Magento vs WooCommerce – 8 Criteria to Choose the Best Fit for Your SMB
Magento and WooCommerce proudly stand as two of the most popular eCommerce solutions. The power jointly nearly 40% of all e-stores on the web. While both have their strength and weaknesses, it becomes quite challenging for merchants to choose the best one amongst the two.
This article is aimed to help you get the answer to an ultimate question: What is better for your business?
Firstly, both WooCommerce and Magento are:
- Open source products.
- Initially free to use.
- Deeply customizable.
- Have an abundance of community help.
But what makes them different then?
To begin with, Magento is a content management system built specifically for eCommerce. It is tailored to web development professionals, and medium to large online stores. It offers one of the most robust feature sets in the field, which makes it ideal for stores with high aspirations.
While WooCommerce is an eCommerce framework built on top of WordPress, another CMS. It is a powerful plugin for the WordPress platform. It offers all the features you need from an e-commerce solution while retaining the ease of use of its parent platform. You first need to install WordPress, and then add a WooCommerce plugin.
Talking about the installation of those two, it’s quite typical.
As a small and efficient plugin in an efficient CMS, WooCommerce is very light on server loads and takes up little disk space. That’s why even shared hosting for $5/month may be perfectly good to keep the store running smoothly.
Magento’s complexity requires significantly more powerful hosting that WooCommerce though. You’ll mostly want to use a dedicated server to ensure a good store performance. Otherwise, your online retailer may get slow and sluggish. Naturally, it will cost extra.
When it comes to eCommerce features, Magento outperforms its peer:
1. Multistore capability
2. Multi-language options
3. Complex configurable products
4. Layered navigation
This platform allows you to build a complex and feature-rich store with all your needs and wants. You can customize your shop the way you want, include extra facilities for your customers, or add advanced filter options to help customers navigate easily.
Most of WooCommerce’s superb features still can be obtained with the help of plugins and extensions. As for the rest, WooCommerce has other benefits to compensate for this kind of inferiority. It can score more in SEO due to its fast performance and impressive blogging functionality.
Ease of Use
Though an eCommerce business is not a programmer or web developer, and they need a platform that they can use easily without paying someone a fortune for basic things. However, even experienced users prefer an easy to use platform that helps them focus on growing their business instead of struggling with software.
Magento is a powerful eCommerce specific platform, packing tons of built-in features that work out of the box. It comes with an advanced setup process that can be complicated for new users.
The platform definitely does take some time to get used to. It’s also quite complicated from a development standpoint. But if you’re serious about putting in a bit of effort and climb over the steep learning curve, it will repay off your efforts many times over.
Adding a product in Magento is quite simple, go to “Catalog” -> “Manage Products”, here you can either edit an existing product or add a new one by clicking “Add Product” bottom. At first, you will have to pick an “Attribute Set” and choose the “Product Type”. Afterward, you will have to go through a time consuming but yet comprehensible process of the product set up.
WooCommerce, like its WordPress foundation, puts a huge emphasis on intuitive design and navigation.
This one is a little easier to use compared to Magento. The installation is simple as many WooCommerce hosting providers will automatically install it for you along with WordPress.
For example, adding a product in WooCommerce is simple and fast. Just click on the “Products” menu, then “Add Product”. Here you can give it a name, write description, choose the type of the product, set attribute, price, cross-sell, and up-sell, etc.
Once you are up and running, you will find plenty of help to do almost anything. WooCommerce themes and plugins are easy to install and come with their own settings.
WooCommerce still has a bit of a learning curve, but overall it is far easier to use than the former one.
In general, since Magento is a special-purpose platform built for e-Commerce, it is considered to be more security reliable than WooCommerce.
Moreover, Magento store often requires fewer plugins, which, logically, reduces the number of possible security holes that can be exploited.
On the other hand, WordPress, the CMS on which WooCommerce is built, is a blogging platform originally.
Being much more widespread on the web, and not meant to handle e-Commerce transactions, it happens to become a victim of frauds and hacker attacks much more commonly.
This flaw can be addressed with the help of security plugins, which, however, would increase your expenses and use additional resources needed for other extensions WooCommerce requires.
Plugin and Extensions
Both Magento and WooCommerce have an incomparable number of extensions and plugins able to power up your store considerably.
So, if you have a specific need, it’s likely that there’s an extension or plugin available on either platform.
Being similar in diversity, they’re different in price. Quite often WooCommerce add-ons are much cheaper and easier to install than those on Magento.
