What Nobody is Telling You About Using Magento as an Enterprise eCommerce Platform

What Nobody is Telling You About Using Magento as an Enterprise eCommerce Platform

There’s nothing quite like launching and managing a true enterprise eCommerce experience. From the very first day, you’re dealing with high traffic levels, an influx of customer and potential customer data, abandoned carts, customer support requests — and of course, a flood of orders that need to be processed.

It’s safe to say that in such a hectic digital environment, you don’t want to be relying on a flimsy eCommerce platform.

Magento (and more specifically, Magento Commerce) has proven to be a popular choice for enterprise eCommerce brands. According to Salmon, Magento accounts for 31.4 percent of top 100,000 eCommerce sites.

But as medium and large brands continue to experience the pressure of selling in the IoT era, selecting an enterprise eCommerce platform needs to be more than a numbers game. I this article, we’re exploring some key issues to consider before investing (heavily!) into Magento Commerce.


Magento opensource vs. Magento commerce

First things first, an enterprise needs to know the difference between Magento Commerce and Magento Opensource.

  • Magento Opensource: Formerly known as Magento Community, Magento Opensource The free version of Magento that can be downloaded, customized, and self-hosted.
  • Magento Commerce: Formerly, Magento Commerce came in two versions, Magento Enterprise and Magento Enterprise Cloud. Those two versions have been unified, leaving us with Magento Commerce, a premium version of Magento Opensource that includes cloud-hosting as part of the subscription fee.

Magento Opensource is available for everyone to download free of charge. It’s an open source platform that is free to use and you’re able to extend and configure the platform as you please. Also, Opensource users have access to a vast range of extensions and themes and are supported by a growing community.

Magento Commerce on the other hand, is a premium version with prices starting from $22,000 per year if you’re using Magento 2. However, this fee rises If your company’s GMV (Gross Merchandise Value) is more than $1 million.

As you’d expect, Magento Commerce gives you more functionality, including advanced marketing features, customer reward programs and targeted promotions. Plus, you get 24/7 support from Magento’s technical team.

Magento Commerce customers can also decide between an on-premise deployment and a cloud-hosted solution. The latter carries an even heftier price tag but gives you a cloud-hosted environment, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of a SaaS eCommerce solution.

But even then, using Magento Commerce has some drawbacks that an ambitious enterprise should consider.

Building an eCommerce site? Ask your agency these questions.


The disadvantages of Magento as an enterprise eCommerce platform


1. Ongoing costs

Even though Magento Opensource does not require you to pay a minimum yearly fee of $22,000 a year, it does require you to undergo updates, development and integration from time to time. And those are just the upfront costs — you’ll also have to factor in the hidden costs of running an on-premise website.

Magento regularly rolls out patches and security updates which needs to be manually installed. And believe me, the manual installation process is not as straightforward as you like it to be. You’re better off getting support to help you manage and install the updates, but this would come at a cost. You would need to hire Magento specialists or refer to official Magento support, which does not come cheap.

2. Needy technology

Do you want to manage technology, or use it? If you’re using Magento Commerce edition, you’ll find that it’s based on an old approach of “download and customize”. Not only does that take time, but it also takes technical knowledge — which again, may cost you a pretty penny if you want your eCommerce experience to be bespoke and enterprise-grade.

This approach from Magento also saps your attention and energy away from the activities that will help you scale your business. Instead, you will be forced to worry about managing the technology and running updates as and when required.

3. The support sinkhole

Magento has 1,300 open and ongoing support tickets. So if you run into issues, you may be waiting in line for quite some time before you find a solution.

If you want to bypass official Magento support (which you’d be paying for handsomely) your ongoing support costs will rise even further, as independent Magento support specialists charge hefty fees.

4. Magento is just an eCommerce solution — but that’s not enough for an enterprise

Here’s a vital point that’s often overlooked (before it’s too late, that is).

