What to consider when migrating to Magento 2

With the end of life date for Magento 1 (M1) quickly approaching (June 2020), it’s important for customers still using it to consider what their options are moving forward. With the help of our practice leads, we thought it would be useful to examine the maturing features of Magento 2 (M2) as well as the business considerations and practicalities that should be taken into account when making the move across a two part series. 

Magento recently announced that it will discontinue support for the ecommerce platform Magento 1 after June 2020, giving businesses operating on the technology until then to plan their next steps.

Magento have been iterating on their Magento 1 platform for over a decade and, based on BuiltWith statistics for the Alexa top 1 million websites, Magento 2 implementations make up about a third of all Magento implementations. And this share has been increasing rapidly.. However, with the decision to discontinue enhancements and security fixes for the legacy platform retailers should start considering the implications of the change and planning their next steps.

So what should retailers do? The Magento practice leads at Tryzens have considered what this means for retailers planning on launching new sites on Magento 2, as well as those currently operating on Magento 1. 

The impact of end-of-life

The fact that Magento will cease official support for its 1.x versions makes the Magento 2 platform the right choice for those planning to launch new eCommerce stores. 

The functionality of earlier versions can only be practically expanded through completely customised solutions, while the end of official support officially signals end-of-life as a platform for retailers launching new stores.

It’s also important to consider that the lack of ongoing security fixes for Magento 1.x versions may result in an increase in the amount of malicious software targeting vulnerabilities discovered after the release of the final security patches.

All eCommerce platforms require ongoing testing, security patches and enhancements. New bugs are discovered and reported to the software teams daily, which may necessitate the release of a new version to resolve the issue.

If you run an eCommerce store, you need a platform with a regular and simple update process or you put your store at risk. With Magento 2, retailers enjoy the full support and benefit of working on a cutting-edge Magento platform with official support.

Migrating existing Magento 1 stores

Magento has anticipated the interest in migrating to Magento 2 and provide a number of tools to assist. They provide resources for data and content migration to reduce downtime and make the transition as pain free as possible. 

At Tryzens our team has a wealth of experience coordinating migrations across platforms and know the organisational and technical challenge those migrations can present.

This is even more important as, while Magento provides a database migration tool to transfer products, attributes and entire databases to the Magento 2 architecture, you’ll be leaving your customised features and design behind. This brings the need for a migration plan and feature audit into sharp relief.

Preparing for a migration

Before preparing a migration plan retailers should be aware of factors affecting the switch, and take steps to consult with their internal and external eCommerce support teams.

First, consider your budget and compare this with a consolidated list of costs associated with a migration. In particular, it’s important to review whether a cloud implementation is the right choice and whether it fits within the budget, as this decision can affect the steps involved in the migration.

Second, review what you need to migrate. It’s a good idea to start with an audit of installed extensions and check for Magento 2 compatible versions of each. While modules can be ported, those that extend core code, or other third-party modules, will require development work and may need to be rebuilt. 

You may find some functionality you currently provide through modules is now part of the base Magento 2 offering, in which case the associated extensions can be decommissioned. On the other hand, you should consider a budget purely for modules, as migration is a natural time to review any gaps in functionality that could be enhanced with new modules. Don’t forget that assets and data from your current extensions may need to be ported to the new platform.

Third, decide on a design strategy and how you’ll approach changes to your store theme. Theme changes will be required as part of a Magento 2 migration as the new platform entails a new approach to developing themes.

You’ll also need to review the level of support required from your vendor or partner. Following a standard cloud implementation, you may expect full twenty-four seven monitoring and support for the core application or cloud infrastructure. You might need help developing and migrating your design, or in confirming the compatibility of your existing micro-services.

Executing a migration

As with a Magento 1 store build the strategy to execute a Magento 2 migration can vary depending on the size, scope and specifics of the migration.

Tryzens recently partnered with luxury fashion house David Nieper to perform a Magento 2 migration following a design-led, customer-centric approach. 

Following a comprehensive review of the Magento 2 platform, Tryzens led customer research and design preparation to solidify the goals for the new store. Both teams reviewed the extensions on the existing Magento 1 site to determine the steps required to replicate and enhance customer experience on the new platform.

After building and preparing the new Magento 2 store for migration we coordinated an iterative approach, where migration of key data and features were tested and executed in cycles. An effective migration may require several iterations of replicating, confirming and modifying data to ensure integrity and performance on the new platform. 

As with any eCommerce project day-to-day business never stops, with data constantly updating as the retailer continues to develop their content and product range. For a successful launch both teams developed a solid go-live and cutover plan as part of the final step of the migration. 

An eye for detail

Successful migration projects clearly identify dependencies, risks and detail. At Tryzens we often assist retailers in performing an audit of their existing data to de-risk and coordinate the project timeline. Some examples of areas to focus on during a migration are product, promotion and analytics flows. 

As a general rule, a product information management (PIM) tool is the gold standard for maintaining eCommerce product data. While products are stored in the Magento 2 database they should be loaded and modified in a PIM, which will need to be connected to the Magento 2 store.

Promotion rules will need to be either migrated or new promotion rules set up on the platform. Similarly, cross-sell and up-sell relationships for related products will need to be set up as part of the content loading process.

It’s important to review, migrate and confirm the analytics setup on the new platform. When it comes to analytics, any changes to the connected platform or property must be carefully considered so that you maintain continuity of reporting and ensure you can compare performance before and after the migration. Remember to document and test the final setup of analytics, tag management and any associated digital marketing campaigns.

Software projects tend to falter when there isn’t clear communication and definition. As with any major project it’s important to approach a migration with good project management discipline, identifying stakeholders, defining scope and having a clear plan for success.

Considering your options

Before embarking on a Magento 2 migration you may also want to consider other eCommerce platforms and vendors. Tryzens has a wealth of experience assisting retailers in developing business cases and selecting the right technology for your unique business, wherever and whatever you sell.

Magento thrives on its commitment to ease of use, speed to market and a continually evolving extension ecosystem. With the end of Magento 1 support looming in 2020, existing customers can realise the benefits of Magento 2 now through a coordinated, considered and pain-free migration. 

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