I have had the pleasure of working on Magento since early 2014, not the longest in the industry by any means but I have seen my share of changes.

When Magento 2 came out, with it came a new batch of features. Previously when a client was using Magento, you wanted them on Magento Enterprise so they could take advantage of all the robust features like Full Page Cache.

This year I have seen a shift in the market; a trend is starting to emerge. There has been a push to move from Commerce (formerly Enterprise) to Open Source (previously Community). There are a significant number of clients who are on Commerce and do not need to be; perhaps they were told they needed it; maybe the client thought Enterprise level software was the right approach, or maybe they did need it in a pre-COVID 19 world. Whatever the case, they are now taking stock and realizing they are not using all of these features.

Typically, when I work as a consultant or sales, I spend a lot of time getting requirements data. Doing such a deep dive allows me to figure out if the client truly needs to be on Magento, I do that before I decide what edition they need. More recently, I have found myself telling clients they do not need Commerce because the offering is just not robust enough the merit the cost.

A comparison of the two editions is here. However, the high level is that Commerce offers the following:

  • Business Intelligence
  • B2B Functionality
  • Advanced Marketing Tools
  • Content Staging
  • Customer Loyalty Tools
  • Page Builder
  • Visual Merchandising

Let’s unpack those a bit.

Business Intelligence – This is Adobe’s Sensei product. I have yet to see a company take advantage of it in a real and meaningful way. I am not saying it is not useful; it is just a niche item.

B2B Functionality – The Magento community developed this as a labor of love. I will never say it is a bad feature, but it does have some bugs. However, there are modules on the market that can offer the same feature set at a fixed cost. If it is essential to the company or they are a pure B2B business, this could be a reason to go with the Commerce edition.

Advanced Marketing Features – This is a fancy way of saying “Promo tools” there are dozens of modules on the market that offer nearly the same functionality at a pittance of the price. To say nothing of useful integrations with a provider like Listrak, Dot Digital, or the like would not do wonders.

Content Staging – Just typing the words makes me grumpy. In the days of yore, there was one column to rule them all in the Magento Database. That column was called “entity_id,” then in a sweeping decision, paying no regard for semantic versioning Magento (pre-Adobe) decided to add this gem. It broke nearly every Commerce integration and made the two versions utterly alien to one another as far as the database was concerned. This single feature racks up the price on doing an M1 -> Migration.

Customer Loyalty Tools – This is an attempt at making a straight forward feature seem more than it is. These are rewards points. It has other components, but they are all in the same vein. There are modules out there that do this (though some are better than others). While Customer Loyalty Tools is a commonly used feature, if it is critical to the business, this would be a reason to go with Commerce.

Page Builder – Right out of the gate, I am not going to speak negatively on this feature. It is a fantastic tool to give clients a chance to take control of their CMS content, without needing the involvement of a developer. However, this is not a module that is worth moving to Commerce for alone, it is a “nice to have” in most of the situations I have seen.

Visual Merchandising – This is a feature I admit with which I have the least experience. I have never seen a client take advantage of it, and I think that is because it flies under the radar. It can be quite useful as it can take advantage of the way people shop online.

So of the seven features (there are other items such as more payment methods) that are exclusive to the Commerce edition, many of them can be replicated with modules off the shelf. This can lead to extra costs, problems with compatibility, issues with updates later on, but it can be done. The question is always what works for the merchant at hand.

As I said when I started this, lately I have seen a lot of clients want to do a downgrade. Doing a downgrade can be quite tricky as it is different for every client; one thing for sure, it is not a small endeavor. Content Staging alone makes the databases incompatible with one another.

With the end of life for Magento 1 coming at the end of this month, merchants are scrambling to figure out if they want to upgrade. It is not a question of if you need to upgrade, but when. The answer to that is, as soon as possible.

Several of the top hosting providers are already feeling the pressure, they are getting inundated with new quests, and the backlog is filling up. Merchants I have talked to are confused about what it means for their business.

To those merchants I say this:

  1. Do not panic and take measured steps.
  2. It is critical to upgrade as you are one vulnerability away from liability.
  3. Hire a consultant or an expert in the industry to help you navigate this process, do not just rely on an agency, get someone who works for you to go to bat for you.
  4. Make sure that the consultant evaluates all of the platforms available to you.
  5. The sooner, the better, last week would have been best.

Magento Commerce Cloud is not a cheap product, nor is it a poorly made product; it is priced in such a way that it can be prohibitive to smaller companies. Basing the price on the revenue model punishes low volume, high cart value merchants that are B2B cruelly. Instead, those companies need to look to providers like Jetrails, Nexcess, or one of the many others (I am in no way compensated for suggestions).

For some businesses, Magento is the wrong answer for them entirely. Big Commerce is an excellent option for the middle market, and for the smaller market, Shopify is making huge inroads, such as their recent deal with Wal Mart.

Every client has to do what is best for them. On the heels of the recent health crisis, the cash accounts of many companies are low. There are still options out there for merchants of all sizes. You just have to consider what you need.

I hope everyone weathers this storm safely and sees success in their business models. Any company can feel free to reach out to me about any questions that arise from this writing; I am happy to give advice, sometimes even free information.

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