To add a plugin or extension on WooCommerce, you need to go to your admin panel, click on the “Plugins” menu, then “Add New”. Here, you may search for any plugins that are available. Let’s choose, for example, Yopot, when you get the needed result, click the “Install Now” button. As an alternative, you can also install WooCommerce plugins via FTP.
The installation of extensions on Magento is not that straight forward. In fact, quite often you may need a developer to handle it out and proceed with a setup correctly.
The installation of the plugin depends on the extension type. There are community and commercial extensions.
Community extensions are built by the Magento community and are free to install.
To perform the installation, find the needed Magento extension on Magento Connect, then click “Install Now” button, check the license agreement box, and click “Get Extension Key”. Now, copy the extension key, and go to your Magento Admin Panel, navigate the “System” -> “Magento Connect” -> “Magento Connect Manager”. Here you will be asked to enter your Magento’s credentials once again. Then, enter your extension key into an appropriate fill, click “Install”, and when the extension is found, click “
Proceed” button. The installation process will begin and show a message when it finishes.
Commercial Magento extensions can not be installed like that.
You can browse them via Magento Connect, but after clicking “Get Extension” button, you will be redirected to a merchant’s site to perform a purchase. Afterward, they will send you a zip file, containing an instruction and extension file. Most, often, all you have to do is to extract the zip file into a root folder via FTP manager.
Magento is known to be by far the most scalable e-Commerce platform out there. Having a decent hosting, it can handle thousands and thousands of products and orders with incredible ease.
For truly stores there’s even more powerful Magento Enterprise Edition.
All these make Magento a perfect choice for middle and big sized online retailers.
As for WooCommerce, a comfortable upper limit for this platform is around 2,500 products.
After passing this number, the limitations of WooCommerce functionality tend to result in your website feeling a little clunky.
That’s why most WooCommerce stores are small or middle-sized with a few exceptions in the hands of professionals.
Both platforms have a vast array of themes. Magento themes are more likely to be ready to go out of the box, while WooCommerce’s tend to require widgets that add content and features to your website.
On the other hand, WooCommerce themes are much easier to edit and tailor. Quite often, they’re cheaper too.
To add a theme on WooCommerce, you need to go to “Appearance” -> “Add New”. Here, simply choose the one you like and click “Install”.
The installation of Magento theme is somewhat similar to adding an extension. You need to find it on Magento Connect. Then copy the extension key and go to “System” in Magento Admin Panel, choose “Magento Connect” with “Magento Connect Manager”. Here, enter the key into an appropriate field, and click “Install”.
While both Magento and WooCommerce are free initially, the long-term costs vary considerably.
WooCommerce requires less expensive hosting, plugins, and generally lower development costs. It is available as free software that anyone can download and install. It runs on top of WordPress so that you can install it on any WordPress website.
WooCommerce itself is free, however, you will need to register a domain name, SSL certificate, and a WordPress hosting account to start your WooCommerce store.
There are now several specialized WooCommerce hosting companies that are now offering discounted hosting plans which reduce your starting cost significantly.
Apart from hosting, using paid extensions and themes for WooCommerce will also affect your costs. However, you can easily find free WooCommerce plugins or tons of free WooCommerce themes that can reduce your costs.
As for Magento, unless you stick to its out-of-the-box functionality, costs of platform maintenance may escalate quickly. It happens due to expensive extensions, higher development prices, and generally more expensive hosting requirements.
To be more precise, Magento comes in two editions, community, and commerce edition.
For the community edition. You can download and install this yourself on any hosting provider. It does not include all features and it does not come with any support.
On the other hand, Magento Commerce includes paid plans followed by cloud hosting. This plan is available as a monthly subscription with a revenue-based license cost.
In fact, even the Magento community version is not cheap. The core software you can download for free, but you will need at least a VPS hosting plan or a cloud host like Amazon Web Services to run it.
This means you will be using the free version, or your hosting bill will still be quite higher than a shared hosting plan.
Conclusion - Magento vs Woocommerce
Magento and WooCommerce are both full-featured eCommerce platforms that you can use to build any kind of online store. However, it comes down to costs, and your personal skills to choose between them.
If you are running a small business with a limited budget and little developing experience, WooCommerce is definitely the way to go. It does just the job of selling simple products and can be significantly enhanced with the help of numerous plugins and extensions available.
Medium and big-sized businesses with a large number of products and greater financial resources are better off using Magento. It has a few more basic features and once installed by a developer or simply tech-savvy person; the extensions are brilliant too.
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