Introduction If you are reading this, then it means that you are already aware of what an eCommerce store needs to start. Choosing the right platform is the first thing you will need to do. It will depend on your current market size and potential growth goals.
For beginners, you want an entry-level platform like Wix, Shopify, or Squarespace. This should get your store up and running in no time. If you like customization & robust store experience, WooCommerce and Magento are for you. And we are going to talk about these two to a great extent.
Table of Contents
- An Overview of Magento and WooCommerce
- Which Platform Has Better Pricing?
- How Do Their Features Compare?
- Magento vs WooCommerce: Ease of Use
- Which Platform Has Better Performance?
- How Are the Themes and Designs?
- Do They Offer Integrations and Apps?
- Magento vs WooCommerce Customer Support
- Are There Good Alternatives?
- Magento vs WooCommerce FAQs
- Which Is Better: WooCommerce or Magento?
An Overview of Magento and WooCommerce
As the leading open-source platforms to date, Magento and WooCommerce take the lead. They are the best choices for the eCommerce enthusiast. Both have proven time and again that they are the go-to solutions for small to large businesses. Let us see what they are in detail and help you choose which suits you best.
Magento is the more accessible of the two open-source platforms. It is a CMS or Content Management System in itself. It is unlike how WooCommerce requires WordPress, which is the CMS it stands on.
Founded in 2008, Magento is a fully-fleshed out eCommerce platform on its own. It has scalability in mind. As mentioned, it is its own CMS. This means that you can install it and it is all there. And we mean it when we say “all there.” As it is more eCommerce-centric by nature, most features that you would need in an online store are there… out of the box.
With Magento, the downside is the need for a developer to grow your store and maximize its capabilities or at least have the technical skills to be able to sit down and digest the documentation needed to run and use it at all. Its steep learning curve with usage and maintenance is not recommended for beginners. This is why Magento is more attuned to developers than business owners.
There have been two versions of the CMS out there - Magento 1 and 2. Magento 1 is the initial version from its release back in 2008 up until late 2015 when version 2 was launched. The obvious difference is the user interface overhaul. Version 2 looks modern, moving their navigation at the left side rather than the traditional horizontal menu. It also changed the categorizations in the navigation e.g. all store-related functions are found at the Store section. More than that, Magento 2 is reportedly faster on front-end performance. Page load is 30-50% faster and can handle millions of page views per hour, compared to the two hundred thousand limit in version 1. It is also more user-friendly and SEO-friendly now. As a side note, Magento 1 support has been discontinued since last year - June 2020 to be exact.
As it is a highly functional and scalable CRM, it is the choice of major brands like Ford, Nike, Nintendo, Canon, and more. Given that these are businesses that make millions in revenue, if not billions, they can certainly pay for Magento’s premium plan. As of this year, more than 250,000 companies rely on Magento. This is a testament to how powerful Magento is as an eCommerce platform. We have an extensive review of Magento here.
While Magento is a highly scalable open-source platform, WooCommerce is neck-in-neck with Magento at the top. Why so, you ask? We’ll discuss their advantages in this section and the next ones.
WooCommerce is an eCommerce plugin tied to WordPress. Its humble beginnings originated from a small team. These individuals dedicated their efforts to create an easy-to-use eCommerce platform. This would eventually become WooCommerce in its final form by 2011, where it was finally made available in WordPress.
If you have WordPress and would like to create an eCommerce store, just install the WooCommerce plugin and you’re set! It caters to entry-level and medium businesses that have a limited starting budget. It’s also more user-friendly than Magento. Any regular Joe or Jane can start their store without a hitch. While it is easy to use, it is also flexible with its many plugins and extensions to expand your business scale.
As of January this year, close to 4 million websites use WooCommerce. At this rate, that number might be higher than ever. This proves that WooCommerce is the widely popular choice as an eCommerce platform. Users mostly comprise small to medium businesses. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is expected that more eCommerce stores will be created upon the closure of most brick and mortar stores. And WooCommerce will reap the benefits given its accessibility to entry-level users. We also have an extensive review of WooCommerce here.
Which Platform Has Better Pricing?
This might prove to be difficult given that both eCommerce platforms can be acquired for free. Magento can be downloaded straight from their website at no cost. Same with WooCommerce, which is free to get within WordPress, which is also free. So how can we compare pricing for each then? It’s all down to the underlying costs incurred to run your online store.
