Navigating the Shopware 5 Transition: Upgrade or Migrate?

In the B2B ecommerce world, the technology you use is shaping the success of your online businesses. As we all know, in the tech arena, it's all about evolution and updates. Sometimes they are minor, sometimes you barely recognize the platform you’ve been using for years.  

With the launch of Shopware 6, support for Shopware 5 users is being phased out. The only issues that are still being supported until July 2024 are the security ones. This means - no bug fixes, no minor improvements, no more updates. Hence, users must prioritize security and consider transitioning to a newer version or alternative platform if necessary.  

In this article, we'll explore the tech differences between Shopware 5 and 6, weigh the impact of upgrading, look at the alternatives, and talk about a strategic approach to platform migration, with ACTUM Digital as your trusted advisor. 

b2b ecommerce efficiency

Shopware 5 vs. Shopware 6 in a nutshell 

Shopware 5 and Shopware 6 are distinct iterations of the ecommerce platform, with significant technological variations.  

Shopware 6 introduces headless architecture, allowing for greater flexibility in front-end development. Additionally, it embraces a modular system, enabling businesses to tailor their systems through custom plugins. This shift fosters a more agile and scalable environment compared to the monolithic structure of Shopware 5. Furthermore, Shopware 6 focuses on enhanced user experience, offering improved navigation and responsive design to cater to the modern e-commerce landscape. To sum it up, 

In Shopware 5 we had: 

  • Monolithic architecture
  • Limited frontend flexibility
  • Standardized design and UX 

With Shopware 6 release we have: 

  • Headless architecture for flexible frontend development
  • Modular system for customizability
  • Enhanced user experience and responsive design 

What’s in it for users? 

Shopware 6 brings numerous advantages over Shopware 5 for users. The revamped and intuitive backend streamlines online store management. Enhanced frontend customization via the Twig templating engine leads to visually appealing, responsive websites. The adaptable data model empowers businesses to craft tailored online stores. Moreover, Shopware 6's Platform API and headless commerce support facilitate seamless integration for smoother omnichannel experiences. 

Upgrading vs. Migrating - The Decision Dilemma 

The upgrade looks promising, however re-platforming from Shopware 5 to 6 is akin to adopting a new system, demanding comprehensive data migration, plugin adaptations, and potentially even custom development. Here are some reasons why this upgrade might be challenging: 

  • Architecture and Technology Stack
    Shopware 6 introduced a new tech stack, including a shift to Symfony framework and a completely redesigned backend. This means that the underlying code structure and framework have changed, making it difficult to directly migrate customizations and extensions from Shopware 5.

  • Data Structure Changes
    Shopware 6 restructured its database and data models to accommodate new features and functionalities. This can lead to difficulties in migrating data, especially if you have complex customizations or integrations in your Shopware 5 installation.

  • Customizations and Extensions
    Many companies have custom themes, plugins, and extensions that are specifically developed for Shopware 5. Adapting these customizations to work with the new architecture of Shopware 6 often requires significant development and testing effort.

  • Theme and Template Changes
    Shopware 6 introduced a new templating engine, Twig, which is quite different from the previous Smarty templating system used in Shopware 5. Migrating themes and templates requires reworking the front-end presentation layer.

  • Codebase Changes
    Shopware 6's codebase underwent substantial changes, including the introduction of new programming concepts and patterns. Developers need to familiarize themselves with these changes to effectively upgrade and adapt their existing customizations.

  • Third-Party Integrations
    If your Shopware 5 installation relies on third-party integrations, APIs, or services, these might need to be reconfigured or rewritten to align with Shopware 6's updated APIs and integration methods.

  • Testing and QA
    The migration process requires thorough testing and quality assurance to ensure that all functionalities, customizations, and integrations work as expected in the new version. This testing phase can be time-consuming, especially when dealing with complex setups.

  • User Training
    As the backend interface of Shopware 6 is entirely different from Shopware 5, your team might need to be trained on how to use the new interface effectively.

