Migrating to Magento 2 at End of Life During COVID-19 with Ben Marks

Lucas Walker
July 8, 2020
Ben Marks, Magento evangelist joined us to talk about the end of life for Magento 1 and switch to cloud hosting.

The year of 2020 is one that’s sure to go down in history, especially in the world of ecommerce. COVID-19, or Coronavirus, may have done a number on the economy but the world of ecommerce has shown everyone why it’s so essential. 

At a recent Gorgias Thirsty Thursday, Lucas spoke with Ben Marks, Magento’s evangelist to talk about ecommerce trends that have come out of COVID-19 along with Magento 1’s end of life and support that’s available when transitioning to Magento 2.

Since COVID-19 has entered the building we’ve seen businesses completely pivot to online. This was something unavoidable for the majority of businesses if they wanted to stay afloat and if you’re using Magento, staying on top of what’s going on with that transition is of the utmost importance.

What are the trends and big moments we have been seeing so far in e-commerce since COVID-19 hit and how is Magento changing? Well, let’s get started.


Transitioning to Magento 2 During COVID-19

Thankfully Ben knows a lot about this transition process from Magento 1 (which reaches its end of life on June 30th) to Magento 2. Ben gave us a hand figuring out what all this means for us.

Technically, you can stay on Magento 1, but that will mean no more security updates and it’ll essentially be abandoned which gives merchants an opportunity to revisit what works best for them.

If you’re a merchant using Magento 1, Ben told us that there’s a few things they’re doing to offer support:

  • Connecting merchants to vendors looking to help those still using Magento 1
  • Magento released a new website offering support. Here, Magento 1 is one of the biggest topics so you’re able to find support there
  • Paid services are available for patches and bug issues to keep security up to date and there are some hosts still providing services for Magento 1

Since Magento 1 came out in 2008, a lot of things have changed in the ecommerce world. This is why Ben and other experts highly recommend merchants evaluate all options and do a thorough investigation of their own ecommerce to see if they should even stay on Magento 1. This is important, especially since COVID-19 has accelerated the need for ecommerce, you want to ensure that your business doesn’t seem outdated online, but instead on top of trends.

If you’re a web development agency that is recommending clients to convert to Magento 2, Ben says that unfortunately, there aren’t services out there to simply migrate ecommerce stores. What he recommends is letting your clients know all of the positives about Magento 2, why it’ll be great for their brand, for sales and more. From there, if they decide to move to Magento 2, a flat rate might not be the way to go because of everything that will be involved in the rebuild.

You’ll also want to ensure your team is trained on Magento 2 and that you work closely together to learn as you go. What’s great is that for three months, Magento 2 courses are free of charge, and Ben highly recommends them while they’re free. Another great resource is Max Pronko’s blog since it’s all about Magento and has some great insight.

A Disconnect Emerged at the Start

When it comes to Magento, Ben said that internally, like many of us, they’ve been hearing of many companies that are hurting since COVID-19 hit. This was especially true in certain industries, like food and beverage for example. On the complete opposite end, ecommerce websites were also seeing a huge increase in sales during COVID-19, to the point where some had their best sales days within just a few hours. 

This offers proof that some small businesses need assistance with the transition more than others, especially if they’re website isn’t optimized for success just yet.

Let’s circle back really quickly to April 13th. At the beginning of COVID-19, countless merchants had to dive into ecommerce blindly and figure things out to survive. Whereas other merchants who already had a store set up may have just needed to change wording to “curbside pickup.” In this hybrid situation, as Ben coined it, there were those who were already there or halfway there, but countless others had to urgently pull it together.

It wasn’t always businesses you would have assumed would be successful either, for example the rise in puzzle popularity is real. People were puzzling over puzzles more than ever before and one company actually needed to double their 20,000 square foot warehouse to keep up with demand. 

Merchants are Ramping up their Online Presence

Integrating tools onto your shop isn’t new, but recently there’s been an influx of people wondering what they can add in order to better stand out against competitors. When thinking about new tools, many merchants are asking what the best ones to implement are during COVID-19 and beyond. 

Just like your customers though, this isn’t a one size fits all situation. Depending on your brand, what your goals are and the industry you’re in, you might want to focus on different types of tools. In order to figure out what would work best for you, Ben’s recommendation is to do a deep dive on your competitors and ask questions like:

What tools are they using that we’re not?

Are they missing something that would make the user experience better? And do we have that on our store’s website yet?

Are the tools they’re using actually working for them?

Once you nail down a list of tools, it’s time to weigh out options and look at all the opportunities available. Sometimes with a blog you may want to just use a simple solution that’s easily installed on your store, or you might want to build it from scratch, but what’s best for your ecommerce business?

