift’ approach is not only impossible (M2 doesn’t support all M1 features and extensions, for example), it can also impede innovation and increase risk.
A big issue for merchants migrating to Magento 2 is the cost required to replicate existing functionality where equivalent extensions don’t exist in Magento 2. So, if mimicking a feature on your old site doesn’t give you a measurable advantage over your competitors, it’s better to adapt that feature to work within the context of your new platform. This will help you save budget and enable you to innovate in other areas.
Instead of focusing on features you want to port over from your Magento 1 site, it’s better to think in terms of the key business processes, ways of working, and business value you want to bring to the new platform.
Review your old code
It’s key to look at analytics and get customer feedback to understand how your old site is being used by customers. What features are being used? What’s driving revenue, helping you reduce costs, or giving you a competitive advantage? Use this to inform your decision-making on what to migrate to your new platform.
An upgrade is also a good opportunity to strip out any obsolete code, unused extensions, and redundant functionality from your Magento 1 site. Remember that the more that can be left behind, the more savings you can make, because you could end up spending budget building features that don’t actually add value.
See this as an opportunity to ‘clean up’; the chances are that you’ll have some functionality that isn’t used enough to justify spending budget on upgrading extensions.
It’s also important to have a plan for commodity features – those features that users expect to be there, but don’t provide differentiation or give you a competitive advantage. You should minimise spend on these features, or avoid them altogether, where possible. But remember that what may be a commodity feature for one business may actually be a differentiator for another (a store locator, for example).
Plan for your Magento 2 migration with our webinar
Capture the needs of your new system
Building a user story map can be highly effective way of capturing the high-level needs of a platform while tying those needs into value for users of the system. At its simplest form it’s about identifying specific user goals from which you derive activities, tasks, and user stories that deliver on that goal.
As they’re collaborative in nature, and often cut across departments and business functions, user story maps are an effective way of creating a shared understanding of what needs to be delivered by the migration.
What’s more, they allow you to understand what the minimum, go-live version of your new platform looks like. For reasons we’ve explored in more depth in a previous article, story mapping is far more effective way to capture the needs of your new system than using techniques like MoSCoW.
Once you have a story map that gives you a view of your system, you should ask yourself the following at each point of the map to help you make decisions as to how business value is best delivered:
- Does the new platform deliver this value without customisation?
- If not, can you adapt your business processes to work in the way that’s required by the new platform?
- If not, and customisation is required, does the return for that feature justify the investment?
These questions will help you to limit the amount of customisation needed to implement what are often commodity features. Remember that the focus should be on finding the cheapest and easiest ways of delivering the value, rather than the feature.
Minimise risks, maximise returns
Risk mitigation is one of the most important things in replatforming. Your ecommerce system touches many business-critical systems; for many businesses, the ecommerce platform is your main customer touchpoint and many business processes will be baked into this platform.
Projects like this can be expensive if you’re not managing this risk properly. You’ll need clear governance and clean lines of contact, and you should consider what you DON’T need to deliver in time for go-live.
Take frontend design and UX, for example. This is something you build and evolve over time based on analytics and changing user behaviours. To take on a full redesign at the same time as an ecommerce replatform adds a significant amount of risk. What’s more important at this stage is to get a brand or style guide in place and work closely to ensure quality and consistency.
Have a plan for data migration
Remember that all migrations will be different from each other, and that it’s hugely important to get a handle on migrating your data as soon as possible. Ensure you test your data throughout and don’t leave data migration to the last minute.
The following are areas where you’ll need to migrate data to your new platform:
- Historical orders
- URL structure
- Content (articles)
Use Magento’s Data Migration Tool, a command-line interface that verifies the consistency between Magento 1 and 2 database structures, to track progress when you’re transferring data to Magento 2. Use the tool to create logs and run data verification tests.
Quality assurance (QA) and testing is another really important part of a replatforming project and needs to be planned and factored into every stage to ensure your upgrade work doesn’t have a negative impact on your main journeys – from both a customer and admin user perspective.
You’ll have limited budget, time, and energy to invest in your ecommerce replatform project. But it’s important to make sure that you have enough to invest in innovation once your new site is live.
The Kano model, developed in the 1980s by Noriaki Kano, offers a useful lens through which to view platform migration projects. By highlighting the difference between basic ‘cost of entry’ features and those features that ‘excite’ end users, the Kano model suggests that we should minimise the effort spent on non-differentiating features. This then gives you the opportunity to retain enough budget to experiment and innovate in areas that will genuinely differentiate you from your competitors.
One way of doing this is to start small; try low-cost experiments and see if they delight your users and drive business value. If they do, invest in further development and testing to see what resonates with your customers.
Our Magento 2 expertise
Here at Inviqa we’ve been working with Magento 2 from the beginning as one of only a handful of partners selected to take part in the Magento 2 beta programme ahead of the platform’s general release.
Need help? Drop us a line
This article is based on an Inviqa webinar on migrating to Magento 2 from Magento 1 and we hope it helps you lay the foundations for a solid migration plan as you map your move to Magento 2.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with your Magento 2 questions, or if you simply want to talk to our consultants about your ecommerce challenges.
- Magento 2 examples: the best Magento websites
- Ensuring business value in an ecommerce platform migration
- 6 questions to ask before choosing an ecommerce platform
Need help choosing technology, enhancing your ecommerce strategy, or developing a digital roadmap? Our experienced strategists, designers, and technologists are here to help you achieve your goals faster. Drop us a line if you’re interested in a chat.
About the authors
Caroline Walker, Magento solutions specialist
Caroline is a Magento solutions specialist and business analyst at Inviqa with 10 years’ experience in the technology industry. Throughout her career, Caroline has worked on a number of international B2B and B2C ecommerce projects with complex integrations and requirements, and on several digital transformation projects.
Caroline is an advocate for Magento and creates and trains users. She is also a mentor for junior business analysts (BAs) with an interest in teaching Agile and Lean methodologies.
Stephen McNairn, senior project manager
Stephen is a project manager and coach with a track record of delivering complex ecommerce, content, and innovation projects for global brands. He has 15 years’ ecommerce experience with a track record of delivering complex projects for some of the UK’s leading brands. A passionate advocate for continuous improvement and self-organisation, Stephen also trains delivery teams and business stakeholders in Agile and Lean approaches.
Paal Soberg, Magento solution consultant
At time of producing the accompanying webinar to this article, Paal was a Magento solution consultant at Inviqa. Today he is a senior solution architect at Klevu. Paal is a Magento 1 & 2 Certified Solution Specialist with ten years’ experience working with enterprise digital projects.
This blog post is an updated version of the original, first published in 2017.