In 2019, Shopware introduced Shopware 6. It was not only a major upgrade to its predecessor Shopware 5 – it was a complete rebuild of the software platform. Now, the provider has announced the end of Shopware 5 support in 2024. All users will need to switch versions by then, or they will lose out on bug fixes and security updates.

It’s the end of an era. But why did Shopware need to develop a whole new platform? And why do legacy systems inevitably reach their end of life? In this article, we’ll be answering those questions and examining possible alternatives to Shopware 6.

Shopware 5 isn’t the first eCommerce system to be retired

As technology advances, eCommerce platforms sometimes have to kill off their more outdated software solutions. Take Interspire, for example: it was originally built as a self-hosted eCommerce software. However, the company realized that providing support for the many different hosting platforms would be unsustainable. That’s when they re-architected the platform and launched it again as BigCommerce, a cloud-hosted SaaS. New software architecture is a common reason why customers are forced to migrate to a new version. And sometimes the effort isn’t worth it. Websphere, for example, has announced that it will not release a Version 10, as the changes required to modernize it would be too complex.

Taking Legacy to the Grave: Shopware 5 Support End

Whereas headless commerce solutions are designed for continuous, rolling updates, traditional software architecture can only be updated to a certain point. When a major change is needed, the software code has to be rewritten and often re-architected. That means releasing a whole new version is necessary – just like with Shopware 5.

Why Do Legacy Systems Reach an “End of Life”?

Once a provider launches a new software version, it has to provide customer support, bug fixes, security updates and patches, and so on to both the old and the new versions. At some point, maintaining the older version doesn’t make sense anymore for enterprises. This can happen for several reasons:

  • It no longer meets customers’ needs because technology has advanced.
  • There may not be enough users to justify the expense and effort.
  • As time goes on, patches and bug fixes on the legacy system become more time-consuming.
  • The older version can’t keep up with modern security standards.

Why is Shopware 5 Outdated?

Shopware 5 was an excellent shop system in its time. It found its niche with medium-sized enterprises that needed an easy-to-build eCommerce system that would let them quickly get an eCommerce store up and running.

However, Shopware 5 was based on monolithic architecture. That was fine back then, but as technology has advanced, it has led to a few problems.

  • It can be difficult to customize the features, as this is done via shopware plugins rather than APIs.
  • It isn’t truly headless, which makes it hard to flexibly set up different storefronts as needed.
  • The software suffers from a lack of modularity and can’t compete with the newest changes in the eCommerce market.

Staying with Shopware 5: Is this an Option?

For the next year or two, staying with Shopware 5 could be a possibility. Businesses that don’t need headless architecture and aren’t scaling rapidly can take their time to decide what to do next. But, aside from the flexible headless architecture, there are some other improvements they would be missing out on:

  • Rule builder for prices and shipping
  • Improved pricing calculations and tax handling
  • Additional settings for order handling
  • Catalog function
  • Mobile customization
  • Responsive “Worlds of Experience” replace non-responsive “Shopping Worlds”

Sticking with Shopware 5 is clearly a short-term solution – sooner or later every business will have to migrate if they want to operate with a secure system.

Shopware 6: Is the Switch Worth it?

For current Shopware 5 users, switching to Shopware 6 might seem like the easiest option. But is it also the best one?

Shopware 6 includes a host of new features that bring the system into a new era of headless digital commerce. To do that, though, the core software had to be updated so much that users who migrate to version 6 will actually face something akin to a replatforming project.

And that begs the question: if you’re going to go to the trouble of replatforming, is sticking with Shopware still the best choice? Or are there other options that might be more future-proof for the business?

Possible Alternatives: Which One Is Perfect For Your Business

A major migration is a great opportunity to re-evaluate your company’s needs. It could be a good time to move away from a relatively inflexible monolithic software (which will likely need updates and migrations again in the future) and switch to a composable system. Or you could decide that a different all-in-one suite would suit you better.

To make a decision, examine your current and future needs and ensure that the new platform will tick all the boxes. How much customization is needed? Are there any features you can’t do without? How will the business develop going forward? Picking the right platform now will save you effort in the future.

Let’s take a closer look at some alternatives to Shopware 6 that might meet the needs of your business.

Looking At Other Competitors: Adobe Commerce and Shopify

One possible option is Adobe Commerce (formerly Magento). This system is designed primarily for larger companies with more complex needs. It is customizable and offers many enterprise-level features. However, some experts question how long Adobe will continue to support it. Although it has been modernized to an extent, it is still a monolithic solution that lacks modularity, elasticity, and a truly headless architecture. Given that many other major monolithic legacy systems are nearing “retirement” at this point, this could be a reason for concern.

Shopify is another popular eCommerce platform whose standard version works best for businesses that value ease of use over customization. The standard version of Shopify is an all-in-one suite that uses plugins to add extra features. It doesn’t allow for custom coding beyond that, but it could be a good alternative to Shopware for smaller businesses with standard use cases.

Switch to a Modern Headless Solution

Modern eCommerce solutions are built from the ground up to be composable, so they can roll with the punches and adapt to whatever the market demands next. That means modularity coupled with a headless, API-first, cloud-native architecture. There are modern commerce software programs on the market now, including Spryker, commercetools – and SCAYLE. These solutions might be too expensive for small businesses, but for major eCommerce players, they offer flexibility and dependability well into the future. Within this younger generation of shop systems, it depends on your use case and how complex or lean you need your commerce platform to be when deciding where to migrate.

API and Headless Determine the Future of eCommerce

Shopware 5’s end of life highlights the importance of API-first and headless architecture in today’s eCommerce environment. Software that doesn’t meet modern demands is being phased out. This gives Shopware 5’s users a push to make the switch to headless, API-based, and therefore future-proof, solutions.

It also presents a hidden opportunity. Whether you choose Shopware 6, a similar competitor, or a headless eCommerce solution, you’ll benefit from taking a step back from “business as usual” making sure that the platform they migrate to will meet their needs going forward.