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A Deep Dive Into Magento 2 Features, Pricing & More: Is Migrating Really Worth The Effort?

Susan Meyer / 9 min read
Blog May Magento 2

A Deep Dive Into Magento 2 Features, Pricing & More: Is Migrating Really Worth The Effort?

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Magento ecommerce software has been around since the initial version was launched back in 2008. Today, it makes up a 7% market share in the ecommerce platform space according to Datanyze.

In 2015, Magento announced the release of Magento 2 which was intended to solve for some of the flaws of Magento 1.x versions. Some merchants made the switch, and others have stayed on earlier versions.

In 2018, Magento announced that it would be discontinuing support of Magento 1 and that the official End of Life date would be June 2020.

As of April 2019, there are still 37,725 ecommerce websites operating on Magento 1.9 according to data from BuiltWith.

But chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re already more than a little familiar with Magento. You may be considering using the platform. Or you may already be part of the Magento community and considering other options. You may also be currently running your online store on Magento 1 and staring down the face of a migration you’re less than enthused about.

If so, let’s dive deep into some of the things to consider before jumping in to a Magento 2 migration, so you can decide if it’s something you want to tackle or not.

What Is Magento 2?

First things first, how is Magento 2 different from Magento 1? What new features does it offer? And does it really address the pain points of Magento 1 enough to justify taking the plunge?

Let’s first consider some of the limitations of Magento 1. The platform was designed to be flexible. This is one of the primary drivers behind Magento’s popularity.

However, the flipside of this flexibility is that developers continuing to work on the platform and customize it can also make the user interface more confusing and difficult to use. The site also could run more slowly because of these customizations.

In addition to having a steep learning curve and potential slow downs, Magento 1 also lacks features that its competitors offer, including mobile responsiveness.

Magento 2 addresses many of these issues. Here are some of the key differences:

  • Supports the latest PHP versions which can affect site speed.
  • Supports CSS3, HTML5, and MySQL
  • Offers faster (on average 20%) page load speed over Magento 1.
  • Is mobile friendly
  • Has a better admin interface for a better user experience for non-technical staff
  • Simplifies the checkout process from six stages on Magento 1 to two stages on Magento 2.

Now, it’s important to note that are three separate editions of Magento 2.

  • Magento 2 Open Source (formerly known as Community Edition): This is a free product anyone can download from the Magento website. The user can then install Magento, but is responsible for hosting, support, and development costs.
  • Magento 2 Enterprise Edition — This on-premise premium option comes with added features and support. It is usually only adopted by larger businesses because the monthly costs can be steep. (More on costs below.)
  • Enterprise Cloud Edition — A cloud-hosted version provides the same features of the on-premise Enterprise Edition but eliminates the need for self-hosting.

It’s important to note that the Magento Enterprise Cloud Edition is NOT SaaS (Software as a Service), but a PaaS (Platform as a Service) model.

Unlike with true SaaS you may still be on the hook for licensing fees, patching vulnerabilities, and completing auto upgrades (more on the distinction between SaaS and PaaS and IaaS here).

It’s also worth noting that, in addition to the above products from Magento, Adobe (which acquired Magento in 2018) in 2019 announced the release of Adobe Commerce Cloud. This is a fully managed cloud service that is built on Magento Commerce and will now be part of the Adobe Experience Cloud.

Is It Mandatory To Migrate To Magento 2?

This answer essentially has two parts:

  • First do you need leave Magento 1?
  • And second, do you have to adopt Magento 2?

In June of 2020 when Magento 1 reaches its End of Life, the product will no longer be supported by Magento. That means Magento will no longer be making updates and patches to the software.

Stores that are still running on Magento 1 won’t find their online stores suddenly shuttered. However, it’s still strongly recommended that you switch before that time. Here’s why:

Security risks

Stores still on Magento 1 after the End of Life will no longer be secure. Without necessary security patches, your site will be vulnerable to hackers and cyberattackers.

By not migrating from Magento 1 to another solution, you will be putting your store and all of your customers’ data at risk.

Extension updates

After the End of Life, many Magento modules and extensions will also quickly become outdated. If any of your extensions are critical to your site functioning, your site may not work properly and you will need to adopt Magento 2 extensions.

Lack of developer support

There are already a limited number of Magento developers who can support all of the live Magento sites. Going forward, they will be likely focusing more of their energy on projects on Magento 2 stores where they have continued training and support. Fewer resources will go into supporting outdated Magento 1 stores.

