When building a fully customized enterprise level e-commerce solution you have several platforms to choose from. Two good choices are Episerver and Magento, but how do they compare? Here is a high level look at the key differences.
Note: For this comparison we look at a fully customized enterprise e-commerce solution for a large retailer with multiple warehouses, thousands to millions of SKUs, multiple markets/currencies/languages, integrations with back office systems for product information, inventory systems etc.
Modern e-commerce solution blends editorial content with product information and shopping capabilities. Even Apple has merged its previous standalone online store store.apple.com with the main apple.com website, blending content and commerce into one for maximum effect.
While Magento is an excellent commerce platform, its WCM (Web Content Management) capabilities are limited. That is why most companies prefer to blend Magento with another WCM solution (popular choices are Wordpress, Pimcore and eZ Publish) when building an e-commerce solution with Magento.
Episerver however has a world class WCM (Named a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for web content management 2015) and an e-commerce solution in a single product, making it seamless to work with content and products on the same page using a WYSIWIG editorial interface.
Episerver is built on the Microsoft platform with C#, ASP.Net and MS SQL Server, while Magneto is built with PHP on the Zend framework and uses MySQL. This is a minor factor when choosing an e-commerce platform, but could be good to know if you intend to use internal developers that have existing competency on one of the technology stacks or if you intend to use existing hosting infrastructure.
Both Episerver and Magento requires development to create an fully customized enterprise e-commerce solution. It is highly recommended that you choose developers (internal or external) that are highly experienced with developing for the platform as they both are complex products and enterprise e-commerce solutions are mission critical.
Developing a fully customized enterprise Magento solution will cost you in the range of $40,000 – $250,000 and up. An Episerver solutions will often be in the same range.
The development tasks for both platforms are similar:
-Installation and configuration of the platform
-Magento only: Integration with a WCM (Wordpress, Pimcore or similar)
-Implementing a customized design
-Responsive design for PCs, tablets and cell phones
-Integration with an ERP system
-Integration with an inventory system
-Integration with one or more payment providers
-Integration with shipping providers
-Integration with a POS system
-Integration with other back office systems
-Advanced shipping and tax calculations
-Customized page templates / block templates
-Multi language, multi market and/or multi currency setup
-Optimized checkout flow
-Promotion, coupons and customer segmentation
-Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
-Advanced search and filtration
-Integration with a Marketing Automation system
-Testing / QA
-Configuring and deploying to hosting solution
Magento is often talked about as being “free”, and they do have a free “Community Edition”. For an enterprise level e-commerce solution you will need the “Enterprise Edition” of Magneto which has a starting price of $22,000 per year to get access to technical support and advanced features. The price increases based on how much revenue your online store has.
In addition, you will need hosting. E-commerce solutions are known to require a lot of hardware to scale well, so this is an important to get high performance and up-time for your solution. Magento recently closed down their cloud offering Magento Go.
For Episerver prices you need to contact Episerver directly or an Episerver Partner (like us in Geta). Currently they offer two base options: self-hosted where you by a perpetual license up front (and then 20% per year of the license cost in maintenance) or their cloud solution Episerver Digital Experience Cloud where you pay a monthly price that includes licenses, cloud hosting, search engine, CDN, SLA etc. The self-hosted option allows you to run Episerver on regular servers or on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. Geta has helped several of our e-commerce clients to run Episerver in the Azure cloud.
When choosing a platform it is important that you choose a platform that has easy access to experienced developers and implementation partners.
Both platforms offers plenty of experienced implementation partners to choose from all over the globe. Episerver has over 880 partners in 30 countries and Magento writes that they have 300+ partners on their web site. Look for Episerver Premium Solution Partners and Magento Gold or Silver Solution Partners to ensure you select an experienced partner for your solution.
Magento is known for having an active developer community with over 60,000 developers. The Magento Forums is very active and the technical documentation is extensive. Episerver also has a vibrant developer community with over 30,000 registered developers at world.episerver.com, and good documentation available online.
Both offer developers to take certifications to document their skills. Magento has “Magento Certified Developer” and “Magento Certified Solution Specialist”, and Episerver has “Episerver Certified Developer”.
One of they key strengths of Magento is the myriad of add-ons created by 3rd. parties and offered at their Magento Connect site. The add-ons costs from nothing to several thousand dollars (some also require a monthly fee).
Episerver also have large selection of add-ons (although not as large as Magento’s), but it is a bit harder to find. First of all you have the official add-ons available at the Episerver Add-on Store. In addition to the official modules there are also over 100 other modules available. Most of them are open source and available for free. Geta is one of the most active contributors to the Episerver community and currently have 17 popular Episerver modules available for free here.
Magento has been on version 1.x since it first was released in 2008. In 2010 version 2.0 was announced, but it took 5 years, until November 2015, for it to actually be released in the final version. The two version are different enough that moving from 1.x to 2.0 is a migration rather than an update. Note that existing add-ons and themes must be updated to support the new version before you can use them with Magento 2.0.
Episerver is currently on version 9 and they release incremental updates to the platform every two weeks. That means that bug fixes and new features are coming out often. So rather than have “big bang” releases that require upgrade projects, Episerver is constantly getting better over time.
Both Episerver and Magento are solid choices for building a customized enterprise level e-commerce solution. They have their own pros and cons that you need to weigh against your business and technical requirements and find the best fit for you.
Even more important than selecting the right platform for your e-commerce solution, is selecting the right implementation partner. Are they e-commerce experts? How experienced are they on the platform and how many certified developers do they have? How many similar e-commerce projects have they done? Can they handle complex integrations with ERP, logistics, payment and order handling systems? Do they have real world experience working and supporting mission critical e-commerce sites? Do they know all the e-commerce best practices to create the optimal solution with the highest possible conversion rate?
Geta is a Digital Commerce Agency that builds customized enterprise level e-commerce solutions for our clients in Europe and North America including KTM, Husqvarna Motorocycles and Varner Retail. Geta is a Episerver Premium Solution Partner. Reach out at any time if you have a project or initiative that you need guidance with.