When people talk about Magento Community vs. Enterprise the first impulse is to take the “free version” and build it up over time. The mission as it pertains to an ecommerce platform like Magento should not be to take the least feature rich version of the platform and make it fit your needs but to rather pick the correct solution for the phase in which your business is currently in and go from there. For smaller merchants just getting into the ecommerce space and with a relatively limited amount of products either Magento GO or Magento Community is a possible solution that could be very fruitful until your revenues, product catalog, or complexity of logistics significantly increases.
There are other criteria for making a selection between the different solutions Magento offers but I first want to highlight what is available before more specifically focusing down on the Community and Enterprise editions. The current solutions provided are:
- Magento Go – Ideal for merchants with small inventory and very basic ecommerce needs on a very restrictive budget. This is a Software as a Service (SaaS) product.
- Magento Community – Good for mid-market merchants that need more control over their environment and need to leverage extensions and custom code to meet their customer expectations.
- Magento Enterprise – Feature-rich with enterprise capabilities and performance for top end merchant.
For the purpose of this blog post, we are going to focus on the two local deployments of Magento that provide our clients the most flexibility and control. Key differences between these platforms start with features, support, and performance which both versions feature but of course to a very different degree.
In this grid I’m not showing all differences between the two editions of Magento but the ones that typically have a real impact on the decision making process. Please note that anything in Magento Community that say weak means that it’s difficult to use or not robust to be considered worthy of mention. Other items are only featured in Magento Enterprise.
There is a very significant difference between the levels of support for both of these editions. Magento (owned by eBay) staff’s full time support that will help any organization that has purchased a copy of Magento Enterprise. This provides stability to an organization when there is a falling out with the partner or they need emergency assistance. There is no support directly from the software creator on the community version so your ultimate fall back is the community which could take some time to provide any type of targeted response.
Performance Enhancements in Magento Enterprise
The difference in performance between Magento Enterprise and Magento Community is a pretty serious change. So much that it’s only worth talking about what is better in the Magento Enterprise version. Here are the immediate advantages:
- Since Magento Enterprise 1.13 was released its significantly better at re-indexing to the tune of 80% faster.
- Magento has a lot of processes that happen when a new product is added. In Magento Community that could take anywhere from 10 – 20 minutes where in Magento Enterprise it’s instantaneous in most cases.
- Magento Enterprise is built to handle very large product catalogs were as Magento Community is not.
Final Thoughts on a Big Decision
One of the key metrics we bring up with clients is will it be more expensive to take community and build in the features that are required for your project than just going directly to the Enterprise version of Magento. While the license is an annuity you’ll find that the stability of the features, reliable support, and continual upgrades far outweigh the self-construction and future management that awaits you if a Frankenstein version is put together within the Magento Community Edition.
Search has often been another of the major items that’s really had a large impact on the eRetailers looking to provide a superior experience to their customers. The Magento Community version of search, in two words, not good. Results are often incorrect and it requires exact database matching to establish any type of match having vendors miss out on sales.
Another big advantage to the Magento Enterprise Edition is its efforts in providing a slightly more robust CMS function for standard pages and giving you more performance based options to make the experience of shopping on your store faster. Perhaps the most revealing studies in eCommerce are surrounded by the “right now” expectation of consumers when shopping on the web. Many abandon their carts if a load is taking too long out of concern and find the products they are looking for somewhere else.
Magento Community can be built to work as well as Enterprise but the costs far outweigh building a strong relationship with Magento and also their direct support as opposed to community support. While the Magento community is an amazing community it does not compare to the likes of a Drupal or WordPress community.
Still wondering how to decide between Magento Community and Enterprise? Still, have questions about whether it is worthwhile upgrading from Magento Community to Enterprise? Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Unleashed, we’d be happy to help.