Magento vs WooCommerce
What do luxury cars and eCommerce platforms have in common? Not all of them are created equal, but you can expect plenty of great features regardless of your selection, and you can also expect to invest a lot of time and money in maintaining and mastering the controls. The truth is the same whether you are deciding between a BMW and a Maserati or if you need to make a decision between two of the best eCommerce platforms out there, Magento and WooCommerce. If you are contemplating which eCommerce platform to use to start or grow your online business, we will identify their strengths and weaknesses to help you determine which platform is the right choice for your business.
To begin, here is a general breakdown of their features:[go_pricing id="weeetail_woo"]
Magento strikes an imposing figure in the world of eCommerce. In May 205 it was estimated that this open source eCommerce web application was used by 29.8% of all online retailers that do business; currently almost a quarter million active websites use Magento. That's a HUGE slice of the market, the largest of any eCommerce platform. Launched in 2008, this application was built with an open source ethos using parts of the Zend framework and to this day leans heavily on a vast community of innovative developers, designers, and entrepreneurs to propel it forward.
As recently as a year ago, you could call WooCommerce the new kid on the block, an upstart application trying to get a piece of the eCommerce pie dominated by Magento and handful of others. Oh, how times have changed! The plugin was released in 2011, aimed at small-to-medium online merchants already comfortable with a WordPress setup. In just five years, after Magento the second most-popular eCommerce platform is WooCommerce (we're going to call it Woo for convenience from here on out). It's an open source WordPress plugin-toolkit which turns your WordPress site into a fully functional eCommerce store with everything you need to run an online business. Many eCommerce store owners who are already familiar with WordPress like this plugin's use of WordPress's intuitive backend. And because over 20% of the top 100,000 websites in the world are built with WordPress, Woo makes a no-brainer choice for users of the web's most popular publishing platform.
Now, let’s dive into the features we saw in the table above:
As a store owner, you may occasionally want to rearrange elements on your website to highlight new promotions or test product / content placement. Having the ability to rearrange your website on the fly can be hugely indispensable to testing conversion rate optimization theories or improving product sales.
Neither WooCommerce themes nor Magento provide the ability to rearrange elements on your website. Weeetail on the other hand allows you to not only rearrange elements, but you can also add and remove elements from your website. The process is very intuitive so easy that CEOs, managers, or interns can do it.
Do all platforms allow you to edit content? Yes. What we wanted to focus on here was if you can edit content on your website right then and there - simply click and edit. Running a flash sale and want to promote it on the site or just noticed a type on your site? In scenarios like these, having the freedom to quickly add and modify text saves time and frustration.
In Woo and Magento, you have to dig to locate exactly where this content is managed in order to adjust it. In Magento this can be especially difficult as the content can be located in cms blocks, pages, categories, products, etc.
If you are looking to easily click and edit content when looking at your website, Weeetail would be worth consideration. Pages on your website are comprised of blocks and the content in each block can be easily adjusted by selecting the text and modifying the text, font, color, size, heading, link, etc.
Having an unsecure checkout is not only dangerous to your business but also for your customers! With WooCommerce and Magento, merchants are responsible for purchasing their own SSL certificate for their stores. To eliminate the hassle of purchasing, applying, and updating the license, Weeetail includes SSL for all customers.
All platforms allow you to change templates (design) of your store. Magento is a little difficult to do this and it is best managed by an experienced agency.
Woo and Weeetail make it easier to change templates. Woo has an array of templates for you to choose from - just browse their gallery of free / premium templates and install the one you like.
Weeetail offers multiple themes for you to choose from for free. You can easily select a theme, preview the new style and layout, and save the new theme. Additionally, you can change the layout per block on your website to customize the design even more to your preference.
In order to have an online store it must be hosted somewhere. Similar to SSL, Weeetail includes hosting for it’s users on Google’s servers. For Magento and Woo, merchants are responsible for finding their own hosting solution such as Nexcess or iNetu.
Because WooCommerce is an extension of WordPress, there are very few server requirements and certainly none you'll struggle to handle. You can find the full list of requirements here
As long as your server supports MySQL or PHP, there should be no issue. This makes WooCommerce very easy and cost effective to jump start from the get-go.
Magento has a slightly longer list of server requirements that require some technical knowledge to set up properly. You can find the full list of requirements here.
In situations similar to editing your content on the fly, if you would like to change your banners or product images directly on your website then the only platform that supports this is Weeetail. With Woo and Magento, you will need to locate the specific area in the admin panel to update your images.
One of the reasons Magento has grown to be a powerhouse in the eCommerce industry is because of their open-source platform. This makes it very easy for developers to add custom code catered to merchant’s workflow and develop extensions or add-ons. Woo is also open-source so developers can make their modifications to the site. Weeetail is limited in this area as the system does not support users adding custom code to the website at this time.
