In today’s digital age of eCommerce websites, there are two platform types that dominate: Magento and WooCommerce (WordPress). Magento is a solution owned by eBay, and WooCommerce is a toolkit/ plugin developed to transform WordPress websites into online retail stores. Both platforms are extremely popular, and are the most popular eCommerce platforms in today’s marketspace. Both platforms command huge developer communities, and thus it is easy to find solutions to technical issues. In 2015, it was estimated that close to 30% (250,000 active websites) of all top online retailers use Magento as its platform of choice. At Webilize (Portfolio and Testimonials) we design and develop both Magento and WordPress eCommerce sites, but which platform is right for you?
Both Magento and WooCommerce are open source platforms, meaning that the original code can be modified and customized to create a product that works to the needs of the online merchant. In addition, there is no shortage of available help and resources from their respective communities.
Magento and WooCommerce (WordPress) are both self-hosted platforms, allowing your online store to be fully customized. Both follow a “freemium” business model, where extras can be purchased over time as your business grows. Also, Magento and WooCommerce allows you to upload an unlimited number of products as well as allow you to effectively manage them. Blogging and SEO capabilities are also provided on both platforms.
Although, out of the box, both platforms provide the basic eCommerce functionalities such as a shopping cart, product listings, order management, and inventory features, Magento tends to provide more rich features and customization options.
The price tag of “free” should be looked at with a word of caution, as it only means that there are no licensing costs. Magento and WooCommerce makes it money by selling add-ons (Magento also sells a hosted enterprise version). Having to add on extensions from Magento Connect (its marketplace) is unavoidable, and both platforms require a theme. Magento leads the pack with thousands of extensions developed for its platform. WooCommerce has a few hundred offered through its developers. Although one can certainly use a pre-built theme, if you want the online store and customer experience to be completely controllable, you’ll want to have developers to help build a custom theme.
It is critical for any online store to have secure checkouts for its customers. With WooCommerce and Magento, it is important to keep in mind that the merchant is responsible for purchasing its own SSL certificate for its own stores.
The main fundamental difference between the two platforms is that Magento is a dedicated standalone eCommerce platform. WooCommerce is an add-on to its Content Management System (CMS).
WordPress is known to be a very user-friendly platform, and converting it into an eCommerce site using WooCommerce only involves a simple plugin install. Also, there is a large library of tutorial videos available to help with the WooCommerce set-up.
The Magento platform is also easy to setup and has plenty of tutorial videos. Being an open source platform definitely helps, as it also comes with a full installation wizard which makes getting started simpler. However, adding extensions to a site may prove to be challenging for the novice user, and therefore hiring a Magento developer is ideal for the setup and customization.
When it comes to online retail store, Magento provides the most customizable and scalable features because it is designed primarily for eCommerce stores. Although WooCommerce offers a vast amount of extensions through its WordPress plugins, Magento dominates when it comes to its value-added features. With WooCommerce, a user can only filter by one attribute. With Magento, a deeper level of customization can be built, which enable cross-selling, up-selling, comparing products, adding discount codes, and using an advanced filter to navigate through products. For localized versions of your online store, Magento allows more than one store to be viewed on the same account. In addition, Magento provides a more robust organization of its products and more advanced filtering functions than WooCommerce.
In addition, both Magento and WooCommerce allows one to view Google Analytics. Magneto offers color swatch features, that can be added to your products, so that prospective customers can see color options for your products. All in all, Magento provides a plethora of features over WooCommerce, and Magento Connect offer thousands of extensions to add to your site. It is advisable that a developer be hired to install the Magento extensions properly.
Although both interfaces are free initially, Magento does come in a costlier Enterprise version, which is primarily used by large eCommerce businesses. WooCommerce’s basic options are limited, therefore, the additional plugins and extensions add up, i.e. Payment options beyond PayPal and bank transfers.
With the Magento platform, the merchant will need to make investments into adding extensions as the company grows. With respect to hosting, WooCommerce works well on WordPress hosting, whereas, Magento will require using dedicated services or a cloud plan, particularly as your portfolio grows, otherwise your website will see a drastically reduction in speed and affect the overall user shopping experience.
Although the development costs for a Magento site are higher, in general, the amount of capital that a merchant invests up front, it will benefit that much greater with a far superior eCommerce platform, with improved long-term flexibility and scalability.
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