Ten years ago, osCommerce was the dominant force in the SME e-commerce world, with hundreds of thousands of online stores created over the years. As the e-commerce marketplace developed, many more platforms arrived to challenge that dominance, and Magento took market share very quickly after its beta launch in 2007.
As the years have rolled on, osCommerce has suffered from a variety of issues, including a lack of strategic direction, security problems and poor quality control in third-party add-ons. Whilst osCommerce has recently started to pull itself back on track a little, it lags behind the marketplace significantly in terms of security, performance, and standard functionality. Yet many store owners are still running osCommerce stores, often because they are concerned about the cost implications and effort involved in moving to a new ecommerce platform.
Moving from osCommerce doesn’t have to be a development nightmare or prohibitively expensive. This article aims to highlight how to ensure your migration from osCommerce to Magento goes smoothly and brings with it maximum benefits.
As with any major project, success depends on careful planning. The first stage of a migration project should be to set up a project team, including management, operations staff and the development team who will be handling the build of the new store. It is vital that there is firm commitment to the project from both the business owner and those responsible for day to day operations.
A thorough review of the current osCommerce store should be undertaken to assess the following:
- all payment and shipping methods in use in the store
- all add-ons that have been bolted onto the core osCommerce store, with their functionality carefully documented and confirmed as still in use
- any manual workarounds that are in place to cope with perceived osCommerce limitations
- an assessment of data stored for customers, orders, products and categories, with careful checking for any bespoke additional data that has been added via add-ons or by custom coding
Additionally, a migration test plan should also be created, to ensure that the new Magento store can support and process everything expected of it. This test plan should include as a minimum:
- simple and configurable products
- all required payment methods, shipping methods and shipping destinations
- additional functionality such as newsletters, reviews, discounts etc.
User / Team Training
I advocate making a training environment available to client staff as early in the process as possible. Magento is a very different platform than osCommerce, and day-to-day operations involve a completely different admin panel with many new and different options for product set-up, order management, CMS page control and configuration settings. The more familiar staff are with Magento, the better the project buy-in will be from them, and the more smoothly the transition to Magento will be when the time comes to go live.
The sooner a staging / test environment can be instantiated and presented to the client, the better the migration process will be for all parties. The staging, testing or UAT (for users to accept features) environment should enable staff and the development team to confirm that all required functionality is present in the new Magento site. It also provides a space to test the actual data migration thoroughly, to ensure everything is ported to the new site correctly.
By far the most complex part of moving from osCommerce to Magento is the actual data migration. Because of the very different structural approaches between the two platforms, a custom migration via SQL is not usually a viable option. A better approach is to make use of one of the commercially available data migration tools that have been developed. As support for osCommerce has waned over the years, some third-party migration tools have been neglected, so it is important to ensure that the migration tool selected supports the Magento version you are migrating to.
The Cart 2 Cart solution from shopping-cart-migration.com is an effective way to port a site’s data to Magento with minimal fuss. Another option, with a slightly different pricing model is the migration tool from litextension.com, which uses a slightly different pricing model.
As both pricing models depend on the quantity of products, customers and orders you wish to import into Magento, it’s wise to review your current osCommerce store to remove any obsolete product data, empty categories and so on before migration. Some store owners also choose not to import all of their previous osCommerce orders, bringing perhaps only the last 6 months worth of order data over to the new store.
A move from osCommerce to Magento will inevitably mean some level of frontend redesign for the store. osCommerce and the commercial themes built for it largely pre-date the recent push towards responsive design. Whilst radical redesigns may not be without issues from the point of view of both SEO and user experience continuity, it would be crazy to ignore the need to build a responsive solution whilst replatforming to Magento.
The goal should be to ensure that the website visitors know perfectly well that the new Magento store is exactly the same site as the old osCommerce store, just with a contemporary makeover. Web shoppers do not on the whole like change and they can be a suspicious of unexpected website behaviour, so it is important to ensure that the transition to Magento is as seamless and as reassuring as possible from a user experience point of view.
As outlined in a previous article, it’s important to be aware of the SEO implications of a migration to Magento. osCommerce didn’t originally focus on SEO out-of-the-box, so unless a third-party add-on was installed to provide SEO-friendly URLs, it is likely that osCommerce product urls look something like
whereas in Magento, they are likely to look like
Without some work within the new Magento site, there could be a significant SEO impact on the site after transition. It is vital to assess all URLs and to map as accurately as possible from osCommerce URLs to Magento URLS, using 301 redirects.
Moving from a legacy platform to Magento is a good time to carry out some additional checks on the current site, to ensure that the move to Magento makes best use of all additional functionality present out-of-the-box in Magento. For example, many old osCommerce systems do not have VAT set up correctly or do not offer international or special delivery options, simply because these were perceived to be too complicated to set up 10 years ago, and these issues have been ignored ever since. A comprehensive demonstration of Magento’s capabilities at the start of the project should help the store owner identify this type of issue early on, so that the Magento configuration can take them into account and provide the most robust ecommerce solution possible for the client.