When it comes to the decision, to pay or get something for free what you would prefer to choose? The choice may see simple - if you can get something for free and save money, why pay for it? However, it’s not that simple actually.The second side of a coin is that today we are used to the fact everything is paid. And if something is offered for free then you get suspicious - is something wrong with it? Low quality, lack of functionality? Or is it just fraud? So the easy decision turns into a real dilemma after all. It’s hard to avoid it in everyday life, however in eCommerce it is easier. You just have to make a deeper research of shopping cart functionality and then decide on the money it is worth. Let’s consider it on live example of free and paid Magento editions.
Magento Community. Penny Saved is Penny Earned
The primary idea of magento platform is that it is an open source project. So this concept is true for both editions - free and paid. However, the name of Community edition is explained by the fact that magento has the largest community of users in the world and anybody can download, modify it and make an input in platform development. Every user has an access to a community forum where they can share experience, provide help and support. Speaking about support by the way - there is no official technical support with free community edition so all you get is that one from community.
Bug fixes is also to great extent the responsibility of community. Of course certain issues can be handled by Magento team, however the fact that any user can help to fix some bugs or issues makes the platform develop more rapidly.
Magento source code is shared by both editions, so as to this part you will not feel the difference. Extensions and modules are developed to fit Magento regardless of edition as app/code/core/Mage folder is the same. What is good about Magento shopping cart is that it didn’t limit functionality to basic one with free edition, as it is done by platforms who concentrate on earning money. With Magento Community you will get core features which include :
- multi stores and store views support
- persistent shopping cart
- layered navigation
- up-sells, cross-sells and related products
- flexible coupon system
- flexible pricing rules
Security with Magento Community still leaves much to be desired. The edition doesn’t provide security tokens for credit card processing. It allows though to achieve PCI compliance if you need it for your business.
Performance is said to be better with the Enterprise Edition, however it’s not really correct to put it that way. Performance depends on many factors among which hosting environment plays a crucial role. However, with Magento Community you will probably add more modules and extensions because it comes with less native feature as Enterprise. This factor can slow down the speed of performance. What’s more, updates with Community Edition is a more complicated issue, causing certain errors in functionality. The merchants using 1.5 version (or earlier) when they want to upgrade to the newest version, usually have to start over.
Magento Enterprise. Wasting or Investing?
Magento Enterprise Edition appeared later with growing demands of Magento users. Naturally, for the money it charges it has lots to offer in terms of improved functionality and additional options you won’t get with Community edition. Let’s see if the functionality you’ll get is worth the money you’ll pay for the year licence.
First of all, you will get technical Support. As Magento is one of the most complicated platforms with steep learning curve, it is good to have official support to refer to any time you have some questions or issues. Community is really helpful, however it may take some time to get the answer you need, or find it on the community forum. With official Support you will get the professional right away.
Bug fixes are handled same by community and Magento team, as they are submitted to bug tracker regardless of the edition you are using. However, requests from customers with support agreements are given higher priority and can be fixed faster than the bugs of Community Edition.
Set of features is the main point which differentiates free and paid Magento editions.Along with all core functionality of Magento Community, Enterprise offers you advanced features like:
- private sales
- gift registry
- store credits
- full page caching
- solr search
You will not find such powerful functionality not only within Magento cart, but with other shopping platforms available on the market today. Moreover you will get the enhanced CMS functionality which allows version control, adding banners and content hierarchy.
High level of security is another point in favour of Magento Enterprise. Unlike Community, it is PA-DSS Compliant. The updates do not cause that much troubles. And it doesn’t require that much customization as it already includes all the functionality you can dream of. By the way, speaking about functionality, most of Magento extensions and modules are paid, so if you need to add some extra feature to magento Community, you will have to pay for it. You will also have to pay for hosting service, so eventually the free Community edition requires some investment as well. Don’t expect any Magento be totally and completely free. However, the opportunities you get with it are worth every dollar you spend.
Now the choice doesn’t seem so hard, does it? You should simply evaluate the size of your business, weigh roughly the available budget and think about the future perspectives. And that’s how you will get the answer, which Magento Edition will suit your needs better.