Magento is a popular open-source eсommerce platform serving both SMBs and Fortune 500 companies. Since its release in 2007, Magento is gaining popularity and by the beginning of 2020, there were over 250,000 active Magento-based stores. Around 11,000 of those run on Magento 2. As Magento 1 end of life came, more and more businesses are migrating.


Global Magento usage in 2020


Magento is a sophisticated platform, and the migration process is full of challenges. Magento migration can be time-consuming and rather expensive. However, you need to remember that this is a long-term investment in your business. Magento 2 surpasses Magento 1 in many aspects: it loads faster, offers advanced reporting and enhanced security features, it is mobile-friendly, has an intuitive interface, and overall improved performance. Migrating to Magento 2 will instantly give you an advantage over the competitors who stick with Magento 1.

In this article, we explore the top Magento migration mistakes that business owners make and give recommendations on how to avoid them.


What is Magento migration


Despite releasing many minor updates and patches throughout the years, Magento 1 functionality remained lacking. Failing to upgrade Magento 1 to the desired level, Magento developers decided to rebuild the platform introducing Magento 2, which is superior in design and architecture. After the release of Magento 2 all Magento 1 store owners were strongly advised to migrate. The migration is not a simple click-a-button-type update; it is more like building a new website from scratch. Due to architectural differences between the two versions, only store data can be migrated, while extensions and the theme are installed or developed afresh. Merchants who want to migrate without external consultation need to be familiar with Magento’s internal structure and code.


Magento migration consists of the following phases:


1.  Updating to the latest version of Magento 1 (v 1.9.4.5). This is essential for the Magento Data Migration Tool to work optimally with minimal errors. Even during this seemingly simple phase, business owners can encounter several problems. Some extensions, especially the old ones, might not have an equivalent in the latest version, while other extensions can cause code conflicts.

 

2.  Preparing a server with the latest version of Magento 2 (2.4) with all the required libraries installed. This forms a clean Magento installation without any extensions. Now it’s time for data migration. To operate the Data Migration Tool, all you need to do is specify the location of the Magento 1 and Magento 2 stores, and the tool will work automatically. However, it is likely to require human intervention in several cases. Here are a few examples: the owner deleted an extension, but did not clean up the data. Or, manually added fields in the database that are unfamiliar to the Data Migration Tool.

 

3.  Putting Magento 1 store into the maintenance mode (not available for customers). The Data Migration Tool installs triggers into the Magento 1 database to capture new entries when the store reopens for customers.

 

4.   Developing the required extensions including the customized ones. Either choose from the available themes, or design and develop your own.  

 

5.  Executing the delta migration, when all the data accumulated in Magento 1 store since the initial migration is transferred to the Magento 2 installation. This is the final stage, which results in a functioning Magento 2 store.


Common mistakes that businesses make when migrating their online store


As migration to Magento 2 is not a simple procedure, it is challenging for business owners to undertake such an initiative single handedly, so they entrust it to third-party vendors. However, when working with vendors, most business owners make the above-described mistakes preventing the migration from being successful.  


Skipping the research


Business owners tend to avoid researching migration—hence, they enter this project with misconceptions and unrealistic expectations. For example, they are oftentimes not aware of the fact that all extensions have to be installed afresh on Magento 2, while some of them might be missing for Magento 2 altogether, leading to unpleasant surprises, adjustments, and delays along the way.


Recommendation: Thoroughly research the topic, prepare a detailed migration plan or ask your candidate vendor to do that, and plan a timeline with a buffer for unforeseen issues. Prior knowledge of the migration process will not only reduce confusion but will also help you negotiate the costs of different project tasks.



Expecting to migrate the theme


Magento 2 themes are not subject to migration. The merchant can either select and install one of the premade themes, or design and develop a custom theme from scratch. The second option is more costly and time-consuming, but it presents an opportunity. Web design has noticeably advanced since the release of Magento 1 in 2007. Therefore, rebuilding your theme according to the current design possibilities and trends gives you the chance to refresh the look and feel of your store and correspond better to current customer expectations of fast-loading pages and intuitive layout. 


There is also a possibility of slicing your existing Magento 1 theme into a Magento 2 one, albeit at a high cost due to architectural differences of the two Magento editions.


Recommendation: In order to avoid disappointment and delay, check the existing Magento 2 themes to find something that closely resembles your current Magento 1 theme. If nothing grabs your attention, allocate extra budget for custom theme design and development. 