  • Project Scope and Planning
    Due to the complexities involved, upgrading to Shopware 6 can become a significant project that requires careful planning, resource allocation, and coordination with developers, designers, and other stakeholders. 

Given these challenges, many companies choose to undergo a thorough analysis of their existing Shopware 5 setup. Based on this, they can decide whether an upgrade to Shopware 6 is the best option or if it might be a good opportunity to migrate to an alternative platform. 

Exploring Shopware Alternatives: A World of Possibilities 

When seeking alternatives, Gartner sheds light on prominent players that cater to distinct business scales. Industry leaders, tailored for large corporations, include SAP, Salesforce, and Adobe. Meanwhile, challengers in the field, such as BigCommerce, also merit consideration. 

Gartner Magic Quadrant Ecommerce
Source: Gartner

Both Shopware and BigCommerce boast unique strengths, each catering to different business types. BigCommerce's strengths lie in its suitability for small to mid-size businesses valuing ease of use, scalability, and an array of integrated features.  

The choice between the two platforms ultimately depends on your specific business requirements, technical expertise, budget, and desired features. It's recommended to evaluate both platforms thoroughly and even consider trial periods to determine which one aligns better with your goals. 

Ecommerce platform migration – Where to start, what to expect? 

Let's say you’ve got this itch for change. Embarking on the journey of ecommerce migration may seem intricate but breaking it down into manageable steps can simplify the process. Whether you're new to the concept or seeking clarity, a structured approach encompasses the following stages: 

Start with Assembling the Team 

Collaboratively involve stakeholders, explaining the rationale for migration. Define the limitations of the current platform, time-consuming activities, potential for automation, sources of revenue loss, and the platform's room for innovation, scalability, and UX improvement. Consider how an alternative platform can address these pain points. 

Select Platform 

Do your due diligence, narrow down your list to a handful of platforms, and arrange exploratory discussions with each. During these conversations, inquire about migration costs, duration, process details, customer support, speed, scalability, security measures, and integration capabilities. 

Plan the Migration 

After selecting a platform, outline a practical scope of work and establish a timeline for the migration. Divide the process into sub-projects, including creating a new site structure, migrating content, designing frontend and backend, and planning SEO migration. 

Design and Develop 

In this phase, your design and development teams take center stage. They craft the visual and technical aspects of your new ecommerce website. The data you've earmarked for migration finds its place in the new design.  

TIP: Use this opportunity to implement any desired changes to your website's navigation, content, user experience, design, and functionality. 

Enhance the Checkout Experience 

Depending on your chosen platform, you might have the chance to fine-tune the checkout process. This involves integrating third-party checkout apps and optimizing the user experience for a seamless transaction. 

Conduct SEO Audit 

Moving your online store can have implications for your search engine rankings. To mitigate this, conduct an SEO audit. Remove outdated or duplicated content, create a robust redirect plan, optimize new content with keywords, and migrate metadata and schema markups.  

Test, Test, Test 

Before the official launch, run comprehensive tests on all aspects of your website, including navigation, checkout, functionality, and product selection.  

Launch the Website 

The final act – the website launch – should be meticulously planned to minimize disruption. Consider collaborating with your agency or solution provider to create a launch checklist. 

While this outline simplifies ecommerce migration, acknowledge the inherent complexity. Seeking external expertise can ensure a smooth process and data security. With a well-defined plan and professional guidance, your online store can transition seamlessly and thrive in its new environment. 

Navigating Migration with Actum Digital 

The migration from Shopware 5 is more than a technological leap; it's a strategic choice that influences an ecommerce business's trajectory. Re-platforming is a multifaceted process, demanding careful planning, execution, and continuous support.  

If you are thinking whether to Migrate from Shopware 5 to another platform, consider joining forces with ACTUM Digital, an experienced partner guiding businesses through this intricate journey. Our ecommerce experts will help with selecting the optimal alternative platform, implementing and customizing it to ensure a seamless transition that empowers businesses for sustained growth. 

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