Important Factors Your Ecommerce Business Should Consider Before Migrating To Magento
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Magento has an outstanding reputation as an ecommerce platform. First released in 2007, it is a tried-and-true option for enterprise brands who are interested in growing their businesses online.
With over 230,000 live stores currently running on Magento, the platform is used by 18% of the top million websites with the most traffic.
After its acquisition by Adobe in 2018, brands using the Magento software quickly started to speculate about what was next for the company.
In September 2018, Magento announced that the Magento 1 product would no longer be supported by June 2020 — signaling the need for brands currently on Magento 1.x to find a new platform or replatform to Magento 2 using a data migration tool or service.
Ecommerce platform choice is an important consideration for any brand. Your ecommerce platform is the virtual storefront of your brand — any custom code, application integrations, or CMS formatting needs to be compatible with the technology used by the platform.
In short — you need to ensure that all of the puzzle pieces that compromise your tech stack work well together.
While Magento is a top choice for enterprise retailers, complaints around the complexity of the platform, paired with slow time to market and increasing development costs leave many agencies recommending other enterprise platforms like BigCommerce.
In this post, you’ll read recommendations from marketing and development agencies around the world that have collectively performed thousands of ecommerce store data migrations.
You’ll get answers to questions like:
What questions should you ask before deciding to migrate?
Is migrating from Magento 1 to Magento 2 the right choice for your business?
What should growing ecommerce brands do before migrating?
We sat down and spoke with 7 agencies and got the scoop.
After all — who knows better than the teams that are hired to move data, content, and storefronts on a daily basis?
Hear from them about what you should be paying attention to as you’re considering migrating from Magento 1 to Magento 2.
Your tech stack — the collection of tools, technologies, and software you use to run your business — plays an important role in your day-to-day operations.
As you build your business and see it grow in terms of revenue or size, you may get lucky and find that the tools you started off with as a scrappy startup still work for your growing needs.
But that’s not always the case. In fact, many businesses do a yearly or bi-yearly audit of their technology to ensure that it is best-in-class, updated correctly to the latest version, and priced fairly.
It’s the same principle behind the recommendation to call your car insurance provider every year to see if you qualify for discounts, or why you should check your credit score often enough to see if you’d qualify for better financing (or if you should scale back on the spending).
It’s the business of change. People change; businesses change, and with that, the features you demand from your everyday tools will also fluctuate.
Take the SaaS revolution as an example. With self-hosted technology, you can literally spend months configuring, testing, and load-testing the infrastructure behind the technology as opposed to actually being in market making money. SaaS changes that and eliminates any downtime.
It’s increasingly common for businesses to consider moving to different providers in their tech stack, especially as new technologies move into market. For many, that switch begins by moving from an on-premise platform like Magento to a SaaS platform like BigCommerce or Shopify.
While emerging technologies and Magento data migration tools make it easier than ever to switch platforms, it still is a cumbersome and time-intensive task.
The goal behind a migration should never be just to move from one platform to another, according to Allen Burt, CEO at Blue Stout. Instead, it should be to “focus on the opportunities available to the particular brand from moving. How can you take advantage of that change to improve a site for revenue growth?”
Regardless of your reasoning behind a migration, make sure to ask a lot of questions during the discovery phase. Here are a few ideas from Johnny Gregory, Client Partner at Fortuitas.
Will a move like this positively impact my ROI?
Can switching to a more modern SaaS-based solution increases my brand’s time to market by easily managing products?
Will it integrate with inventory management systems and provide me accurate forecasting of our inventory?
Is it secure and compliant?
Does it take less staff to support and maintain?
All of these can greatly affect the time and money spent on a platform that does not have these traits out of the box.
Figure out what technology you’re using, and cut the fluff if you’re paying for features that you don’t need, according to Paul Byrne, President at Razoyo.
“If you’ve been on Magento for several years and have customized it, chances are you don’t still use every customization. Put together a list of everything you need.”
A number of functionalities included in the Magento platform and in the Magento Marketplace are available from different specialized providers in the BigCommerce App Marketplace. “Many of the services you used on Magento are available there, some are provided by other modules,” says Paul.
Ethan Giffin, Founder and CEO at Groove Commerce, remarks that migrating to cloud-based ecommerce solutions generally results in a lower total cost of ownership. “This typically occurs because on-premise solutions like Magento require Enterprise license fees, hosting fees and ongoing support.”
Magento is an open source, fully customizable platform that has hosted and cloud-based options. Because it is so robust, often brands are surprised by the costs associated with hiring design and development teams to build and modify their front- and back-ends on the platform, especially when it is self-hosted.
The team at Razoyo also sees this, according to Paul.
“Open source platforms (OSPs) like Magento have a lot of hidden costs, especially Magento 2. Merchants who were on Magento 1 can expect their maintenance and hosting costs to double if they move to Magento 2.”
