Welcome to the E-commerce Wizards Podcast where we feature top leaders in e-commerce and business to discuss proven strategies and trends from people in the trenches. Now, let’s get started with the show.
Guillaume: Guillaume Le Tual here. I’m the host, I feature top leaders in business and e-commerce. Today I have Jeremy Weisz here, who’s done thousands of interviews with successful entrepreneurs and leaders. And we have flipped the script, he will be interviewing me today.
Jeremy: Gill, thanks for having me. And you know what? The most painful things for a founder, entrepreneur, business owner is migrating a website or changing a website. Because there’s so much fear around migrating a website and we’ll talk about Magento 1 moving to Magento 2 today.
But before I do, this episode is brought to you by MageMontreal. If a business wants a powerful e-commerce online store that will increase sales or to move piled up dormant inventory, to free up cash reserves or automate business processes to gain efficiency. And we talk about this on another episode, so people should check that, to reduce human processing errors, then MageMontreal that’s what they do. And they’ve been helping e-commerce stores for almost over a decade. It’s a long time. I don’t even know what the internet looked like over a decade ago. But here’s the catch, they specialize and only work on Adobe Magento e-commerce platforms. And there’s only a small handful of certified Adobe Magento companies in Canada and they’re one of them. They do everything Magento. If you know someone who’s design development, maintenance, training support, debugging, anything Magento they can help. You can email them at [email protected] or go to magemontreal.com.
Guillaume, tell me why are people having to migrate from Magento 1 to Magento 2?
Guillaume: Magento 1 reached its end-of-life in June 2020. That’s already tense, there’s a lot of websites out there. The latest numbers I had were 150,000 Magento 1 website in October 2020, that had not yet migrated to Magento 2 or another platform. Lots of benefits to stick with Magento here from that ecosystem. What does that mean end-of-life? Well, many things. Some of those merchants will have received already threatening emails from PayPal with very strongly worded letters, let’s call it this way, some were even offended. Right now, PayPal is barking very loud, they’re not biting yet in which stance and sense of stopping to accept the process orders on Magento 1 websites.
Jeremy: Why is that because security?
Guillaume: Exactly for security, because it’s built on old norms that were good back in the day. Just like back in the day, you could do an e-commerce transaction on Internet Explorer 6. But nowadays, if you try to do something transactional, standard is too low and no website will let you do an e-commerce transaction with Internet Explorer 6. You need to have the latest browser version because the norms and standards went up. This is the first real big problem. It’s a legitimate problem because the whole infrastructure on which Magento 1 is built is coming itself to in a flash. It’s not just the Magento platform, it’s the stuff on which it’s built.
There are some workarounds, you can sort of stretch things a little but it’s a legitimate issue that merchant needs to move over to avoid issues from being hacked, or being scammed, credit cards being saved, and so on, and why all those issues show up. Because Magento has stopped publishing new security patches for Magento 1, because it’s reaching end-of-life, and they’re moving everybody over to Magento 2.
Jeremy: What are some other reasons why people need to move? There’s security obviously, if people can’t accept PayPal or payment method, that’s a big issue with e-commerce, what are some other reasons why people need to move?
Guillaume: Well, that’s really the main one. I can compare it to switching from VHS to DVD. It’s not a perfect analogy, but it’s pretty much what it is. Both still play movies but once you have anyway the new DVD player with the HD TV and all that, you don’t want to go back to those blurry movies and so on. So Magento 1 is a functional platform. And if you keep it sort of isolated on an old server that does not need to update its PHP version and so on, it will continue to work and will not explode. It just is becoming vulnerable to attacks because even the PHP version program has reached the end-of-life and will not have future updates. So even if the PHP version on which it’s built becomes vulnerable or new vulnerabilities or issues are found with it, then that’s going to explode and there’s going to be no patch from the makers of PHP, and there’s going to be no patch from Magento.
It’s really around that specific aspect. In that if you reinvest money in your e-commerce platform, so hopefully you have a very successful e-commerce platform, perhaps you’re making millions on it. But any money that you reinvest on Magento 1 is a waste, because the whole infrastructure is coming apart. So that money is lost, for sure. It’s really time to think of the future and transition to the new technology.
Jeremy: We’ll talk about some of the benefits in a second and features. But from a vulnerability standpoint, people get hacked. What have you seen, I’m sure people call you and go Guillaume, we got hacked and we need your help, like something’s going on. What is hacked look like for some of the past clients that you’ve worked with?
Guillaume: Okay, it takes many forms. Sometimes there will be an illegal website that will be installed on the same domain name. And that can be a phishing website, like a clone of a bank, and then they send mass spam to thousands of people and they send people to that. And you give them free hosting in a way, because they’re hijacking your hosting. And they’re trying to scam people with a phishing technique. So that’s one. Some other cases are simply like in the footers, new content appears to be called defacing a website, you never know what kind of content you’ll get published on your site. Some of these things I’ve seen that’s more crafty was to change the PayPal account in the Magento admin. So then, the person receiving a payment… it took four days for the merchants realize that nothing was going through. Their own PayPal was all being funneled to another person’s PayPal. It was not a huge one, it was like 5,000 dollars. But it is still a fraud.
