On June 30, 2020, support for Magento 1 ended. If your online store is built on Magento 1, this represents a turning point and a major potential problem. Without support from the parent company, there will be no more security patches for Magento 1. 

This leaves your online store—and both yours and your customer’s sensitive information and even money—exposed to emerging security vulnerabilities. Online stores that face regulatory compliance burdens will find it almost impossible to comply with data security regulations. Failing to validate compliance could result in fines and shutdown.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that Magento 2 is far superior to Magento 1 in almost every way. With the backing of its new owners, tech giant Adobe, Magento’s newest release outdoes its predecessor in terms of:

  • Performance. Whereas Magento 1 struggled to offer page load times under two seconds, Magento 2 increased average performance time by 50% and average checkout loading time by 38%.
  • Mobile-Friendliness. Magento 1 required significant workarounds to adapt it for a mobile browser. Not only is Magento 2 inherently mobile-optimized, but it supports PWA (progressive web applications), which makes a Magento 2 store easy to adapt into a native mobile app.
  • Admin Panel. Magento 2 features a significantly more user-friendly admin panel which can be customized to prioritize important information.  
  • Payment Integrations. Magento 2 accepts many more popular payment gateways without extra integrations compared to Magento 1.
  • Checkout Process. Magento 1 had a cumbersome six-step checkout process. Magento 2 reduced the checkout process to two steps, which can be consolidated down to one page. 

If you are convinced—ready to take the plunge and embrace the bright future of eCommerce—here are five best practices to keep in mind when migrating your online store from Magento 1 to Magento 2, either by yourself or with the help of an experienced Magento 2 development team.

1. Make Sure You’ve Reviewed Your Extensions

Extensions are discreet modules within Magento that perform specific functions. Extensions might help you market, process payments, bolster security, offer customer support, manage shipping and inventory, facilitate reporting, and much more. Magento users can benefit from an extensive library of plug-and-play extensions, but many Magento developers create custom-coded extensions for their clients. 

Magento 2 has such a drastically upgraded tech stack compared to Magento 1, it’s practically an entirely different platform. Don’t take it for granted that every module on your Magento 1 site will seamlessly make the transition from Magento 1 to Magento 2. The code migration tool may be able to transfer certain custom code modules to the new platform, but not every module can be migrated that way.

Take inventory of all the extensions active on your Magento 1 site and what functions each performs. Whether off-the-shelf or custom, many of the extensions on your Magento 1 store perform essential functions. If an essential extension can’t make the transition from Magento 1 to Magento 2, you need to have a plan in place to cover that function within the new platform.

Fortunately, Magento 2 developers have provided the marketplace with pre-made extensions for nearly any function you can imagine. Even if you have to have a custom-built extension to fulfill the function, Magento 2 is much more extension-friendly. Magento 1 was known for extensions conflicting, clashing, and canceling each other out. Extensions work independently and work together much more smoothly in Magento 2.

2. Identify Your Future Needs

Flexibility and customizability have been selling points of the platform since Magento 1. Magento 2 took it up a notch. The process of migrating from Magento 1 to Magento 2 is not just a good time to bring your store up to speed. It’s also a chance to anticipate your needs down the road and future-proof your store. 

Many exciting changes look on the horizon of the ever-expanding eCommerce landscape. You don’t have to embrace them out of the gate, but consider adding extensions, modules, and functions that will make those changes easier to adopt in the future. Some of the most powerful trends in eCommerce to carry your Magento 2 store into the future include:

  • Omnichannel Selling. Omnichannel selling involves unifying a buyer experience so that it is consistent across all channels, including desktop, mobile, even brick-and-mortar.
  • Social Selling. Social selling involves creating a user interface where customers can buy your products directly from social media channels, rather than being diverted off the social platform and to your online store. Any chance to remove steps between you and the customer’s credit card are worth considering. 
  • Voice Commerce. Voice-recognition algorithms get more and more sophisticated, and are already in our lives in the form of text dictation and verbally-activated helpmates like Siri and Alexa. Eventually, voice search is expected to overtake typed search. Magento 2 optimized for voice search will have a competitive advantage. 
  • Augmented Reality. Augmented reality (AR) imposes virtual imagery over real-world imagery. Most famous for AR games like Pokemon Go, AR is starting to play a big role in eCommerce, enabling customers to perform functions like virtually “trying on” jewelry or previewing what furniture will look like within their space. 
  • Artificial Intelligence. Personalization plays a big role in solid UX design. Future Magento 2 sites will use artificial intelligence (AI) to track user behavior and build a customer journey tailored to the visitor.

3. Plan for a Testing Period for Your Magento 2 Site

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Before you transition your online store to its new Magento 2 home, the site must be thoroughly tested. To launch an untested site is asking for trouble—downtime, poor performance, broken functions, even lapses in security that could imperil your or your customers’ data.

