24 January 2018

Why you shouldn’t upgrade to Magento 2 (+ better alternatives!)

We said it before: if your webshop runs on Magento 1.x, it is time to think about the future. What options do you have as a webshop owner? We discuss them for you in this blog.

And we'll try to be as neutral as possible, without pushing Shopify too much. Promise! In the end we won't benefit from talking you into a platform that doesn't suit you, right? Still, should you be interested after reading, you know where to find us ;)

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2018: End of life for Magento 1.x

Last year Magento announced they will stop support and updates for 1.x versions, as of november 2018. This harsh deadline was later nuanced (they will continue making patches and updates for at least 18 months after november), but the message is clear: Magento 1 is about to die, long live Magento 2.

This is bad news for webshops running on Magento 1.x, because without updates your site will be severely challenged in terms of security. Less than ideal when your business depends on safe online payments and managing personal client data. Not doing anything and continuing with Magento 1.x is absolutely not an option. These entrepreneurs have to make a decision, and shortly (if you wait until 2019 you're definitely too late!):

Will I upgrade to Magento 2.x?

This will be a costly and time consuming process. Magento 2 has a completely new core compared to Magento 1, so upgrading goes a little beyond a simple click on the 'Upgrade' button. Lots of functionality that was available in 1.x will disappear, and you will definitely need developers to ensure a succesful migration.

Also important to remember: because 2.x is so new, some indispensable functionality is not yet available. Magento 1 has all kinds of plugins, connectors and extensions to add certain features to your webshop, but most of those aren't compatible with Magento 2. Of course there will be new plugins in the future, but the one extension that you are waiting for might not be one of them.

A second question is: when will you upgrade?

Preferably before the updates stop, obviously, but not so early on that you'll have to wait for bugfixes, important plugins and connectors that aren't available yet. Magento 2 is still in its infancy: it has yet to become a fullgrown, stable, dependable platform. So upgrade later rather than sooner.

Still, this will make for a tight planning: how much time will the migration take, and when do you feel that Magento is stable enough to risk the switch? But also: do you at all feel like fretting about this constantly in 2018? Sounds like a lot of stress. So the inevitable third question will be:

Couldn’t you find something better?

You have to migrate anyway, so you might as well migrate to a platform that offers a little more stability than Magento 2.x. What options would you have in that case? Depends on your situation and wishes, really.

Would you like open source- or licensed software?

When it comes to webshop-software there is a clear divide between free, self-hosted open source software (such as Magento and WooCommerce) and paid, cloud-hosted licensed software (such as Lightspeed and Shopify).

Open source is a good choice if you have a complex webshop with lots of custom solutions. In that case it's useful to have full control over your website, and the option to extend and tweak it whichever way you need. In practice these are the bigger webshops with large revenues. They usually have enough budget to leave their site's technical management to developers, or to put a specialized team on it.

Tech-savvy webshop owners will also tend towards open source. If your programming skills are up to date, you will feel quite restricted by licensed software. Of course you could view this as a challenge: at CODE we love to push the boundaries of Shopify!

If you have a tight budget, don't feel like figuring out complicated new webshop software, or if you don't want to be dependent on developers all the time, licensed software is a better option for you. This type of platforms is a lot more user friendly and will save you a bunch of time and technical hassle (see also our blog about the difference between Magento and Shopify). At a price, of course, but it's worth it. And if you compare the overall cost you'll see that in most cases licensed software is cheaper than open source: those monthly license fees are dwarfed by the hourly rate of a developer (and all the equally costly hours you might spend on arranging hosting and troubleshooting etc.)

Read up on options and test

If you've made your choice between open source and licensed software, it is a matter of comparing several platforms. Read up on available options online, make a shortlist, and then try out one or two platforms. With licensed software you usually have the option to open a free demo account. With open source platforms you need hosting to install the software (which you already have if your webshop currently runs on Magento 1.x).

For open source alternatives you can have a look at WooCommerce, an e-commerce plugin for WordPress that is used by many existing webshops. Since recently they took over Magento's position as market leader. WordPress is one of the most widely used webplatforms in the world, with thousands of plugins, themes and extensions and a very active community. Because so many sites run on WordPress and WooCommerce, you can find a lot of information and tutorials about it online. This advantage comes with a drawback, though: WordPress sites frequently suffer from cyber attacks, precisely because so many sites use it. It's advisable to take extra care of security with WordPress/WooCommerce sites.

In terms of licensed software there's a lot to choose from, but it's not all equally good. Prices also differ widely. At CODE we're big fans of Shopify, obviously, but direct competitor Lightspeed is not at all bad either! Both platforms offer a high quality service that allows you to quickly build a professional-looking webshop, according to the latest standards concerning technology and SEO.

As with open source, it's a good idea to read up on the various options (read this overview for example – in Dutch), and test things out with a trial account. While reading up, do pay attention to publication dates! Developments go fast in the world of e-commerce software, and for that reason many online articles are out of date. This is especially unfair for Shopify, because until recently this platform wasn't adapted to the Dutch market. That problem is now solved with the arrival of a few crucial connectors: we discussed them earlier in this blog.

Of course you could always give us a ring to receive a completely biased story about why Shopify absolutely is the platform of your dreams! We're looking forward to your call ;)

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About the author

CODE easily writes 100 lines of code every day, but a blog is a different story! So we leave that to Linda Bleijenberg, our copywriter. She lives around the corner and wants to be an IT wizard when she grows up. Until then, she writes blogs about what we at CODE are up to.