Unlike a set-price SaaS alternative, with on-premise software, “you have to pay to host the software somewhere. The more traffic and data you have, the more that will cost.”
The costs also go beyond software hosting. When brands opt for a hosted solution, they must also keep the price tag associated with the following items in mind:
Simply the management of a self-built or on-premise system can be cumbersome, according to Johnny at Fortuitas.
“Self-built systems may be difficult to update/upgrade, or they require heavy customization to get the functionality most modern platforms come with. In our experience, these systems require teams just to support and still do not meet the functionality requirements needed to improve the business.”
Ultimately, when it comes to the final price tag, Chase Chandy, Developer at DigitlHaus Agency advises:
“Ensure you know exactly what you’re paying for. Does the monthly fee include support? Does it include out-of-the-box plug ins? These add up, which can result in a large price tag.”
With the Magento Commerce 1/Enterprise Edition and Magento Open Source/Community Edition end-of-life coming in June 2020, many brands need to consider making a platform migration immediately, especially to allow additional time for development and post-launch testing.
So just how long does it take to migrate to a new ecommerce platform?
It depends on the complexity of your business and how quickly your business can come to decisions, according to Paul at Razoyo. “We have done platform migrations for simple stores in as few as eight weeks. Others have taken a year or more. Take the time you need to do it right.”
If you work with an agency to migrate to a new platform, make sure you do an initial discovery to scope out the timeline, says Johnny at Fortuitas.
“These are small, short engagements that allow an agency to dive a bit deeper into a brand’s systems. Once complete, not only will the brand have a better understanding of where they are today, but it also gets recommendations on where business can be in the next 3-5 years. The discovery will define a clear schedule and budget and make it very simple for the client to make a decision on which platform to use.”
While each migration timeline depends on the store and the size of the catalogue, migrations to BigCommerce are speedy for DigitlHaus Agency, according to Chase. “If the brand has a small catalog and we are to develop a custom theme, this can range between 6-8 weeks. If the brand has a large catalog and we are to develop custom functionality, this could range between 14-16+ weeks. We determine the timeline and process during our discovery phase as each is unique to the brand.”
Despite the quick turnaround time for migrations, brands should buffer for at least six months to brainstorm, build a list of requirements, get through all of the migration, and solve any issues that may come up after the migration service.
“The build — especially on BigCommerce — is usually about half the time of a Magento project, but the most important time is spent in building a sound requirement list. The most successful projects write each requirement and describe how it works now on their current system and how they want it to work on the new system. Then, it’s a matter of deciding if reaching the ideal goal is worth the time and money it will take to get there.” — Matthew Coles, Partner, SCHAWEL+COLES
“Over the past couple years, we have seen the Magento platform grow in complexity creating a substantial increase of development overhead required to operate on the platform. With mid-market clients, this burden translates to increased development costs which strains both internal resources and agency teams as it consumes budget and time with development work which does not move the needle for the business. Our decision to move to BigCommerce allows us to support our clients with services which have a direct effect on their ecommerce business while relying on BigCommerce for fast performance, security and eliminates the need for ongoing regular patching.” — Keith Karlick, Principle + Head of Strategy, Mercutio
With an open source platform like Magento, brands must have a development and support team on-hand for any larger modifications or adjustments to the platform. While this is feasible for larger enterprises with built-out support teams, smaller and up-and-coming retailers may struggle to allocate the right headcount and budget to developers.
Why the need for developers?
There are slight security vulnerabilities and required bug fixes associated with on-premise platforms, says Paul at Razoyo. “OSPs have bugs in them, and if the platform will not address the bug you need fixed, you may have to pay a developer to fix it for you.”
Website security is essential for any business selling products online.
It seems as though there are announcements almost monthly about a new vulnerability or patch fix for new Magento software. In fact, New research has found that 87% of SME websites using the Magento platform are currently at high risk from cyber attacks.
For Magento-savvy developers, keeping the hackers at bay is a revolving door for businesses. For brands, it’s a threat to their bottom line.
“Security threats come out on a regular basis. Magento generally issues an update to fix the new threat, but sometimes those updates — either patches or upgrades — cause other things to break, so you have to spend time testing and fixing any issues you find.” — Paul Byrne, President at Razoyo
One of the most expensive things a merchant can face is a PCI compliance audit, according to Paul.
“A PCI compliance audit is when your bank or merchant services provider requires you to prove that customer data is secure. With Magento, you have to prove it on your own. If you are on BigCommerce, the process is many times simpler.”
On the BigCommerce platform, brands do not have the burden of managing PCI compliance. BigCommerce powers the full checkout experience, including the highest level of PCI compliance and automatic updates.
While hosted solutions like Magento say that they’re PCI compliant — what they mean is that the software is built to be PCI compliant. What brands have to remember is, the hosted environment they choose to put their Magento store also has to meet PCI requirements.