Yes, it is open-source but you still need to use an actual domain name to set your identity as an online store. You also need web hosting to house your Magento website, files, and more. You will also need SSL and content delivery, which might be available on your chosen web hosting platform. Free themes are available but there are also paid themes that can help you achieve a professional-looking front to your online store. There are a lot of extensions available but as Magento is proud to tell everyone, they have everything out of the box. Hence, there is minimal to none when it comes to the need for extensions. It sounds like a lot so you need to prepare everything to make it as operational as possible. What we will provide you below is but an estimate of what to expect.
Domain and Registration - $10 to $500 Hosting - from $10 onwards Theme - optional, $200 for Paid themes Extensions - $50 to $500
There is also a Premium version of Magento called Adobe Commerce. It costs a whopping $22,000 a year for less than a million dollars of gross revenue and would increase depending on your revenue growth every year. This plan is best suited for businesses that are at a steady revenue bracket of about a million dollars or more. The reasoning behind the astronomic cost is the justification of Magento’s value over the cost of use. It seems clear that the developers are confident of what Magento can offer to big businesses.
This eCommerce platform may not size up with Magento out of the box but it packs a punch with its user-friendliness. You also get the same costs as that of Magento but lesser if you want to scale. You can be a medium-sized business and would never need to change to a paid plan because there is none in WooCommerce. All you need to pay for are more extensions and plugins that would suit your business needs.
If you feel the need to pay once for hosting and domain costs, tie-ins with hosting services like Bluehost and Siteground are there for you. They have monthly or yearly plans depending on what your business needs are. This should also contain SSL, CDN, and more. That is if you already registered your domain name, which should also be a quick process.
So with these in mind, it still depends on you and what your business needs for actual costing. Remember that research is key to an informed choice.
How Do Their Features Compare?
Each of these eCommerce platforms has an arsenal that suits any business. One may not have a certain feature out the gate while the other one is best known for it.
In this section, we will itemize what’s important in any business and how Magento or WooCommerce performs on each. We hope that this will help you decide on what to use. Let’s go ahead then.
Order and Inventory Management
We’ll go with Magento first - they mostly have it all on Open Source. You have the usual create, edit and fulfill functionality for orders. There are also packing slips, shipping labels, and invoice printing capability out of the box. Users are also given the ability to customize order statuses and not just the ones on default. They have an RSS feed for orders and email order notifications as well. There is also Assisted Shopping where administrators can manage a customer’s shopping cart. Wish list and coupons included. There’s also the OMS or Order Management System extension that you can use on top of the existing functionality. This is packed with extended features suited for medium to larger-sized businesses. We need to remind you though that this is a paid extension that costs $199.
With inventory, it’s the same with any other eCommerce platform. They have management for back-ordered items, minimum and maximum quantity settings, and so on. The one thing they have available that sets them apart from the rest is inventory alerts through an RSS feed. We all know alerts like email notifications for low inventory are available in Shopify but this takes it on a whole new level.
Woocommerce’s interface and experience for order management are quite typical. Nonetheless, it does its job rather well. It can handle single and multiple orders. They don’t have RSS from the get-go - a plugin or an extension can solve that. They don’t have customized order statuses but they have a variety of them already included by default. All extras like invoice printing and packing lists are not included and can be solved with a plugin or browser extension. Woocommerce’s Multisite Orders is an interesting and out of the box functionality. It also is multisite-compatible. You can create individual stores and manage them independently under one WooCommerce instance.
Stock and inventory level alerts are all through email notifications. To be able to track inventory, you must first Enable Stock Management under Products Inventory Settings. Inventory management can be automated. Manually adding a product is also possible. If you don’t, you’ll end up spending more time on the screen and less on the business. So this is highly recommended. The limitation of tracking inventory applies to one location. If you store products on multiple sites, normally it won’t display them on default. A plugin like WooCommerce Multi Locations Inventory Management at $79 can help with that.
If your aim is simple, go with WooCommerce. If your business demands complex functionalities or deals with a larger amount of data from transactions, Magento is the one for you.
We can break down what product attributes are available for each eCommerce platform below.
Simple - a physical item with a single SKU
Configurable - appears to be a single product with lists for varying options. As such, each product variation is a simple product in itself
Grouped - multiple standalone products. These can come as variations of one product (e.g. shirts) in a group.
Virtual - intangible products like services and warranties.
