Why I No Longer Recommend Magento Community Edition To Small Businesses
by JASON CAPSHAW on OCTOBER 22, 2010
Reposted without permission from http://www.mywebtronics.com/why-i-no-longer-recommend-magento-to-my-clie...
Let me preface this with a quote from yours truly…
I Love Magento
Yes, that was me about a year ago. However, I have sadly changed my tune…
How me and Magento got started
I was on the rebound from a very difficult relationship with OSCommerce. Trying to SEO oscommerce had left me empty and wanton for a truly meaningful relationship with an open source ecommerce solution. After a quick fling with Zencart, Magento made its debut and it was love at first sight for me.
It had most of the features that I wanted. Plus, I didn’t mind being seen in public with the packaged UI front end. Heck, I was kinda proud of her. One of the first clients I put on Magento used the then packaged “Blue” theme and did more than $1ook in sales in a year. Not bad for a mom and pop shop that had no experience selling online.
I eagerly anticipated every new release, every new module. I spent countless hours combing over lines and lines of code seeking to know everything about her. I even made myself familiar with her extremely complex database. I overlooked little flaws like, its slow load times and inefficient DB and Caching functions.
Being a little naive, I expected Magento to follow in the footsteps of WordPress. To be the World’s greatest open source ecommerce solution with a thriving open source minded community that always helped each other out. It wasn’t to be…
The commercialization of Magento
I won’t forget how my heart sank when Irubian launched the enterprise edition of Magento that would eventually be used by large companies such as Samsung and Homedics. I had noticed how the best Magento modules started costing money so I should have seen this coming.
After all, this is a great business tactic if you can pull it off. Build a great product and offer it for free. Hold back some of the better capabilities and only offer them in the upgrade. What I didn’t expect was for Magento to limit some of the most basic capabilities. For example:
Coupons and discounts don’t work in community edition
User roles. Anyone who has access to the store, has access to all admin privileges.
Costly Magento issues
The truth is that Magento was never designed to be a true tool for those without start up capital or programming knowledge.
Even if you have very little traffic to your store you will need a strong hosting solution to even run Magento. For the store to run at a basic level you will be paying at least $300 per year in hosting.
I always schedule several days of time before I upgrade Magento. Themes and modules are usually broken in upgrade and sometimes require advanced programming skills to fix. A good Magento programmer can cost $100 an hour…and that gets expensive quickly.
Plus, I don’t dare upgrade Magento on a live site. I create a sandbox and test everything there first. This creates hours and hours of work. Magento could seriously use some help in this area (ie WordPress). Heck, upgrading oscommerce was a better experience!
Designing templates for Magento is timely and costly. It is not as simple as creating a mock up, XHTML page and dropping a few calls (like WordPress), you have to study and understand Magento’s complex xml block system.
Every update makes Magento more complex and harder to manage.
So why not fork out the money for the enterprise edition? Have you seen the annual price on that thing?
Community Edition: Free – lacks needed functionality
Professional Edition (starting at $2,995 yearly – you get coupons
Enterprise Edition (starting at $12,995 yearly – you get a gift registry
BTW, Enterprise is the only Magento edition that has full page caching options. Apparently, many businesses with the finances have found the above solutions acceptable. I have never used them, so I don’t know how well they work.
I could go on and on about why Magento is not a good choice for start ups with little money. Or why the community edition is not a good choice period. I still use Magento and will continue to program and offer helpful tips whenever possible. Unfortunately, I am now looking for another solution, perhaps a paid one that offers regular support.