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Since launching in 2008, Magento has established itself as one of the most powerful e-commerce platforms on the market. With two editions – Community and Enterprise – it offers different levels for different requirements. The obvious appeal of the Community edition is it is free, but many businesses actually find Community better than Enterprise because it better suits their needs. The fact of the matter is both have their benefits. To choose which is best for you, you need to know your requirements and what both versions offer.

Community Edition

Created as open source software, the Community edition is offered for free. Users are able to make changes with it in order to best meet their requirements; indeed, many have already developed their own extensions and other ways to customise it. Easy to use and with online support forums, many small businesses find that Community more than meets their needs. There are a host of tips and tricks that have been discovered to make the Community Edition more powerful to be found in the discussion forum, which is conveniently, where the free edition can be downloaded from at any time. It is a state of the art platform, available for free and is accordingly, very popular.

Enterprise Edition

Whilst the appeal is obvious, a great deal of Community Edition users find the free platform is not enough. The Magento Enterprise Edition was created to offer more customisability and other advanced features. Simply, Enterprise has more functions. The most obvious difference is this version is backed by support from the Magento team. Operating to a higher level of e-commerce, Enterprise is offered by subscription, and comes with a service level agreement. This means that subscribers get full support from a team they can always reach via phone or email. Security updates are included in the price, which starts from under $15,000 PA. It is obviously relatively expensive, however if more suited to your e-commerce needs, it can lead to a fast return on investment.

Key differences

The Community Edition doesn’t come with credit card tokenisation or highly secured payment bridges which are required by banks and card companies. The Enterprise edition has more robust security features, including a PA-DSS payment bridge which meets required safety standards in the industry.

Performance wise, a lot of users don’t realize that Community is actually faster than a lot of other software in the market place. The features meet many basic business needs; that said, businesses requiring more modules may find that the paid for version actually ends up being more cost effective. It is worth noting that some Enterprise features can be built by adding extensions to the existing free version, but this isn’t always recommended.

Both Community and the Enterprise have the same core, but the paid version offers more advanced features: enhanced catalog and content management system, customer segmentation and targeted offers, return management authorisation, pricing and promotion permission, assisted shopping and call centre software and more.

Which version is right for you?

Both versions are powerful and valuable platforms for e-commerce operations. Enterprise costs a considerable amount of money, but there are no plans for adding Enterprise’s advanced features to the free version. When choosing, take into account cost, performance, security and functionality; but also think about not only your current requirements, but your future plans. From there, it is down to you to work out which edition suits your business best. If you’d like some help making that decision, please get in touch for an informal chat today.