Bundled - a customer-initiated group of individual products. It can also be a set product combination like a complete computer set.
Downloadable - this is digital and can be acquired through your online store after purchase. It might be that the product is stored on your servers.
Gift cards - these can be virtual, physical, or a combination of both.
WooCommerce has almost everything on par with Magento’s. What they lack are the Configurable, Bundled, and Gift Card product types.
But, they have aces up their sleeves. And these are…
External or affiliate - these are products that you list on your store but you’re not the actual seller. That is why it is affiliate or external. You are just sending the customer to the external URL that you will specify for this product type.
Variable - it sounds like the Configurable product type from Magento but with a different name. As the name itself states, the variable product is a product type that can have different attributes. They are also treated as separate products per variation.
About attributes, WooCommerce doesn’t have any by default. But the ability to make attributes is available to WooCommerce users. These can also be created through plugins and extensions that enable more attribute availability. Magento has 42 default system attributes and the ability to create unlimited custom attributes.
With the number of SKUs, Magento gets the score as it easily handles a store even with 500K+ SKUs. It’s not that WooCommerce can’t handle a lot but if you have that same number of SKUs, expect page load times to suffer. The slower your online store is, the worse the customer experience can get.
For Magento, payment gateways like PayPal and Authorize.net are available by default. Though Stripe, Square, and Braintree are available as extra gateways. There are more but these are the prominent ones being used. And these are free extensions.
With WooCommerce, Paypal is an online payment gateway that is available out of the box. It is possible to add free ones through extensions like Braintree and Stripe. WooCommerce has its own payment gateway called WooCommerce Payments. Same as Magento, they do have a lot as well.
About transaction fees, Magento by default does not charge any transaction fees. What does though are the payment gateways that it uses. WooCommerce does charge transaction fees, especially if WooCommerce Payments is used. It is at 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction made with US-issued credit or debit cards. If you order using a non-US card, an extra 1% is included on top of the above rate.
Abandoned Cart Recovery
WooCommerce does not have abandoned cart recovery natively. They do have plugins and extensions for that functionality.
Same with WooCommerce, Magento has options for abandoned cart recovery available. One would be through extensions. The other option is dotdigital integration which is a marketing automation platform company. And it looks like WooCommerce is included as a supported eCommerce platform with dotdigital.
Before I even write this one, we all know who is at a clear advantage here. But, let’s not discount anything yet.
Though Magento does not have a blog by default, they do have extensions for it. There are free extensions like the Magento 2 Blog Extension (also with paid versions for extra features). Paid extensions like Mirasvit Blog MX, Amasty Blog Pro, and Aheadworks are there as well. It still depends on you with how you want your blog to look - may it be simple or otherwise.
WooCommerce takes advantage of WordPress’ full capability as the leading blog CMS here. It is like having a two-in-one combo that is both free and efficient.
WooCommerce, being in WordPress, has that advantage in tow when it comes to SEO. WordPress is already SEO-friendly with room for growth and functionality. They also have plugins like Yoast and AIOSEO that would help in some aspects of SEO. These help you create proper permalinks, track your SEO rating, etc.
Magento has built-in SEO tools that will suit the most basic of functions. That does not mean the end of it. Magento 2 was made with SEO in mind, adding features that will improve SEO friendliness. Lean code is also featured, decluttering code that will affect speed and SEO compliance. With a bit of tweaking, Magento users can achieve that. It is powerful on its own but adding extensions will boost your website more.
Both eCommerce platforms do well when it comes to SEO. But with scalability, expansiveness, and continuous code improvements, Magento is the clear winner.
Magento vs WooCommerce: Ease of Use
Hands down, WooCommerce takes this round. This eCommerce platform doesn’t need any coding for scalability and page beautification. It’s also easier to install with on-screen instructions guiding you at every step.
Magento is made for large businesses and corporations in mind. Thus, technical experts and developers navigate through installation and usage with greater ease. It needs an intuitive mind to maintain Magento-created websites. This is evident with the monthly security patches.
Which Platform Has Better Performance?
Let us break down the performance for both eCommerce platforms with various features.
This depends on your web hosting provider. Most hosting platforms offer improved speed with tie-ins to CDNs. CDNs or Content Delivery Networks are the ones responsible for the website’s speed. CDN servers are spread out from around the globe and would enable users to pull cached files from the nearest location, ergo faster. These would house files like images, documents, and web pages. External CDN services like Cloudflare offer both free and paid plans to improve your page load speed.