Clearly there are a lot of reasons why it is essentially mandatory to migrate from Magento 1, but does that necessarily mean you need to switch to Magento 2?

The answer is no. In fact, many businesses are taking the opportunity of being forced to leave Magento 1 to cast a wider net and consider their options.

Moving from Magento 1 to Magento 2 will not be a simple data migration. It will be a full replatform.

The developer and design work, your theme, and many aspects of your store will need to be recreated on Magento 2. If you’re going to be doing that work anyway, that makes this a great opportunity to consider other options.

Find 3-5 platforms that seem like a good fit and send them RFPs to understand how their products will work for your business. Check out this RFP guide to help you create these documents.

As you’re weighing the options, you could consider moving to a true SaaS solution like BigCommerece that will give you the flexibility of Magento, but with automated software maintenance, PCI compliance and security included.

How Much Does Magento 2 Cost

As mentioned above, there are different versions of Magento 2 with very different price points. Here’s a quick rundown on pricing so you can understand how much more you may be paying by switching to Magento 2.

  • Magento 2 Open Source (formerly known as Community Edition): This product is free to license and anyone can download it from Magento’s website. That said, the cost to actually run the site is far from free. You will have hosting, development, and design costs which can add up quickly.
  • Magento 2 Enterprise Edition — This paid edition of Magento starts at around $22,000 and up to $125,000 yearly. How does that compare to the cost of Magento 1? One source cites the starting cost for Magento 1 at around $18,000. Of course the actual quote will depend on your business size and complexity, but expect to pay more by switching to Magento 2.
  • Enterprise Cloud Edition — The cost of the cloud edition of Magento is more than the on premise version. According to this source, licences start at around $40,000 yearly and can be as expensive as $190,000.

And remember, licensing will not be your only costs. You also need to think about:

  • Infrastructure: Web/app servers, databases, firewalls, and load balancers.
  • Development costs: Programming, design, and app integration costs.
  • Managed support: Fees to manage updates, troubleshooting, bug fixes, patches, and training.
  • Technical staff: Employee or team on staff to manage the software.

If you are already on Magento 1, you may be aware of how much some of these development and maintenance costs will be. Remember that the development work you put into creating your Magento 1 site will have to be completed again.

If you choose to go with a SaaS platform instead, the cost of your hosting, maintenance and security will be included in the monthly rate. You will still have design, development and app integration costs.

Many businesses discover their total cost of ownership goes down with a SaaS solution. Do some number crunching to determine if your business might be one of them.

Things To Know About Migrating To Magento 2

No migration project is completely without risk or hassle. The switch from Magento 1 to Magento 2 (or whatever platform you choose to migrate to) is no exception.

As mentioned above, switching from Magento 1 to Magento 2 isn’t a simple data migration — it’s a full replatform. This is because Magento 2 has a new architecture and database design.

Think of it as like moving into a new house. Perhaps you loved your old house, even if it had some flaws. After a lot of work, your furniture fit in it perfectly. You would love to buy a new house that’s exactly the same and move your furniture into place exactly as it was.

Unfortunately, your new house has a different layout. Some aspects may even be better than your last house, but the look and feel has changed. You will need a clear plan and competent movers in order to get your furniture in the right rooms. You will also need contractors to make the house look like you want it to.

However, the new house will never be exactly like your old house.

Here are a few things you should know before you tackle the move.

1. Magento 1 themes can’t be moved to Magento 2.

This is one of the reasons why your new house can’t be a carbon copy of your old house. Magento 1 themes can’t be transferred. Instead, they have to be built from scratch on Magento 2.

Make sure to factor these costs for design and development into your migration plan.

2. Magento 1 extensions won’t work on Magento 2.

If you’re currently on Magento 1, you likely have a number of third party extensions that your store relies on. Unfortunately, you will need to get many of your Magento extensions again and go through the complex process of integrating them as well.

3. Some of your data will need to be moved manually.

Magento has created tools to help migrate your catalog data automatically. Unfortunately, image and video files will still need to be moved manually. Depending on your store and the number of media files you have, this could be a major consideration.

You will want to consider who on your team will handle this step or who you will outsource it to.

4. You may soon need to migrate again.

As we’ve mentioned, migration isn’t easy. It involves a lot of stakeholder buy-in, a detailed implementation plan, and expensive developer and design costs.

There are no guarantees even after you move to Magento 2 that Magento won’t eventually stop supporting that product as well after it comes out with more new releases.

