Moving to Magento 2: FAQ for merchants from Amasty CTO
Magento 2 general availability release is out. The community is awake and boiling up, and the merchants are wondering: should they consider switching to Magento 2? If yes, when should they move to the new platform?

We’ve collected the most popular questions on these topics and asked Andrei Vashkevich, Amasty CTO and co-founder, to answer them. Andrei is an experienced Magento Certified and Zend Certified developer, he is also taking care of all Magento 2 Amasty extensions development process.

Say, there’s an average merchant who owns a Magento shop. He or she’s not necessarily a developer. And he’s unsure what to do: everybody is so excited about Magento 2, but is the buzz worth it? Which questions should merchants ask before making a decision of moving to Magento 2?

Yes, everybody is very optimistic about Magento 2, and so do we here at Amasty. The thing is, being optimistic does not necessarily mean you should jump in immediately.

If you own a Magento 1 shop that works perfectly well, you have at least 6 months when you shouldn’t attempt to transfer your shop to Magento 2. The new platform needs time to stabilize. Some companies (including Amasty) are very actively developing Magento 2 extensions, but still there’s only a few on them on the market at the moment, and the tools functionality is still far from perfect, and there’s almost no choice of Magento 2 themes now.

But we will see more of that in the next few months.

We do hope that the platform will be actively expanding, and after approximately six months you can actually start planning the switch.

The fact is, you can’t transfer your shop from Magento 1 to Magento 2 as you did it with Magento 1.xxx upgrades – due to structure and functional differences, you won’t be able to keep the exact same features and looks. Magento 1 modules also can’t be upgraded for M2 and should be developed from scratch, and you most definitely won’t be able to adapt the extensions yourselves.

But there’s good news! It’s a nice opportunity to create a better and technically clever shop on a new platform with bigger future.

You will definitely need a system administrator to prep everything for the transfer and to minimize downtime in order not to lose your orders and money.

Also, you’ll need to count in the efforts to transfer all the data about products, clients, orders and other content. Magento promised to provide merchants with a tool to simplify this part of transition, but, clearly, there will be a lot of manual work, too.

To sum it up: you should count all your money and time expenses and see if the profit from the new platform covers them.

— Right, your advice is to wait at least 6 months before starting the transition to Magento 2.

Yes, this time period now looks like optimal so that all the main issues are fixed and the sufficient number of extensions and themes appears. Developers need time to dig into the new platform.

Coding

Of course, early adopters have already started working with Magento 2, some of them are listed here, and we’ll see even more shops at the beginning of 2016.

— Let’s talk about merchants who are using other e-commerce platforms but are planning to switch to Magento.

This process could be even more cost-intensive, because for now there are no ready-made data transfer solutions for Magento 2.

— What is the best choice for shop owners using other platforms? If they desperately want to switch to Magento, should they pick M1 or M2?

I would say, if you decided to move your shop to Magento, the second version is the best choice. Of course, the first version is an easier option for now, but switching to M1 means you’ll have to switch to M2 either way because the M1 support will be stopped after 3 years and the developers will eventually switch their focus to the newer version sooner or later.

The switch itself will cost you money and time, and by moving to Magento 1, you automatically imply the later move from M1 to M2, which will be easier in a couple of years than it is now, but still it’s an additional step which costs time and money, and you can avoid that by going to M2 straight ahead.

But again, there’s a choice – to join the early adopters or to wait about 6 months till the platform stabilizes. In fact, you can spend these 6 months or so with certain benefit: use this time for planning your new store features, sketching the design (if you want an exclusive one), pre-managing the transition, consulting with developers and system administrators, thinking about work optimization tactics during this period as well.

In other words, make sure that when the moment of switching from any platform to Magento 2 comes, you’ll be armed for bear, knowing when, why and how you’re doing this.

— Being realistic here: as any new solution, Magento 2 can’t be good for all online merchants. There are shop owners that most likely don’t need switching to the new platform. Who are they?

These are very small businesses with shy turnover, and their platform upgrade expenses can’t be justified. Or, the pay-off period threatens to be overlong.

What is more, shops on M1 that are not actively evolving and have been working on the same level for a significant period of time, are also doubtful candidates for the transition, because they don’t have any significant financial reasons for a switch. Going to Magento 2 just for the sake of doing it is wrong, it is a business decision, and the migration should bring you more clients, opportunities, and, eventually, money.

If we speak about bigger merchants, there are cases when they would refuse from the new platform transition. They are likely to have been working for Magento 1 for a long time, having a large catalog and impressive turnover, and using multichannel sales.

Also, such online stores are deeply integrated with other platforms and services and are optimized for some specific needs of the company. Such e-commerce environment solutions are rather expensive, and there’s no need to drop them in the next 5 years. These shops aren’t threatened of gradual M1 market exit, because they have their own developers or distributed teams to make sure the system stays up to date and relevant.

Thus, if you did your math and saw that moving to Magento 2 is not cost effective for your business, don’t be afraid to stay on Magento 1.

Vintage catalog

A grandparent of modern e-commerce – 1909 Montgomery Ward Book of Bargains

— Let’s talk about the market future. Now we’re having the following landscape: for a certain period of time there will be two fully functional versions of the platform. Plus, we’re seeing certain forces redistribution here: many vendors have started building Magento 2 solutions, and some of them will stick to Magento 2 as long as possible.

How will this influence the market in the nearest three years for vendors, merchants, and buyers?

Despite powerful competition, Magento is still the most powerful e-commerce solution on the market, and Magento 2 version will only strengthen this position, because approximately for three years Magento will be developing twofold: the first version is going to stay relevant, as many merchants decided to stick with it, and the second version will be rising at its own, faster pace, because it will attract new shops and shops that are being transferred from other platforms.

So, for three years there will be a split: the market players will distribute M1 and M2 services demand.

For example, Amasty doesn’t plan to slow down Magento 1 extensions development and support, although we have actively started working on Magento 2. So, jumping into Magento 2 world doesn’t mean taking time from other activities, it’s rather about expanding resources and production.

I guess, this will be true for many vendors of the Magento community, it’s an opportunity to grow in several directions for them and for the market as well.

As for shoppers, they just want to satisfy their needs and have a good shopping experience. So far this can be achieved both on M1 and on M2.

— Andrei, what are your personal suggestions for merchants regarding the whole Magento 2 buzz?

Don’t be in a hurry. Wait for a really stable version, then for its first update, install Magento 2 and start looking around on what you are going to build on it.

Also, there’s no need to be afraid that all of a sudden your Magento 1 shop has appeared to be ineffective just because M2 has been released. No, it’s still working as it did before, and being in a rush while making serious business decisions is doubtful.

If you carefully valuate you expenses, opportunities and prospects of staying with M1 or leaving it for good and relate it to your current business state, you’ll make the right step, whatever the decision.

Takeaway

  1. Switching just for the sake of platform change is not recommended. There must be other properly justified reasons.
  2. If you want to switch from M1 to M2, the best decision is to wait around 6 months.
  3. If you want to switch from any other platform to Magento, you’d better choose M2 version right away, without starting with M1 as an in-between solution.
  4. To know if it’s worth doing, think about what you want to see on your new shop. Then estimate transition and additional development costs, as well as the pay-off period. If these numbers satisfy you, you’re ready to start.
  5. If you see that switching to Magento 2 is not cost effective for your business, it’s absolutely okay to stay on the platform that is ad maximum suitable for your shop.

Do you have any other questions regarding Magento 2 and moving to it? We’ll be happy to answer them.