Magento is a stellar eCommerce platform, but that’s pretty much all it is. But in today’s eCommerce climate, to even stand a slim chance against the eCommerce giants like Amazon, you need so much more than just an eCommerce platform.

The modern consumer isn’t satisfied with just a product page and some on-site reviews. They want content in abundance before they even consider a purchase. They want walkthroughs, unboxing videos, documentation, third-party reviews, and more. Bottomline, they want an omnichannel experience. In fact, according to data compiled by MineWhat.com, 81 percent of consumers conduct online research before buying anything.

Oh, and you’ll also need to monitor your website’s analytics, collect customer data within a CRM, build landing pages for your ad campaigns and execute email marketing campaigns on a regular basis. Magento was built to do none of the above.

5. Updates, migrations and headaches

Running Magento means you must undergo an endless cycle of updates. And as mentioned before, running these maintenance procedures is not a straightforward task. Plus, you would eventually have to migrate to the newest version of Magento, whenever they decide to roll that out. For example, currently, Magento 1 users are experiencing the pain of having to migrate to Magento 2.

Magento 1 users have to either migrate to Magento 2 or replatform completely, as it was announced that Magento would not be providing support for Magento 1 after June 2022 (previously, it was November 2018, but this was extended).

As you can imagine, the migration process isn’t easy or cheap. Many developers who have migrated to Magento 2 have commented on the difficulty of the move, as many Magento 1 themes and extensions are incompatible with Magento 2.

6. It’s open source

We’ve already had our say on the open source vs closed source debate, but let’s briefly revisit this issue.

As an open source platform, Magento gives users the ability to customize the code in any way they like. That may sound great at first, but when you consider issue #5 mentioned previously, having a highly-customized, bespoke back-end will make your life even more difficult when it comes to inevitably migration or replatforming.

Plus, if you stray too far away from commonly used theme and extensions that aren’t peer-reviewed or tested for usability, you’ll risk breaking your entire eCommerce environment.

If you opt for a closed source enterprise eCommerce solution, you can still build a custom site with the help of the software vendor or an agency, but it will be done within the limits of the software, avoiding breakage and future headaches. Plus, closed source platforms have a much healthier track record when it comes to security.

7. Magento isn’t built for the IoT era

As more IoT devices emerge, online merchants have to ask themselves a critical question: how are we going to sell products and publish content on all these new channels?

The answer is through a headless commerce platform — which can headlessly deliver products, content and other assets to Amazon Echos, smartwatches, digital signage and everywhere in between.

Sure, Magento Commerce has APIs to help deliver content to a broad range of channels, but as previously mentioned, Magento is just an eCommerce solution — it was never meant to manage a brand’s omnichannel strategy across all touchpoints. So, at best, you’ll get an inconsistent experience because you’ll have to draft in additional technology to plug the gaps left by Magento. Hardly ideal when brands like Amazon are providing seamlessly enjoyable shopping experiences.

If you want to scale your eCommerce business, check out our guide.


Consider your options before using Magento as an enterprise eCommerce platform

We won’t deny that Magento is a stellar eCommerce solution, but will argue that it’s not the best commerce solution when you factor in things like:

  1. Ongoing costs
  2. Ongoing maintenance
  3. The mountain on unsolved customer support tickets
  4. The issue of continual updates and migrations
  5. Magento’s lack of supporting technology
  6. Magento’s open source nature
  7. The lack of native headless content management features

From our perspective, we feel that brands should at least consider their options before coughing up at least $22,000 for a versioned product that doesn’t provide solutions for today’s omnichannel world.

But hey, what do we know — we’re just Core dna, a humble, all-in-one commerce and digital experience platform with all the tools an enterprise will ever need.

Building an eCommerce site? Ask your agency these questions.
Sam Saltis

Sam Saltis

An entrepreneur at heart with over 20+ years of experience in building internet software, growing online companies and managing product development.

Loves all things SaaS, technology, and startups.

You can find him feeding his beloved fish when he's back in Australia.

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