I’ve read a lot of different posts on Magento’s recent end of life announcement (which has set an end date for support of the platform at June 2020) and I decided to write a short post summarising how I see the situation and what I believe the options are for merchants. I’m also fresh from attending the MagentoLive Europe conference, which was very informative and provided a lot of information about the direction of the platform since the Adobe acquisition earlier this year.
In my opinion – Magento 2 is a stronger and more merchant-friendly platform than Magento 1, however, it’s definitely moved up the food chain in terms of the target level of retailers and the overall cost of the platform (with this trend likely to continue). I’d personally say the platform is designed for and more suited towards relatively complex B2C retailers (e.g. complex catalog, multiple storefronts with individual nuances, mid-large scale international, B2B <>B2C, mid-large catalog etc) and B2B retailers now, with more possibly appropriate options available for smaller and simpler retailers.
This said I would say that I’m a huge advocate for Magento (and what it has to offer) and I repeatedly recommend Magento to customers and prospective customers. I almost look at Magento as a super agile and flexible option in the enterprise bracket now, rather than a solution for retailers of all sizes, as it was positioned previously. There are a lot of negative posts around Magento 2 by suppliers for other platforms, but in most instances, these aren’t too accurate they’re just based on the level of change Magento has been through and bias around the other platform – this comes down to the early days of Magento 2 and their shift in positioning.
Magento 1 Commerce
Magento 2 Commerce is a big improvement on Magento 1, with things like the B2B suite, visual merchandising features and the CMS (page builder) being huge improvements that have been developed as core areas of the platform. The merchandising-focused features are also a lot more integrated and actually work now – which is great. Also, as new modules are introduced (e.g. Page Builder), they are fully integrated with other native features (such as content scheduling and customer segmentation), which is also good for the merchant.
The underlying architecture has also improved also – allowing for more scalability and resulting in clear performance improvement on the front-end and back-end.
I would guess (only an assumption at this stage) that the Adobe acquisition will speed up this move towards the enterprise – with things such as a native integration with Adobe products (like Adobe Experience Manager and Adobe Target) definitely highlighting this. The licensing costs of the platform have increased over the last couple of years (alongside the move to GMV brackets), but the overall capabilities and native features have improved also – which justify this increase, in my opinion.
Magento 1 Commerce for B2C Retailers
Magento’s native capabilities around managing product data and multiple stores still make it a better fit for a lot of B2C retailers than the obvious alternatives, which are the likes of Shopify Plus and BigCommerce in most instances. These platforms are great and have a lot of benefits for retailers wanting to be agile without the cost overhead / TCO that comes with Magento – but they do still have limitations (and often require compromise in certain areas – which may or may not be worth it).
There have been a lot of well-known retailers who have made the move over to Magento 2 Commerce, including Paul Smith, Helly Hansen (an early adopter), Tom Dixon, Bulk Powders, Osprey London etc.
Magento 1 Commerce for B2B Retailers
On the B2B side of things, Magento is a really strong contender – with other platforms having pretty big downsides, such as SAP Hybris / Commerce Cloud (cost of ownership, agility etc), bespoke platforms (lack of existing integrations, vendor lock-in, cost of ownership etc), Oro Commerce (still very new and lack of existing integrations) and the other enterprise-level contenders, which have the same issues with costs and agility. Magento’s biggest selling point in this space remains the time-to-market for introducing new features (e.g. new payment methods or complex integrations) as a result of the vendors or the community building out integrations and the costs against their direct competitors. Magento is also a much cleaner platform option for merchandising teams to use than the majority of alternatives in the B2B space.
Magento’s B2B suite has also helped to improve their offering, providing support for different account structures (e.g. assigning purchasing roles, budgets & spend limits etc), quotations, customer-specific catalogs and various other aspects. Magento’s native support for customer groups, complex product types and multi-store already puts the platform in a good position, but these new features put it up there with the specialist B2B platforms like Oro Commerce for example.
Magento Open Source for B2C Retailers
A large amount of smaller Magento 1 Open Source retailers have already made the move over to Shopify Plus or Shopify, with the ancillary costs and platform management overheads generally being a lot lower. I would personally say that SIMPLE B2C retailers (with no plans for adding complexity) should be looking at making the move to a SaaS platform, because there’s often an unnecessary amount of work for internal teams to manage a solution like Magento and the costs around platform support, upgrades, release management and things like security patches are high.
A Magento store also requires a lot more resource for things like testing and general maintenance etc and should really be used alongside more enterprise-level processes – I’d usually say that a retailer using Magento should have someone with a technical mind-set who is responsible for the platform and managing the relationship with an integration partner etc, which isn’t as necessary with the SaaS platforms, due to the nature of the more managed, “as a service” offering.
Magento’s Cloud Starter offering is definitely moving in the right direction for providing this level of solution – but it’s nowhere what Shopify Plus represents for simple B2C retailers, which is an assured, fully managed platform that can’t be broken by changes to the core or things like module conflicts etc.
Conclusion on the Magento 1 End of Life
Overall, to summarise, I think Magento 2 Commerce is a great platform that offers a huge amount of benefit to mid-market and enterprise B2C and B2B retailers. I worry about Magento Open Source as the overheads are still really high and there’s generally a disproportionate level of work required for internal teams for more simple stores. I’m also unsure on what the future holds for this end of the Magento market with the Adobe acquisition – I think it’s likely to remain and still represent a good option in the short-term, but it’ll be interesting to see how it’s impacted by this move towards the enterprise level of market.
I also wrote this piece comparing Magento and Shopify Plus and this piece on alternative platform options.
Please feel free to add comments below – this is very much an open area for discussion and lots of people have different views etc.