Why it may be time to migrate to Magento 2

December 22, 2016 by Leah Na'aman

Magento 2 has been on the market for almost a year, and while many eCommerce stores have made the move, there are still plenty of online retailers, agencies and developers who are reluctant to leave the familiarity of M1. And perhaps you’re one of them. Switching to a new system will always raise concerns: Will it complement my current workflow? Is it easy to use? Will I lose features I really like? If problems arise, can I fix them efficiently? But nearly a year in, it may be time to Migrate to Magento 2, and now is a great time to consider it more closely.

When getting to grips with any new program, software or system will inevitably result in a few stumbles and fumbles, it’s important to look to the long-term benefits especially to your business. And sometimes a little short-term discomfort is more than worth it when you consider all the positives a new system brings with it.

Issues with Magento 2

A big issue with Magento 2 is that while the platform itself was widely publicized in the eCommerce industry, the positive features themselves haven’t been given nearly as much coverage following launch. On top of this, many developers are working with the platform without implementing it to its full potential, which explains why many people have expressed feeling underwhelmed by the results they see.

So, let’s get the common complaints out of the way first….

Ease of use

Magento 2 may be the superior system, but Magento 1 has an advantage – it’s easier to operate. Anyone who was new to Magento could download and install the program with ease and begin building an online store immediately.

Magento 2, on the other hand, is a bit of a monster by comparison. It has an impressive tech stack with lots of great features, but it’s intimidating, not just to developers who have never worked with Magento, but to developers who became comfortable with Magento 1.

It requires significant study and so it should! It’s a much better platform, capable of running a far superior online business.

Is Magento 2 impossible for an every-day developer to use? Absolutely not. Once you become familiar with it, it’s smooth to navigate and you’re able to do a lot more with a store with much greater ease than with its predecessor. You just need to put in more work at the beginning than you did with the first Magento.

And this leads us into the next common complaint…

Site speed

Magento 2 was billed as much quicker than its Magento 1 counterpart, but many developers have complained that since upgrading to M2, their stores have the same load times or slower than when they operated with M1.

This is not necessarily a flaw in the system – it’s developers not knowing how to optimize the backend! Magento 2 has some amazing built-in features that when enabled properly seriously decrease load times. These measures are easy to implement once you know where to look.

We actually dedicated an entire blog post to caching alone that you should check out.

Fewer Available Extensions 

For anyone running Magento sites, preset modules are an absolute must to support critical features that range from payments to shipping, analytics to logistics. While when Magento 2 was launched the sheer number extensions available for the platform paled in comparison to those available for Magento those numbers are closing and will only continue to do so. At this point all of the major extension providers already support M2, with smaller developers quickly playing catchup.

Moreover, for the first time, modules are now undergoing a rigorous qualification process, where they are thoroughly vetted by the Magento team before going live on the Magento Marketplace.

A closer look at Magento 2 improvements

Now that we’ve laid a few key concerns to rest, let’s look at the reasons why you should consider migrating to Magento 2…

Tech stack

Magento 2’s new and updated features improve overall performance and make running an eCommerce store smoother compared with Magento 1.x. Yet it’s true the tech stack that powers them requires some learning. However, mastering the M2 skillset is an absolute must for solutions providers, developers and retailers that plan to build Magento stores now and into the foreseeable future. For a quick comparison between the Magento 1 and 2 tech stacks see below, or deep dive in more detail with our blog post on their differences and similarities.

M1 vs. M2 Tech Stack

Admin interface

The new interface has a great overall look and is easy to navigate. User experience was a priority for the Magento team when creating the new platform, so navigation has been streamlined and optimized for ease of use by both developers and non-technical users.

Admin panels can be customized to suit merchant users, with a drag-and-drop feature for grid columns to simplify product catalogs. This makes it much easier for non-developers on your team to work in the back-end on product creation.

As well as an improved product data import system (about 4-times faster), the dashboard also displays useful information like Lifetime Sales, Average Order, Top Search Terms and Revenue Tax, which saves time previously spent searching for information in the system.

Magento 2 performance

Varnish is probably developers’ favorite out-of-the-box addition to the new platform. It has a wide variety of caching abilities, which make your store run much quicker once enabled. Magento 2 also supports the latest versions of PHP, which can improve your eStore’s speed even further.

Other important performance-enhancing measures include the ability to bundle JavaScript and CSS, as well as compressing images.

Streamlined checkout process

Magento 2’s out-of-the-box checkout process is far superior to Magento 1. Customers can go from Add to Cart to Order Completed quicker and with fewer steps, decreasing opportunities for conversion loss. The process is easy to customize and can be tailored to suit your specific needs.

Features include allowing customers to create an account in one click from their order’s Success page and accessing their saved information from their guest checkout just by entering an email address.

Another great UX improvement worth noting is that Shopping Cart product details are now listed with quantity, images and subtotal. There are also payment integrations available with third-party extensions, like PayPal.

Responsive themes

Considering the importance of mobile in online retail, Magento 2 comes with a variety of responsive themes developers can work with. And mobile optimization isn’t just for customers. Magento 2’s Admin panel is now touch-screen friendly, allowing you to manage your eStore with ease while on the move.

Migration – how difficult will it be?

The Data Migration Tool will simplify the transfer of Magento 1 data to your new Magento 2 eStore. The tool allows you to bring over your most important data, such as products, customers, store, set-up and orders; however, any additional customizations and third-party extensions won’t be facilitated. These will need to be redone manually.

Keep in mind that many extensions you have in your current Magento 1 store won’t need to be added again. A number of Magento 2’s new features have made these obsolete or like Varnish, they are already included.

Should you migrate to Magento 2?

Reservations aside, it’s undeniable that Magento 2 is a superior platform. It makes developers’ and merchants lives easier and facilitates a far more impressive online store for shoppers with less effort.

Like all new platforms, there were some issues that needed to be ironed out after the initial release. But, a year later, these inevitable wrinkles have been smoothed out and most quibbles, like site speed, have been rebuffed. Upskilling is required and while this may be offputting, it’s worth doing for the many benefits Magento 2 gives you.

Magento 1 will be supported over the coming years, but improvements or additions will be made on the newer platform. This means you risk getting left behind and possibly outdone by competitors who have made the switch.

In short, you don’t need to switch today; however, staying current and improving site performance makes migrating to Magento 2 a priority in the near future.

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