There are two editions of Magento; Magento Community (CE) and Magento Enterprise (EE). The former is open source, supported by the Magento community, and is available for anyone to download free of charge. Magento Enterprise edition includes additional features and enhancements and is available only through subscription. It is supported by Magento and includes a Service Level Agreement.
Here we will look at the essential features of Magneto and examine the main differences between the two editions. We will then consider which edition is likely to be the best choice for your business.
Magento is an open-source ecommerce platform written in PHP, utilising the Zend Framework. It is based round an administration interface which includes a set of content management, marketing, and merchandising tools. It has proven to be very successful and according to w3techs, in April 2014 it was being used by 1% of all websites. Magneto was recently acquired by eBay in 2011.
Magento Community Features
Magento Community Edition is richly featured and includes all that is needed to develop and administer one or a number of ecommerce websites. The following features are just some of those that are available in both the Magento Community and Magento Enterprise editions. Some of the more important features are:
- Marketing, Promotions and Conversion Tools
Including cross sells, promotional pricing, coupons, category landing pages, persistent shopping basket, and shipping options.
- Site Management
Allowing multiple sites to be administered from one administration panel, content management, CAPTCHA protection.
- Catalogue Management
Allowing alternative pricing for customer groups, inventory management, customer personalised products.
- Catalogue Browsing
With an array of filters, product comparisons.
- Product Browsing
Multiple views, stock availability, sharing.
- Checkout, Payment and Shipping
As guest or account, one page checkout, monetary integration with PayPal, purchase orders, saved credit card.
- Order Management
View/edit/fulfil orders, print invoices/packing slips, phone order. creation, assisted shopping, order tracking.
- Customer Accounts
With account dashboard.
- Customer Service
Contact us, order history and status.
- International Support
With location, multiple currencies and tax rates.
- Analytics and Reporting
Including integration with Google Analytics, stock levels, views and purchases.
Magento Enterprise Features
The Magneto Enterprise Edition provides an additional level of features, ontop of those offered in the Community edition. These include:
- Customer Segmentation, Targeted Promotions & Merchandising
Using specific characteristics for instance location, gender, age, browsing history; unknown and unregistered customers can also be identified and targeted with special promotions.
- Dynamic Rule Based Product Relations
For instance for serving customers with product suggestions.
- Persistent Shopping
With long term cookies across multiple devices. Note: CE 1.7 has started to offer this too…
- Automated Email Marketing Reminder
The system can automatically email customers that have abandoned their basket without purchase.
- Private Sales
Special invitations for selected customers.
- Gift registry & gifting options
Searchable gift registry by name/email/ID, messages, gift wrapping offers.
- Rewards Points & Store Credits
For Incentivisation and refunds.
- Backup and Rollback
- Order Archiving
For improved store performance.
- Secure Payment Bridge
For attaining PCI compliance (supposedly easier than CE)
- Stronger data encryption
- Advanced search using Solr
It is clear that the Enterprise edition builds on the Community edition to provide a complete commerce solution that is appropriate to any ecommerce operation, however large. The system is fully scalable, and provides additional security and flexibility. However it is worth noting that all of the additional functionality provided by EE can be applied to CE via 3rd party methods/extensions, if required.
To add a further level of complexity into the mix, there are now two Enterprise Edition’s available offering varying level of support. Check Magento Enterprise Plan Comparision for more information.
Which version do you need?
There are a number of reasons for choosing the Enterprise edition. Its advanced features might be necessary to your business; you consider that the deep customization will allow you to increase sales; you need a high level of support as provided through the Service Level Agreement. With its caching and additional security, the Enterprise edition is also faster (out the box) so your decision is likely to involve your catalogue size, your traffic, and the services you provide.
While the Community Edition is free, the cost of the Enterprise Edition is competitive and considerably less than many other ecommerce platforms. Annual licences cost from around $15,500 pa, but this also includes a Service Level Agreement which can be very valuable when, as they will, things go wrong or you need to make changes.
If you are a small enterprise with plenty of technical knowhow and you don’t need the additional features offered by the Enterprise Edition, then the Community Edition could well be all you need, and trying it is likely to be your best strategy; you can always upgrade at a later date. Magento is however an extensive bit of software that requires ongoing maintenance and system management. If Community is an option for you, it is strongly recommended involving an experienced Magento agency, such as oursleves.
Don’t need the SLA that Enterprise offers?
One of the key benefits of the Enterprise Edition in my opinion is the SLA provided. Magento is a beast, and it can take months, even years to truly learn your way around it. If you don’t have the benefit of working with an agency such as Creode on your Ecommerce project, then the Enterprise Edition offers a necessary level of comfort.
Typically, our projects that utilise the Community Edition are extended to include the majority of functionality including within the Enterprise Edition. This may evolve over time when budgets are available or the feature is required. Magento is always extendable, which ever edition you choose.
If you extend Magento, who will support that?
This is where it gets a bit tricky… So perhaps you have extended Magento with bespoke extensions, that’s not something Magento themselves will be able to support, so what do you do? Many of our clients run bespoke functionality on their Magento sites; My 1st Years have their artwork generation tools, as do YourImage2Canvas for example. Should they choose to use Enterprise Edition for the support, they will still require us to look after and maintain the bespoke elements of the site. It’s something to bear in mind; extend Magento with bespoke elements and you’ll fall outside of Magento’s SLA.
Not sure? Ask the experts
Creode work with Magento every day to achieve the highest efficiency and conversion rates for our clients, whilst considering the budgets available. We’re well versed in both the advantages and disadvantages of each of the solutions offered. If Magento is something you’re considering, get in touch to discuss in more detail.