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December 4, 2014

Why Magento Enterprise?

As Magento Gold Solution Partners, we have been developing on Magento Community and Enterprise since 2008 and have a wealth of experience of both. They are both great solutions and we feel they really lead the market for functionality and the ability to customise.

So this leads to the question of, if Community is so good, why pay for Enterprise?’. This is a fair question as Magento Enterprise has an annual subscription cost whereas Magento Community is free to download (under the OSL 3.0 Licence). With the Enterprise edition however comes increased functionality. It seems like an obvious choice but really, both options should be carefully considered. If you can make the most of the additional functionality that comes with Magento Enterprise as standard it can really boost your profits. However you do really have to have confidence in your knowledge or find a development partner to advise you on your approach.

You could add modules onto Community to improve the functionality and include all that Enterprise offers, however this would leave you with a substantial development bill. Please see our blog post on Third Party Modules. We always advise that you try to stay as close to the core coding as possible so if you want the features that Enterprise boasts and your sales can justify the annual license, then this is probably the version for you.

This article will examine the most important features of Magento Enterprise. The features that can provide a better experience to your users and more importantly the features that can, if used and implemented correctly, generate a return on your Magento Enterprise Licence investment.

PCI compliance and data encryption

Cyber attacks are a big threat to eCommerce right now. The Pew research centre is predicting major challenges over the next ten years and even Tesco fell victim to an attack earlier this year. The attackers are not only after payment information; quite often your customer’s personal details are just as valuable. Tesco’s predicament proved very damaging and costly, not to mention embarrassing.

Magento Enterprise has a Payment Bridge, which is Payment Application Data Security Standard certified (PA-DSS) and assists merchants in meeting PCI compliance requirements. The Enterprise edition possesses stronger encryption, which is based on AES-256. In non-tech talk, it is considered amongst the top ciphers, meaning data is kept secure. In addition to this, Magento Enterprise also has strong hashing based on SHA-256, which again means more security.

The Community edition is secure but cannot boast the additional security features (above) of Enterprise to give you and your shoppers that additional peace of mind.

Advanced caching

You have a short amount of time to retain a users attention. In fact, according to Harry Shum (a computer scientist and speed specialist for Microsoft) an extra 250milliseconds page load compared to your competitor could be the difference between the user shopping with you or your competitor. Therefore you need all the extra help you can get to make sure your website loads quickly. This is where Magento Enterprise’s Advanced Caching comes in.

Over the years we’ve been developing our client’s sites on Magento, site speed is always towards the top of the agenda when it comes to the conversation on UX. We’ve invested a lot of time into exploring new ways of improving site speed for our client’s which compliments Magento’s Advanced Caching. For those interested we’re happy to discuss this further.

The typical load speeds that we see, dependent on variables such as image and database size, are:

      • Magento Community (without additional caching) – between 4 and 6 seconds, in some cases up to 8 seconds
      • Magento Enterprise and Advanced Caching – generally between 2 and 4 seconds
      • Magento Enterprise Advanced Caching and our recommended caching solution -between 1 and 2 seconds

* The above data was taken from a range of our client’s websites.

Magento is an intensive application and site speed really is important but, with the above in mind, we would always recommend not obsessing over this. If your site runs at a good pace, which offers a good user experience, it is not necessarily worth investing too much time and money trying to improve site speeds by a fraction of a second. There may be other improvements that could be made which will offer a better return on investment. Enterprise advanced caching linked to a well-built store and good server set-up will likely deliver all that you need.

Error reporting

Problems can occur from time to time and for your technical support team replicating those errors is key to identifying the source. Magento Enterprise now allows merchants to generate reports to help quickly diagnose and resolve potential technical issues. These reports will allow fixes to be implemented more quickly and efficiently.

Visual merchandiser

The latest version of Magento Enterprise now includes visual merchandising, which is a godsend for any merchandiser managing the product catalogue. The Visual Merchandiser provides the merchant with a real-time view of the website category pages as they appear on the front-end of the site. What’s more, the merchandiser can then order the products in the category by simply dragging and dropping them in to position.

This also provides the ability to dictate which products in the category are ‘Hero’ products so they always appear at the top of the category. Basic rules can then be set up that will allow you to automatically manage your categories. For example if you wanted a category to contain only black t-shirts you can set rules so that the category only displays ‚ÄòBlack T-Shirts’ without the need to manually go through your catalogue and any future products you add to the site which have these values will automatically go into the category without any manual intervention.

