The first step in creating an online store is choosing which eCommerce platform to use. We at IWD feel that Magento is still the best choice for businesses of any size. In 2017, Magento was still the #1 eCommerce platform, powering over 30% of the top 100,000 online stores. Hopefully because you are reading this post, you have at least put Magento on your short list, if not made the choice already. So assuming Magento is your platform to be, you still have one very important decision to make: Will you use the Commerce or Open Source edition? This decision will have an impact on your store for years to come, so it needs to be made with the most information possible at your disposal. In this post we will discuss the differences in Magento Commerce and Open Source editions so you can make the most educated decision for your business. First off, I should clarify that Magento recently changed the names of their platforms. Commerce Edition was formerly called Enterprise (EE) and Open Source was Community (CE).
Open Source (Community-CE) = Free Commerce (Enterprise-EE) = Yearly/Monthly License Fee
JUST SO YOU KNOW...
Before we get started talking about the differences between the two Magento platforms, I would like to point out some very important facts. Commerce and Open Source are completelydifferent platforms and software installations. Upgrading from Open Source to Enterprise isn't like logging into your Netflix account and changing subscriptions. Moving to or from either edition requires a completely new design and build. That’s right, you would have to get your site re-designed and re-developed if you decided to change. You can't even use Open Source templates on Commerce. Any extensions you may have purchased would need to be re-purchased as they will not work either. So now hopefully you can see why making the right decision up front about which Magento edition to use is so important.
SO WHAT'S THE SAME? For some store owners, Magento Commerce has all the features they need to operate a great looking and well performing store. Let’s look at some features both editions share:
The main difference between Commerce and Open Source is, of course, the price. Admittedly the price of Commerce makes a lot of store owners hesitant, but when you consider all its features and advantages the cost is more affordable than they might think. Checkout our post about Magento pricing here
One advantage Magento Commerce has over Open Source is access to Magento Support and Account Management. With Magento Technical Support, Commerce users have access to 24/7 support for questions or issues they might be having. With their dedicated Account Manager they have access to someone who knows their business and can point them to the right resources and make sure they are getting the most out of their Magento platform. With Open Source there is no technical support included. I will mention that there is a wealth of information online to help Magento store owners diagnose and find solutions to most problems they will come across.
CUSTOMER SEGMENTATION AND PERSONALIZATION
This might be my choice for most valuable Magento Commerce feature. Tailoring content and promotions to specific groups of customers is a easy way to instantly boost your revenue and give you a leg up over most of your competition. While Open Source allows you to manually create customer groups, it does not allow for the automatic creation of segments. Commerce’s Customer Segmentation feature is based off of customer attributes. You can use the native attributes of course (address, order history, cart contents etc), but with Magento Commerce you can also create custom attributes for your customers (also a Commerce only feature). You can then create promotions and content seen only by these custom customer segments. You can also pull custom reports by segment as well, which is a powerful tool to see who your VIP’s really are.
Another Magento Commerce only feature is the new Instant Purchase. By using previously stored payment and shipping information, customers can skip the traditional checkout process with just a couple clicks of their mouse.
Clicking the instant purchase button bypasses the cart and checkout page and brings them straight to an order details page which requires they click the confirm button to complete the order. As you can imagine this feature decreases the checkout time, which in turn leads to more sales. This feature is especially useful for sites with large numbers of mobile users. The easier you make the checkout process, the happier your customers will be, and in turn the more your sales will increase.
REWARDS & LOYALTY PROGRAM
Everyone likes to be rewarded, especially if it’s for something they were going to do anyway. Having a rewards program for your customers is another great way to increase business and keep your customers coming back again and again. Magento Commerce offers a robust rewards program that allows you to award points based on a wide range of transactions and customer activities. You can choose the value each reward point has compared to your accepted currency. By adding a “Use My Reward Points” option to the checkout page, customers can use their points to purchase products from your site. While Open Source does not have a rewards or loyalty program, there are more than one 3rd party reward programs that work great. These 3rd party reward programs, while they might be very effective, typically come at a rather high cost.
As someone who has managed an eCommerce catalog, I know the frustrations of manually setting the order these products will be displayed on the category pages all too well...and that's just for a few dozen products! With stores that have tens of thousands of products the job of arranging the order they are displayed becomes almost impossible (unless you just cave to
default sorting). With Magento’s Visual Merchandiser feature available only on Commerce Edition, sorting your products the way YOU want is easy. You can manually arrange the order of your products by simply dragging and dropping them to thepreferred spot. Or you can use rules and conditions to sort them in any number of custom ways using the products attributes (brand, price, date created, etc). You can also set “VIP” products that will automatically display at the top of the list.
For stores with large catalogs, their search is the lifeline of their site. Can you imagine if Amazon’s search sucked? Exactly While Open Source comes with a full text MySQL search, Commerce now has Elasticsearch built in. With integrated Elasticsearch technology you can handle large catalogs and easily scale search capacity as queries grow. Elasticsearch offers suggestions for customer misspellings, support for stop words and attribute weighting, and synonym management to increase search relevancy and boost conversions.
INTEGRATED B2B FUNCTIONALITY
Wholesale customers are different than retail customers. They have different wants and needs. Your B2B customers need to be able to quickly find the products and information they are looking for so they can get back to running their business.
Magento Commerce B2B functionality is a great solution for anyone selling to other businesses. It gives your wholesale customers the ability to create company accounts, set up multiple buyers, and define their specific roles and responsibilities with easy self-service tools. They can also create custom catalogs and price lists to ensure buyers receive contract terms when purchasing online and even offer payments on account to increase sales. It also comes with quick order forms, requisition lists, and a streamlined request for quote workflow. I cannot tell you how nice the Request For Quote feature is! Whether you have Open Source or Commerce, IWD’s B2B eCommerce Suite is also a fantastic solution for any Magento store that does B2B. Check it out here
Online gift registry is now the norm. More and more Brides and Mothers-to-be are using online gift registries to make theprocess as painless as possible for their family and friends. With the average registry now worth over $5,000, having an online registry option on your site is a no-brainer for many companies. Magento Commerce lets you create searchable and customizable gift registries so your store can capitalize on this 20 billion dollar market.
Now that you have seen the main differences in Magento Commerce and Open Source Editions hopefully you are able to make an informed decision about which version to choose. You may see a full list of Magento features here: Magento Features PDF Having said all of that...I highly recommend using a certified Magento development agency to handle all of your store’s needs. They will be able to steer you to the correct version of Magento your business needs if you are still undecided. Notice I said CERTIFIED. Your developer might have 30 years experience, but if he isn’t Magento certified you will be wasting precious time and money. Some of the Commerce features I listed in this post could possibly be achieved on Open Source through the use of extensions. Any time you install extensions or modify your site's code though, you run the risk of it conflicting with something on your site. Once again, this is where certified developers are so crucial. Here at IWD we use only Magento certified developers, as well as employ multiple Magento Solutions Specialists.
Contact us today to speak to someone about your vision for your store.