Magento is one of the powerful open-source e-commerce system available today. According to Google Trends, it is the most popular platform among Prestashop, Shopify, LiveChat, and BigCommerce from 2008 to present. Magento’s success can be attributed to its functionality, comprehensive features, and flexibility.
Magento is chosen by one out of four businesses, and has three versions—Magento Go, Magento Community, and Magento Enterprise. For this post, we will tackle Magento Community and Enterprise, so that you can decide which one makes more sense for your business needs and goals.
Magento Community is free, and it is what makes it so appealing for most business owners. There are no fees involved with using the platform. The only things you need to pay for are your domain name, web hosting services, and programmer’s fee.
The main features of Magento Community are:
Code-level Access – Magento Community allows code-level access to its users, which means that you can tweak them and integrate changes in your system easily. If you need added functionality, you can for to Magento Connect Marketplace and access 7,500 extensions to use, some of which are free while others are paid.
Multiple Stores – You can manage multiple stores within the platform. For instance, you can have different stores for different brands, retail, and wholesale. You can also have multiple store views for different customer groups. For instance, you can optimize your site to be mobile-friendly or you can let users view your site in a specific language. You can also have a specific site for users in a specific country.
Persistent Shopping Cart – This feature saves the content of a shopping cart until a customer comes back even in a different platform—may it be desktop, tablet, mobile. This feature allows you to create discounts and other offers for specific customers. For instance, wholesale customers get an automatic discount of 5% or an on-going offer of free shipping for all orders made within a specific time frame.
Result Filters – Magento allows better browsing through filters and restrictions in results. With this feature, users can filter results according to color, size, manufacturer, and price.
Different Payment Configurations and Options – You can set different payment options as well as shipping options for international clients.
Product Options – Aside from the product name, cost, weight, size, color, description, and retail price, you can also set tier prices, which are different pricing systems for different customer groups such as retail and wholesale buyers. Meanwhile, you can also set special prices for a specific duration, which is typically done during sales or promotions. You can also designate up-sells, cross sells, and related products to encourage higher sales.
SEO – Magento Community is integrated with SEO tools, so that your website will be indexed by search engines.
Couponing and Promotions – Aside from helping you manage your e-commerce business, Magento also allows you to create coupons and promotions and easily integrate them in the system.
Customer Accounts Management – Magento allows you to edit customer information such as their address, passwords, and phone numbers.
Order and Sales Management – Magento Community allows you to go in and process orders and mark them according to progress.
Magento Community, as it is, is already packed with features that are helpful for businesses. However, Magento decided to step it up a notch and came up with the Enterprise version to meet a more extensive range of needs and goals.
Magento Enterprise is essentially the paid version of Magento Community, and it costs $15,500 a year. It contains the same features as the free version, but it goes way than that and offers a wider range of functions. Let’s look at some of their key differences:
Large Catalog – Magento Enterprise is designed for businesses that handles a large number of products, while Magento Community is only good for medium-size businesses. It indexes large catalogs 80% faster and it can add new products immediately, whereas Community could take 12 minutes before showing a new offer.
Full-page Caching and Quicker Loading Times – Full-page caching is not available on Community. You can run a caching system on your site, but most hosting companies don’t support it. More so, you need to manually rebuild the cache when you add or make changes to your site.
Comprehensive Rollback System – When you accidentally changed something in the site and want to return to a previous version, you may be setting yourself up for a lot of work if you’re on Magento Community. Magento Community can only restore from the previous day’s backup, but what if you want to go back to an older version? Magento Enterprise allows you to roll back to a previous version of a page or any element in the site easily and quickly, letting you track changes and who made them.
Better Scalability – Magento Community works on a single server which handles DNS, PHP, caching, memory, database, etc. If you’re website has a lot of traffic, products, or buyers, the server may have a hard time keeping up. On the other hand, Magento Enterprise is designed for wider scalability, wherein those different functions are distributed to different servers.
Comprehensive tax calculation system – Magento Enterprise allows you to better manage tax rules, zones, and rates according to different rules per state or country. This can be beneficial if you have different retail locations and distributions across the United States and other parts of the globe.
Advance admin, logging, and access permission – With Enterprise, you can set up admins on a per site basis and restrict their access to other areas. It keeps a log of who goes into the site, who made changes, and who accessed customer information. It is an added security feature that allows for easier tracking.
Customer Management – Enterprise allows you to modify customer information quickly and divide them into different segments, which allows you to target your customers and offer a better shopping experience for them. Customer segmentation can be done by geographic information and order history.
Advance Shopping Experience – Enterprise helps you create a better shopping experience by allowing you to host private sales, offer gift and loyalty points, give store credits or online gift cards, provide gift wrapping services, and letting customers set up gift registries.
Return Management – When selling products is your business, you should always expect returns. In an online platform, it can be hard to stay on top of return merchandise, but Enterprise has that built-in within the system and makes it easier for you to manage.
Advance Searches – Enterprise is built with Solr search, which suggests queries and helps customers find what they’re looking for easily. A comprehensive search feature also helps lessen bounce rates.
Automated Emails – Email is a powerful tool to boost customer retention. Enterprise has an automated e-mail message trigger system for a number of purposes such as an abandoned shopping cart, follow-up emails for both new and existing customers, or any promotions that you’re currently running.
High Customization – Magento Enterprise offers a higher level of customization than Community. It allows you to create custom landing pages easily and integrate them into your advanced customer segmentation systems. Custom banners, codes, and discounts based on shopping cart rules can also be customized quickly in Enterprise.
Automated Product Suggestions – With Enterprise, you don’t have to manually set up cross-sells, up sells, and recommended products.
Customer and Technical Support – Enterprise allows you to have a customer service team on the back-end, which helps customers resolve issues they encounter while shopping on your website. Meanwhile, you also have access to Magento’s technical support team, which is not available in Community. If you experience any bugs or issues, Magento’s support team can assist you immediately, whereas if you’re in community, you may need to wait longer for answers and possible solutions from other users.
Auto-Generated Custom Coupons – Enterprise automatically generates coupons for specific types of customers, which they can use for different purposes.
The Right Choice
It all boils down to your business and goals. You need to be clear on what your needs are and determine which features you can and can’t do without. It’s also about careful projection of actual costs whether you choose to go with Community or Enterprise.
If you’re going with Community, how much time and money would you need to allot for added extension, features, and integrating them in your website. What if one add-on is not compatible with your hosting service or another extension?
Meanwhile, if you’re opting for Enterprise, consider the size of your catalog as well as your budget. While it’s handy to have advanced features within reach, you also need to gauge whether your business can handle the annual fee of running an e-commerce site on Magento Enterprise.
Regardless of whether you choose to go with Magento Community or Enterprise, your e-commerce site should have the essential elements to make it successful such as good hosting, products, content, design, and marketing campaigns that increase your visibility and strengthen your relationship with your clients.