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This article was last updated in June, 2020.
With the support of Magnento 1 coming to an end in June, we wanted to help you migrate to Magento 2 as smoothly as possible. So we sat down with experienced Magento merchants and system integrators to get their advice.
With Magento 2 it’s much easier to get up and running out-of-the-box, which is great news for smaller businesses. Larger businesses will also be happy to learn that it’s more developer-friendly than ever, so you have more flexibility, can scale easily, and create a unified shopper ecosystem . And it comes with some great benefits for busineses using subscription payments on Magento as well.
Use this Magento migration as an opportunity to tidy up your extensions. Decide in advance the extensions you want and only migrate the ones you’re going to use. Remember: don’t just consider your needs now; think at least one year into the future.
Establish a good working relationship with your system integrator or Magento solution provider. Be transparent about your requirements and remember to stay flexible. Nothing ever goes exactly according to plan.
And finally, make sure your existing partners are able to evolve as your business does. Is your payments provider capable of supporting your international growth? How will payment reconciliation be managed as you open in new markets? How is your customer payment data protected?
The full story:
Before you get started, let’s take a look at what you can expect when you migrate from Magento 1 to Magento 2.
Marc Dudmish, Global Solution Specialist Manager at Vaimo, believes Magento 2 puts the merchant in the driving seat. “Magento 1 was very tech-heavy and a lot of functionality got lost in translation. In Magento 2 the focus is on the needs of the merchant. For example, it’s much easier to work with user-created content, prepare multiple campaign designs before publishing them, and to direct the right content and products to the right customers. So the less tech-savvy merchants can get their stores up and running relatively easily.”
Importantly, for larger merchants, the developer-focus and control is still there.
“It’s definitely a more mature platform,” said Mark Wood, CTO at Graze. “We have greater control and flexibility, and the modules are a great way to enhance your offering. We recently added rewards functionality, where we plugged ready-built modules straight into the platform.”
This flexibility also applies to how you choose to integrate the Magento platform.
Rik ter Beek, Head Of Plugin Development at Adyen, explains: “Magento 2 has back-end and front-end code, so you can create a ‘headless integration’, which only uses the back-end of Magento.”
“The ‘headless integration’ is the way to go if you have a very content-heavy site, where the visual aspects of your brand are important,” said Marc from Vaimo. “But if your primary focus is ecommerce, I’d go for the full platform.”
“We prefer to control the look and feel of our front-end.” Eve Sleep
Eve Sleep opted for the ‘headless integration’ for this reason. “Magento is a very powerful platform,” explained Head of Product Management, Moritz Braatz, “but we prefer to have full control of the look and feel of our front-end.”
Whether you choose to integrate the entire Magento platform, the front-end or just the back-end, it’s up to you. As Sergey, long-time Magento developer and founder of Eltrino explains: “The ‘headless integration’ is relatively popular. In some other cases, only Magento front-end is used. The platform is so flexible that all ways are possible, and they all have their pros and cons. It totally depends on your needs and should be evaluated case-by-case. If your needs are straightforward, it makes sense to go out-of-the-box, especially since many features have been improved.”
If you’re going through the Magento 2 migration process, you’ll probably have many Magento plugins or extensions you’re planning to carry over. Everyone we spoke to was unanimous in their advice of choosing your extensions carefully.
“You must have a good idea of where you want your business to go.” Said Marc from Vaimo. “Not just now, but in the future too. Then you need to look at your extensions and ask: Are these compatible? Do we need to rebuild them? Have the Magento 2 versions been thoroughly tested?”
Moritz from Eve Sleep also highlights the importance of checking that the extensions are available for Magento 2: “If they’re not available, and you plan to leave them behind, check your contracts to see how much notice you need to give and if there’s any cost associated with terminating a contract.”
They all agree that the Magento 2 migration is a good opportunity to streamline your extensions. “Only keep the extensions you’re going to use.” Says Moritz. “You may have legacy extensions integrated years ago that you’re not using, or that are redundant. It’s a great opportunity to trash stuff you don’t need.”
"Decide what extensions you need before you start." Eltrino
Sergey from Eltrino agrees: “It’s very common for merchants to only use less than 30% of their installed extensions. Decide what you need before you start. Each extension adds more time for review, installation, and testing and makes your system a bit heavier. In general, adding more stuff takes more budget and introduces more risks in terms of conflicts, vulnerability, and security.”
