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Magento vs WooCommerce - which is the best eCommerce platform for you?

  • 5 min read

 

Magento vs WooCommerce

By now, we all know that Magento and WooCommerce are two dominating players in the eCommerce platform market.  But which is the best eCommerce platform for your needs?

Below, we will compare the similarities and differences between Magento and WooCommerce by digging into some details on usability, scalability, add-ons and extensions, security, support, pricing and more.

Of course there is so much outside of this to be discussed so if you still need help after reading this, hit us up.  We’re also here to help grow your online store through marketing, optimization and store enhancements.  We can run everything while you focus on your core business, customers and products.

Now back to Magento and WooCommerce...

Magento and WooCommerce are both open source eCommerce platforms that are free to use initially, and entirely customizable.  Any part of the source code can be altered to fit the needs of the merchant. There is complete flexibility and freedom to customize every aspect of the store.   

How do they differ?

Magento is a content management system built specifically for eCommerce.  WooCommerce in an eCommerce plugin built for WordPress, which is the CMS.  Therefore, you need to have WordPress installed to use the WooCommerce plugin.  

Both Magento and WooCommerce are self hosted.  Magento is a lot more complex, and has different, more powerful hosting needs compared to WooCommerce, which generally can run on a smaller server load.  The more intricate hosting needs with Magento, can cause the site to run slightly slower than WooCommerce.   

Magento also offers two versions - a free open source version, and a paid version called Magento Commerce which is targeted at larger merchants, or enterprise businesses, generally doing more than a million dollars a year online. WooCommerce offers one free version only that has intermittent release updates.

Pricing

As mentioned, both Magento and WooCommerce are open source.  So they are free initially when it comes to downloading the source code.  Their long term costs can vary pretty drastically though.  Unless sticking to Magento’s out of the box features and functionality, the cost of extensions, and platform maintenance can escalate quickly.  With it being a more complex platform, hosting, extensions, and naturally - developers - come at a higher price point.  

Then there is Magento Commerce, the version previously known as Enterprise, which will cost a minimum of $22K/annually.  This price will also increase based on annual revenue generated.  

WooCommerce is less complex, and therefore comes with cheaper hosting costs, less expensive plugins, and a more affordable price point for developers.  

Overall, WooCommerce is a more economical eCommerce platform.

Usability

From a development standpoint, Magento is a more complex platform.  It requires a steeper learning curve that takes some time to master.

WooCommerce on the other hand is a lot more intuitive to navigate especially if the user already has gained the “know-how” of working with WordPress. It by no means, is a simple platform.  It still needs a deep hands on approach, but definitely requires less technical skill when compared to Magento.  

Scalability

Magento has grown to be known as the most scalable eCommerce platform out there.  Their open source version does have some limited ability to scale, however, their Commerce version is limitless.  Hundreds of thousands of products and orders can be processed with ease at any given time.  Supported product types include, simple, configurable, grouped, virtual, bundled, downloadable, and gift cards.  

WooCommerce also has an unlimited number of products they can handle.  Default product types that they offer include:  Simple, Grouped, Virtual, Downloadable, External/Affiliate, and Variable. 

Features, Add-Ons & Extensions 

Magento offers the best features fresh out the box - multi store capabilities from one admin panel, multi language options, layered navigation, and complex configurable products.

WooCommerce is a bit behind in comparison. They are definitely not a lesser choice, they just don’t offer the same features straight out of the box.  These features however, can be obtained through plugins and extensions - which they offer more than 50K free plugins built for WordPress sites specifically.  Outside of these, there are additional paid plugins too.  These cover any and all features imaginable - the list is endless.

Both eCommerce platforms are comparable with the number of extension and plugin offerings that allow you to power up your store.  They both provide diversity with these, however, the difference usually comes in at their price point.  Paid add-ons are generally cheaper and easier to install for WooCommerce than Magento.  Since Magento is more complex, a developer is often needed to set these up and install them correctly.  

Either way, both eCommerce platforms can get your store to whatever point your heart desires - whether that is with built-in features, extensions, or plug-ins.  And if these don’t provide you with what you’re looking for, a savvy developer can always build something custom to your specific needs.

Security

With Magento and WooCommerce both being open source it is up to the store owners to ensure their stores remain PCI compliant.  Magento, nor WooCommerce, nor WordPress are responsible for this.  Don’t leave it to chance to possibly expose your store to vulnerabilities.  

Since Magento was built for eCommerce, they generally do have more security than WooCommerce.  Magento requires fewer plugins which reduces the number of security holes that might be exploited.  WordPress (being the CMS) was originally built as a blogging platform and doesn’t have the same security systems in place as Magento.  WooCommerce also requires more plugins, which both in turn, may increase the chance of falling victim to fraud and attacks.  

There are extensions, plugins and companies out there that can help with ensuring your store remains updated and PCI compliant.  We are one of those companies, so hit us up if you need some help.  

So which eCommerce platform is best for you? 

It’s really going to boil down to your business model.  If you’re slightly smaller and have a limited budget to work with, and less dev experience - then WooCommerce is the way to go.  Whether you’re selling simple products or a variety of them, enhancing your store with plugins and extensions can get you where you need to be.  

If we look at BuiltWith.com - a site that scans the entire web and looks at what eCommerce platforms websites use - WooCommerce is prominent with some very well brands but those that aren’t as eCommerce centric as you'll notice with Magento.  

WooCommerce websites, have a heavy makeup of .gov and .edu sites.  There are also a large number of blog pages too - such as Nextdoor, Tigerdirect, Diabetes Nutrisystem, and more.  This isn’t surprising though as WooCommerce is a plugin for Wordpress which initially was built for blogging and content heavy purposes versus eCommerce specifically. 

Magento and Magento Enterprise's live websites, are made up of large globally known brands like Bed Bath and Beyond, Nintendo, Top Shop, The Grommet, NineWest.  Stores that are huge with a large focus on eCommerce.

So with that being said, if you have more financial resources, advanced technical skills and knowledge, or access to these, then Magento is for you.  They offer more out-the-box features, and their extensions are everything you can possibly hope for and more.

If you still have questions, be sure to reach out to us.  We're here to help.

 

 

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