If you’re not sure what makes one better than another, it’s helpful to compare them to selling through brick-and-mortar retail stores. The choices range from finding other retailers to showcase your products, to building your own standalone store from the ground up. Of course, there are lots of options in between, such as renting a store in a mall.
In today’s eCommerce landscape, many merchants start out by selling their goods through multi-tenant (rented) eCommerce platforms like Shopify, and basic open-source add-ons like WooCommerce – an eCommerce plugin for WordPress. These eCommerce solutions can really help test a market and build up revenue in a business. However, as your business scales in complexity, size, or both, you may find yourself gravitating toward Magento Open Source or Adobe Commerce. In many cases, if you have an existing offline business, you may just skip ahead to one of these platforms as well.
Is it Magento or Adobe Commerce?
In short, it’s both. Magento is available for free with open-source licensing, much like other popular website platforms, from WordPress to Drupal. Adobe, the owners of Magento, also offer a licensed version that includes some extra features that larger brands may find beneficial. This used to be known as Magento Enterprise or Magento Commerce but is now marketed as Adobe Commerce.
There are lots of videos and articles about how to choose which license is best for your business, but suffice to say, it generally comes down to a cost-benefit analysis. Both have strong merits, but by far, most merchants choose the free open-source version.
Why Do So Many Established Merchants Choose Magento?
Magento has a lot of things going for it – and that’s no accident. This platform was built to provide merchants with flexibility that other platforms still can’t rival after many years of development. Here are some of the strongest reasons why eCommerce businesses choose Magento:
As an open-source platform, you get access to Magento’s source code. You can purchase extensions to customize Magento’s features and functionality, or you can write your own. This is a big deal for businesses that want to be able to provide unique user experiences. It’s equally important for those that want to stay at the cutting edge of eCommerce. However, sometimes it’s simply about being able to meet your basic business requirements.
Many B2B merchants choose Magento for its ability to support the needs of wholesale, distribution, and other sales channels. Many international merchants and multi-brand businesses choose Magento for its ability to support multiple storefronts from one admin panel. This is a platform that will allow your developers to say “yes” to most of your requests. It’s also a platform that won’t restrict you from choosing best-in-class integrations, or penalize you for doing so.
When you download and install Magento Open Source, you’re the boss of your website. You own the customer relationships and business data. You determine the course of your business, without a software provider intervening.
This makes Magento an ideal platform for merchants that want to minimize the number of 3rd parties that have access to sensitive information. It’s also great for businesses that don’t want to run the risk of having their online store suspended or shut down by a software company. This also lessens the risk of losing access to key integrations as well.
With Magento Open Source, you’re part of a free market, not a monopoly. Your software is free, and you have a wide range of options when it comes to the vendors you work with, such as web developers and web hosts. While your baseline maintenance costs will be higher than if you’d simply rented a Software as a Service (SaaS) website, such as a Shopify site, your costs will be tied to real usage, and not random increases.
Additionally, while you’re likely to use some apps and integrations with Magento, as it’s a very robust platform you’ll often find your bill for add-ons is lower. This is especially true since Magento stores more heavily rely on Magento Extensions, which mostly have one-time purchase costs and no monthly recurring fees.
Magento is run by some of the largest B2C and B2B merchants in the world. It’s a platform that, when following hosting and coding best practices, can handle just about anything you can throw at it. That includes surges of shoppers, such as on Black Friday. It also includes the needs of integrations with your 3rd party software, such as your accounting suite, ERP, or POS solution.
Whether you choose Magento Open Source or Adobe Commerce, you’ll have plenty of room to grow your online business.
Magento has enjoyed many years as a frontrunner in the eCommerce industry. During that time, it’s built up a community that’s still tough to rival. A key differentiator is that the Magento ecosystem is strongest for mid-market and enterprise organizations, as well as fast-growing SMBs. The developers in the Magento community specialize in these market segments, as do extension builders, and app integrators.
When you use an eCommerce platform like Squarespace or WooCommerce that’s more focused on the SMB market, you can find yourself with significant limitations when it comes to add-ons and integrations.
As an open-source community, this is also an ecosystem that’s used to working together to solve problems. When you use a SaaS eCommerce platform like Shopify and find that apps that you install don’t work together, you’re often stuck. These apps are black-box products that are built for the masses. They will rarely change for an individual merchant. In the Magento world, every user’s website is, to some extent, unique. It’s common to get conflicts between Magento Extensions debugged.
Why Isn’t Magento The Right Choice For Everyone?
There are cases in which Magento may not align with your business goals and objectives.
Building and launching a Magento website requires a web developer. While some digital agencies offer accelerator packages, the average build for a Magento 2 website is into the tens of thousands of dollars.
For small businesses, such as mom-and-pop stores with traditional retail/B2C products, and direct-to-consumer (D2C) startups with a handful of products, there are do-it-yourself platforms like Squarespace, Shopify, and BigCommerce. These are software as a service (SaaS) solutions that make it easy for non-developers to set up a store themselves.
The starting price for properly maintaining a Magento website is higher than what a SaaS solution can offer. You need a developer to keep your Magento software up-to-date, such as with the latest security patches. You’ll also want web hosting that’s secure, reliable, and performant. When you add up the costs of an experienced web team or agency along with the costs of Magento web hosting that’s up to par, you’ll be looking at hundreds or thousands of dollars per month in upkeep.
Platforms like Shopify start at $29 per month + transaction fees. Startups are often better served by investing more money into marketing and growth. You can always migrate to a more personalized eCommerce platform like Magento once the numbers align.
Magento is a leader amongst the strongest eCommerce platforms on the market. Whether or not it’s the right fit for your business will come down to the complexity of the eCommerce operations, and any budget constraints.
When in doubt, it’s best to seek the advice of an agency or consultancy that’s experienced in building online stores using a variety of platforms, including Magento. They’ll be able to evaluate your business needs and help you avoid common pitfalls.
If you need help finding the right experts to chat with, be sure to take advantage of the Agency Matchmaker program from JetRails. As a company that’s dedicated to eCommerce web hosting for growing brands, we get a birds-eye view of which devs and consultants are doing great work. We’re happy to pair you up with true experts, with no strings attached. At JetRails, we believe that eCommerce success requires the right mix of great dev and tech resources, and we’re happy to pay it forward.