The View from England

Magento 1.9: Going, going, gone?

Time is running out for the thousands of merchants still using Magento 1.9 or older. Support for Magento 1.9 is due to expire by June 2020 at the latest. But more importantly, support for PHP 5.6 has already expired. PHP is the scripting software that Magento runs on. Most hosting companies will be demanding that you stop using PHP 5.6. If they have not already, the hosting companies will soon turn it off.

Using a patch, Magento 1.9 can run with the newer versions of PHP, such as 7.3. But it is not at all certain that Magento extensions would also work. Thus, many merchants have correctly decided to migrate the entire Magento platform and not tinker with patching the PHP.

Many will migrate to Magento 2. It is better than Magento 1.9. Pages load faster and the checkout is faster, among other technical benefits. But why restrict yourself to Magento 2? Out of the box it will be expensive to install, expensive to run, and expensive to maintain. Does your ecommerce site need all the functionality that this sledgehammer provides?

In “What to do now for 2019 holiday sales,” my December column, I suggested collecting a lot of visitor and customer data during the holiday rush. Use that data now, post rush, to review your ecommerce platform from the perspective of a shopper. And consider financial and technical implications, too.

Shoppers

Your shoppers do not care what software you are running. All they care about is understanding what you sell, finding what they want to buy, and purchasing quickly and conveniently. Thus content, navigation, and presentation are key. Integrations with payment processors and order management systems are also important.

Magento is not inexpensive to run. If you have just a few orders per day, you should likely be on a cheaper and smaller system. If you process a significant number of daily orders or sell on multiple channels, you likely require an order management system. Most decent order management systems will interface with more than just Magento 2.

Likewise, modern ecommerce platforms all provide the core functionality of most retailers. If you list all the features that you need — not the “nice to have” — you are likely to find that many platforms have them natively, without an extension.

Financial

How much does it cost to run Magento 1.9? Magento 2.0 will likely cost about the same. The main expenditures are:

  • Hosting,
  • Maintenance of the software (including keeping it up to date),
  • Man hours in keeping the content up to date,
  • License fees for all the needed extensions.

When I last looked, all these were higher for Magento than most of the other platforms. Unless there is something unique about your needs that only Magento provides, why use the more expensive solution? Look at the data you collected over the holiday period. How many sales were made because you were using Magento?

Technical

Before switching off the live 1.9 system, most developers recommend (i) creating a new 2.0 installation, (ii) importing all of the data, (iii) and getting it running fully.

Migrating to a different platform will be no different. The same technical challenges exist. You would still need to create 301 redirects. You would need to integrate with all third-party software. You’ll need to test. Whether it’s Magento 2 or another option, the migration is similar.

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