Magento Go shuts down - what are the alternatives?

Magento go is shutting down

Magento recently announced that they are shutting down their hosted e-commerce product, Magento Go (which was aimed at small to medium-sized businesses). This obviously leaves Magento Go users with a big headache – and also highlights the main risk of using third party products, rather than your own hosted solution, to run your own online store: what happens if the product you’re using ceases to exist?

Of course, there are massive benefits in using a third party tool – not least the cheaper startup costs, the fact that the infrastructure is already built for you, and that new features tend to get added as the product develops. But I bet Magento Go users are feeling pretty peeved right now, and rightly so.

So what should Magento Go users do now?

As I see it, there are three main options open to Magento Go users:

  •  migrate to the community edition of Magento
  •  hire a developer to build a bespoke solution for them
  • switch to another third party tool.

Switching to the community edition of Magento

The benefit of this approach is that you are basically working with a very similar environment, should be able to recreate a very-similar looking store and, once your store is live, you and your staff shouldn’t have much of a learning curve when it comes to using the tool. However, the set up involved with the community edition will faze a lot of non-technical users – the community edition is by no means an ‘out of the box’ piece of kit: it requires installation, configuration, particular system specs and so on. A nagging question in my mind would be this: what if Magento decide to nuke the ‘communtiy edition’ too? If I was thinking of migrating to the community edition, I would personally make sure that I’d had an in-depth conversation with the company first to see what their plans are for the product in future. The last thing ‘Go’ users need is the same problem all over again a few months down the line.

Creating a bespoke solution

One way of (sort of) avoiding a similar scenario in future is to commission a developer  to code a bespoke online store for you. The plus side of this is that you have, relatively speaking, more control over your store and, it being your own hosted solution, it’s not going to vanish completely unless you decide to shut it down.

Against that is the cost: developers can be very expensive and invariably to get your store off the ground they will probably use at least some third party software as part of the development (a payment gateway to process your transactions, for example). And once you’re dealing with any third party tools, you are still exposed to the ‘tool vanishing’ risk anyway – perhaps not to the same extent, admittedly, but you would have to get your developer to literally avoid any third party kit to give you complete control over events. There’s also the issue of updates: if you need any new features for your store, you will always need to keep going back to your developer, with all the costs that this entails.

Given all the above, my gut feeling would be to avoid going down the ‘bespoke solution’ route unless you have a very specific need to do so, and the budget to cater for it.

Use another third party tool

The third option, as I see it, is to migrate to another third party tool – but one of the big hitters which is hopefully not going to disappear soon. Of course, there’s no guarantees in life, and I am not privy to the state of these companies’ finances, but but I would probably classify Bigcommerce, Shopify and Volusion as the big hitters in question. The usual pros and cons of such a move – that I referred to at the start of this post – apply: a third party solution like the aforementioned will work out of the box and will tend to improve with age as new features are added; but it could, like Magento Go, just vanish if the company’s fortunes take a nose dive.

Alternatives to Magento: our comparison reviews

If you are thinking of plumping for one of the alternatives discussed above, you may find some of our past comparison reviews helpful:

Conclusions – and two important questions

In my view, Magneto users should either switch to the community edition or one of the third party tools mentioned above, but it is vital that in doing so that two important questions are posed to the support team before moving, namely:

  •  Is there any threat to the existence of this tool?
  •  What migration tools and support are available to me in making the switch from Magneto Go to the product in question?

Finally, I feel very sorry for Magento Go store owners: they have no doubt spent a lot of time developing and managing their online business with a product that is now going to disappear. There is a plus side I suppose to these kinds of situations however, in that they provide a chance for store owners to re-evaluate their business needs and the kind of tools they require to meet them. A small comfort perhaps, but this situation could lead to Magneto Go store owners actually ending up with a better solution and a slicker operation in time.