Experienced eCommerce store managers know that upgrading your store platform can bring a variety of challenges. Customers having difficulty ordering or finding information, fulfillment that doesn't work exactly as expected, and even product pages where information seems to "jump" unexpectedly. Taking the time to plan and test your upgrade is critical to your success, and the Magento 2 Upgrade schedule is no different. Now that the Magento 1.x platform is no longer being updated, it's a great time to make the leap to the latest version of this popular eCommerce platform, and we've got the information to help you do so smoothly and painlessly.
Why Upgrade Now
There are a variety of reasons to take the plunge now instead of waiting, but support is perhaps the most pressing issue. The Magento team released the Magento 2 Upgrade way back in November 2015, and recently announced that 2018 will be the last year for security patches for 1.x versions of the platform. Time is getting short to test the update before you lose critical upgrades on your current eCommerce store. Additionally, all the cool new store features are available in the new 2.0 version -- so you're missing out on features that may help you sell more products and services, even more efficiently! Here's some of the key features for the 2.0 upgrade:
- Easier checkout flow increases conversion rates
- Platform overall is 20% faster than Magento 1.x
- Simpler process for adding products and streamlined grid for adding/removing columns
- Addition of responsive themes to make your site look amazing on devices of all sizes
- Changes to page caching, speed up content delivery
- Enhanced API list to simplify critical integrations
Planning for Success
Successful software upgrades include a complete plan that documents not only the software integrations, but the business requirements that you are trying to meet. Speak with current customers and stakeholders to see what's working now and what could be enhanced with a new version of your eCommerce site. If you haven't completed research with your customers in the recent past, now is a great time to define detailed questions that will focus on order completion as well as satisfaction with the workflow for your internal staff. Find the current pain-points in your process and look for ways to squash them for process optimization. Since this is a relatively large upgrade, it is important that you document not only what you want to change, but what you want to stay the same during the upgrade process as well.
Is your Magento installation currently integrated with shipping software, additional customer service databases or marketing platforms? Carefully documenting these integrations and how they're currently accomplished -- through an API or custom integrations -- will allow you to map this against the new functionality offered by the Magento 2 upgrade. The expanded set of APIs may allow you to ditch some custom programming and streamline integrations, potentially speeding up the overall system and delivery of content throughout the platform.
Allow Plenty of Time
Thinking your team can complete this upgrade over a weekend (or even over a few weeks) probably isn't realistic. While not a complete platform change, the upgrade from Magento 1.0 to 2.0 is a relatively significant change and will require full testing and training of your team, as well as a marketing rollout to customers letting them know about the change. Strategize carefully to ensure that you can commit both the time and budget to make the project successful. It's also important to keep in mind your business sales cycle. If you're right in the middle of your busiest season, it's probably a good idea to wait for a bit before you decide to make the leap. There are always small and unexpected issues that come up with maintenance and upgrades, and the last thing you want to do is risk damaging your sales potential during a busy season.
Re-Platform, Not an Upgrade
Perhaps the best way to be successful with your Magento 2 upgrade project is to approach it as a re-platform and not a straight upgrade. The significant amounts of added functionality as well as the changes in page structure and themes will allow you the opportunity to rethink a variety of things about the way you're currently doing business. There are also some pretty fantastic new functionality options that you can take advantage of if you take the time to rethink your eCommerce model and fully define the requirements for the project. Re-imagining your store may feel like a large task to tackle, but the rewards will pay off in higher conversion rates, happier customers and more productive employees! Find the core features in your current site that customers and staff members are in love with, and look for ways to expand those components. Currently using a Magento 1.x theme? Great news -- the new themes provide you with responsive templates out of the box, but you can still work with designers to make tweaks to optimize them for your specific needs.
Once you have the new store online, it's important to take the time to test and gather feedback from all stakeholders yet again. Walk through a number of different transactions that test the full range of processes within the store. It's just like when you buy a brand new car: you want to kick the tires, test all the mirrors and optimize everything so it fits your business as well as possible while providing a secure and stable platform for your customers. Measure the effectiveness of the site by seeing how checkout percentages increase and overall conversions improve. Bounce rates should drop as the platform itself is speedier, and fewer customers will become frustrated by lack of response from the site and navigate away from your store. Magento 2.0 offers multiple reasons to upgrade, and once you have your store available for testing you'll really see the benefits of taking this step.
In even the most well-planned store migration, there can be some challenges. If you keep these best practices in mind while you're prepping for your upgrade, you'll find that you're serving your internal and external customers successfully in no time! The faster platform, improved efficiencies within the database, enhanced API options and mobile responsive templates will boost your business revenue.