Magento vs. WooCommerce: Which Is Better for You?
By David Ephraim, ATAK Interactive President, Development + Operations
The two leading e-commerce platforms, by the number of installations, are WooCommerce and Magento. Both are versatile and powerful, and the best choice depends on a business’s particular needs. Magento is software specialized for e-commerce web pages, while WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin which lets sites host online stores. To choose between them, you should understand their features, costs, and requirements.
WooCommerce runs as a plug-in under WordPress. It’s available for free, though paid enhancements are available. It works with all WordPress plugins and themes, and it has an API which lets it have its own plugins. Support is mostly community-based, through public forums. Paid support is available from third-party professionals.
Magento is a complete platform in itself, specializing in e-commerce. Its market consists mostly of medium and large online stores, and it includes a rich set of features. Magento has both free and paid versions, with more features in the paid one. Developers and partners can take courses and get certified, and customers can obtain paid support through them. Cloud hosting is available with paid packages.
Both products let the customers host their own sites, and there are hosting companies which specialize in one or both.
Using either package for business will entail some costs. Hosting is necessary (it’s included in the cost of Magento’s paid versions) and will cost anywhere from $5 a month upward. The host should be PCI-compliant if the store accepts credit cards, which rules out many of the cheapest options. Magento’s rich set of features requires a fairly powerful server, so shared hosting may not work as well as it will for the leaner WooCommerce.
Companies without an IT staff may want to consider managed hosting, which costs money but offers better uptime and fewer unpleasant problems.
The appearance of a site and its appeal to the customer are all important. Free themes are available, but a serious site will find buying a good-looking theme is worth the one-time cost. Integration with a payment processing service is a necessity. The basic costs of running a site don’t have to be high, but they could run up a couple of hundred dollars a year or more.
WooCommerce is free, as is Magento Open Source. Magento Commerce is a suite of paid, hosted versions for different site sizes. The cost of the service starts at $2,000 a year and can go much higher for high-volume sites.
Additional costs with Magento may include extensions, themes, and integrations. Some are free while others have a price tag. Extending Magento tends to require assistance from a developer, which will add to the cost. A WooCommerce site will generally require more plugins than a Magento site, but a larger selection of free ones is available. Setting up WooCommerce is easier and adding plugins doesn’t require a specialist, so site owners can save money on technical assistance.
A typical WooCommerce site costs considerably less to set up than a Magento site. It’s possible to set up Magento Open Source at a very low cost, but it requires a higher level of in-house development skills.
Out of the box, Magento wins easily on features. It’s stronger, even in the free version, on store management, product management, and payment processing. WooCommerce can do impressive things, but site owners may have to buy additional plugins or pay for custom development to get all the features they want.
The cost of a rich feature set is complexity, though. WooCommerce has the upper hand in ease of use. It’s possible to get a site going without a lot of experience. Getting started with Magento requires spending a good amount of time studying the documentation.
Both platforms are scalable, but Magento has a better reputation for supporting enterprise-scale stores. WooCommerce is used for some impressively large sites, but it takes more work to get there.
Magento isn’t intended for constructing a full website. WooCommerce sits on top of WordPress, so its sites can do anything a normal WordPress site can do. Magento needs to work together with some other way of constructing the rest of the site.
Adding plugins to WordPress, including ones to extend WooCommerce, is very easy. Adding extensions to Magento is harder and may require professional assistance. On the other hand, Magento’s richer feature set means there’s less of a need to add them.
One area where a WooCommerce site will need plugins is security. Magento has a strong built-in set of security features, but WordPress relies more on plugins. They provide benefits such as limiting login attempts and monitoring files. Security is very important to a site that handles sales, so a WooCommerce site should use some carefully selected plugins to reduce the chances of a breach.
Which is better in the end?
As these points show, each package has its advantages and disadvantages. WordPress is more economical for small businesses, requiring less specialized support and server power. Magento shows its advantages for sites that are large and need a rich set of features.
WordPress is suitable for building a complete Web platform. Magento users will need a different solution for their home pages, feedback forms, blogs, and so on. Having everything on one platform offers simplicity, which is especially valuable for a business with limited staff. If the staff already knows WordPress, that’s an additional argument in favor of WooCommerce.
A business which has high ambitions and wants to offer its customers a rich set of options could be better off with Magento. The startup costs will be higher, but they can justify themselves as the business grows.
ATAK Interactive can help
The choices may be complicated, but you don’t have to make them alone. ATAK Interactive has years of experience in e-commerce design. We’re highly familiar with both WooCommerce and Magento, and we can help businesses choose the platform which is most suitable to their needs. In addition, we can provide integration with other software and customization. Talk with us to see how we can help you develop the site that will promote your brand and give your customers the best possible experience.
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