Myth: Magento Open Source is always better value than Magento Enterprise

Amanda Mulquiney-Birbeck
Amanda Mulquiney-BirbeckDigital Marketing Manager
27 Aug 2019


Many businesses that want to get up and running with an Ecommerce operation often turn to Magento Open Source and for good reasons - you can get started relatively quickly with a basic website and with minimal up-front costs. If you’re new to Ecommerce and have a limited budget (and even if you’re not) it can seem like a no-brainer. But for growing or enterprise Ecommerce businesses the costs can be complicated, and Magento Commerce may turn out to be a more cost-effective solution overall.

In this article, we debunk the myth that Magento Open Source is always better value than Magento Enterprise/Commerce. The truth is that free is more expensive than you might think.

Myth #1: Magento Open Source isn’t always faster (or cheaper) to implement

For those of you who aren’t aware, Magento Open Source is a free, downloadable, Ecommerce platform. You can get up and running relatively fast with minimal up-front costs. However, Magento Open Source can take time to implement, especially if you’re installing it yourself. And it may not have all the features you need. You’ll have to sort out an agency or employ a qualified Magento developer to configure additional features and to increase your speed to market.

Due to its limited scalability and functionality, typically Magento Open Source is perfect for smaller businesses looking to experiment and learn how to build an Ecommerce operation. To discover the biggest drawbacks of Magento Open Source download the full report here.

Magento Commerce (previously known as the Enterprise Edition) is the premium version of Magento. Now named Magento Commerce – it is often chosen where the open-source version doesn’t quite cut it. Whether you need more advanced revenue-boosting features, increased scalability or customised features, Magento Commerce is typically used by larger online organisations. As such the Enterprise Edition is the paid-for version of Magento. Magento Commerce is trusted the world over by some of the world’s biggest brands down to independent boutiques.

We often get asked, “can’t I bridge the gap between Open Source and Commerce using 3rd Party Extensions?” when proposing Magento Commerce 2. It is a well-known fact that Magento 1 Community (Open Source) is the biggest competitor for Magento 1 Commerce (Enterprise). With ample Extensions available in the Marketplace, there is sometimes little between the two platforms when comparing bespoke functionality.

However, with Magento 2 Enterprise/Commerce, the out-of-the-box differences are vast. Magento Commerce comes with a full range of features and express packages out-of-the box.

If you go down the open-source route, any customisations and add-ons will require technical expertise and will naturally add additional budget to the project. These costs can escalate over time.

According to Forrester Research as many as 43% of companies underestimate the cost of their Ecommerce platform.

It's also worth noting that developers of 3rd Party Extensions for Magento Open Source are not obligated to maintain their modules when updates to Magento are released, nor are they expected to ensure that their extension works with other 3rd party code. This opens-up the potential for vulnerabilities and incompatibilities which can cause serious problems in the long term. It also means you might be left high and dry if you’re using an Extension which becomes unsupported and you need to update Magento to the latest release.

Would it be more cost-effective for you to implement Magento Commerce, where many of these customisations come as standard?

Myth #2 – You can provide just as strong online experience on Magento Open Source as Commerce

In today’s competitive retail landscape, one of the sure-fire ways to stand out is by creating a seamless, connected customer experience. But an excellent online experience is more than appealing front-end design and a snazzy user interface. You need to consider ‘everything behind the buy button’ too – from payment providers, inventory management and fulfilment workflows. With Magento Open Source, it’s likely that you’ll be managing your customer service, payments, inventory, fulfilment and warehouse management on disparate, unconnected systems. As your Ecommerce business grows, you’re likely to face tough inventory management and fulfilment challenges.

As a result, with Magento Open Source, you may need to spend time (and money) testing and customising your backend system. However, if you’re on Magento Commerce you can configure and integrate with either Magento’s order management software or more broad Ecommerce order management solutions such as Maginus OMS. To scale your Ecommerce operation, it’s crucial to have an integrated order management system that’s able to support your business now and also meet your future needs – drop-shop vendors, multiple warehouses, brands and fulfilment such as click and collect and so on. This will allow you to deliver an outstanding customer experience that your customers expect and stand out against the competition. The inability to integrate multiple channels and marketplaces in one platform without a lot of custom code can cost you more than you realise….

For this reason, upgrading to Magento Commerce might be better value in the long run. Bearing in mind that if you choose to go down the open-source route, you could be overloading the solution with 3rd party Extensions which could have a negative impact on performance and security. This could also have a knock-on effect on your user experience, reputation and online revenue.

Whereas, new functionality becomes available in every iteration of Magento Commerce, and this can be used by you at no additional cost. Creating the same new functionality in Open Source could cost tens of thousands of pounds - and take many months to implement.


Myth #3 – Magento Open Source can scale just as quickly as Magento Commerce

Magento open source can scale to support very large Ecommerce operations. However, you’ll need to optimise your Ecommerce solution with new functionality, features and third-party extensions. This all takes time. Whereas, Magento Commerce is built for rapid scalability, so you can “turn on” new features that are built in. For example, if you add a country-specific website you can take advantage of international shipping options immediately.

International expansion and adding cross-border functionality is an effective way to dramatically increase revenue. We often find it’s a key part of our customer’s growth strategies. However, it’s a complex process that requires an understanding of each country’s unique tax, privacy and other regulations. Many entry-level Ecommerce platforms simply cannot cope with the demands of multi-currency and multi-language sites.

While you can write custom code for your own commerce features, it can be time-consuming and expensive. If you go down the open-source route, any customisations and add-ons will require technical expertise and will naturally add additional budget to the project.

With Magento Commerce, you can add new countries and brands faster and with less risk of missed opportunities, compared with Magento Open Source.

Myth #4 – Magento Open Source offers the same performance as Magento Commerce

As you grow and market your business more aggressively, you may see a surge in traffic, particularly over peak shopping seasons such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the festive period. But all your marketing effort will be wasted if your Ecommerce platform cannot handle an unexpected influx of visitors. It’s worth considering the cost of downtime to your online business. What would the financial impact be on your bottom-line if your site went down?

With Open Source – you are responsible for managing your infrastructure. Is it worth taking the risk of your Ecommerce operation grinding to a halt, leaving shoppers to turn to your competitors? What’s more, website crashes can turn customers off and lead to a negative buzz.

With Magento Commerce, you get dedicated account management and technical and security support 24/7 guaranteed. This means you can spend less time trouble-shooting and more time making the most out of your Ecommerce solution.

You’ll also be working with partners who are certified to build solutions on Magento Commerce must meet a level of competency and customer satisfaction in order to receive their certification. This gives you peace of mind that the people implementing your site know what they’re doing and are working according to Magento’s best practice guidelines.

It’s a common myth that “Magento Open Source offers the same performance as Magento Commerce”. The truth is with Magento Commerce, you have significantly less risk of website crashes and slow site speeds due to surges in traffic.

For an in-depth comparison of built-in functionality to compare Magento Open-source vs Enterprise/ Magento Commerce. Download our latest report, "Magento: Commerce vs Open Source".



About Maginus

For retailers – big and small – for whom success depends on growing online, we provide what it takes to sell better online. We do this by delivering class-leading Ecommerce websites that drive online growth and sales fulfilment solutions that facilitate next day delivery and customer service excellence.

We are independent and technology-agnostic but with close partnerships to several leading technology companies so we can always recommend the most appropriate platform for our customers' needs.

With a 20-year heritage in technology implementations, we take pride in helping our customers achieve long term benefits from the solutions we provide. We can do this, because we've done it before, for people just like you.