The Great Adobe Commerce Downgrade: A Silent Migration?
Ollie Hunt
June 20, 2024

Are we witnessing a silent migration from Adobe Commerce to Magento Open Source? Although it won’t be publicly recognised with a big old case study and celebratory posts, I’d bet good money that every single Adobe Commerce agency has a merchant that they have either downgraded from Adobe Commerce to Magento Open Source or are currently looking at a downgrade.

The Re-platforming Trend

Re-platforming has been a hot topic for years, driven by many reasons. Recently, the cost of ownership has become a major consideration. Finance directors are meticulously reviewing tech stacks, tasking e-commerce departments with eliminating anything that duplicates functionality or incurs unnecessary expenses.

For merchants on Adobe Commerce, the license fee can be a sticking point. It’s not that they don’t believe in paying for software, but more about what they get—or don’t get—for their money. Here are the top reasons merchants are frustrated:

  • Vendor Involvement: Most merchants struggle to identify their account manager at Adobe. They usually only hear from them when it’s time for account renewal. This lack of personal connection with the platform vendor makes merchants feel undervalued. It’s not the sole reason they move, but it sets the motion in action. Remember the old adage, “People buy from people.”
  • Vendor Strategy Presentations: Adobe presentations to merchants often end up doing more damage than good. Poorly planned and misaligned with the agency partner, these rinse-and-repeat presentations lack personalization and come off as mere sales pitches, which few merchants are looking for.
  • Upgrades: For small to mid merchants (less than £50M GMV), the cost and time for upgrades are significant pain points. A large portion of their development budget gets allocated to upgrades, which often take longer than expected and offer little in terms of business advancement.

Why Do Merchants Buy Adobe Commerce?

Despite the frustrations, there are reasons why merchants opt for the enterprise licensed version of the platform:

  • Features: The enterprise version is feature-rich compared to the open-source version, providing critical functionalities that enterprise-level clients need to run their businesses.
  • Vendor Support: With the enterprise version, the merchant has vendor support and guidance.
  • SLA: The Service Level Agreement is a significant factor for IT, finance, and legal teams, offering a shift in responsibility to the vendor.
  • Brand Recognition: The phrase “Nobody gets fired for buying IBM” resonates here. The Adobe name carries weight.

The Reality Check

For the vast majority of Adobe Commerce merchants, many ‘enterprise’ features go unused, or there’s a viable alternative that can be implemented into the open-source platform to meet their needs.

The agency partner becomes the critical cog, driving the roadmap and providing support when issues arise. The SLA is only meaningful for cloud deployments; on-premise responsibility falls on the merchant, SI, and hosting partner. This realization highlights that the three most important players are the merchant team, the SI, and the hosting partner.

The Temporary Downgrade That Becomes Long-term

As renewal dates approach, merchants anticipate the call from their account manager with the renewal quote. Re-platforming decisions are complex, requiring careful consideration of alternatives and potential new issues. Faced with these challenges, many opt for the safer bet: downgrading.

Presenting the Downgrade to the Board

For an e-commerce manager, presenting a downgrade is often the safest bet. The board is frustrated and demands action, but getting it wrong can be career-ending. A downgrade buys time to make the right decision for the future, reallocating the license renewal budget and providing a stay of execution.

The silent migration from Adobe Commerce to Magento Open Source is real and happening. As the community adapts and evolves, the role of the agency partner becomes increasingly vital. Merchants are finding their path forward, and for many, that path is a downgrade that secures their present while planning for a sustainable future.


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