Migrating Away From Magento: A Case Study

Any Magento store owner knows that Magento is a very powerful and useful system. However, that power also comes with significant challenges, especially when compared to simpler platforms like Shopify or WooCommerce. These challenges multiply when you use the Magento Cloud. With the expiration of Magento 1 support, many Magento store owners are scrambling to upgrade their sites to Magento 2. Unfortunately this is far from trivial and in our experience is almost always a very long and challenging task. It is understandable if a Magento store owner may be thinking about migrating from Magento.

When Migrating from Magento is a Wise Move

Many sites currently using Magento do not need its more advanced features. If a site consists mostly of a small number (less than a thousand) of simple products, has no complex ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) integrations, and has quite a lot of content to manage including an integrated WordPress blog, then migrating away from Magento may be the best course forward. We recently had a Magento 1 site that met those criteria and decided to migrate to WooCommerce for the following reasons:

  • The site had many novel customizations, and replicating them in Magento 2 would have been much more challenging compared to WooCommerce.
  • WordPress plugins such as Gravity Forms and Advanced Custom Fields provide out of the box functionality that is hard to replicate as cheaply or easily in Magento 2.
  • Hosting requirements are less stringent on WooCommerce sites.
  • There are many custom CMS pages that were far easier to replicate using WordPress.

In short, it was far less expensive to migrate from Magento 1 to WordPress than to build a Magento 2 site, with fewer recurring costs as well.

The Process of Migration

There are many paid tools available to help migrate from Magento to other platforms. The usefulness of these depends upon the complexity of the site. If the Magento 1 site is more or less “out of the box” with little in the way of custom product fields, customer data, or order info then these automated tools work well. If the site is full of these customizations, then these tools are often more frustrating than they are worth. In this case we opted for a custom in-house migration script that met all the site’s unique requirements and data structure. Fortunately WooCommerce has very well documented methods for importing data, so it was not too difficult to set up these custom scripts.

The Downside of Migrating from Magento 1 to WooCommerce

There are certain tradeoffs from migrating away from Magento. By default Magento 2 has a very useful admin interface for products, customers, categories, and orders. A store administrator used to the features in Magento will likely be disappointed by the same features in WooCommerce. Thankfully there are many plugins (notably Admin Columns Pro) that help significantly, but will require a fair amount of work.

Another admin-related issue is with the separation of the site into different store fronts or customer groups. Magento is very well suited to have different customer groups with different pricing/features for each. This is more difficult to accomplish in WooCommerce. Different store views (whether it be two store fronts selling related products or two different sites based on locality) have been a Magento feature since the beginning. There are ways to have a WooCommerce site use different storefronts, but they are very complex to set up and won’t be nearly as user-friendly as the Magento method. If multiple storefronts and customer groups are crucial for a site, the migration from Magento to WooCommerce is not advised.

Magento store owners should know that they are by no means “locked in” to Magento if they have frequent frustrations with it. For many stores Magento is overkill and would likely benefit from a more lightweight solution. If you are in that situation and are feeling frustrated, let us know and we may be able to help.

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