Things to consider when upgrading from Magento 1 to 2

Published on January 25, 2019
Last modified on November 17, 2021

You may have heard or know from your own experience that version-to-version upgrades can take a lot of time and cause a lot of hassle. This may even be the exact reason that you’ve been delaying the inevitable upgrade of your ecommerce site from Magento 1 to 2.

However, this is nothing that can’t be solved with some good planning and the right partners to help you execute it.

Magento 2 brings an array of new features and changes that makes it considerably different from version 1. Because of this, there are things that you need to include in your planning which you normally wouldn’t need to consider if you’re only updating between minor or patch releases.

1. New requirements
Moving to Magento 2 is primarily a migration of your Magento 1 webshop data and other elements to the new version.

But as you migrate said elements—from your theme and layout, extensions, custom code, to data on products and orders—you may as well do a little re-evaluation of your webshop and ecommerce strategy (and make changes and additions while you’re at it).

Upgrading to Magento 2 is an ‘upgrade’ not only because you are moving to a better version of your ecommerce platform, but also because you are getting the opportunity to reconsider the elements of your webshop and decide on improvements that can drive your business’ growth.

This upgrade may then be the perfect time to revisit old ideas and come up with new ones, and re-examine your webshop to see what you will bring to the new version and what you will leave behind.

In light of the things that you have learned throughout using Magento 1, some helpful questions that you can ask yourself are:

  • What functionalities could I add to the webshop to make things easier for both my team and my customers? (For example, if you are considering expansion, or are already engaging in an omnichannel strategy, you can consider implementing a PIM system to centralize the management of your product information.)
  • What changes could I make to the site’s theme or layout to drive more leads and conversions?
    (You can review your site’s analytics and take a look at what’s working and what’s not in terms of layout, images, or CTA placements.)
  • Which existing functionalities that are not working for my business could I do away with in the new version?
    (If you have old extensions that are of no use anymore or extensions that may already be natively available in Magento 2.)

While this upgrade may seem like a daunting task, it helps to think of it as a new chapter for your ecommerce site.

There may be functionalities that were previously unavailable or simply not possible in 1.x that you can now add in Magento 2. This is also a stage where you get to apply new things that you have learned so you can avoid making the same mistakes as with Magento 1.

2. Themes and extensions compatibility
Most off-the-shelf themes and extensions that you currently have may not work with Magento 2, so you will need to take a look at your theme and extensions to determine whether they can be migrated to the new version.

Generally, you will be faced with one of these two scenarios:

  • First, the current theme and extension that you are using are not compatible with version 2, but the developer has released or committed to release a Magento 2 compatible version. Even then, though, the developer may have made changes to the new version of the extension that may significantly affect the way that you use it in your webshop.
  • Second, your existing theme and extension may not be continuously supported for version 2, so you will have to look for a similar extension that works for Magento 2 in the market, or have it custom-developed as a last resort. For themes, you can hire a designer to create a new theme that is compatible with Magento 2 based off your current design, or you can simply choose a new theme from what’s available in the market.

Depending on your site and the extension you use, your experience may be one or a combination of the above situations.

It’s therefore important to consider this as early as possible in your planning, as this will have a significant effect in your timeline and budget. It’s also why the first step of evaluating what you need (and want) for the new webshop is necessary, as it will help you decide which extension you still need and which you can leave with version 1.

3. Other customizations
If you’ve had other customizations specially developed for your webshop, you will also need to consider how these will be migrated to Magento 2.

Magento offers a Code Migration Toolkit that may help you convert custom Magento 1.x code to Magento 2. However, some of your webshop’s custom code may be beyond what this toolkit can assist with, so these may have to be built again to fit Magento 2’s new structure.

4. Data migration
Magento has provided a Data Migration Tool to help users with possibly the most complex part of the upgrade process.

The tool can deftly handle a standard Magento 1 webshop with little to no customizations, even with added attributes. However, if your webshop is heavily customized, the tool may not be able to fully handle the migration of your webshop’s data. You may have to manually migrate the entirety of your data, or at least part of it—depending on what the migration tool can take on.

As you customize your webshop’s database and add more fields and different functionalities, data migration starts to get more complicated.

For example, there are Magento extension that use their own tables, while others adopt Magento’s default tables. If the module that you are using belongs to the former group, Magento’s data migration tool may overlook the data it contains, requiring you to manually migrate the data.

5. Integrations with other systems
It’s also important to take into account the third-party systems that your webshop integrates with—ERP, POS, PIM, or inventory management systems.

More likely than not, they may already have Magento 2 connectors—this means that the third-party system can easily be integrated (i.e., connected) with your webshop without you having to develop a custom integration for it. Otherwise, then this is also something that you may need specialized development for.

6. Organizational considerations
With the technical stuff out of the way, the next thing that you have to consider is your own team’s readiness for the upgrade.

Magento 2 has a completely different look from Magento 1. Ultimately, our own Magento team here at 1902 Software has found that the version 2 is much easier to use.

But while the new interface is not that complicated to navigate, its novelty still means that you or your team has to take some time to familiarize yourself and learn how to efficiently make your way around it.

Starting your planning early makes sure that you have ample time to learn the system or train your team to use the new version before your Magento 2 webshop goes live.

Next: Upgrade process »