With all this mentioned, Magento has its page load improvement from the discontinued first version to the present. The speed can be boosted for both Open Source & Adobe Commerce plans with the use of a CDN. As mentioned, you can use external CDN services or you can check the Magento Marketplace with the likes of Fastly.
Magento, as a dedicated eCommerce CMS, is highly scalable. Focusing more on medium to large-scale businesses, enables the user to grow alongside their business needs. Most especially with the help of a Customer Success Manager with Adobe Commerce, this makes things easier. Also, a dedicated developer on your side is a major advantage with Magento users. So Magento is a winner in this round.
As stated in the last part of Magento’s scalability, you will most definitely need a developer on this part. Updates are not automatic and are trickier to apply on your current Magento version. The developers at Magento are hard at work to keep the software functional and safe. And their security is top-notch, nonetheless.
This is also the reason why some marketplaces using Magento are out-of-date due to the complexity of the patch application. Users are put off and would leave their Magento store unprotected. It is highly recommended to apply these patches since an unsecured online store is dangerous and most definitely avoided. Long story short, Magento is secure as long as it is updated regularly.
With their security updates come their “quality” updates. These improve the functionality of the software itself. These patches come from Adobe and the Open Source community. There is a Quality Patches Tool made available on the Commerce DevDocs. It only goes to show the dedication and time being poured into the software. Not to say that any system is perfect, but Magento is as close as we can get to quality.
Same with any eCommerce platform, including Magento, everyone needs CDN and bigger, faster servers. And good news, it is included in WooCommerce hosting plans from the likes of Bluehost and Siteground. Plugins like WP Rocket, WP Fastest Cache, NitroPack, and can help you improve caching speed.
With that said, there are also factors like page load, database size, memory limit increase, and more that affect speed. We do know that the WooCommerce team is still creating leaps and bounds for further improvements at its basest. While plugins intend to improve functionality, too much will also bog down website performance.
WooCommerce ascertains that they are scalable and not just accommodate small stores. Same with the speed factor, the usual suspects are the number of plugins your store uses. Also, the hosting company’s servers and traffic handle. They also maintain that their team is constantly working to optimize their base code for future versions.
Their scalability factor may not be as robust as Magento’s at the moment. But who knows, they might be able to catch up.
Aside from getting a great hosting company with an SSL certificate, your WooCommerce version should always be updated. Plugins, especially free ones, are also major culprits with reported vulnerabilities. The reasoning is they are open-source and with that comes questionable credibility. There are trusted plugins like Jetpack that can offer you peace of mind. It also does real-time backups, monitoring, and IP blocks. And it only costs roughly $6/month, that amount for ensuring your safety is a bargain. You have to keep in mind that it’s not just your store that is at stake but also your customers’ information.
This goes hand in hand with the WooCommerce version updates. Their developers are working to improve their functionality and bring it a step above the rest.
How Are the Themes and Designs?
Magento has professional-looking themes from the get-go. Luma and Blank are the two available themes upon installation. They have premium ones too on Magento Marketplace. Not to mention a lot of choices from a lot of sources like ThemeForest, Template Monster, and more are available. Advanced users can also create their custom themes through coding in Magento. With responsiveness, Magento has that by default.
Not to say that WooCommerce does not. They have very modern and vibrant-looking designs for their websites. Their default theme, WooCommerce Storefront is already intuitive and flexible in itself. ThemeForest, Template Monster, and more themes are also available for WooCommerce. And if you have noticed on these websites, WooCommerce themes are cheaper than Magento. With the deep level of customization Magento offers, it’s no wonder that huge companies use it.
Do They Offer Integrations and Apps?
Both platforms have, to a certain degree, integrations, extensions, and in the case of WooCommerce, plugin support.
As mentioned before, dotdigital integration is available for both WooCommerce and Magento. They offer marketing features like marketing campaigns, abandoned cart recovery, retargeting and more. Same with dotdigital, Klaviyo is also integrating for both platforms and others. Payment integrations like Stripe are also available for both. So there’s not much competition in this area.
Both Magento and WooCommerce offer a wealth of extensions. But WooCommerce’s availability and grassroots support take it home with its 50K+ extensions. Magento has thousands but all come from the discontinued Magento 1. We surmise that at present, the number is less than 1K. What Magento makes up for their lack of extensions are their out-of-the-box capabilities.