The very first thing people said, at the very least have the latest version of Magento 1 up to date, that’s the number one thing to do. They’re still in Magento 1, because Magento did leave that a healthy functional system as of June 2020. So, at the very least get the patches of June 2020 and it’s more from there onwards that we’re sort of on our own. There are a few hosting companies that have taken it upon themselves to provide security patches. We have Webscale, there’s also Nexcess and I think very likely JetRails, also known as eBoundHost. [Inaudible-07:30] I did not speak with them recently about this, but I know the first two for sure Webscale and Nexcess do have several patches already published to provide some kind of a safe harbor for Magento 1 merchants who want to stay on longer. That’s for a year, especially now we have COVID. This is not a good timing for everyone to do big project or migration infrastructure and all that. So, we can just stretch things a little bit and just start to plan the migration to Magento 2.
Jeremy: Yeah, so there is, obviously the vulnerabilities, the patches that need to happen, but then eventually you’re going to have to migrate over to Magento 2. Eventually, you have to pull the band aid off, I guess you could say. What are some of the new features and benefits of Magento 2?
Guillaume: The first thing is that this is not just you getting your arm twisted into doing this move to Magento 2, it’s actually an exciting move for so many reasons. And we have plenty of space, plenty of merchants who have done the transition already. It’s not unknown territory, it’s a very well-known territory. We have Udisense here, the Magento 1, now the Magento 2. And since the launch of new site there was no loss of traffic, there was actually an increase in traffic, there was a reduction in bounce rate, there was an increase in average cart value. Every metrics are up in this specific transaction, and some merchants yes are scared to transition to a new platform like this.
And it’s a legitimate fear, you have to be prepared correctly for it that you don’t lose traffic that all your links are redirected to new links, and so on, that there’s no negative SEO impact here. Which we didn’t have, we have pretty beautiful case study in this one here that everything’s going up. Everything’s in the green after the migration. So, it’s possible to do, we’ve done it, and you could do the same, if you’re still in Magento 1. Have a beautiful migration like this, and that’s critical, because some merchants after migration from one platform to another, I’ve heard horror stories, they come to us with them sort of 911 call. I just lost 3/4 of my traffic, what’s going on? Return is not moving. It’s a disaster. We should never have changed the platform. So, it has to go well.
Jeremy: Sometimes it’s not in the platform, but it’s in the actual migration.
Guillaume: Right, the team doing the work and how it’s done. Because you could migrate from any platform to any platform and have negligible if any SEO impact at all. You could have a very short few weeks of it and then it just goes back to the scaling up from there. So, it’s totally doable. The benefits of Magento 2: First thing is, everything is rebuilt from scratch, there’s nothing that we salvaged from the old site that we reinforced, there’s a front-end coding, everything is brand new. And it’s a lot better for so many reasons. For example, we had merchants having a lot of issues with the caching of the websites, speed of the site, they had issues with indexing the website, when they have very large catalog. After an update to the catalog, the reindexing was sometimes an issue on Magento 1. Almost all those problems are gone, and Magento 2 has been ironed out.
A lot of the nightmares of Magento 1 just don’t exist on Magento 2 anymore, it has its own set of issues of course, give a fair assessment. But that’s really a big positive thing. If you look at the admin interfaces as a merchant, it’s way more fun to work with, it’s way more user friendly, prettier, and so on. It’s an interesting upgrade. The search also, you have a new search module, better search feature there, it’s a lot faster, especially for very large catalogs. Also, the relevancy will be improved. The previous default search like Magento 1, you would have a one million products’ catalog there, you would have it timeout, because it has to do some special things there to not have a timeout and actually have search results. But with the new Magento 2 Elasticsearch, you can have a million products in your catalog, and you can have fast search results without issue, not a pain out there.
Jeremy: I was going to say, you mentioned a couple things that could be problematic, like loss of traffic. And I’m curious, you get that 911 call, what are some of the mistakes you’ve seen? One is people don’t properly maybe redirect the different URLs. What were some major mistakes you see with migration?
Guillaume: Exactly. That’s the first obvious one. The list of redirects is often done the sloppy way or an incomplete way and then they have that new site. And they check out their Google Search Console previously called Google Webmaster tool, and they have like 65,000 broken links after the migration. Because they did not do an inflammation script, or did not respect the structure to make sure that on the new site we keep the same structure. We want to do the migration as much as possible as is or with the complete list of redirection, the 301, the permanent redirection correct way to do this for SEO. So, there’s no lost link whatsoever after the migration, that’s the first thing.
The second thing is there’s often lack of concern about the SEO benefits of the page itself. The old side that you’re replacing with that beautiful new design, well, perhaps the old side had a lot of text talking about your product, bringing up keywords in it, and then the new one is prettier, but you forgot to put text in it. And you just lose your ranking. So, there are a lot of basic mistakes like this in the process.