Brands who migrate from Magento 1 to Magento 2 will still be on a hosted solution, and will still need to support a server or pay a provider to do so, which means that they are ultimately still responsible for maintaining PCI compliance and patching.
“The costs to purchase and support hosted PCI compliant environments are far greater than if you opted for an out of the box PCI compliant SaaS solution like BigCommerce.” — Johnny at Fortuitas
Take a look into what features of your existing platform you use the most.
This could be anything along the lines of:
Theme & storefront customization.
Coupons & discounts.
Functionality, alongside cost and launch time, are the factors that most impact the platform selection process.
Essentially, brands want to get all of the features they need, without paying for ones they don’t use, while also budgeting for additional upgrades and added functionality as the business grows.
The BigCommerce Tech Marketplace is home to over 400 apps that easily add functionality like shipping, rewards programs, coupons, and multi-channel selling.
When migrating from one platform to another, there are no guarantees that you will get the same look and feel on a storefront.
For brands moving from Magento 1 to Magento 2, not all extensions and themes built for Magento 1 are compatible with Magento 2 versions. You’ll need to do a larger code migration or extension migration for any customized aspects.
For many, if you are going to go through the trouble of trying to recreate the exact same experience on a new ecommerce website, you may as well switch to a better solution while you’re at it instead of doing just a theme migration.
“BigCommerce is highly customizable. If you have complex needs, identify a partner early on who can help you plan. A great plan will save you time, money and headaches as you move.” — Paul Byrne, President of Razoyo.
As an extension of your team, agencies are often the first to know what ecommerce solution is right for your brand.
When you go to purchase a home, you often connect with a realtor. They know the right neighborhoods, have an eye for good deals, and can lean in when it comes to negotiations. They are, in layman’s terms, the housing experts.
Think about realtors, but for your tech stack. That’s where ecommerce agencies come in.
Hear what they have to say about making the move from Magento to BigCommerce.
Paul Byrne, President
Paul Bryne, President of multi-faceted design and development Razoyo, is no stranger to the industry. In fact, he just hit his 10-year mark of working in ecommerce.
After a stint in the international consumer electronics industry, then on the marketing side of the beverage industry at PepsiCo, Paul, armed with his experience, and ended up founding an ecommerce development agency.
Their first platform? Magento.
After seeing the SaaS opportunity of BigCommerce at the beginning of 2018, Paul and his team decided to jump onboard and become a Certified Partner.
Since becoming a partner, the Razoyo team has already completed several migrations.
The first site they migrated to BigCommerce was their own — Razoyo.com. They took a headless commerce approach by using a CMS platform on the front-end, WordPress, and plugging in the BigCommerce for WordPress plugin on the back-end.
“The move took little effort, and we now have much better control over our content-rich site.”
The second migration was also a headless commerce build — and they’re already seeing success. “This company is beginning to sell products under their flagship brand so they are introducing a new store with the same products as their legacy brand. Now, they want to move their legacy store to BigCommerce.”
Johnny Gregory, Client Partner
Fortuitas is an award-winning digital agency that specializes in designing and building custom marketing, integration, and ecommerce solutions.
Having seen a fair share of migrations to BigCommerce — both from custom-built solutions and from Magento — Johnny tells us the story of a recent company.
“We recently worked with a company with a legacy, custom built platform. They faced a lot of issues with their existing software:
no established API connection to external systems,
no PCI and Nexus compliance, and
no upgrades available.
On BigCommerce we were able to easily:
Implement Jasper PIM with a connecter built through the API
Integrate Hawksearch to enhance their product detail pages, and
Migrate over 8 million SKUs.
Because BigCommerce has such a robust backend and an easy-to-integrate API, we were able to perform the migration easily enough given the amount of SKUs that had to be cleaned and imported.”
Chase Chandy, Developer
Chase is a BigCommerce developer for DigitlHaus Agency specializing in custom integrations, application development and platform migrations.
Known for creating “commerce in the age of experience”, DigitlHaus Agency is an award-winning digital agency focused on user experience and brand identification.
Having successfully transformed over 500 businesses with different ecommerce solutions including BigCommerce and Magento, DigitlHaus are known experts when it comes to identifying the right solution for each business use case.
When it comes to migrating from Magento 1 to Magento 2 or another platform, DigitlHaus Agency sees it as an opportunity for any brand to “sit back and evaluate all options. Developing on Magento will take 2-3 times longer and the costs are usually 2-3 times greater. A jump to a new platform will overall save time and money.”
Allen Burt, CEO
The team at Blue Stout partners with ecommerce merchants to add 6 and 7 figures in additional revenue to their businesses by increasing their conversion rates, average order value, and repeat purchase rates.
Their team of strategists, email marketers, designers and developers can help design, build and optimize your store into a high converting ecommerce machine.
