Six criteria for choosing between Magento Open Source and Magento Commerce

On the subject of Magento and its different versions, several questions arise. Which services are you really paying for when you use Magento Commerce? Would it be possible to obtain the same features for a lower cost by adding Magento Open Source extensions?

Ultimately, which solution would be best suited to your company and e-commerce project? The aim of this article is to provide the keys to making the best possible decision for your project. 


A look back at versions of Magento

Magento CE (Community Edition) was originally a free open-source e-commerce platform, launched in 2008 by Varien (which became Magento Inc. in 2010). In 2009, a paid version was created: Magento EE (Enterprise Edition). This version offers additional features and, as of 2010, includes customer support and the publisher's guarantee. This version was later provided via the Cloud.  In 2017, Magento announced a change of names for its product suite. Magento Community Edition (CE) became Magento Open Source and the Magento Enterprise (EE) & Magento Cloud Edition solutions merged to become Magento Commerce (available On-Premise or in the Cloud).   Both of these platforms are open source and based on identical source code. They include the same set of basic features and belong to the Magento ecosystem. They therefore benefit from the strength of the Magento community for the development of extensions (available at the Magento marketplace), which make it possible to add numerous features to each. Elsewhere, Gartner identified Magento as an e-commerce leader for the third year in a row. Today, Magento states that more than 300,000 businesses around the world use their platforms.  

So, which version should you choose?

We have selected six criteria to help you better understand the differences between these versions.


Magento Open Source is free and can be downloaded directly on the Magento website. Magento Commerce, on the other hand, has a licence fee that depends on the GMV (Gross Merchandise Value) and AOV (Average Order Value). As each project is different, Magento does not list its prices on its website. Prices must be negotiated on a case-by-case basis directly with the publisher. However,?purely as an indication, to be treated with caution, here is a rough idea of the cost of the licence and Cloud hosting:  

  • For a GMV of less than $1M: ± $30,000 per year 
  • For a GMV of between $1M and $5M: ± $60,000 per year 
  • For a GMV of between $5M and $10M: ± $120,000 per year 

You should bear in mind that hosting is included in these offers and that you will therefore avoid the high cost of an additional intermediary – your hosting provider.   


Magento Open Source meets a wide variety of needs and makes it possible to rapidly create a comprehensive and effective e-commerce website. However, Magento Commerce is delivered with a more robust set of features than Magento Open Source. To discover all of these features, I recommend having a look at the user guide. Below, you will find a selection in a non-exhaustive list:  

  • A unique user experience thanks to the following in particular:  
  • Customer segmentation, which will enable you to provide relevant content, offers and promotions for each customer, adapted to the content of their basket, their order history and their addresses, for example; 
  • Return management via the RMA (Return Management Authorization) module, which will be essential for large volume orders; 
  • A comprehensive loyalty programme to reward your customers by offering loyalty points and credit to spend on your website; 
  • Gift lists, which are ideal for the purchase of gifts for events such as weddings or births; 
  • Automatic email sending will enable you, for example, to send reminders to customers who abandon their baskets.
  • Simpler content management and greater control for your teams: 
  • The 'Visual Merchandiser' is an advanced set of tools to position your products manually or by applying display rules in the list of your categories;  
  • The 'Page Builder' will enable your business teams to create rich content without having to write a single line of HTML or CSS code. This module provides a Drag and Drop interface that has nothing to envy CMS specialists such as WordPress and Drupal; 
  • 'Staging' will enable you to plan and view different versions of the complete content of your website (including products, categories, pages and private sales). You can therefore work on several versions at the same time and plan publication dates for your new content in advance; 
  • Advanced rights management and action monitoring will enable you to more effectively control authorisations and actions performed by your teams in the daily management of your back-office. 
  • A comprehensive B2B solution, with: 
  • Creation and management of companies: departments, users and rights management will be managed totally independently by managers of each company; 
  • 'Shared Catalogues' will enable you to offer personalised articles and prices for each company; 
  • 'Quotes' will enable companies to obtain personalised quotes; 
  • 'Payment On Account' will enable each company to pay thanks to a Credit, with limits and authorisations for users; 
  • 'Requisition lists' and 'Order by SKU' will enable your B2B clients to order and recommend your products much faster. 


3.Performances and extensibility

Magento Commerce offers far greater overall performance levels than Magento Open Source. Magento Open Source will remain effective up to 200,000 products with native configuration of the software, but, beyond this, solutions will need to be found to achieve optimal performance. On the other hand, Magento Commerce is theoretically extensible to an unlimited number of products / categories / customers, while ensuring optimal performance, in particular thanks to a solution that enables the use of three different master databases:  

  • A database dedicated to payments (Checkout); 
  • A database dedicated to sales (OMS, Order Management System); 
  • A database for all other applications. 


4.Cloud and security (PCI)

Magento Open Source is not available in the Cloud, while Magento Commerce enables faster deployment and excellent availability, with a cloud availability SLA of 99.99%. What's more, Magento Commerce provides a "PCI Compliant Environment", which means that you will be able to offer bank card payment, while storing, processing and sending banking data without having to go through a PSP (Payment Service Provider).   

5.Reports & Business Intelligence

Magento Commerce offers more than 100 ready-to-use reports which will enable you to learn more about your customers and offer them a richer experience. You will therefore be able to boost additional sales. To go even further, Magento offers its solution "Magento Business Intelligence?" (MBI), which makes it possible to centralise your data and improve your conversion rates.    


Magento's Open Source community is very active, and many dedicated forums and websites will enable you to find help. With Magento Commerce, you will also have access to 24/7 technical supportYou will have a privileged contact, your Account Manager, who is there to oversee your relationship with the publisher.   In view of these various criteria, the only reason that would lead us to recommend Magento Open Source to you would be the licence cost. This raises the following question: would it be possible to achieve the same results as Magento Commerce for a lower cost by beginning with a Magento Open Source version

 The answer is clearly 'no' in terms of the following criteria: performance and extensibility, Cloud and security, reports and Business Intelligence, and support. However, this question is worth asking in terms of the features, because, at the end of the day, for a "medium-sized" website, the reports, PCI compliance, 24/7 support and an unlimited number of products may not be essential.   

Technically, it is absolutely possible to configure Magento Open Source using paid extensions or specific developments in order to achieve a result that is close to Magento Commerce in terms of features. However, this approach will often require significant specific developments. It will then be more difficult to maintain the website and technical costs will be very high. All in all, you will probably spend almost as much as you would have done for Magento Commerce, once the website is configured, developed and tested. However, your system will be less stable, more difficult to maintain and less secure. In addition, you will have to add the cost of hosting, which will add an intermediary and another layer of complexity to the management of your website.   


Ultimately, the choice is fairly clear for us: use Magento Open Source if you are on a limited budget, for a B2C e-commerce website project involving less than 200,000 products. This version will offer many native features, which you will then be able to add to with extensions from the Magento Marketplace.  On the other hand, if you want to provide a unique user experience for your B2C / B2B clients and are ambitious in terms of the number of products, personalisation and traffic, Magento Commerce will naturally emerge as the best solution.   

N.B.: Magento was acquired by Adobe in 2018. All of the references to Magento made in this article therefore concern Adobe (Magento) solutions.