If you’re new to digital business and are considering opening an online store, in all likelihood, you’ll eventually end up choosing between these two eCommerce solutions for your website – Magento or WooCommerce. Either you’ll hear about one of them from your friends, or read in a blog post, your choice will be narrowed down to only these platforms currently leading the competition and jointly powering nearly a half of all eCommerce stores. Neither of them is inherently better than its competitor, they both have their strengths, but there are definitely a few things you should know about them before you start setting up your online store.
The fact that both Magento and WooCommerce are open source products largely explains why around 40% of online stores rely on either of these platforms. Their original code is free. Having an open source code allows developers to build on it and create products that satisfy the particular needs of customers. It’s also a huge advantage compared to hosted competitors, such as Shopify, that also offer creating online stores but lack the extensive customization capabilities.
Both Magento and WooCommerce have an immense number of responsive themes and templates, meaning your site will load properly on any device and screen size. Some of the themes are free, others are premium – there’s definitely a lot to choose from. Here’s our list of the best Magento 2 themes and templates so far.
The growing community of advocates and developers adds to the popularity of Magento and WooCoommerce. It also means that it’ll be easy for you to find help around the web in case you need one. Both platforms have strong support and both allow uploading an unlimited number of products to your website.
Expanding on the topic of popularity it’s worth mentioning that according to Builtwith WooCommerce hosts over 1 million websites, whereas only around 260k websites currently rely on Magento. However, out of the top 10k websites only 0.9% are WooCommerce-powered. Magento is considerably more popular among the top 10k website owners, according to Builtwith, and supports 1.5% of their stores.
Both WooCommerce and Magento are relatively easy to install, and both exploit the so-called “freemium” business model. It implies that the initial and the basic part of software is free (Magento also has an Enterprise edition which is not), however if you want to add advanced features to your store, and customize it with elements of design or functionality – at some point you’ll have to pay. Here’s where the similarities of platforms end.
Magento is a standalone platform owned by eBay, whereas WooCommerce is a plugin for the popular WordPress content management system. If you’re already familiar with WordPress, WooCommerce will be a lot easier for you to handle. Magento will require more time to get accustomed to.
In terms of customization, as stated above, both platforms provide unlimited possibilities. However, customizing your WooCommerce shop will be easier if you intend to do it on your own. You’ll basically need to install separate plugins for every new feature you’ll want to add. Magento is a far more complex solution and to improve your store with extensions or add-ons you’ll need to hire Magento developers.
If you don’t have enough expertise and decide to customize your Magento store on your own, chances are you’ll do more harm than good. The simplicity of WooCommerce in terms of improvements is one of the main reason the platform has so many advocates. For this reason it has also been dubbed “the platform for beginners.”
So if you want to save money, your budget is severely limited, or you’re just a geek and want to do everything on your own, WooCommerce might be the solution to choose. In terms of initial costs it is definitely cheaper than Magento, but keep in mind that your budget is bound to increase once you start adding plugins to your store. It’s likely that you’ll have to do it straight away, as, for instance, to have a full range of payment options (beyond bank transfers and PayPal), you’ll need a separate WooCommerce extention.
Another cost you should consider is hosting. Your WooCommerce-based shop can run on just about any hosting compatible with WordPress, like GoDaddy, for instance. Magento requires a little more server power to operate, and Magento stores are best hosted on dedicated servers or on separate cloud platforms, otherwise loading speed can be reduced. Although, if you’re aiming for serious online presence shared hosting is not the best way to go anyway.
In terms of extra shopping facilities Magento definitely has stronger positions than WooCommerce. With Magento you’ll get a chance to cross-sell and up-sell your products straight away. And your customers will definitely enjoy such features as product comparisons, adding discount codes or using advanced filters for navigation. If you have a few stores, or a number of localized versions of one online business, you’ll also find that Magento is a better solution, as you will be able to track their performance from a single account.
Which One to Choose
Your choice will largely depend on the scale of your business, your goals and the budget.
If you have a small family business and just need a simple online store WooCommerce will work better for you. It’s also a better choice if you’re short on cash and don’t have the budget to hire 3rd party development teams.
However if you’re planning to expand your store and are aiming for over 2k items and a large number of variations it’s best to invest in creating a Magento-based website. Global brands, like Samsung and Nike have already taken advantage of this platform’s functionality and features. Magento is more popular among medium and large businesses due to its scalability. A study by Aheadworks revealed that WooCommerce is more frequently used by companies that operate within Software and Information Industry, whereas online clothing outlets prefer Magento.
If you have any questions about anything I’ve mentioned in this blog post or anything else related to Magento, please feel free to drop me a message via this form. I am on the team performing Magento development for large Magento projects.