In the Ring: Magento’s Enterprise Edition vs. Community Edition
We get asked a lot of questions over here at Binary Anvil, but hands down, the one we are asked most often is how to compare Magento’s Enterprise Edition and Community Edition. It’s a broad topic with many areas of possible discussion, but rather than try to cover it all, we feel it best to highlight some of the main differentiating factors that lead us to recommend Enterprise Edition over Community Edition to almost every organization we encounter.
Nearly every client we work with requires several key functional elements that Enterprise Edition provides natively. While some of these features can be created in Community Edition with the help of custom coding and extensions, they will never be as robust as what you’ll find in Enterprise Edition. The cost of development of these customizations and the cost of ongoing support to maintain and enhance them over time can dramatically exceed the cost of Magento Enterprise licensing.
The ability to use customer groups to separate tiers into groups that have their own price lists, catalog segments, and content uniquely available to that group. This allows you to truly provide unique behaviors to different classes of customers and even key individual customers in an upgrade safe, extensible way.
The ability to create and define custom fields and elements on a customer record to support unique pieces of information without breaking upgrade compatibility. This is crucial for sites that sell Business to Business (B2B) in particular or those who want to conditionally allow things like purchase orders, payment terms, etc for some customers without enabling such options for all.
These are hugely important for those who have restricted access information or purchasing rules. Companies that use flash sales or who want to create secondary branded sites that provide restricted access to unique customer groups will leverage this heavily.
Expanded and Enhanced Promotional Pricing Engine
While both solutions offer some form of pricing, promotion and discount support, Enterprise Edition’s rules based engine is not only superior in functionality, but scales much better under load without having to compromise full page caching, etc. for dynamic behavior associated with campaigns.
Reward Points, Store Credits, RMA (Returns) Processing, Gift Registry, and Gifting Options
All of these things help a business expand the ‘stickiness’ of their relationship with a customer and expand account value while decreasing customer service needs. Not only are these natively available out of the box, they can be easily extended and incorporated into a company’s unique business model to provide some truly unique experiences.
Enterprise Edition has a vastly superior content management editor and tool that allows non-programmers to author and expand content to support marketing campaigns and share company information and other non-transactional content that would otherwise require a developer to not only build up front, but maintain consistently over time. This is a HUGE difference in that we have seen companies who literally spend dozens if not hundreds of hours a month having their web designers constantly adding, editing and modifying pages including code in order to keep up with the pace of content changes and additions. Can’t that resource time and money be better spent?
Assisted Shopping, MAP Pricing, and Administration Tools
Customer Service teams dramatically benefit from these features, as they enable a Customer Service Representative to efficiently support an end customer. The ability to help a customer finish an order, provide better upsell and cross sell functionality and quickly and easily manage their order history, order management, etc is a huge benefit for this group of users.
And for those customers who want to consolidate many different sales applications used by CSRs, inside sales, field sales, outside reps, etc into a single application that leverages rules based security to control each user’s unique access within that administration panel – Enterprise Edition is your only option unless you want to spend weeks or months hacking up the core code of Community Edition to try and make a poor man’s version.
While Enterprise Edition has always benefited from full page caching and other optimizations that allow it to scale much faster than Community Edition, the 1.13.x series and beyond of the Magento Enterprise Edition releases have taken it to a much deeper level. In general, we’ve noticed that any Community Edition site with meaningful visitor load and order volume requires two to three times the server infrastructure than that of an Enterprise Edition site. Take into account the cost of additional hardware—not to mention the time and resources required to administer and manage it—and you’ll see that Enterprise Edition pays for itself in performance gains alone. If you are a company seeing 15% growth per year or better, you absolutely need to look at Enterprise Edition to make sure you have the capacity to support demand without having to build your own web farm over time.
Support and Product Enhancements
Magento has spent millions of dollars building, enhancing, and supporting Enterprise Edition. They continue to invest heavily, delivering at least two major releases per year (plus incremental point releases at times). No combination of extensions or plugins designed to improve Community Edition will meet or exceed this investment. Equally important to note is that the introduction of high volumes of extensions created in an attempt to mimic Enterprise Edition’s native functionality only ensures that ongoing maintenance and upgrades will be more cumbersome, expensive, and impossible in some cases (depending on the extensions introduced). Add to this the fact that Magento provides base technical support for Enterprise Edition for core product bugs or issues, and it becomes easier to see that Enterprise Edition provides a more stable and predictably scalable solution for a business over time.
Business to Business—Enterprise is the Way to Go
For companies who sell B2B only or sell both B2B and B2C, Enterprise Edition is the only way to go. The need for multiple price lists, including grouped accounts, quoting support, variable payment options and terms by client, the ability to support requested ship dates and scheduled shipments, etc. while not having significant performance degradation really leaves only one option. Community Edition is too limited to be an effective platform for any meaningful volume of B2B transaction.
The list of differentiators between Enterprise Edition and Community Edition is long, but we think this short synopsis is a great place to start for those considering which platform is best for them. We invite you to contact us any time to help you evaluate your specific needs.
Binary Anvil is an award winning Magento Partner. Please contact us at any time to discuss this or any other Magento question or need you have.