The purpose of this article is to provide e-commerce merchants that are new to Magento or migrating from Magento 1 to Magento 2 with 10 key lessons that will help to ease the migration to Magento 2 from a completely different platform or from Magento 1. Magento 2 – and now with the recent release of Magento 2.4 – is packed with features that will benefit both B2C and B2B merchants. Magento is the most flexible and customizable e-commerce platform. Both are important drivers in a merchant’s decision to go with Magento but they can come with pitfalls if the project team doesn’t take these important factors into account when moving to Magento.
1. Confirm Magento is the Right Choice
We highly recommend conducting an initial discovery exercise before beginning an e-commerce replatform. This work should include a complete review of the current business, any anticipated changes in strategy, and then (the most important part) the development of detailed business requirements that are prioritized. Only once you have those requirements can a fully informed platform recommendation/decision be made.
Magento is typically a choice for merchants that have:
- Very large and complex catalog
- Complex B2B purchasing requirements OR B2C requirements that are unique and rich
- Complex integrations with ERP, ESP, PIM and other systems
- Global, multi-store architecture
- Both B2C and B2B requirements with an operation that will run best on ONE (versus multiple) platforms.
If your business is simpler and doesn’t have requirements within these areas, it’s possible you may not need Magento and you can look at SaaS platforms like BigCommerce or Shopify.
2. Experienced Team / SI
There are a lot of talented digital agencies and system integrators with great design portfolios and experience working on SaaS e-commerce. It may be tempting to pick a vendor to help with your project based on a design portfolio or some awesome branding work that your team or that has an agency has done. That team may say that Magento is not a problem given their overall experience with e-commerce but the truth is Magento is very powerful and complex. It’s important to either place experienced, certified Magento developers on your team or to choose to work with a Certified Magento Solution Partner. If you don’t, expect problems with your migration or replatform.
You don’t take your Porsche to a Lexus dealer right? No. Same goes here.
3. The Experience Has to Include Magento 2 – NOT just Magento 1
Magento 2 is very different from Magento 1. There have been major advances in both the architecture and the feature set. Integrating with Magento 2 is very different than Magento 1. If your team or vendor has Magento 1 experience and you think it’s just a “quick upgrade,” even for the CE version of Magento, think again. It’s different. Make sure engineers and developers that are certified in Magento 2 are key members of the team.
4. Generate a Project Plan with MVP that Fits Timing Requirements
Magento is complex and it helps to take those prioritized requirements from the initial Discovery and Definition work and develop a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) that fits the timing requirements for your business. In lay terms, don’t try to “hit it out of the park” and meet all your requirements in 3 months. You will set yourself and your team up for failure.
5. Don’t Build for Seldom-Used Use Cases
Consider leaving functionality that serves seldom-used use cases out of your MVP. Even if it serves one important B2B customer. Work with your engineering team to solve the problem without complexity. Moving onto a new e-commerce platform is a big change that has a learning curve and the simpler you keep the first release the better things will go for all interested parties.
6. Integrations and Data Conversions Can Be Tricky: Have a Plan!
With complex migrations to Magento 2, we spend the most time completing complex integrations and data conversions for products and customers – especially when the migration is from a non-Magento platform. It’s important to have a plan for each, including a well-documented integration plan with an integration register that has all key integration points mapped out in detail. Here at Accorin we have built out our own EAI tool called “The Integrator”, which all of our clients get access to with an open source license agreement just for working with us. The Integrator gives us a head start on complex integrations by presenting pre-configured integrations into and out of Magento for ERP and other classes of business systems. With customer data, especially historic orders, consider how much you really need in the new site ahead of time.
7. Leave Plenty of Time for Testing and QA in the Project Plan
At least, 10-15% of the development schedule and budget should be dedicated to testing and QA. Sometimes with more complex systems it can be much higher. Need we say more? Many Magento-powered e-commerce sites are highly customized with a number of extensions and integrations. They need thorough testing and QA and then of course time to resolve issues before launch.
8. Don’t Forget Your URL (301) Redirects
301 redirects are key to ensuring you don’t lose organic traffic to your site when you migrate. Even if you’re relaunching on the same domain, it’s likely that some URL paths will change, so it’s important to make sure search engines redirect traffic and indexation from your old URLs to the appropriate new URLs. If you don’t, the old links will be flagged as ‘broken’ and your SEO performance will suffer.
Magento 2 has a robust interface for managing site URLs – including the ability to set up redirects through an easy-to-use interface. You don’t want any older / popular page URLs to get 404’d so make sure you dedicate time in your project time to this.
9. Magento 2 Community Edition (Free) vs Commerce On-Prem vs Commerce Cloud
This is a part of the platform decision but remember that Community Edition does not have nearly the same feature set as “Enterprise” (paid – licensed version) out of the box. If you are looking to migrate from M1 or a different platform and you have B2B requirements and / or complex integrations and data sets to deal with Enterprise or Commerce Cloud version of Magento may be your best bet.
As recently as 4 or 5 years ago there used to be much less of a functional difference between CE and “Enterprise” in M1. That has changed and it will be important for you to understand the differences as you make your platform decisions.
10. Training. More Training.
While this holds true for any e-commerce platform we feel it’s especially important with Magento 2. Build in training time at the end of your migration so that everyone on your team and potentially also your highest using customers know how to use it – both admin and front end. Especially if you are B2B and if you have customers with multiple users within a company customer account Magento can be a rich procurement system – not just a shopping cart. There are rules and permissions that will need to be set up. There are a number of configurations that you can use to make life easy for your company customers and all of the users within them. Make sure there is plenty of training time at the end of the project so you can ramp up with efficiency and get the most out of your new e-commerce system as quickly as possible.
The Bottom Line
Magento 2 is very different than M1 and its obviously a much richer, more robust system than all of the popular SaaS e-commerce platforms. Replatforming to Magento provides many, many benefits for the growing e-commerce merchant. We have learned over the years that merchants often overlook some aspects of the replatforming process just because they have been running simpler e-commerce system for some time. Don’t overlook these 10, and potentially others that are related to your own business complexity.
Contact us if you would like to schedule a complimentary consult on your upcoming project. We’d be happy to give you an opinion about additional key factors you might also need to think about for your business.