Choosing the right ecommerce solution for your small business can be hard.  There are brand name services like Yahoo Merchant, heavyweights like BigCommerce, Shopify and Volusion, and less familiar platforms like OpenCart.  So when you come across a company like Magento that offers three ecommerce solutions – Magento Go, Magento Enterprise, and Magento Community – you can be forgiven for being confused and overwhelmed.

With Magento, it’s important to select the right platform.  You don’t want to regret that choice when you’re halfway into design and development.  Our in-depth comparison of Magento’s platforms will set you on the right course.

Self-hosted or Hosted

Magento ecommerce solutions are designed for two types of businesses – those that want an efficient hosted solution and those that want a flexible self-hosted solution.  Magento Go enjoys the former while Magento Community and Enterprise enjoy the latter.

If you choose this self-hosted path (Community or Enterprise), then you need to find the right hosting software too.  As a small to mid-size business, you may think that the cheapest solution like a HostGator or GoDaddy is the smartest choice, but you would be mistaken.  Going cheap on your hosting spells trouble for your business down the road.  While those hosting platforms aren’t necessarily bad, you need the most dependable and reliable hosting services available.  For the best hosting services, we recommend the following approved Magento partners:  Hostway, Peer1, and Rackspace.

Magento Go, on the other hand, was launched in early 2011 as a hosted solution for those businesses that lack the knowledge and resources to handle all the intricacies of a self-hosted option.  If that’s you, Magento Go solves your problems by offering a user-friendly program that has all the hosting, support, security, and rich features expected from an ecommerce company.

Understanding Limitations

For many small businesses, the word “small” is satisfactory.  So when it comes to a limit of 10,000 SKUs, a server bandwidth up to 32GB, and solely English-language support, Magento Go has everything these small businesses need, if not more than enough.  If you fit in that bucket, using Magento Go means you can spend more of your time focusing on other important tasks, like tracking inventory and customer orders, building relationships and an online brand, and devising new marketing promotions.

If you think your business will require more bandwidth, HDD storage, SKUs, languages, admin accounts, and even stores, then Magento Go is a no go.  Magento Community is only limited by your own technical capabilities, so the sky is the limit.  You can sell your products in Farsi, make 15,000 trinkets available, and run on a dedicated, optimized server like the ones mentioned above so customers never complain about slow page loads.  This same limitless nature applies to Magento Enterprise, although with Magento leading the way, it’s more of a guided experience than a liberating one.

Nothing In Life Is Free

The monthly cost of Magento Go is quite clear and depends on your purchase plan (from $15 to $125 per month).  The cost of Magento Enterprise is also relatively straightforward, with the annual fee starting at $15,550 (or $49,990 for the premium version).

However, the price of one Magento product can be a bit misleading:  Magento Community.  Yes, it’s completely free to download the source code and if you’re really technical you can develop a full website with only time as your cost.  However, most people require the assistance of Magento Community’s customization extensions and each one of these has a cost – a cost that adds up quick.  So while Magento Community is technically free, the add-ons are not.  The same applies to outside needs, such as development resources (if you hire a team or agency) and server space acquisition – these are big costs you have to consider too.   Note that this is not a bad thing; it’s just important to know before you move forward.

The Support System

What is the biggest challenge to using Magento Community’s “free” source code?  Zero support.  If your business is loaded with code-loving developers, then the flexible, powerful, and sophisticated options available with Magento Community may outweigh the need for any support system.  Just remember, you can’t rely on anyone else but yourself or the friendly online community to fix an issue.

That’s why many small businesses choose Magento Go.  While the level of support varies based upon purchase plan, the support received is usually sufficient for most.  Larger businesses will feel the same about choosing Magento Enterprise – you may be paying a lot of money, but you’re getting that high level of support you wouldn’t get with any other package.

The support provided to companies wanting to engage in B2B practically parallels the service support mentioned above.  Magento Community is primarily designed for B2C and requires expensive third-party add-ons to manage any B2B work.  Magento Go is mainly B2C and offers limited B2B capabilities (often enough for small businesses) while Magento Enterprise gives full B2C and B2B support (ideal for larger businesses).

Making The Choice

Based on the comparisons above, you should already have a general idea of which Magento platform might work best for your online business.  To help make your choice even easier, see where your company fits:

Magento Go – best for a small business with a small non-technical team, mainly focused on B2C, who needs less than 10K SKUs.

Magento Enterprise – best for a mid- to large-sized business lacking developers, who do B2C or B2B, expect high traffic volume, and can easily handle annual fees above $15-20K.

Magento Community – best for a small or mid-sized business with a strong development team and a desire for flexibility.  For the ultimate package, choose Community and team up with a website design and development agency to make your dream website become a reality!

Hopefully it’s a no-brainer.  Of course, once you pick your Magento platform, the next step is developing and designing your store.  If you want to be successful with Magento, you need a partner that can help you distinguish your e-store, build your brand, optimize for search engines, and develop strategic marketing plans.  Go with an agency like LeapGo for custom Magento designs and turn your Magento estore into an online success story!

Do you have any additional suggestions for selecting a Magento ecommerce platform?  We love hearing your thoughts!

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Published On: September 17th, 2013 / Categories: Website Development /

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