Another thing is to be too caught up in details and losing sight of the critical path and the big picture. We can have like an ad director who’s burning half the budget just in the visual, and the site is starting to look awesome, but is it just clunky all over the place. It’s not truly a beautiful user experience, doesn’t integrate well with the ERP. The client sometimes has some issue with the checkout, getting a shipping rate for some special case or freight shipping is not working. So, there’s a lot of technical issues that can happen if there’s a lack of global view, and keeping in focus the critical path that you have, the site’s truly functional, giving good user experience.
Jeremy: So, from the benefit standpoint, I know you’ve talked in the past about automation flow. Is there anything on the Magento 2, that helps that compared to Magento 1?
Guillaume: There’s a lot of things there. First of all, it comes up with more features. You have more out of the box. And then you have a very large selection of extensions. Almost every extension from Magento 1 exists in Magento 2, not all of them, but the majority. Actually, many extensions from Magento 1 are not needed anymore. And you can just use standard Magento out of the box. So that gives you the complexity of the system and it improves stability, it makes the project easier. There were for example, import system like MagMe was very popular in Magento 1’s product to import. Complex catalog in Magento 1, in Magento 2 you rarely ever need such a situation. Actually, MagMe for Magento 2 is just a better and there’s no offering there because it’s not needed, the default import can do it.
It’s a lot more powerful as a platform. You have very interesting things like email automation. If you’ve forgotten your cart, there’s an extension, just add that. Somebody started buying did not finish the process they will get an automated email reminder. It’s also the time to re-evaluate the whole user experience and to reinvent it. You don’t want to recopy your old site on Magento 2, it has to be a new user experience, it has to be an exciting project. And say, this is what we did and it got us here, how do we go there now? The solution should be something different that you reinvent your user experience, while giving great consideration to SEO not having negative impact after the migration.
Jeremy: Yeah, in anything from migrating from Magento 1 to Magento 2, is there anything in this particular case or other cases that you’ve migrated from Magento 1 to Magento 2 that we should point out that we haven’t?
Guillaume: Well, we haven’t covered what’s compatible between the two systems. That’s part of the reason why it’s interesting to stay in this ecosystem, is the database are compatible. Even though Magento 2 does things differently, they’re still compatible. You can import all your customers, their passwords, their order history, your product, your product categories, and so on. You don’t need to re-structure and recategorize 50,000 products, if that’s what you have. So that’s very interesting. Obviously, it could still be ported over to any other platform. But there’s always risk in those kind of porting situations where the data can have issues or limitation of import in the next system. Staying the same Magento ecosystem has that very obvious benefits, and we just import all your data, customers data, all that into the new system.
Jeremy: Yeah, less room for errors or things dropping is always a good thing. Anything else that we should talk about when migrating from Magento 1 to Magento 2?
Guillaume: Well, it’s a good time to do that housekeeping. I was talking about the user experience we invented, but we can go further and do some discovery process. What else can we do? How far can we go in this system? We don’t want to be thinking 10 years ahead too much. What’s the next step? So perhaps you’re still printing your shipping labels one by one and maybe if you have 10 orders a day that’s manageable, but if you have 1000 that’s not manageable at all. So just the growth path, what could be automated? What could we do better, that we can record how orders are prepared by the staff and then say, is there a way that we can streamline this into something even more efficient, more fun to work with? Some of the fun factor at work is neglected. Sure, we could have fun with this boring manual task, a lot of it can be automated, but they’re always the same. It’s a good time to make a roadmap and say here we are, that’s where we would like to go and here’s the list of all the portion pieces we could possibly work on, and let’s prioritize them.
Jeremy: Yeah, that’s a good point. Because it’s not just about moving it over. It’s about with your expertise, you’re going to see things with a site that people should be doing, that will help streamline their process that they can improve on, on the present process. Anything else Guillaume that we should mention before I point people towards other episodes or to MageMontreal?
Guillaume: Well, yes. Another really big thing that’s coming for Magento 2 actually is now the start of the progressive web app called PWA. That’s going to be its own episode. But in a nutshell, the PWA’s sort of the best of both worlds between a native phone app and a mobile website? Right now, you have the choice when you build a new website in Magento 2. Do you want to go traditional route but still have all the new technology? Or do you want to go the PWA route which is actually even more advanced, it’s the way, the future. Slightly more expensive at this moment, but it’s going to be the very best performance a website can have. There’s nothing else in the market that can beat this. This is like the Ferrari. You’re going with PWA, you are going to have a blazing fast site. That’s something really interesting. It’s like slow site speed issues there on Magento 1 and say okay, let’s do a PWA on Magento 2. The market’s becoming just mature enough now to start doing this at a reasonable price. Depending on the scope, it could be a 20% more than the traditional project. If you go completely crazy, it could be 50% more, but it’s still affordable for most company if they want to have it very fast right now.
Jeremy: Awesome. Well, look out for that and other episodes. If you want to know more about that, check out magemontreal.com, check out other episodes of the podcast and thanks again.
Guillaume: All right. Thank you, Jeremy.
Thanks for listening to the E-commerce Wizards Podcast. We’ll see you again next time and be sure to click subscribe to get future episodes and contact us at magemontreal.com