In less than six months, Magento 1 (M1) reaches its end-of-life. Adobe may well have extended the support window from its original November 2018 deadline, but they won’t be doing this again. This means, after June 2020, no more updates or security patches will be released for any websites still running on M1.
It’s estimated that 12 percent of all eCommerce sites are running on Magento, with transaction volume likely to hit $200 billion in 2020. But did you know, the majority of these websites are still M1? How many retailers see sticking with this antiquated platform past the June 2020 deadline as an acceptable long-term business strategy? In this article, we explore the risks and hidden costs in staying with M1 beyond the Adobe cut-off.
How did we get here?
Back in August 2007, Magento was released to the public as a revolutionary Open Source eCommerce solution. Over the next decade, it would rise above the competition, becoming the platform of choice for eCommerce businesses of all types and sizes. Its approach to customisation and scaling through Magento Extensions alongside the prevalence of developers skilled in its underlying technology (PHP), meant it was a cost-effective and flexible option for many. Magento became a perfectly suited solution to a rapidly and constantly changing eCommerce industry.
However, with rapid change comes complexity. As the rate of innovations accelerated and competing eCommerce platforms struggled to keep up, more ‘quick fixes’ and sub-optimal customisations found their way onto websites. Because of this, mobile commerce, security and content became the foundations of online retail. Unfortunately, numerous eCommerce platforms, including M1, had not been built around these cornerstones and couldn’t offer slick, high-performing, out-of-the-box solutions.
Released in November 2017, Magento 2 (M2) sought to address many of these weaknesses through a completely re-architected solution. Their offering was built around a mobile-first front-end, content, commerce and, most importantly, scalability and flexibility. Over the past two years, the product has grown and matured, with the latest 2.3 version offering a best-of-breed solution for small businesses and enterprises alike.
The issue with an update as substantial as M1 to M2 is that it isn’t a simple upgrade. Because there are fundamental changes to the core, updating to M2 is effectively a re-platforming project. At first glance, an M2 project may seem daunting and expensive in comparison to maintaining the status quo. The complexity however is compounded when you consider that many M1 sites have had a decade of customisation, bug fixing and general tampering to try and attain optimum performance – not a sustainable solution.
For many established online retailers, the most significant perceived cost is the M1 to M2 migration is the re-building of bespoke functionality and customisation. Due to major changes to M2’s architecture, it’s not a simple ‘cut & paste’ job. But you wouldn’t want to do that even if it were possible as most M1 modifications introduced features that are now standard in M2. This includes mobile responsiveness, Business to Business (B2B) selling and advanced product merchandising tools.
The reality of a new M2 implementation is often a lot less daunting than you may first think. Gone are the days where a simple change on your site causes weeks of headaches due to knock-on effects that raise their ugly heads. Utilising native functionality instead of building custom own solutions, your eCommerce store will be more simple to use, faster and responsive to new opportunities.
Magento have continued their policy, ensuring compatibility with industry-leading third-party partner software through Magento Extensions. These extensions allow you to quickly implement payment gateways, search providers and many other services through a simple install and configure process as opposed to extended customisations. Extension providers also ensure their add-ons remain compatible as Magento release new versions.
However, those businesses who choose to stick with M1 will soon find their existing extensions are not supported as Magento distance themselves from potential vulnerabilities with guaranteed security ending. As extensions cease to be supported or worse still, stop working altogether, the pool of alternatives will dwindle and M1 users will find themselves highly restricted. This inevitably removes the ‘value’ that business had perceived in remaining on M1.
Increasing resource costs
The demise of M1 will see a significant change in the availability of M1 trained developers as many move onto the newest technologies in M2. Those developers that remain will likely see demand sharply rise and be able to increase their costs accordingly.
As agencies and developers begin working towards taking the remaining M1 platform back into a fully Open Source implementation, we will see sub-versions of the platform aiming to address different problems.
Delaying the inevitable
As seen with technology like Windows XP, Internet Explorer 6 and countless others, there will come a point where your business simply can’t function on M1. Bugs will become insurmountable, the operation costs astronomical and downtime too frequent to continue with your current implementation.
The road to that point could be long, but it will certainly be painful, stressful and far more expensive than you could ever predict. There becomes an ever-widening gap between the benefits and improvements you could be experiencing on the new platform and the declining performance of your incumbent platform.
Just as success breeds success, poor performance and declining profitability reduces a retailer’s capability to address diminishing returns, making it harder and harder to stop the rot.
“It won’t happen to us!”
The news is overflowing with stories of businesses who have been hacked, had long-standing vulnerabilities of their site exploited and generally fallen foul of GDPR and other legislative changes. Many eCommerce businesses believe in security through obscurity, or through safety in numbers, believing they are unlikely to be hacked because of the sheer volume of other sites out there.
What this doesn’t consider, is the scale of automation possible when detecting and exploiting vulnerabilities. The platform version you are running is easily detectable. Once this information is publicly available through services like BuiltWith or MageReport, people can crawl hundreds of sites at a time injecting exploits such as Magecart to gain access to your customer information.
As soon as official support for M1 ceases, people will be working to capitalise on vulnerabilities of the platform. Without Adobe’s supervision, there will be a fragmented response to patching any problems detected. It’s a matter of when not if a vulnerability will be exploited. Any breach could result in extended downtime in the best-case scenario, a huge fine or a Travelex-style ransom situation at worst. Ignorance is not an acceptable defence in the case of a GDPR breach and running your site on a platform which is no-longer compliant is likely to be viewed dimly by the data commissioner. Remember, a fine of 4 percent of your global revenue will be considerably more than the cost of a re-platforming project!
What does the future hold?
There are several trends on the horizon for eCommerce which retailers need to ensure they are prepared to implement. Many of these require connectivity and complexity which M1 simply isn’t geared up to accommodate. These innovations may seem a long way off, or even something you think your customers will never use! But remember, many retailers thought the same way about mobile commerce several years ago…
Progressive Web Apps
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are the future for mobile-based eCommerce allowing retailers to create rich, complex buying experiences without impacting performance or reliability. PWAs are built in a different way to traditional web pages meaning different demands are placed on back-end systems and data. While these changes are possible on a M1 site, they could be the straw which breaks the camel’s back for some solutions.
It’s estimated that 5 percent of US eCommerce shoppers are already using voice to shop online. By 2022, it’s estimated that could be as high as 50 percent, which would mean voice is on its way to becoming as pervasive as mobile commerce. Retailers who don’t offer voice-based commerce could miss out on huge revenue opportunities.
Voice commerce uses headless technologies. These are becoming more widely available in modern eCommerce platforms, allowing for a large number of devices to connect to your platform to pull product information, place orders or interact with other relevant data in an efficient manner. As voice evolves, more complex demands are going to be made on the supporting eCommerce systems and outdated platforms like M1 are going to be found lacking.
How Pinpoint can help
So, there are the facts. If you want to ensure that your website stays secure, stable and supported after June 2020, then switching platforms is an inevitability. Our team of inhouse developers have extensive experience in Magento 2 development, in fact, it’s the only platform we work with. We’ve helped many of our clients including Casio, Beer Hawk and Henry London make the switch to Magento 2 in timeframes as tight as 8 weeks, so there’s still time, but only just!