Magento is a great choice, but merchants need to think carefully about which Magento edition they will use. It basically comes down to what their online ambitions are. Vaimo, one of the leading providers of e-commerce solutions on the Magento platform, offers guidance.

E-commerce continues to grow by double digits each year. Business-to-consumer e-commerce sales topped in 2012 for the first time $1 trillion worldwide and is expected to grow to $1.8 trillion in 2016, according to eMarketer.

More than 150 000 merchants around the world use Magento as the platform on which to market and sell their products and services. For them, and for new merchants considering Magento, the key question to answer is whether to use Magento Community Edition or Magento Enterprise Edition. 

It’s an important question that has long-term implications for total cost of ownership as well as the merchant’s ability to expand its business. The below handy guide aims to make it easier to choose between the two Magento editions.

Magento Community Edition: Free, but no support from Magento and limited space to grow

Magento Community Edition uses open source technology to provide merchants with a platform that is quick to deploy and easy to use. The content, look and feel can all be customised. Updates can be downloaded, and modules and features added either by installing extensions from Magento Connect, an online marketplace of e-commerce solutions developed on the Magento platform or by using solution provider's developers help. Vaimo recommends the later option in order to avoid problems with the installation.These additions would obviously attract extra cost. 

On the plus side, Community Edition offers merchants a risk-free opportunity to test the e-commerce environment using a best-of-breed platform with no upfront licence costs. It can be upgraded to Enterprise Edition later, although there would be costs involved. 

Community Edition does sometimes have performance issues, and will need to be tuned to optimise performance. However, merchants need to bear in mind that it is completely unsupported by Magento as the vendor. 

“If e-commerce is not mission-critical for your business, your business has relatively few SKUs (stock-keeping units) on the site and the site gets relatively few visitors, the Community Edition could be right for you,” says Brendan Peo, COO at Vaimo. “However, those who need comprehensive support, a greater range of features and built-in performance enhancement should consider Magento Enterprise Edition."

Magento Enterprise Edition: Pay for quality and future growth

Merchants who are more serious about e-commerce should consider purchasing Magento Enterprise Edition. It’s scalable and grows with the business, and also offers 24/7 support as part of the deal. The software is truly a “business in a box” because it incorporates e-commerce best practices, features and modules that give the user an automatic head start. 

Like its smaller brother, Enterprise Edition is built on open source technology; it’s easy to use and quick to deploy. And although it offers best-in-class feature and support, Enterprise Edition costs a fraction of competing proprietary platforms. 

So, is Enterprise Edition right for your business? Here are a number of points to consider:

1. Do you want a senior or junior sales person?

Magento is more than a technology platform—it’s another member of your sales team. Perhaps the most important member. Opting for Community Edition is like hiring a junior sales person—the upfront costs are less, but you have to invest in training and supervision. Enterprise Edition, however, operates like a seasoned veteran, with revenue-boosting features built in. For example, it has the intelligence to offer a customer the right product at the right time, and allows to personalise the shopping experience—something that digital shoppers are coming to expect. 

Vaimo's recommendation: If your online presence is expected to generate more than $ 1 000 000  revenue, it is worth investing into the senior sales person—Magento Enterprise Edition. 

2. How important is your e-commerce site’s performance?

Research shows that there is a strong correlation between a site’s performance and conversion. The e-commerce industry’s rule of thumb is that each second a page takes to load reduces the conversion rate by 10 percent. 

A site’s performance is affected by its catalogue size, the number of visitors using it at any one time and order volumes.

Vaimo's recommendation: Performance is vital, and thus it’s important to consider carefully the following guidelines when deciding between Community and Enterprise Edition.



      Magento Community Edition

       Magento Enterprise Edition


      0-10 000

       10 001 upwards

Daily online orders


       51 upwards

Daily visitors

      0-5 000

       5 001 upwards


3. How important is increased revenue?

Although Magento Community Edition has loads of features, Magento Enterprise Edition has many more. It could be worth investing in Enterprise Edition upfront rather than facing the expense of developing add-ons for the Community Edition later. 

Vaimo's recommendation: If you need or will soon need three or more of the following features, then it's worth investing into Enterprise Edition from the start: 

- Reward point system.

- Gift certificates / cards (physical and virtual).

- Customer segmentation.

- Customer store credits.

- Gift Registries.

- Personalisation (targeted promotions and merchandising).

- Private (club) sales including events, invitations and site access permissions.

- Return management authorisation.

- Search with Solr (alternative search engine).

- Highly tuned page performance with full page caching.

- Automated email marketing reminders.

- Assisted shopping. Manage customer carts and more via the admin panel.

- Product suggestion tools.

- Dynamic customer database (attribute) management.

- Add to cart by SKU.

- Enhanced content management system.

- Category view and purchase permissions per customer group (limited catalog access)

4. How important is support from Magento?

Though Vaimo provides support to customers using Community Edition, it is unsupported by Magento as the vendor, so merchants need to weigh up how critical their e-commerce channel is. Magento Enterprise Edition comes with guaranteed support levels, and there is also warranty and indemnification protection. 

Vaimo's recommendation: If the e-commerce channel is important and you have limited internal IT support capabilities, choose the peace of mind that comes with Enterprise Edition. 

5. How important are eCommerce platform administration features?

Magento Enterprise Edition has several strong security, administration and control features—features absent from Community Edition. 

Vaimo's recommendation: If there are three or more of the following features required, then it's worth investing into Enterprise Edition: 

- Scheduled export/import functionality. Import and export product catalogue data either locally or from remote servers. Configure for error handling, status reporting and backup.

- Backup and roll back. Manage and schedule a variety of backup operations with the option to roll back the changes to reverse any modifications. This feature is particularly useful when testing new modules or customisations, or when upgrading to a new version. You can view specific customisations and their impact on the new code. 

- Administrator permission roles on website and store level. Restrict access roles so that staff can view only relevant data. 

- Price and promotion permission. Create and control multiple admin roles for reading and editing prices and promotions.

- Logging of administrator actions. Track and review all actions taken by administrator users, with the ability to see views, edits and deletions of information. Logs are associated to specific administrator users, with the ability to see the action taken, when it was made and more.

- Category view and purchase permissions per customer group. Manage viewing of purchasing items access by customer group. Access can be controlled globally or by specific category.

- Order archiving. Increase store performance and provide efficiencies in store management through an order-archiving module, enabling merchants to archive orders after a configurable time. Orders are still available to both administrators and customers, while providing increased performance by storing historical orders in an archive.

- Payment Application Data Security Standard (PA-DSS) compliance. Magento Secure Payment Bridge is a PA-DSS certified payment application, enabling merchants to efficiently attain compliance to the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council with minimum cost and effort. Customers will also be able to save their credit card information securely for future transactions.

- Strong security. Cyber-crime is on the rise. Magento Enterprise Edition offers great protection via strong data encryption based on AES-256 and strong hashing based on SHA-256. Database keys are easily managed and updated.

“If you’re a company that sees a big future in online retail, wants to put all the building blocks in place now—with the minimum technical input, then Magento Enterprise Edition should very definitely be on your radar,” says Peo.

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