Magento Commerce: The Guide to Get You Started

Magento is one of the most popular ecommerce platforms. It’s currently used by over 160,000 websites, including 199 of the top 10,000 sites on the internet.

Indeed, Magento is particularly popular with high-traffic stores such as Vizio, Jeep and the online shop for the Pittsburgh Steelers. These enterprise-level businesses are mostly drawn to Magento’s premium product, Magento Commerce, which offers robust security, high-end features and nearly endless options for customization. 

Steelers Pro Shop
Image source: Steelers Pro Shop

These benefits may have you considering Magento Commerce for your own online store. If so, here’s what you need to know:

Magento Commerce vs. Magento Open Source

Before we continue, it’s important to note how Magento Commerce is distinct from the other version of Magento software, Magento Open Source. 

Magento Open Source is, as you may have guessed, open source software. Anyone can download and use it for free. This is a bare bones solution, though — it doesn’t include hosting or dedicated support, and it’s relatively light on features. 

Magento Commerce, on the other hand, does include hosting and support, as well as a number of features that aren’t included with Magento Open Source.

Pricing

Of course, the biggest difference between Magento Commerce and Magento Open Source is the pricing. 

Again, Magento Open Source can be downloaded for free. The cost of everything that doesn’t come included with Open Source would add up to a substantial sum (you can’t have a site without hosting, for example) — but, technically, the software itself is free. 

For Magento Commerce, you’ll need to contact Magento for a quote to see exactly how much it’ll cost your business. According to Capterra, the license fee starts at $1,988 per month.

Features

The following features are included with both Magento Open Source and Magento Commerce:

  • Integrated Checkout, Payment and Shipping: All the basics you need to accept and fulfill orders from customers.
  • Instant Purchase: Returning customers can use this feature for a faster checkout experience.
  • Catalog Management: Create and edit pages for your products. 
  • Site Search: Magento uses Elasticsearch software to provide your visitors with high-quality search results, which should reduce your bounce rate and increase your conversion rate.
  • Mobile Optimized Shipping: Since 2016, mobile devices have been a more popular way to browse the internet than desktops or laptops. This makes the mobile experience vitally important to the success of your store — both versions of Magento are able to adjust to the smaller screens of smartphones and tablets. 

And these features are exclusive to Magento Commerce:

  • Business Intelligence Dashboards: Magento Commerce provides over 100 reports that you can use to better understand your customers. 
  • Customer Loyalty Tools: Use reward points, gift registries, wish lists and exclusive sales to keep your customers coming back for more.
  • B2B Functionality: Quoting, custom catalogs and company accounts are useful tools for businesses that sell to other businesses rather than directly to customers. 
  • Visual Merchandiser: With this tool, you can quickly rearrange the way that products are displayed on your category pages.
  • Content Staging and Preview: Magento Commerce allows you to review and schedule changes to your site before they’re published.

Magento Hosted Cloud

Another Magento Commerce exclusive is Magento Hosted Cloud — this hosting solution is designing specifically for Magento, making it a better option in terms of performance than pairing Magento software with a third-party hosting provider.

Magento Hosted Cloud is PCI DSS compliant by default, which provides your customers with some peace of mind and reduces your liability in the event of a data breach. Magento also guarantees 99.99% uptime for their hosting, so you can be confident that your store will always be available to your customers. And for security, Magento Hosted Cloud uses firewall and DDoS protection services from Fastly to keep your store safe. 

Fastly firewall
Image source: Fastly

Finally, Magento Hosted Cloud uses a content delivery network (CDN) to provide exceptional performance to your customers no matter where they’re located. 

Physical distance plays a key role in site speed — the farther a visitor is from one of your servers, the slower your site will be for them. A CDN is a collection of servers that are dispersed throughout the world, ensuring that any given visitor is never too far away from one of your servers. With the help of Magento Hosted Cloud’s CDN, your site will continue to load fast even during peak traffic periods such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

Add-Ons

In addition to Magento Commerce’s built-in features, you can use themes and plugins to further customize the appearance and expand the functionality of your store. 

As far as themes go, the official Magento Marketplace is somewhat limited, as there are only 17 themes available (they range in price from free to $499). But you can also find themes from third party sources — for example, there are over 600 Magento themes on ThemeForest

The Magento Marketplace has a lot more to offer when it comes to plugins. There are over 5,900 extensions available, covering everything from slider menus to live chat customer support to complete Salesforce CRM solutions

While the add-ons that will benefit your store the most depend on your size, industry and other factors specific to your business, just about every Magento merchant would be wise to download the following extensions:

  • Yotpo Reviews: No matter how well-written your sales copy is, customers know that you’re not going to mention any flaws that might result in lost sales. You need to also provide a more objective voice — showing that previous customers were satisfied with their purchase on your product pages will help convince prospective customers to click “Add to Cart.” You can also use the quotes, images and videos collected from customer reviews to make your off-page marketing efforts more effective. 
  • Signifyd: This extension provides chargeback protection and other fraud-fighting features. In addition to saving you money, Signifyd also saves you time, as it eliminates the need for you to research transactions and wait for customers to call back. 
  • SEO Suite Ultimate: Odds are that most of the traffic to your store comes from organic search, so it’s important for your rankings on search engine results pages to be as high as possible. This search engine optimization (SEO) plugin will cost you $249, but it should make up for that and then some with the extra traffic that it attracts to your store. 

Support

There’s just not enough room in this guide to cover every topic related to Magento Commerce. Should you have any questions about this platform now or in the future, Magento provides plenty of support options for getting the help you need.

With Magento’s Knowledge Base and community forums, there’s a good chance that you can find the answer to your question without even asking it yourself. 

If you can’t find an answer to your question, then the only option for Magento Open Source users would be to post their own thread and hope someone knowledgeable responds. But Magento Commerce users also benefit from 24/7 live tech support and a dedicated account manager to help them through any issue they might run into. 

So, what are you waiting for? You now know everything you need to know to get started with your Magento Commerce store.

Adam Ritchie

Adam Ritchie is a writer based in Silver Spring, Maryland. He writes about ecommerce trends and best practices for Shogun. His previous clients include Groupon, Clutch and New Theory.