Virtual gift cards

Gift cards have long been considered an important feature as there is a large appetite for them amongst consumers. Most larger retailers offer gift cards and these are an important revenue stream for them. They will offer an additional sales opportunity for those who may not have the confidence to choose the item / size themselves. While there are modules that can be added to Community to offer this functionality, as ever, there is a danger in bolting too many third party modules onto Magento so having this as core functionality is a significant benefit.

Abandon basket email reminders

Enterprise has the ability to save a user’s basket when they have been adding products to their cart and have not checked out. The average cart abandonment for the UK is a massive 70%, according to Fireclick. We are all guilty of it, we can’t help but add products we like to our cart to work out if we can afford it next pay day, Magento Enterprise saves logged-in users’ baskets. When the user abandons their shopping cart you can send out an email reminder, prompting them to return to their basket. You can use this even more cleverly by sending them a discount if they return and purchase within a couple of days. After all, according to those who do return spend on average 55% more!

Automated ESPs such as Bronto and Dotmailer can really help you to exploit this functionality (please see our feature on automated ESPs).

Customer segmentation

Only applicable to Magento Enterprise is the Customer Segmentation feature. This feature is extremely useful for you to segment your customer data by their personal information such as gender, home location and even date of birth (if you ask for it). More importantly you can segment your customers by their buying habits. You can find out specifically what products and what brands they’re buying so you can build up a picture of what they like and send them specific emails and discounts for what interests them the most.

Private sales

A great selling point, which we have advised our client’s to promote in order to achieve more newsletter signups, is to have private sales for those who have signed up. This Enterprise feature allows you to apply discounts across your entire product range or across a select range, which is discounted only for a group of selected users.

Reward points & store credits

Magento Enterprise has an in-built feature, which allows you to reward your customers with points or credits every time they make a purchase. Reward points are a great way to incentivise repeat custom and something that has proved highly popular during austere times.

Magento technical support

Magento is a solid platform and as a company they are transparent with the bug fixing and changes they make. There is a Community of developers around the world who assist Magento to continually improve the platform. Release after release, the application becomes stronger and offers more features.

As with any piece of software, from time to time bugs will happen and will need to be addressed. The Community version of Magento however is not supported and when problems with the core code happen. Users of Community will need to find their own way of rectifying it which usually means that a developer is required, which again will cost money.

Enterprise users, on the other hand, have the luxury of being able to raise problems directly to Magento’s support team who will replicate the problem and create a patch for the issue, which can then be implemented.

Think about other parts of your business and whether you would buy other pieces of kit without a warranty / support from the manufacturer. If you are turning over a significant amount on your site, this could save you a huge amount of money if / when things go wrong.

Advanced search

The Search feature on your website is immensely important as those searching have a better idea of what they want, compared to those who are browsing using the site links and navigation. Searchers are almost twice as likely to convert than non-searchers in a given visit.

You do not want to frustrate users with poor search facilities.

Unfortunately Magento Community only comes with a very basic search facility and more often than not it shows irrelevant or too many search results.

Magento Enterprise on the other hand supports Solr search, which is more advanced than Community’s MySQL full text search engine. Solr can logically return search results whether the user searches for ‚ÄòSpider Man’ or ‚ÄòSpiderman’. In this scenario the results would return the same (where it would not on Community). Search also provides the user with tips if the search term used returns no results and can autosuggest search terms as the user is typing, helping them to narrow in on what they are searching for. You also have the ability to customise the landing page given when the user searches for a specific term.

Rule-based product relations

Although Community offers the ability to up-sell and cross-sell, it does not support Rule-Based Product Relations. These allow you to automatically populate up-sell and cross-sell spaces using rules based on a number of factors. For example you can up-sell, cross-sell and provide related product suggestions based on previous users purchases.


There are a number of other features in Magento Enterprise which we have not included here but the list above details some of the key ones that our client’s find the most valuable. Used to its full potential Magento Enterprise is a powerful platform and with the correct guidance and advice, a strong return can be made. It is not right for everyone, you have to ensure that the market is there and the funds available to implement the solution. This is why many smaller start-ups use Community to test the market then upgrade to Enterprise once they have seen the potential and proved the business case.

The Enterprise edition of Magento is a great platform and the fact that it has managed to attract brands such as Nike, Gant, Mothercare and Liverpool FC onto it is testament to its ability to deliver a truly scalable, personalised and market leading eCommerce solution.