What is the best enterprise ecommerce platform

The Magento shop system - a pure enterprise e-commerce solution?

As part of our consulting projects in e-commerce, the question of the right web shop solution is one of the most important concerns of customers. The question is especially important against the background of the high dynamics in e-commerce: Compared to ERP systems, the development in e-commerce is phenomenally fast. Even if many trends are disappearing faster than they are emerging, there is a constant change in online retail.

This change and the fast-paced culture have a major impact on manufacturers and developers of e-commerce solutions. One example of this is Shopify, a solution that relies heavily and consistently on the cloud, software as a service and, above all, startups and smaller customers. Shopify has recognized a niche or market, occupied it and offers the right solution for it.

Other manufacturers such as Salesforce have also recognized and solved a problem, namely the provision of an enterprise solution based on a cloud. In principle, Salesforce also pursues the software as a service idea, but plays this on a different, namely higher level than Shopify, and is primarily aimed at multinational corporations. How does it look now in comparison with Magento?

The Magento shop system as a solution for everyone?

Just as Shopify and Salesforce have positioned themselves well in the market and serve a very clear segment, many companies and users do not know a clear positioning of Magento. Admittedly, this is my subjective impression. However, if you talk to different companies, you quickly notice that everyone sees Magento at a different point.

  • With the open source edition, Adobe makes it appear to be a broad open source tool that can be used by anyone
  • The Enterprise Edition gives the impression that Magento was specially designed for large corporations and high-traffic online shops
  • In contrast, the Magento Cloud gives the impression that Magento is developing in the direction of SaaS (Software as a Service) and is available at the push of a button

You will now see one thing in particular, depending on which edition you are looking at, a different target group is derived. Or, which is unfortunately not better, one interprets that Magento covers all segments from startups to corporations.

Magento shop system: target group check

For which target group is Magento ultimately worthwhile? Is a Magento shop system particularly relevant in enterprise e-commerce projects, or can startups and SMEs also rely on Magento? This is followed by a neutral overview based on the target group, so that you can assess for yourself whether the use of Magento as a web shop solution is also worthwhile in your constellation, or whether the system does not meet the requirements.

Startups

Due to the open source variant, startups like to rely on Magento. The advantage is obvious: You get a comprehensive and powerful system completely free of charge. A system that industry giants such as Liebherr, Continental or Yves Rocher also use. So it is tempting to rely on Magento, because the big companies are not wrong, and since there are no license costs, you do not make a mistake.

Attention!In my opinion, Magento is not suitable for startups, even if a free version exists. The complexity of Magento requires either a very high level of in-house developer know-how or an external partner. It is utopian to run Magento as a one man show, to take care of administration, customizing and further development. In my opinion, the system is far too demanding for that and the supposedly large marketplace does not mean that extensions can be installed at the push of a button.

Startups in particular should concentrate on their own company, but not on the implementation or development of a web shop. Since budgets are often tight, there is no option to hire a reputable and competent implementation or agency partner.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

Admittedly, the definition of SMEs is so broad that it is difficult to make a general statement. Small businesses should consider the stumbling blocks that affect startups as well. In other words, internal know-how is not available or is unlikely to be available, external partners are too costly.

But what about medium-sized companies, i.e. companies with 50 to 250 employees? Magento definitely has a right to exist in this segment. Companies of this size do not necessarily have their own development department, which is focused on Magento, but IT and e-commerce budgets are usually reasonable.

Within these company sizes, an e-commerce project can easily cause initial costs of 50,000 euros and 200,000 euros, a range in which Magento projects also move. Companies of this size also have sufficient financial resources and opportunities to manage the further development of Magento. Because maintenance and further development in particular are often underestimated and small companies or startups in particular cannot cope with these efforts.

In addition, SMEs benefit from the out-of-the-box functionalities of the Magento shop system and the large marketplace. Because web shops or digital sales platforms, here too, I generalize for the sake of simplicity, in the context of these company sizes generally require features that are either included in-house or can be licensed cheaply. SMEs usually do not completely reinvent the digital wheel, they do not have the goal of turning the entire industry upside down with their e-commerce solution and are not 100% dependent on a highly individual solution.

Or to make it short: The Magento shop system basically delivers exactly what these companies need.

Larger medium-sized & large companies

The situation with the larger companies is similar to that with the large SMEs: IT projects in the six-digit range are often started and a realistic and reasonable budget is usually available for the implementation of an e-commerce solution and strategy.

In addition, the big ones often benefit from standard software, i.e. solutions that have a good range of functions by default. This range of functions helps that only a small part of the project is spent on customizing. Existing functions are used, marginally adapted and expanded.

Internationalization can play a role, but in the rarest cases are high-traffic webshops that generate millions of orders per day. Magento can skillfully play out its advantages in such constellations, especially because a Magento system can be connected very well to established IT systems such as ERP, PIM or CRM solutions. Software that has existed in many medium-sized companies for years and has to be integrated into the overall context.

International corporations

Corporations certainly have the financial resources, possibly even the internal know-how, to implement Magento projects. But these are often projects that involve a certain degree of complexity. Complexity in dimensions such as:

  • performance
  • Worldwide availability
  • Fast and automated deployments
  • Customizability
  • Support from the manufacturer

The problem with Magento or Adobe is, in my opinion, that Adobe wants to address exactly these customers, but does not provide the solution. Because companies that have set up a global platform based on Magento know how complex and "fiddly" this endeavor is.

When it comes to hosting, you either rely on the disastrously unstable Magento Cloud (operated by plattform.sh) or you have to take care of it yourself. Magento does not have a satisfactory answer to this predictable and, in principle, simple question. The situation is different with solutions such as Salesforce, for example, which simply take care of topics such as hosting due to the structure of the application and thus take the complexity out of the customer in this area. Worldwide availability, performance, but also the roll-out of features, manufacturers such as Salesforce can do much better than Magento.

Customizability also plays a major role, i.e. a platform is required much more than a finished system. Even if I don't want to deny Magento this ability, there are also solutions here that are a tad “better”, such as CommerceTools.

Conclusion: Does the Magento shop system really only play in the enterprise league?

To make it short: no. The Magento shop system is definitely not a pure enterprise e-commerce solution. Many Magento agencies and partners, as well as Adobe, certainly see it differently, but Magento is not a pure enterprise solution!

Adobe's vision with Magento is clear. Artificial intelligence, the interlinking of content and commerce and a strong marketing component should form a comprehensive commerce solution. But Magento has not yet reached this goal. Magento may be a good step further in 2-3 years, but currently it's just a vision - and it seems to be for a long time to come.

But it is also clear that Magento is not suitable for use in startups or with very small SMEs. The solution is too powerful for that and too expensive at the end of the day. Magento is also not completely in the enterprise segment, which is why, in my opinion, Magento is in good hands, especially in projects of medium-sized companies. Because here the requirements often match the out-of-the-box functionality and there are enough financial resources to be able to handle projects with Magento.