If you need an economical ecommerce platform, it doesn’t get any better than getting one for free. Like other types of software, shopping cart software is available in open source editions that can be downloaded for free. The tradeoff, of course, is that you must create the type of platform you want by radically configuring the open source code. This is what companies do when they use Magento Community Edition (CE), a leading open source ecommerce platform.
If you have experience configuring source code or don’t mind hiring someone who does, Magento CE could be a great option. As a Magento partner for design, development, and marketing, Coalition Technologies has helped many companies successfully use Magento CE to host online stores. To help determine whether Community Edition would be a good fit for your needs, continue reading this Magento CE review to look at the benefits and drawbacks of the platform.
Pro: It’s Free
The fact that Magento CE is free is worth mentioning again, especially considering that licensing fees for Magento’s Enterprise Edition start at over $15,000 a year. Companies that need the capabilities of the Enterprise Edition but are locked in cost cutting mode are generally the type of businesses that Community Edition attracts. Regardless of your business’ financial position, preserving over $15,000 of the IT budget is nothing to be cynical about in these recessionary financial times.
Con: No Customer Support
As is the case with most open source software, an inherent disadvantage of Magento CE is that it doesn’t offer a customer support plan. While you can receive support by participating in forums dedicated Magento CE, the support you receive likely won’t come from an official Magento partner. If you don’t have much in house IT support, and you aren’t planning on working with a Magento partner, using Magento CE probably isn’t the best idea when it comes to IT support.
Pro: Multi-Store Functionality
Every Magento CE review should mention that Community Edition is optimal for companies that carry different brands in different online stores. Instead of holding multiple accounts with a shopping cart software provider, you can manage the accounts through a single provider—an arrangement that saves you time and tons of money. Magento’s multi-store functionality feature is for multi-brand enterprises and growing companies that pursue new business opportunities.
Con: Slow Site Speed
If waiting a few extra milliseconds for webpages to load makes you feel fidgety, Magento CE will either teach you patience in the computer age or make you wish you had a speedier ecommerce site. The reason for Community Edition’s slow speed is that it doesn’t provide full-page caching. Magento’s Enterprise Edition, however, does offer the feature, and is hundreds of times faster as a result. While not outright sluggish, Community Edition is slower than Magento’s other plans.
Pro: Tons of Design Themes
Community Edition gives you tons design themes to choose from— about 1,000 to be exact. 90 of the themes are free, while others can cost as much as $300. Community Edition offers the largest selection of design templates. For businesses whose online appeal is predicated on the aesthetics of a website, having a myriad of design templates to choose from can only aid in creating a compelling design. Chances are you’ll find a design you love before you see them all.
Con: Design Process is Complex
Although Community Edition offers the biggest design template selection, it requires you to have a firm understanding of the web design process to use a template effectively. However, considering that investing web design resources in an open source platform is a given, this isn’t exactly a drawback. If you get stuck on a design issue and need assistance, the Magento web design experts at Coalition Technologies will help you complete the design process.
Pro: Persistent Shopping Carts
Some ecommerce platforms have an abandoned shopping cart saver feature that sends customized emails containing coupons to customers who abandon shopping carts without buying. Magento CE lets you go a step further and preserve the shopping cart orders that were abandoned. When users return to the site, they find their carts filled with the same items. This feature essentially promotes online sales by removing a step in the buying process.
Con: Not Inherently PCI Compliant
The Payment Card Industry (PCI) has a set of Data Security Standard (DSS) requirements that payment gateways must meet to be legitimate for payment transactions. As open source software, Magento CE isn’t inherently compliant with these standards, and making it so could be a headache if you aren’t familiar with the merchant levels and guidelines that determine compliance. Coalition Technologies will assist you with making your website PCI compliant.
Pro: Excellent Flexibility
A Magento CE review typically mentions how the program has a high barrier to entry in terms of web development and programming skills. However, it’s also important to state that, if you possess these skills, or hire a Magento partner such as Coalition Technologies to implement them on your behalf, you have access to a highly flexible platform that doesn’t box you in. If you wish to change how your website looks and operates, you can do it at any point in the game.
Contact Us Today
Magento CE is one of the best open source shopping cart software packages available. For businesses that have the web development and programming resources to use the site effectively, or can hire a Magento partner to provide assistance, using Magento’s Community Edition can lead to long-term cost savings. However, the program can severely constrain businesses that are underequipped to configure and operate a complex open source platform.
As a Magento partner, Coalition Technologies is uniquely qualified to help you decide whether the platform’s Community Edition is a good option for your business. As our Magento CE review demonstrates, there are several things to consider before choosing the program or deciding to move on to another one. For more information about Magento CE and other Magento products, contact us today at (310) 827-3890, or click here to use our contact form.