March 7, 2021

Magento 1 or Magento 2; when should I upgrade?

Dr Peter Mowforth

INDEZ regularly advises businesses on their Ecommerce strategies and plans. One of the most common topics we have been dealing with recently concerns the migration from version 1 to 2 of Magento. A typical example might be a rapidly growing company with a mature Magento 1 Community Edition platform. The system might have a small degree of customisation along with an additional foreign language version and several extensions. In our experience, most third party advisors recommend switching to Magento 2. This is not surprising when a few searches on Google provide a slew of articles recommending that all Magento users, without delay, migrate as quickly as they can to Magento 2 .If you are moving to Magento from some other ecommerce platform then the decision is straightforward; you move straight to Magento 2.For those already using Magento, moving from Magento 1 to Magento 2 is a major item of work. Almost everything about the two frameworks is different. It’s not just about the narrow definition of the website. Factors such as its integration with all the other component parts of the digital ecosystem as well as the staff training costs all have a bearing on the total cost of migration.Magento 2 sites have a completely different architecture and URL format to Magento 1 sites. This will increase the likelihood of a noticeable dip in SEO performance following migration. Yet another factor concerns the funding of the business. Some businesses may be better positioned for a major capital project (e.g. as a result of grant support) while others may have a business model better supported by progressive organic investment.In an earlier post I discussed the issues around whether to make use of the Open Source Community Edition or the Enterprise Commerce edition. Given that the vast majority of Magento systems are based on the Open Source edition, I intend to limit the article to this.Magento 2 has been a slow roll-out with the first announcement made in 2010. Next, Magento announced that it was planned for release in 2011. It was then finally launched as a merchant beta version in September 2015.Magento is a massively flexible framework. Unfortunately, this flexibility means that the system can be complicated to work with and develop which has meant that when Magento 2 was eventually launched, the Beta version required much time spent on it to stabilize the platform. The number of outstanding issues has been rapidly falling as more and more Magento 2 systems get built and launched. The consequential slow adoption rate for Magento 2 has meant that formal support for Magento 1 has been extended to 2020. Given how long Magento 2 has been available, you may well have expected that most users would have already taken the plunge and made the transition. Most reputable sources calculate that only around 7.6% of Magento sites are now under version 2 {49558out of 651788}.One of the major considerations when adopting to change over to Magento 2 is the availability of extensions. All practical Magento websites make use of a number of extensions.If your web project needs 20 extensions then it’s not just the availability of the main Magento code, it’s also the availability of each of the extensions and associated costs. These extensions are each produced by third party companies which may or may not have developed the Magento 2 version yet. One of the key questions is how long will Magento 1 be supported for? Given that there are over half a million ecommerce businesses using Magento, it’s quite reasonable to expect the answer to be a few years yet. Magento have announced that they will continue to support Magento 1.x and have no current plans to stop supporting it.Magento’s official blog post states on 30th of May 2017:“Magento 1 has been and will continue to be supported for the foreseeable future. We have no intention of denying access to our world-class software and know your business relies on Magento to drive growth and differentiation for your brand.”Magento also have stated that it will be giving 18 months of notice before they make any changes to their support level. This shows that Magento are keen to keep supporting as many businesses that rely on their software, and to support the development community that are maintaining these sites.The counter argument is that while existing functionality is highly likely to be supported for a long-time yet, new functionality designed to exploit new ecommerce opportunities is much more likely to only exist with Magento 2.Putting these platform issues to one side, it’s always important to come back to business costs. While there are plenty of genuine and sensible reasons for switching to Magento 2, with a mature business, it's easy to forget that migration alone will not, in the short-term, increase sales.Reverting to the opening points about INDEZ advising on whether to migrate or not, the answer depends entirely on the type of business. If a business has a relatively small and simple ecommerce operation then moving to Magento 2 is likely to be the right move. Large and complicated sites may wish to consider, in the short term, to remain with the existing platform before considering the move. If a Magento 1 site has a lot of problems then an analysis of costs may well show that the costs of fixing all the things could end up costing as much as the migration itself. For that reason alone, the upgrade to Magento 2 makes good sense. The point is that any recommendation for upgrading a website must always be done within the context of the whole business along with a careful analysis of resource, costs, profits and cash-flow.

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