For example, when merchants decide to utilize Gorgias as a tool, it’s another customer touch point that can help bring in revenue. Right now, Gorgias has been seeing merchants using the tool to enhance and start overcoming some revenue loss or address an increased amount of activity.

Customer Support on Magento 2

COVID-19 also brought massive changes in customer relations and support across the board. In February, sales were dropping but the volume of consumer questions were staying the same or increasing. Why? It was all about getting used to the shift for both new, and loyal customers.

The types of questions merchants started seeing were like the below:

Can you still ship your products out? Is there a longer wait time?

If you’re not doing delivery, is curbside pickup available yet?

How long do I have to wait until I can purchase one of your products?

As time went on, that surge of support needs increased, creating a spiral of help and support tickets that can be hard to keep up with, leading to longer wait times if you’re not ready for it. As a merchant, this wouldn’t likely be what you’d hope for which is why being prepared with an omni-channel support chat platform, or implementing it quickly, is so important for ecommerce.

Competing against Amazon with Shipping Leveled Out

With such an influx of people customers requesting delivery during COVID-19, couriers were (and in some regions still are) overloaded. This meant that major companies, like Amazon, had to change their shipping times to reflect demand. This made shipping times longer than what customers are used to. For example, if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you may have noticed that same-day or even next-day shipping became a distant memory. 

This is a great thing for merchants in ecommerce, because finally when it comes to shipping, it was an even playing field. During COVID-19, no longer are merchants feeling threatened by giants like Amazon when it comes to shipping times, it’s all on par. 

Shifts in Advertising

Consistently, we’re hearing that ad results are improving across merchants. While merchants are still spending the same amount as before COVID-19, CPM (cost per mille) is lowering. This is especially helpful since you can start buying ads at a lower cost bringing more opportunity to actually compete in the market. This brings a lot of optimism in the midst of the anxiety that fell around small businesses across the globe. 

On top of this, ad copy and visuals have been forced to change dramatically. With everyone staying at home, narratives in advertising across industries needed to reflect what people were experiencing and focus on the uncertain times of COVID-19. Ads are now geared towards staying home and how the product or service can help you stay positive, start learning something new or how to spend your extra time (cue the rise in puzzles). 

A few other changes in narratives happened in various brand strategies. Ads have been reflecting support for frontline heroes, community and hope to showcase products and prove that the brand understands the enormous issues happening in the world. 

Chat Trends from Gorgias

When it comes to chats, there are quite a few ways that this has evolved since COVID-19 made its appearance. It’s no longer just about chatbots on-site since every consumer communicates differently. There’s consumers turning to merchant chats, Facebook Messenger or even responding to CTA (call to action) advertising. 

This is where it can get complicated for merchants. From the backend, consumers simply assume that you know who they are no matter where they may have reached out to you from. If they messaged you on Facebook Messenger, then chatted with someone on-site, they expect you to have their profile and know who you are. This is where we saw a shift, (and why omni-channel marketing is essentially mandatory now) because not only do you need a positive user experience on your website, but also across all channels.

What’s been exciting is seeing how creative merchants are getting with chat strategies. When it comes to SMS (which has been huge for curbside pickup during COVID-19) you can make the message personal, use GIFs to catch their attention and even give customers consistent updates on their order when it comes to both shipping and curbside pickup.

With many merchants not being able to fully keep up with consumers reaching out on their homepage chats during COVID-19 there has been an increase in wait times. One thing merchants have done to battle this is set up an automatic response for people asking when they should expect to receive their shipment. By creating an automatic response in your homepage chatbot that reads something like “get your order in by noon, and you’ll receive it by tomorrow at 6:00pm” you’re able to potentially answer their question off the bat, and open up opportunity for a discussion. 

The best thing about what Gorgias has seen with homepage chats on merchant sites? It’s actually driving revenue before and during COVID-19. 

Gorgias makes all of this much easier for you as a merchant by pulling integration data in which allows you to see everything much easier. On top of this, those who use Gorgias versus another option such as Zendesk have seen a 30% efficiency gain in support overnight, an improvement on ROAS (return on ad spend) and an increased conversion rate with chat.

For businesses transitioning to Magento 2, Gorgias is offering a free month of credit and paused billing so that you’re not charged when you’re not using the helpdesk. You can use these saved costs to put toward developers to help you rebuild your website. 

As merchants we all know that it’s imperative to match or exceed your customers’ expectations and in that case, chat is a huge opportunity during COVID-19 (and beyond). You can make it incredibly engaging or it can be off-putting, but with a bit of extra effort the reward is always a positive, long-term relationship with customers.


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