Blue Stout firmly believes that the future of ecommerce is SaaS, according to Allen. “Allowing the platform to manage the underlying technology frees brands up to focus on what will actually drive revenue – messaging, marketing, traffic and product. Magento 2 is an improvement on Magento 1, but still does not offer the benefits of a full SaaS solution.”
Ethan Giffin, Founder and CEO
Ethan Giffin started his first business at 10 years old and has grown to become a 3x Inc. 5000 honoree and an EY Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist.
Now, you’ll find him as the Founder and CEO at Groove Commerce, a full-service ecommerce agency. Ethan is an industry expert in ecommerce, inbound marketing, and the dynamic technologies behind them.
As told by Ethan:
“After providing upscale sportswear company Cutter & Buck with ongoing Magento 1 support, our team helped them evaluate alternative platforms that could better meet their specific needs.
Our team ultimately transitioned them to BigCommerce Enterprise. This move reduced technical debt and helped their team access a holistic eCommerce solution with SEO-friendly functionality, native social integrations, easy-to-install applications and fast load times.”
[Read more about their migration on Groove Commerce’s website]
Matthew Coles, Partner
After leading a design studio for more than 20 years, Matthew started building ecommerce sites about six years ago.
After joining the BigCommerce Partner Program one year ago, the team at SCHAWEL+COLES started building complex sites, integrations, and custom apps.
Matthew and his team build sites on both Magento and BigCommerce. Migrating to Magento 2 makes perfect business sense for some of their clients, especially those whose requirements “demand core Magento functionality or rely on implementations that are only available or achievable with a true open-source platform.”
Others are a better fit for BigCommerce, he says. “Others will benefit from the simpler development experience and ease of operations they find in BigCommerce, especially if their third-party systems have apps or can be connected through an API.”
Justin Emond, CEO
Justin is the CEO of Third and Grove, a digital agency in Boston and San Francisco. “We design and build content and commerce websites for clients.”
Since 2013, Third and Grove has helped build more than 225 brands using ecommerce platforms like BigCommerce, Magento, and Shopify. In that time, Justin and his team have created a few guidelines around when to offer Magento versus when to offer BigCommerce — in part due to what Justin calls the “titanic shift that has happened in ecommerce platform evolution in the last 18 months.”
“We think about it this way. If you have a browse and buy experience, then you have to start by looking at BigCommerce first, and seeing if it can’t work.”
While Magento fits the bill for a number of enterprise-level, high-budget brands, the end-of-life of Magento 1 poses a good opportunity for brands to reset their expectations of their ecommerce platform.
And for some, staying on Magento won’t be worth it.
To migrate to Magento you’ll need a large team, and a large timeframe.
“The Magento migration process is not like what you would think of when you update an app on your phone. It’s a very lengthy process that involves a team of people (DBA, UX/UI, Designer, Engineer) just to complete.” — Johnny Gregory, Fortuitas
“85% of the clients we deal with have a much better experience using a cloud-based platform like BigCommerce Enterprise. These solutions increase speed and performance and reduce overall technical debt.” — Ethan Giffin, Founder and CEO at Groove Commerce
In a piece earlier this year, 2pm compared ecommerce infrastructures to the building of mobility via roads.
“…we must begin viewing investments into our eCommerce infrastructure no differently than our predecessors viewed their investments into roads, bridges, and tunnels.”
As brands look to grow their online retail businesses, they need to have the right roads, bridges, and tunnels in place.
As the virtual storefront to a digital store, your ecommerce platform is both the entryway — and potential barrier — to growth. For many, that entryway is in the cloud.
“Instead of asking if a cloud commerce platform can do it, you ask if there is any reason a cloud commerce platform can’t do it.” — Justin Emond, CEO, Third and Grove
Brands migrate ecommerce platforms for a number of reasons:
Moving from an on-premise solution to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model.
Rising costs in development.
Growing need for functionality around cross-border and international expansion.
Platform-created restrictions around certain products (firearms, hemp products).
But for the overwhelming majority of migrating brands, the answer is simple: their previous solution just wasn’t meeting them in the middle. They needed more functionality, new features, and higher flexibility.
It’s often stressful and scary for a company to reevaluate tech investments — but know that with BigCommerce, you’re backed by an ecosystem of helpful, expert agencies to guide you along.
Corinne is a writer and researcher at BigCommerce, where she works directly with agency and technology partners to bring their tools, services and ideas to the commerce industry at large. Before BigCommerce, she was an education specialist at Skills Fund, where she built resources and ran trainings to give students access to life-changing skills. Corinne holds degrees in graphic design and psychology. After college, she transitioned into the marketing and research space through a self-taught mindset – and works to bring the value of that skill and mindset to others. When she’s not writing, she’s volunteering with nonprofit organizations, traveling the world, or digging into a new book.