In today's digital age of eCommerce websites, two platform types 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 prevalent and are the most popular eCommerce platforms in today's market space. Both platforms command huge developer communities, and thus it is easy to find solutions to technical issues. In 2015, close to 30% (250,000 active websites) of all top online retailers used 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. Also, 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 allow you to upload an unlimited number of products as well as will enable you to manage them effectively. Blogging and SEO capabilities 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 produce full 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 make their 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.
Any online store must have secure checkouts for its customers. With WooCommerce and Magento, it is essential to keep in mind that the merchant is responsible for purchasing its SSL certificate for its 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).
- Developers for Magento will are more focused on eCommerce.
- Magento is more robust for eCommerce functionalities.
- Magento extensions are more eCommerce driven.
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 an extensive library of tutorial videos available to help with the WooCommerce setup.
The Magento platform is also easy to set up and has plenty of tutorial videos. Being an open-source platform 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.
THE MAIN FEATURES
When it comes to online retail stores, 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 built, which enables 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 view on the same account. Besides, Magento provides a more robust organization of its products and more advanced filtering functions than WooCommerce.
Also, both Magento and WooCommerce allow one to view Google Analytics. Magneto offers colour swatch features that can be added to your products so that that prospective customers can see colour options for your products. All in all, Magento provides a plethora of features over WooCommerce, and Magento Connect offers thousands of extensions to add to your site. Still, you should have a developer 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. Concerning hosting, WooCommerce works well on WordPress hosting, whereas, Magento requires using dedicated services or a cloud plan, mainly as your portfolio grows; otherwise, your website will see a drastic speed reduction 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 upfront, it will benefit that much greater with a far superior eCommerce platform, with improved long-term flexibility and scalability.
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