Magento now has three major variations of its core product. The names have changed over the past few years, so the two products that you may have known as “Magento Enterprise Edition” and “Magento Community Edition” are now referred to as “Magento Commerce” and “Magento Open Source”, respectively. The third product that is brand new for Magento 2 is “Magento Commerce Cloud”.
I think there is a lot of confusion about these three variations. Quite frankly, with software that as complex as Magento, it is hard even for platform experts to remember all the little differences between them!
In terms of licensing, the main difference between Open Source, Magento Commerce, and Magento Commerce Cloud is fairly simple. Open Source is a non hosted eCommerce platform you can download for free and host on your own on a server through AWS etc. The feature set is a bit limited because it is a free option. Magento builds more features into their flagship product: Magento Commerce, which can be bought either as their standard, on-premise offering as Magento Commerce, or bought as Magento Commerce Cloud, which is hosted by Magento on their AWS stack.
Ultimately, I think the main decision is whether you are going to go with Magento Open Source, or if you are willing to pay the license fees of Magento Commerce / Cloud. Once you have decided which direction, its not that hard to choose whether you want your website hosted by Magento or not. So, let’s compare the different feature sets:
Magento Commerce Exclusive Features
Default Magento search in the Open Source version is not great. Elastic Search is a best in class open source search functionality that will greatly improve your Magento search. It is used by many major software companies and provides a much better search experience on Magento Commerce and Magento Commerce Cloud.
This is really a bunch of features in one such as:
- Company Accounts
- Credit Lines
- Requisition Lists
- One to One Pricing / Shared Catalog
The B2B module allows you to manage companies that can have complex hierarchies within them so that you can have one company with many franchises ordering individually. They also allow for quoting on products so that you can give the company a quote they can then use to checkout, rather than calling in for quotes. Some of the other important features include credit lines, requisition lists for preparing for larger purchases, and the ability to create a shared catalog for unique one to one company pricing. All together, this provides a very robust B2B experience on Magento that is not easily replicated on other e-commerce platforms.
Automated Product Relations:
This is a simple but valuable feature for larger catalogs in which it is not viable to manually curate product relations. You can use rules in Magento to automatically assign products to be related, up-sell, or cross-sell products.
Content Staging / Scheduling:
Content staging and scheduling is one of the most useful enterprise features. Rather than just changing content on the fly, you can actually edit your content such as pages, products, etc, view your content changes to make sure its correct, and schedule it to go live when you want. This is extremely useful for promotions, or other changes you may want to make to your content. You also mitigate the risk of changing content and running into issues with how it looks.
Magento Commerce comes with performance enhancements to speed up indexing, caching, and the overall performance of your website. Its certainly possible to achieve these performance enhancements on open source but you would have to be adding in a lot of new functionality versus having a more stable infrastructure all built in.
Magento Commerce allows you to segment customers so that you can try and personalize or market to them in a more specific manner. This can have a lot of value for marketing, operations, and other reasons that may be unique to your business. Segments can be a little more robust than Customer Groups which is a more basic Magento feature. You can actually create conditions such as registered users created before or after this date etc.
Rather than using a rewards program via a third party extension or SaaS platform. Magento Commerce has a rewards program built in, potentially saving you from having third party conflicts and additional code bloating down your infrastructure.
Returns & Exchanges Capabilities:
Without Magento Commerce, you will not have any easy way of processing returns natively. Magento Commerce provides native returns and exchanges through the platform versus having to use a third party extension or platform like Returnly.
Gift cards are native to Magento Commerce whereas with the Open Source version you would need a third party extension. This is yet again another simple example of consolidating features into one platform versus relying on third parties.
Gift Registries and Wish Lists
If you sell product that would most likely be useful for a wish list or gift registry, Magento Commerce has that built in versus Open Source. This is especially useful for anyone that wants to cater to the wedding industry, or maybe even any other type of special event.
Additional Payment Options:
Magento Commerce has many payment options built right in like Cybersource, eWay, WorldPay and more. Open Source has less payment options, so this could be a hindrance if you need one of the Magento Commerce payment methods.
Magento Commerce allows you to do store credit so that you can offer store credit to customers in exchange for returns or other reasons. This can be a very helpful customer service tool.
Admin Panel User Restrictions per Website:
In Open Source, you cannot control admin panel users to the website level. This can be problematic if you don’t want certain users using certain websites. Magento Commerce allows for this control, so you can manage an enterprise infrastructure of multiple websites.
This is a great tool for visually managing your categories products so that you can see how they are viewed in a visual format, as opposed to just seeing the SKUs listed. The drag and drop feature makes it easy to update the categories, too.
Magento Commerce offers more robust targeting capabilities around promotions so that you can run promotions on certain customer segments and other specific demographics.
Magento Commerce now has instant purchase similar to Amazon so that you can easily purchase on the spot.
Last but not least is Magento support. With Open Source, if you run into a bug or issue with the core software, you are on your own. Magento support can help you triage software issues that could help you get to the bottom of critical issues much more quickly than a third party would.
Magento Commerce Cloud:
Magento Commerce Cloud is the newest product in which you get Magento Commerce hosted on Magento’s custom AWS stack, along with other built-in functionality like the Fastly CDN and other optimization tools. It also offers business intelligence with it so you can get the power of the Magento analytics tool on top of Magento Commerce all together.
Magento has also created a lot of deployment and optimization tools to make development operations more streamlined. The above features aren’t even an exhaustive list, and Magento is very focused on improving this product and are constantly launching new features — there are likely many other advantages that are not listed here.
If you are strapped for cash, I get it, you have to go Open Source. However, if you are serious about Magento and eCommerce you should strongly consider Commerce or Cloud because you are getting a much larger feature set and support. They are also launching many new features exclusive for Magento Commerce all the time, so you will be missing out on that. I highly suggest looking into Magento Commerce if you are a B2B customer, expect to do international business, multi brand, or do a significant amount of volume online.
Please comment below if you have anything to add to the discussion, or have had good or bad experiences with any of these three Magento offerings!