Magento vs WooCommerce Customer Support
Since both platforms are open-source, users rely on community boards and FAQs for help. The boards have other active users who offer solution-sharing and may work. For this kind of support, there is no way to guarantee if other users’ solutions will work for you, though it may.
The big difference here is Magento Commerce, which does have support tickets available. This premium plan also offers a Customer Success Manager who will be able to tell users how to improve your business through Magento.
With WooCommerce, there are so-called “Happiness Engineers” that gear toward helping its users. But that requires a lot of information gathering from the user to speed up the support process. Moreso, it encourages its users as much as possible to use the forums and the FAQs. This enables the users to resolve the problems on their own as “issues can be solved right away.” There are also dedicated support teams per premium extension and plugin used. There is no support for free plugins and extensions though. So it depends on how much you would spend on your online store.
Are There Good Alternatives?
If we are talking about the wide world of eCommerce, there’s a lot that you can choose from. Open-source or otherwise, they all do the job rather well.
Famous ones like BigCommerce, Wix, Squarespace are familiar to eCommerce users. There are others like Drupal, nopCommerce, and PrestaShop, which are open-source. As reiterated, it all depends on your business needs and available resources. In this section, we will have a look at two other platforms. See how they size up with Magento and WooCommerce.
Magento vs WooCommerce vs OpenCart
OpenCart is a minimalistic open-source eCommerce platform. Very humble in structure, it is not as modern as the other two would look. But there is more than meets the eye with OpenCart.
They promise and promote a lot of features out of the box. They offer unlimited categorization and products, multi-store administration. It also has multi-currency and multi-lingual support. If you don’t see any functionality that you need, OpenCart Marketplace is the place to go. The marketplace contains payment gateway integrations, shipping method support, SEO, and more. Marketing campaign setup is also included by default. And the same with the other two, it can be downloaded for free.
With enough support for its developers, OpenCart can be up there with Magento and WooCommerce. It is a great starting point for the beginner and a pro. It’s a balance between WooCommerce’s user-friendliness and Magento’s scalability.
Magento vs WooCommerce vs Shopify
Shopify, like Magento and WooCommerce, is one of the famous eCommerce platforms out there. It is estimated that close to 500K websites use Shopify while 5K+ users have Shopify Plus.
Unlike Magento and WooCommerce, Shopify is closed-source, paid, and has its hosting service. This means developers are only tasked for front-end and design reliant on what Shopify tools are available. This also means that you only need to pay once a month and everything is there. It also includes dedicated customer support, unlimited bandwidth, and online storage. It has its Point of Sale, fraud analysis, reporting, and more. For extra features you can get, Shopify App Store is there for you. Security-wise, Shopify is PCI DSS compliant. This means that you can sleep well knowing your store is in good hands.
The disadvantage at this point is you have no absolute control of your stores like how Magento and WooCommerce grant. Nonetheless, it does its job well. Ask Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner, who use Shopify for their respective cosmetics stores.
Magento vs WooCommerce FAQs
What is the difference between WooCommerce and Magento?
Magento is geared towards developer-level use while WooCommerce is more entry-level user friendly.
Is Magento better than WordPress?
Magento, as an eCommerce CMS from the get-go, has the greatest advantage towards WordPress, which is centered on blog use. When it comes to blog functionality, WordPress has the upper hand.
Is Magento the best ecommerce platform?
Magento, though not user-friendly, is a powerhouse open-source eCommerce CMS that does its job well. It has everything a business needs to run an online store out of the box and is highly scalable appropriate to your revenue growth.
Which Is Better: WooCommerce or Magento?
WooCommerce is as entry-level as it could be. It’s free to install if you have WordPress. It is easy-to-use but barebones with limited functionality out the gate. Though its value can be improved through the use of other plugins and extensions. Developers are also working on scalability to compete with Magento for the large company spectrum.
Magento is high-performance and packed with features at the outset. This platform also enables the user to spruce up their store to compete with the biggest websites out there. The trade-off is you either have to pay for a developer or comb through their documentation yourself.
Each of these open-source platforms has its pros and cons. It is now a question of whether the user wants a plug-and-play experience or something robust and scalable for business. If you prefer a simpler take on handling your store without much fuss, go for WooCommerce. We have a separate review that you can read here. If your focus is future-proofing your business, Magento is the one for you. We hope that we have helped you in choosing the best open-source eCommerce platform!