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Magento Commerce or Open Source: Which one is right for you?

by Albert Nel: Ecommerce Development Manager at Vectra.
Magento is available in two flavours: Commerce and Open Source. Let's take a few minutes to illuminate the differences between these versions and help you decide which one is the correct solution for your ecommerce needs.

COST

The most obvious difference between Open Source and Commerce editions is that Magento Open Source is free to download and install while Magento Commerce is only available by buying a license from Adobe. Commerce follows a revenue-based licensing model with different tiers of pricing tailored to your unique business.

Verdict: If you are just getting started, don't have a lot of money to spend, don't require a lot of additional development and can do without the advanced Magento Commerce features (as described later), then Open Source is the way to go.

If ecommerce is the cornerstone of your business, if you plan on massive expansion in catalog size, technical infrastructure and complexity and accurate, customer-segmented marketing is important to you, we advise to strongly consider Commerce.

SECURITY

Magento Commerce is far ahead of Open Source when it comes to security. With things like secure payments gateways, virus scanning, built-in penetration testing and credit card tokenisation, Magento Commerce is the superior choice for security.

Verdict: Magento Commerce is unbeaten when it comes to security.

CATALOG

There used to be a significant difference between Magento 1's Community and Commerce editions (then called Enterprise Edition) when it came to the catalog size that it could support. This isn't a big issue anymore with Magento 2. Magento 2 Open Source is capable of easily handling up to 200,000 products and by fine-tuning your search and cache infrastructure you can increase that even further.

Verdict: Magento Open Source easily supports just as many products as Magento Commerce.

PERFORMANCE

Magento as a whole can be a resource intensive system to run on any infrastructure. Magento Open Source actually does fairly well if you set it up with sufficient resources and optimised infrastructure, but the issue of scaling will always come up. You will need to maintain and monitor the server resources and all the responsibility lies with your devops team. When the site experiences high floods of traffic the site performance can be impacted significantly.

On the other hand, Magento Commerce is hosted on Magento Cloud which is their own hosting environment. Their main selling point for this is that they worry about the hosting, automated scaling and so forth. When huge boosts of traffic are expected you arrange with your Magento solution partner beforehand and they can prepare the server resources ahead of time in order to smoothly handle the influx of traffic on the anticipated days.

Verdict: If you expect huge increases in traffic over time or on specific days of the year, consider Magento Commerce as it's built with this sort of adaptable scalability in mind.

ADDITIONAL FEATURES OF MAGENTO COMMERCE

Let's be clear: Magento Open Source is already packed to the brim with almost all the ecommerce features you'll probably need to get started. For many smaller companies this should be more than enough. So how do the features of Magento Commerce compare?

Magento Commerce has all the features of Open Source with a lot of extra goodies that are only available to the Commerce version. Let's take a look at some of the most powerful additional features available in Commerce only.

Artificial Intelligence with Adobe Sensei

Commerce comes with free support for Adobe's solution to artificial intelligence in ecommerce named Adobe Sensei. Adobe Sensei does automatic tasks and collects data on your site that would be very tedious for a human to do.

It can automate things like assigning products to certain categories and attribute sets as it employs machine learning to "see" your catalog images and understand exactly what it is you're selling.

It also collects a slew of information on your customers and the way that they use your site. This leads to the ability to segment customers, which is discussed next.

Customer segmentation

Customer segmentation provides an invaluable insight into the inner workings of your customer base. It provides insights into demographics, customer checkout journeys and spending habits - all of which can be used to create highly targeted marketing campaigns and see a big increase in conversions.

Content staging

Content staging is another Magento Commerce automated feature to allow administrators to focus on assisting customers and increasing conversion rates rather than worrying about content. Content staging is a way to schedule certain CMS content to display on a specified date or date range. For example, you might consider putting a big banner on your homepage during Black Friday that links to all your specials. You can create and prepare this banner well before the time and use content staging to schedule it to start displaying on Black Friday. This process happens automatically and it can even be scheduled to switch back to the original home page a few days after.

Order assistance

Order assistance is a recent addition to the Magento Commerce suite of features. Order Assistance allows an administrative user to simulate logging in as a customer who might be having problems buying online and to help them complete the checkout journey as if the admin user was the customer themselves. This is a very handy feature as not all customers are equally tech-savvy and can lead to an increased conversion rate.

B2B

As a manufacturer or wholesaler the ecommerce environment can look quite different from that of a B2C store. With inventory and stock management via distribution centres, Magento Commerce creates a unified shopping and management experience for almost all B2B needs.

Verdict: Magento B2B features are only available in the Commerce edition, so if your business model is geared towards B2B this is the obvious choice.

CONCLUSION

Let’s conclude by answering whether you should go with Magento Commerce or Open Source. As with most things in your business, the answer is: it depends. If you want to expand your business online, allow room for some growth but won't be making it a cornerstone of your business anytime soon then Magento Open Source is more than enough to make your ecommerce venture a big success. On the other hand, if ecommerce is the fundamental building block of your business strategy then we suggest you take it equally seriously by going for Magento Commerce.

You might still be unsure and that's to be expected as there is a lot to consider. This is where a reliable Magento solutions partner like Vectra comes in. We do a technical audit on any existing infrastructure you have as well as take our time to really understand your business. We pride ourselves on understanding where you are and where you are going and so we lend our expertise to help you make the right choice from the start.

Useful resources:
Vectra
Vectra Business Technologies is a software company focused on digital innovation in Retail. We specialise in point-of-sale and e-commerce solutions.
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