Nov
25
2013

Three things to consider before migrating your website to Magento

We receive a healthy number of requests each month for migrating existing ecommerce websites to the Magento platform, and there are a number of things worth considering before you move to Magento.

The benefits of migrating to Magento

There can be huge benefits to moving your store to Magento’s platform, including:

  • Magento is one of the most popular ecommerce systems around, and this means there’s a very active ecosystem of developers and designers who are experts (like us!). As a store owner, this usually means quicker bug fixes to the core Magento features, and a greater range of free or pre-existing extensions to add new features.
  • Magento (Community Edition) is free and open source (see this article on whether Magento Enterprise Edition is worth the cost for you). This means there are no licensing costs for the software, just the budget for the customisations and designs you need.
  • Magento is built for ecommerce: unlike some other ecommerce platforms, Magento was built specifically for online stores, and it shows. Catalogue management for your products and categories is deeply integrated with Magento and very well tested.
  • Multi-store management built in: if you have more than one store, you can use Magento to manage them all through the same control panel.
  • Powerful reports and analytics: Magento gives you the power to create custom reports as standard, giving you the power to adapt your business to suit your customers’ needs.
  • And much more! See Magento’s demo.

1. Migration is a big deal

You’re not just moving some products to Magento: you’re moving your whole online store, which means customers, your order history and other page content will need to move too! This is not a reason not to migrate to Magento; simply something to consider. Many requests for transferring an existing online shop to Magento don’t budget enough for data transfer, and ensuring continuity for existing customers is usually a key factor in successfully migrating website platforms!

So, as well as products, consider the need to:

  1. Migrate your store’s customers to your new Magento store
  2. Move your product category and hierarchies across to Magento
  3. Moving your product images to Magento
  4. Ensure that your products’ web addresses (URLs) may need redirecting to their new addresses.

2. Is Magento really what you want?

Magento is sometimes used by clients as a buzzword: they’ve been told they need Magento, but have no idea why. Magento’s one page checkout is a great tool, and can cut the time it takes customers to check out, but it doesn’t suit every store’s needs: some businesses need a more customised checkout process to help customers better understand what they’re doing and at which point.

If your existing ecommerce website is heavily customised, check with your developer if the Magento extensions they might be using to replicate features will work the same – or a similar – way as your previous store. As we said, consistency is key in a migration to prevent loss to your store’s turnover.

Review Magento’s demonstration version(s) carefully before: whilst visual changes are usually relatively easy to undertake (a custom Magento theme can change the look of Magento very deeply), changing the fundamental processes that Magento follows is more of an undertaking and can be costly and make Magento difficult to maintain if done by inexperienced Magento developers.

3. Pick your hosting platform carefully

Magento is perfectly capable of running very, very slowly. It’s a powerful ecommerce system and requires a suitable hosting platform to go with it. Look for specialised Magento hosting companies, and try and check their sites’ load times with an external tool (e.g. Pingdom): loading time is an important factor in your store’s bottom line!

It’s also worth getting your web developer to check Magento’s server requirements before moving, and that you can easily scale to provide more resources to your store if required.