What is Magento 2?
Magento 2 launched in November 2015, creating a big splash in the eCommerce development community. It’s best not to think of Magento 2 as an upgrade. Rather, it’s a whole new reboot of the platform, built on substantial research regarding the limitations of Magento 1.
Released in 2008, Magento has become one of the most popular eCommerce platforms available. Magento has always been robust, powerful and feature-rich, however those advantages came with some drawbacks, making it sometimes unwieldy, slow and challenging to work with. That’s why the Magento team rebuilt it from the foundation, utilizing a modern web stack, rather than working off the existing platform.
When should you upgrade?
We definitely mean “when” and not “if”. Magento 1 is not going to be an eternal eCommerce solution. Support will be available for a few years, but you will no longer see new features added. New extensions are only being offered for Magento 2, going forward. As the eCommerce environment grows more and more competitive, store owners on Magento 2 will have an advantage over those still using Magento 1.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to rush out and upgrade immediately. The change will take some development assistance and it’s worth asking yourself a few questions to determine when you should make the switch:
- Do you have a list of large changes you want to make to your store?
If you’re planning on adding functionality or retheming anytime soon, it’s recommended that you go for the upgrade first. This prevents you from having to redo the work when you switch to Magento 2.
- Are you looking for a way to increase your sales numbers right now?
The Magento 2 base theme has a collection of conversion rate optimization features built in that could help. (We’ll explore these in more depth below.)
- How forward-looking is your industry?
Are your competitors running complex stores with fast page load speeds and easy-to-use checkout processes? Are you concerned about losing customers? It might be time to take advantage of the benefits that come from Magento 2.
- Are you in a position where your staff will be able to relearn Magento?
Though the systems are similar, there is still a learning curve. If you’re in the middle of a busy season and cannot devote time to adjusting to the new system, then it might be better to hold off until a later date.
If you aren’t planning on making any major changes to your site and you’re happy with how things are going at the moment, then there isn’t any reason to rush.
However, we do recommend creating a roadmap to launch before November 2018. Magento 1x will not be supported after 2018, which means there won’t be any more security patches released for that version. Magento 1 sites could be unsecured and vulnerable to hacking.
What are the benefits of switching to Magento 2?
One of the drawbacks of Magento has always been its slow loading time. Extensions could be added to help boost speed, but they required additional development assistance, which meant additional expense for store owners. Magento 2 provides internal caching support right out of the box, with built-in support for Varnish caching and a full-page caching component. Administrators can navigate the backend of their sites much faster and the customer experience on the frontend is vastly improved.
How fast is Magento 2?
Results vary, but they’ve been significant across the board.
coolblueweb performed an upgrade to Magento 2 for one client recently and saw an immediate speed improvement. Our developer, Michael shared, “On a base Digital Ocean box, we were seeing page loads of ~500ms vs 1.5 seconds on their old website.”
There’s no overestimating the advantages of a quicker site. Google ranks sites higher when they’re faster and customers are more likely to stick with a store that doesn’t take long to load.
Magento has also chosen to focus on the backend admin portion of their platform, making the learning curve easier for users who don’t have a high level of technical proficiency. Store management processes have become simpler and less time-consuming as well.
One popular new feature is the ability to bulk edit products. As Magento store managers know, the process of bulk editing was cumbersome and time-consuming with Magento 1. Version 2 takes this into account with options to streamline the entire process. In fact, the entire workflow of product creation is simpler and quicker. The number of product templates have been reduced and managers can create configurable products all at once. There’s a step-by-step product creation tool included and product importing is significantly faster than in Magento 1.
Magento 2 Product Admin Example
The design of the new backend admin is in a modern, flat style and it’s optimized for a variety of different screen sizes, instead of just desktop. This means it’s touch friendly for users who prefer to work from their tablets, mobile devices or touchscreen laptops.
Checkout processes can be a great determiner of conversion rates. Quick and painless checkout processes result in more orders and unwieldy checkout processes can result in higher abandoned cart rates.
When checking out with Magento 1, a customer must go through a 5-step process before they’re able to submit their order. If merchants want to offer anything quicker or more intuitive, extensive development customization is required. Now, with Magento 2, checkout has been reduced to two steps. In addition, Magento 2 has made the checkout process customizable for store owners.
To streamline the process, an order summary is displayed throughout checkout, meaning the customer does not have to navigate back to their shopping cart to view their items. Assumed Guest Checkout is applied, so customers who registered previously on the site are recognized by their email address and given the option to log in to complete their transaction. Guests are given the option to create an account after they’ve already submitted their order, so account creation does not impede the flow of the checkout process.
Magento 2 Checkout Example
Magento 2 also integrates with a number of trusted payment gateways out-of-the-box, providing users with flexibility, security, speed, and ease. This improves customers’ experience during the checkout process and builds trust in eCommerce sites. Supported payment gateways include:
- Cybersource (Enterprise Edition only)
- Worldpay (Enterprise Edition only)
Development time on Magento 2 will also be improved, as payment gateways no longer require integrations, but are immediately available. Merchants will also more easily be able to meet PCI compliance standards.
Additional standout Magento 2 features:
- Better search functionality, including layered search and navigation options
- The ability to offer private sales (Enterprise Edition)
- Improved customer account management tools
Magento 2 is also more developer-friendly than Magento 1. Development teams appreciate the following:
Upkeep and Upgrades
Magento 2 is built to be simpler to maintain and upgrade than Magento 1. This makes developers’ jobs easier, which saves merchants money. Adding new functionality and staying on the cutting edge as new innovations are released is also more affordable with Magento 2.
Another big advantage for developers is the built-in testing framework that comes with Magento 2. This framework greatly simplifies the testing process, especially when compared to what Magento 1 offered. Regression testing is an essential part of releasing big updates for any eCommerce store, as it allows developers to ensure changes don’t break the site. Magento 2 gives developers the ability to arrange a collection of automated tests, saving time in the testing process.
With Magento 2, database management has also improved. In the older version of Magento, ineffective load balancing was a common complain. Now there’s an option to have databases for order management and checkout operating as standalones. With Magento 2 traffic is handled more productively and dedicated resources can be allocated to visitors who are visiting shops to buy.
Making all the above features possible is a sleek architecture engineered to be open and adaptable. The modular code base means that customizations become easier and deployments are quicker and less stressful.
The clock is ticking!
Even if you aren’t ready to upgrade right now, we recommend creating a plan for when and how you’ll be switching your store over to Magento 2. The benefits and savings will be recognizable over the short and long terms.
Check out this handy infographic detailing your step-by-step journey to Magento 2!