When you game out your development and relaunch schedule, make sure to allot plenty of time for testing. Your testing checklist should include, but not be limited to:

  • Security. Safety first, especially when brand trust and quality assurance are at stake. Customization of the Magento 2 source code, as well as customized modules, can become vectors of attack for cybercriminals. Schedule plenty of time for security testing before your site goes live. Scan your code with SAST tools and test the running site with DAST and IAST tools. Since Magento 2 is open-source code, consider using SCA tools as well. If time and budget allow, consider a penetration test using the services of an “ethical hacker” to identify vulnerabilities. 
  • Design. Check each page within your site on multiple browsers to make sure that the site looks the way you want and expect it to look. Use the Pixel Perfect test.
  • Links. Check every link and button to make sure that they are clickable and lead where you expect them to lead.
  • Search Function. Check all parts of the search function, including the search button, the input validation, and the search logic.
  • Header and Navigation. Check the header presentation and layout. If the header is sticky, check it from different positions of the page. Experiment with the navigation—add or hide categories and subcategories. See what happens when you add a long category name. Test your filters and change the number of products per page to see how it affects the user interface.
  • Shopping Cart and Checkout. Initiate a checkout. Try adding and removing products from the cart, changing quantities, and applying discount codes. Test the billing and shipping forms, and review the “Thank You” page for completed orders.
  • Registration and Customer Accounts. Check the process customers will experience when they set up an account by setting up a test account. Review all account pages and forms. Try to change the password and personal details like saved billing and shipping addresses. Try to check order history, wishlist, and reorder functions.
  • Featured Blocks. Try hiding and revealing various featured blocks, including new items, sales, and best-sellers. Click on the featured blocks and make sure they lead where you expect them to lead.
  • Forms. Check all forms, including email list signups, contact forms, testimonial forms, and checkout forms. 

Make sure to test your Magento 2 site in different browsers, like Google Chrome and Apple Safari, as well as different operating systems and mobile browsers.

4. Take Advantage of the Data Migration Tool

Magento 2 comes with a Data Migration Tool to help ease the transition. This tool is a command-line interface (CLI) that identifies consistencies between the database structures, runs data verification tests, creates logs, performs the data transfer, and tracks the progress of the data transfer.

Not all Magento 1 data can be transferred to Magento 2 in this way, but some of it can—enough to save you a great deal of time. 

The Data Migration Tool has three modes:

  • Settings, to migrate the configuration settings. 
  • Data, to perform bulk migrations of main database contents.
  • Delta, to transfer incremental updates.

Each mode is divided into steps, which are in turn divided into three stages—integrity check, to compare the database structure in Magento 1 to its counterpart in Magento 2; data transfer, to execute the transfer; and volume check, which compares the records and confirms that the transfer was successfully executed. 

Before you use the Data Migration Tool, make sure all Magento cron jobs have been halted. While the migration is in progress, do not make changes to the admin panel. Don’t modify the code or change anything on the front end.

5. Pay Attention to Performance

Again, one of the biggest complaints of Magento 1 was that even with rigorous performance optimization, it tended to load slowly. Google has identified two seconds of load time as the threshold of acceptability in eCommerce, and Magento 1 struggled to break that two-second barrier.

Magento 2 included many upgrades to improve the performance of the eCommerce sites built with it, but that doesn’t mean your site will be lightning-fast out the gate. Developers must still be proactive to achieve the kind of performance that makes for a successful eCommerce site. Here are some steps to take to make sure your Magento 2 site loads as quickly as possible: 

  • Consider a Dedicated Server or VPS. Magento 2 is a powerful platform. Shared hosting may not cut it. Consider a dedicated server for your Magento 2 store.
  • Choose a Lightweight Theme. Less data decreases the load time, resulting in faster response times. 
  • Turn On Flat Cataloging and Products. By enabling flat cataloging in the site configuration, you make it easier for your site to load databases. Flat cataloging also reduces the complexity of MySQL queries.
  • Configure Memcached. This free, open-source module decreases the loading speed through distributed memory caching. 
  • Merge and Minify CSS and JavaScript Files. These steps will make your site more lightweight, resulting in faster load times. 
  • Store Content on Content Delivery Network (CDN). A CDN is a kind of edge-Cloud computing solution that links cache servers around the world, enabling the site to load content from a server that is geographically close to them.
  • Enable Varnish. Varnish comes native with Magento 2. Activating it enables full-page cache to reduce the server response time.
  • Manage Cache. Periodically flush your site’s cache from the caching management panel. 
  • Optimize Images. Compress every image used in your site, before submitting the image. Otherwise, the image will be data-heavy and take more time to load. Make sure to use PNG or SVG images for logos, JPEG images for product pictures.
  • Check Extensions. Bugs in the extensions you choose could slow your store down considerably.

Conclusion

“Out with the old, in with the new” is the way of the world, especially the tech world. For merchants stepping up to the challenge of migrating from Magento 1 to Magento 2, it’s a journey rife with possibilities for optimized selling and improved customer experience. With careful planning, testing, and use of available tools, making the switch is an opportunity to make your eCommerce website better than ever.

Migration to the new Magento 2 platform can be a daunting process. Even if you are thinking of staying with Magento 1 for the time being, it is a good idea to open a conversation with your Magento solution partners about how to best handle the future of your online business and put together a long term transition plan. 

At Liventus, we have been developing e-commerce sites for over two decades now. We are a Magento Professional Solution Partner with expertly trained staff capable of making your transition to Magento 2 seamless. Contact us today to learn more.