Let’s say someone has something you want and are given the option, to pay for it or get it for free, which do you choose? You might think this is a very easy choice to make as if you can get it for free, then why pay? However, when you think about it a bit more it’s actually not that simple.
In today’s world we are used to paying for pretty much everything so if something is presented to you with no cost attached then you might get a little suspicious and start questioning the reasons behind it, for example, is there something wrong with it? Was it stolen before? Or is it just a fraud? So all of a sudden that “easy” decision turns into a bit of a conundrum which in everyday life is quite hard to avoid. In eCommerce however, this decision is somewhat easier, as you just have to dedicate some time to do your research of what you desire from your online store and then it’s down to you to decide if spending the money really is worth it.
Magento is one of those situations where you will have decide whether you wish to continue with their free edition or take the plunge and invest money in the platform. So, if you are currently contemplating whether to start paying then here are some examples of what the free version and the paid editions can offer you so hopefully, you can answer the question – Is Magento really worth paying for?
Magento Community. A Penny Saved Is A Penny Earned
The primary idea of using Magento as a platform is that it’s an open source project, and this concept is true for both the free and paid versions. However, the name of Community edition is easily explained by the main factor that Magento has the most extensive community of users in the world. This means that anyone can download, modify and have an input on the platform’s development. Each user has access to a community forum where each login is able to share and swap experiences to provide help and support to one another. While we are on the subject of support it’s worth mentioning now that unfortunately, there is no official technical support with the free community edition. This means that if you require any help, the only way you can get it is via the community.
Bug fixes is also to great extent the responsibility of the community. Now, of course, certain issues can be handled by the 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 a common factor in both editions, so you will not feel the difference depending on what version you ultimately decide to choose. Extensions and modules are developed to fit Magento regardless of the edition as app/code/core/Mage folder is all the same. With Magento Community these are the core features which are included and at no cost:
- 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 the Magento community version still leaves much to be desired. The edition does not provide security tokens for credit card processing and it allows 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 fair or correct to put it that way. Performance depends just on how many factors among which hosting environment plays a rather crucial role. However, with Magento Community, you will probably add more modules and extensions due to it providing with a less native feature as Enterprise and this factor can slow down the speed of performance.
Updates to the community edition is a more complicated issue, causing errors in functionality. Merchants using 1.5 version or even earlier will have no choice but to start over if they want to upgrade to the newest version.
Magento Enterprise: Wasting Or Investing?
Magento Enterprise Edition (EE) appeared later with the growing demands of Magento users. Naturally, for the money, it charges it does have a lot to offer in terms of improved functionality and additional options you won’t get offered with the Community edition. Is the functionality you would get with this edition worth the money that you’ll pay for the year-round licence.
First things first, you will get technical support. As Magento is one of the most complicated platforms with rather steep learning curves, so it’s a good idea to have some sort of official support to refer to at any time you have questions or issues to address. The community is really helpful, however, it may take some time to get the answer you need, or find it on the community forums. With official support, you will always get the professional help you night right away.
Bug fixes are handled in pretty much the same way by the community and the 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 a lot faster than the bugs on the Community Edition.
Added features worth mentioning which differentiates free and paid Magento editions is that along with ALL the core functionalities of Magento Community version, Magento Enterprise also offers you these advanced features too:
- Prive 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 current market today. You will also get the enhances CMS functionality which allows you version control, adding banners and content hierarchy.
High level of security is another point to favour Magento Enterprise. Unlike Community, it is PA-DSS Compliant. The updates don’t cause too much trouble and don’t require that much customisation as it already includes all the functionality you can dream of. Speaking of functionality, most of the Magento extensions and modules are also paid so if you need to add some extra features to Magento Community, you will have to pay for it. You will also have to pay for the hosting service, so eventually, the free community edition required some kind of investment as well so don’t expect any Magento to be totally free, however, the opportunities you get with are worth every penny you spend.
In conclusion, you should simply evaluate the size of your business, weigh roughly the available budget and think about the future perspectives and that is how you will get your answer, so which Magento Edition suits you better?