Delaying the migration 


Magento 1 end of life has come. Consequently, Magento will not release new updates or security patches anymore. Still, some business owners have delayed their Magento migration until it was too late, which left their stores unsupported. PayPal released a statement urging online stores to migrate if they want to benefit from its payment functionality to the fullest. Store owners who chose to remain with Magento 1 will not be compliant with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS). Those are global standards set not only by PayPal, but by many card payment brands including Visa, American Express, and MasterCard among others. Furthermore, sticking to the old version makes your store a vulnerable security target, and increases the risk of data breaches that can damage your reputation.


Recommendation: Every Magento store is unique in its set of features and the degree of customization. For one store, migration can take 12 hours, for another it will take 6 months. Do not assume that your store will take minimal time. However, even if you missed the Magento 1 end of life date, it is still possible to make it through migration without significant losses. But be aware: the longer you delay migration, the higher the chances your store will lose functionality.


Failing to disclose changes made to the Magento 2 catalog during migration


In the period since the initial migration and until delta migration, Magento 1 store remains operational. Any changes business owners make to the new store’s structure during this time, have to be clearly communicated to the development team. Otherwise, the data on both versions will not be synchronized and delta migration will not be completed.

For example, if the merchant added product attributes changing the catalog’s structure in Magento 2 and continued filling it with data, the delta will not be migrated from Magento 1 as it will be out of structural sync with Magento 2.


Recommendation: Maintain proactive communication with your contractor throughout the migration process and ask for permission before making changes to your Magento 2 store. Failing to disclose modifications will delay the migration and increase the overall price.   


Granting contractors limited access


Business owners with high security concerns often provide developers only with a database dump withholding access to the entire system. As a result, vendors cannot access the admin panel nor the server and have neither enough information nor debugging options, which forces them to make guesses and prolongs the overall migration time.


Recommendation: Sign an NDA, which holds vendors accountable for any security breaches resulting from their actions. With this agreement, you can safely grant full access and speed up the migration.   


Hiring multiple vendors for one migration project


Splitting the migration project among several independent contractors is a recipe for misunderstanding and endless argument. Those teams have not worked together and are not familiar with each other’s habits. Hiring a vendor with no experience in Magento is also a mistake. It is wrong assuming that every DevOps engineer can set up a Magento server and every designer can design a Magento theme.


Recommendation: Carefully choose a contractor considering multiple factors including their Magento experience, and entrust them with the entire migration.


Optimizing migration costs


In the pursuit of spending as little as possible, some store owners hire cheap vendors, attempt to undertake some migration-related tasks without professional consultation, or even skip some migration steps altogether.


Some merchants, mainly those who do not understand how migration works, opt for the cheapest vendor. As a rule, this is one with little or no experience in Magento migration. There is a good chance that such a vendor will mess the project or attempt to outsource it to a third party. Consequently, the merchant will pay more to another team who will be rescuing the project afterwards.


Hire one vendor with both developers and designers on board to work with you from start to finish. Establish proactive communication, grant them full access to your store gular work scope. The result might have inconsistent colors, sizes, margins, paddings, fonts, etc. You will most likely get low usability on top of that as well. Moreover, the merchant will not be able to evaluate any intermediate results and will view the pages only when they are fully developed. Any correction at this stage is much more expensive than incorporating improvements during the design phase.


Finally, some business owners are adding extensions and configurations without having a deep understanding of what they are doing. Even if the owner is familiar with programming, they still do not have experience in migration-related issues such as data loss and bugs. At one point they realize they cannot proceed any further. After all this time and effort is wasted, they finally turn to an experienced vendor.    


Recommendation: Magento 2 migration is a long-term investment. It should be tackled with caution. Carefully review the list of available Magento, ask for client testimonials, and make sure they do not outsource your project to anyone else.  


Takeaways


There is no one-size-fits-all approach to migration. It all depends on the required degree of customization, vendor experience in migration, and the clarity of communication between business owners and contractors during the migration, and make sure they do not outsource your project to sub-contractors.


In some cases, the merchant can migrate without turning to external consultants. However, if you want to save time and effort and even money in the long run, it is best to address a Magento development company. Keep in mind that Magento migration is an opportunity to refresh your store, enhance performance, and gain a competitive edge.


While planning and executing the migration project, remember the following:


  • Learn as much as you can about migration before starting the project.
  • The greedy pay twice. Choosing the cheapest options will cost you more along the way.