Extensions / Apps
All platforms offer extensions / apps that can be added to your store for added functionality. Magento leads the way with thousands of extensions developed by developers and agencies worldwide. Similarly, Woo has a marketplace with a few hundred extensions that are offered from developers.
Magento Connect offers thousands of extensions that further expand Magento's capabilities. Simply search and install the extension you need. You’ll likely need a certified developers help to install the extension properly.
WooCommerce is a little more limited, but does have some neat add-ons:
- Product ratings
- Dozens of widgets, including featured products, bestsellers, products on sale, etc.
- Advanced navigation system similar to Magneto, but users can only filter by one attribute instead of many
WooCommerce’s initial features are quite limited, though it is easy to expand. Some additional troubles include Plugin Updates (which can occasionally break functionality), fewer API extensions and less documentation.
The platform seems ideal for beginner businesses who want to get up and running fast, and it handles basic online storefronts. But like Magento, to really get the best bang for your buck, you may need to bring in professional developers.
Updating your software can be a challenging feat as normally the update is applied in a test environment first to ensure the update doesn’t affect your store. Once checked, it is applied on your live store and rested for safety. This takes time and must be done carefully so as to not interrupt online sales.
Magento is notorious for constantly pushing updates deemed critical for merchants to add (as I write this post a security patch was released). As an agency, we hear the complaints from our clients that updates are frustrating...which is one of the big perks with Weeetail.
Since Weeetail is built on Magento, updates are required as well. However, merchants do not have to worry about these updates as they are applied and tested by the Weeetail team.
Woo uses the same structure as Magento in that you are notified of system updates but you are responsible for applying and testing the update.
If you have or manage multiple websites then the good news is all 3 platforms allow you to easily manage the content and products in one system.
Selling products with a variety of options such as different colors? Magento and Weeetial offer color swatches that can be added to your products so customers can see color options for your products.
Here is perhaps the most important feature to keep in mind - how these platforms support their customers. Weeetail and Woo both offer email and phone support to assist merchants with launching and managing their stores.
Magento on the other hand does not offer any support, unless you use their Enterprise version of the platform that cost $19k / year. Non-Enterprise users must hire contractors or an agency to assist with their website.
It can seem like most of the web knows how to tinker behind the scenes of a WordPress site, which makes getting up and running with WooCommerce feel like second nature. Even if you've never used a WordPress site of any kind before, the platform is intuitive and easy to learn. The WooCommerce plugin is no different, making it ideal for less sophisticated users. It’s also developer and designer friendly, keeping it easy to customize and change your storefront as you see fit.
WooCommerce also have a pretty thorough help section, which includes beginners' video tutorials to help you get up and running.
Magento, on the other hand, comes with a full installation wizard which makes getting underway more or less child's play. As you'd expect with an open source application, the help section on the Magento site is really comprehensive and useful, a great resource for anyone getting started. There are dozens of videos and tutorials across the web from the support community as well.
Weeetail let’s users quickly choose a theme they like and create a store instantly. The themes are 100% customizable so you can change all the fonts and button styles to match your brand. Since it is built on Magento there is the same learning curve that comes with using a complex eCommerce platform. But Magento’s help center is very robust and Weeetail’s team is ready to assist merchants.
Pricing the Platforms
Magento’s Community Edition is completely free for download, putting it in the same league as WooCommerce. For bigger businesses, there’s Magento Enterprise, designed for very big online businesses ($19k / year).
Development costs for Magento are a bit higher as you’ll need to find a capable developer to help build out the site (or spend the time learning to do it yourself), but what you spend up front you reap back in a far superior platform, greater long-term flexibility, a better initial suite of features and room to grow.
Over at WooCommerce the set up is a little bit different. It's entirely free to download and install the plugin. This seems pretty sweet until you start realising that you're missing out on a few key bits and pieces...For example, if you want to offer your customers a full range of payment options (not just Paypal, pay on delivery and direct bank transfer), you're probably going to need to buy an extension. This could cost anywhere up to $79.00 depending on the type of gateway you're after.
With Weeetail, you have a choice of 3 monthly plans that cover your SSL and hosting. Depending on how much data your store uses depends on which plan you will need. At the moment, here are the available plans:
- $49 / month for 1GB
- $99 / month for 5GB
- $199 / month for 250GB
So, Which One is Right for You?
Take a look at this chart from builtWith that clearly indicates Magneto is the trusted platform for the top 100k eCommerce websites (Mastering 22.8% of the market!):
While the development costs can be a deterrent, WooCommerce’s cheap (or free) entry level pricing quickly ramps up as you add plugins and extensions, and the biggest bill of all may come when you want to migrate down the line.
If you're hoping to work with web geniuses on your eCommerce store, you can't go wrong with Magento.
On the other hand, if you're really passionate about doing it yourself and would like Magento’s functionality plus more, Weeetail is the solution for you.