This is why a SaaS alternative can be very appealing. With a SaaS platform, updates and maintenance are automatic, so you are always on the most up-to-date version, no moving required.

Don’t forget: Even while you stay on Magento 2, the work isn’t really over. You will still be making updates and patches to keep your site secure and functioning.

Magento 2 Alternatives

If you are currently on Magento 1, after reading the above you may be considering what alternatives are available to you.

  • How can you get the flexibility, scalability, and customization that you require without switching to Magento 2?
  • How can you get some of the advantages of Magento 2 like mobile responsiveness and a user-friendly admin but without the disadvantages like having to make your own updates and handle your own platform security?

1. SaaS Platforms.

Consider a SaaS solution like BigCommerce as an alternative. BigCommerce has best-in-class uptime and maintains the highest levels of PCI compliance. The platform provides unrestricted scalability with one-click integrations and an open API architecture.

BigCommerce has an advantage over other SaaS platforms like Shopify because it has more out-of-the-box features. Shopify requires you to use more third-party extensions to reach the same functionality. This can cause merchants to spend an average of $13,000 more a year.

Make sure to consider all the features you will need to run your online store to calculate your total cost of ownership.

For a deeper dive into the differences between types of ecommerce platforms and the pros and cons of some of the biggest players, check out this comparison guide.

2. Headless Commerce.

As you’re considering your options, you may have heard about headless commerce as a potential avenue to consider.

Headless commerce means decoupling the frontend content management system from the backend ecommerce engine.

With headless commerce, you can create content-driven customer experiences on the frontend and back them with powerful, scalable ecommerce shopping functionality. You can use a popular CMS like WordPress or Drupal and connect it to a platform like BigCommerce with a simple plug-in.

Learn why more and more businesses are using headless strategies to increase their market share.

Businesses Who Left Magento

Here are a few major brands who found great success switching from Magento to BigCommerce.

1. Bulk Apothecary.

Bulk Apothecary example

In 2014, this online supplier of natural ingredients decided to use Magento as an on-premise solution. They spent the better part of a year customizing the platform while spending thousands of dollars and dealing with frequent performance issues and integrations that were unreliable. By switching to BigCommerce, they had a 20% increase in sales while saving over $50K in hosting and licensing fees.

“Between daily maintenance, custom development work, licenses and hosting fees, we were spending tens of thousands of dollars in unforeseen costs just to keep the store running,”

–Gary Pellegrino Jr., Owner, Bulk Apothecary

2. Savannah Bee.

Savannah Bee example

This honey brand launched their website on Magento but found it wasn’t very intuitive. After they transitioned to BigCommerce they discovered a 30% decrease in their total cost of ownership and a 12% increase in revenue YoY.

“We found there were constant updates needed with Magento. Any plugins you had or any kind of apps that you had running, might not work after the update. Then, you’d have to pay untold amounts of money to get those plugins updated, typically after a customer tried to use them and they didn’t work – leading to a loss of sales.”

–Andrea Burg, Ecommerce Manager, Savannah Bee

3. Thompson Tee.

thompson tee example

This innovative retail brand of sweat-proof t-shirts migrated from Magento to alleviate problems with plug-ins. Essentially, they realized their teams were wasting too much time solving for issues that kept cropping up. They switched to BigCommerce and had a 94% increase in ROI and a yearly savings of $82,500.

“There always seemed to be some sort of domino effect, where if one thing changed with Magento, then another plugin or another app didn’t work, and you would have to go in and do a CSI-type investigation to figure out what happened.”

— Billy Thompson, Co-founder, Thompson Tee

Conclusion

The upcoming End of Life of Magento 1 puts more online stores at a crossroads. Knowing it isn’t secure to stay on your current platform once it’s no longer supported, your team has a difficult decision ahead.

You can choose to move to move to Magento 2 or choose to use this opportunity to consider all the options.

You don’t want to be looking back in a few years facing yet another complicated replatform project. Do the research and add up the costs to figure out which platform is the best long-term fit for your business.

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    Susan Meyer

    Susan Meyer

    Enterprise Content Marketing Manager

    Susan Meyer is the Enterprise Content Marketing Manager at BigCommerce, where she researches, analyzes and educates brands making more than $10M in annual online sales on tech stack scalability, flexibility and overall growth strategies that alleviate growing CAC. She lives and works in Austin, Texas and her decade of writing experience spans everything from young adult nonfiction to technical documentation.

    View all posts by Susan Meyer

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