It’s also worth evaluating why you need any given extension. “In some cases, merchants implement a huge extension for the purpose of one feature.” Says Sergey. “Sometimes it’s more efficient to develop that feature from scratch.”
But Marc from Vaimo warns against rushing into custom development before you’ve evaluated what’s already available. “It’s common to build custom code and then realize 6 months down the line that the User Experience doesn’t work. Reworking the customer journey afterward is difficult and expensive. Make sure your team knows the platform inside and out so you can decide where to dedicate your resources.”
Moritz from Eve Sleep also believes that the Magento 2 migration is a great opportunity to update the User Experience and functionalities. But make sure you have the data to back up your decisions. “We A/B tested both systems and split the traffic between the platforms to see how each change performed,” Moritz explains.
"Get someone who hasn't seen the site and who doesn't know the code to test the processes." Vaimo
Marc agrees: “Always conduct formal testing. Get someone who hasn’t seen the site and who doesn’t know the code to test the processes: Making a purchase, adding something to the cart, removing it etc. This helps uncover traps you’ve inadvertently set the customer, and how to avoid them.”
Given the technical specifications of Magento, it’s likely that you’ll be outsourcing your migration from Magento 1 to Magento 2 to a consulting service. Sergey from Eltrino and Mark from Graze have some advice for getting the best out of your system integrators.
“Find reliable partners with relevant experience.” Says Sergey. “Magento 2 is very different to Magento 1 so it’s important to take the time to evaluate your developers’ expertise. Otherwise, things could be underestimated and deadlines missed or, in case of disaster, the project could even fail completely.”
“Things will change, and issues will arise. If you work as partners, you’ll overcome these challenges together.” Graze
To Mark from Graze, it’s all about relationships: “Many people see the client/service provider relationship in very commercial terms: I’m the customer, deliver the following requirements by the following date. But it rarely works like this. Every project will change as you progress through it, so it’s vital to be flexible. It’s all about how you build the relationship. Agree your performance measures in advance, but bear in mind it’s a collaborative process. Things will change, and issues will arise that weren’t in the original brief. If you work as partners, you’ll overcome these challenges together.”
Migrating to Magento 2 provides an opportunity to review your existing partners and ensure they’re able to meet your requirements now and in the future.
To Marc from Vaimo, simplicity and security in payments are paramount. “The process must be as easy as possible. Keep it to one page and be transparent about how much you’re charging for what. It’s also critical to ensure you’re protecting your customers’ payment details. Adyen handles this really well and the security aspect of every payment method is clear and concise.”
If scalability is important for you, you’ll need a payments provider that can support you as your needs evolve. As Rik from Adyen says: “When evaluating payments providers, ease of integration is very important. After that, it’s about features. Our strength comes from the fact you get all payment methods with one integration. So you can scale quickly without having to integrate new methods for each market separately.”
"With Adyen you can integrate any local payment method with ease." Eve Sleep
Moritz from Eve Sleep says: “When expanding into a new country, speed is important as a proof of concept. With Adyen, you can integrate any local payment method with ease and at a very fast pace. Afterwards, you can spend time customizing/optimizing the User Experience as much as you want. So, it’s great for both large and small businesses.”
Moritz continues: “It’s true you might save money going directly to each payment method. But it can be a pain, especially in Magento where you have to install each extension individually. That’s why we support most of our payment methods via Adyen.”
With any extension, it’s important to know you have access to ongoing support. “We aim for a plug-and-play solution,” says Rik. “Of course there are always customization needs, which is why we provide in-house support. You can request new features, and we have regular releases and bug fixes. Any questions? Come to us directly, no need to go through a 3rd party.”
This is a huge benefit for Eve Sleep: “We’re happy to pay a moderate fee to get an outstanding service for both us and our customers,” says Moritz. “We always get an answer within a day. And the support team really know their stuff. In one case, we found a bug and it was fixed within a day. You might have to wait few days for an official release, but you get a workable solution very quickly.”
For Eve Mattresses, it's important that things work for every team from day one. “I’ve integrated many payment solutions over the last 5 years and the collaboration with Adyen is by far the smoothest I have experienced. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a custom-API integration or a standard Magento integration, it always works out-of-the-box. From a finance perspective, it’s also very favorable. Everything is managed from one backoffice, so you don’t have to reconcile each payment method separately. Refunds are straightforward and Finance can do all case management on one platform, which saves a lot of time and resources.”
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