Magento VS WooCommerce: Two Open-Source eCommerce Giants Compared
|Ease Of Use||Fair||Good|
|Reviews & Complaints||Excellent||Good|
|Best For||High-volume merchants with developer skills||Vendors who want a low-cost site that can grow with their business|
Looking for a truly customizable eCommerce solution that can grow with your online business? Your search may have started with one of the popular, easy-to-use DIY website builders like 3dcart, Shopify, Wix, and all the others. But if you still haven’t seen anything that looks right for you, you might take a look at two more choices: Magento and WooCommerce. Either will allow you to build a truly customized eCommerce website that can grow with you online.
Or, if you already have looked into both those options, you may be wondering who comes out ahead in a WooCommerce VS Magento comparison. Read on for a detailed look at each. We’ll share everything we know about both, so you can stop wondering and start making your eCommerce website.
Magento VS WooCommerce
A Magento VS WooCommerce comparison starts with the similarities between the two. Both are free open-source software solutions, so if you have the knowledge and experience to use the code they’re based on, you can develop and maintain an eCommerce website with no monthly subscription fee.
What is Magento? It’s an open-source shopping cart platform you can download and use for free.
If you have the technical know-how, or if you can hire someone who does, you can access all the code that powers Magento and use it to build a truly customized website with unlimited eCommerce growth potential.
It’s important to note that currently there are two Magento products available. The first is Magento Open Source, formerly known as Magento Community Edition or Magento CE. This version is entirely free to download, install, and use. The second is Magento Commerce, a premium version aimed at enterprise-level businesses. Your cost for Magento Commerce will depend on the version you use, with the starting cost of almost $2,000 per month. A cloud-hosted version is also available, for a higher price.
For our WooCommerce VS Magento comparison, we’ll be focused on the self-hosted Open Source version.
Magento Open Source is written in PHP and uses MySQL. Although you or someone you work with will need familiarity in PHP, you can find many plug-in modules created by other developers, so you needn’t feel completely on your own. Windows OS and Mac OS do not support Magento, so you’ll need a Linux distributor. You’ll also need up to 2GB RAM to upgrade. You will be responsible for finding and paying for your own site hosting and security, too, so factor those costs into your budget as well as any technical expertise you will need to hire.
Although you’ll undoubtedly put some resources into developing your Magento website, in the end, you’ll have a unique site built to your own specifications, with no ongoing fees beyond those for any add-ons you choose.
- Fully customizable
- Numerous integrations
- Developer experience needed
- No support
- Cost of add-ons
- Customization required
WooCommerce is a free, open-source shopping cart plug-in created for installation on any WordPress.org website. Unlike Magento, WooCommerce is not a website builder; WordPress handles that function, while WooCommerce enables eCommerce on the WordPress framework.
(Before we go any further, make sure you’re clear on the difference between two types of WordPress sites. WordPress.com is a popular, hosted blogging platform. WordPress.org is a self-hosted, open-source platform, and WooCommerce works seamlessly with it.)
WooCommerce is powered by PHP and managed on GitHub. Before you can install and use the free WooCommerce plug-in, you’ll need to install WordPress itself if you’re not already using it. WordPress relies on PHP and MySQL, with Apache or Nginx as the recommended servers. You’ll be on your own for site hosting and security, or you can sign up for a WordPress hosting plan.
If you’re already using a WordPress website, you’ll find that WooCommerce may seem like a natural choice. But if your site is built on another platform, don’t write off WooCommerce. You can build a new WordPress site or find instructions for migrating your existing site to WordPress.org. So before you make a decision in the WooCommerce VS Magento matchup, take a look at some important comparisons that may influence your choice.
- Free to download
- Numerous features
- Excellent integrations
- Self hosted
- Cost of add-ons
- Coding experience required
|Automatic Shipping and Tax||✓||✓|
|Abandoned Cart Recovery||✓|
Because Magento and WooCommerce are open-source, anyone with enough knowledge to code can create and add just about any feature imaginable to an eCommerce website built on either. For those whose coding experience is a little less extensive, you can rely on a wide community of developers who make their add-ons and adaptations available. And both Magento and WooCommerce features are impressive out of the box. You’ll find everything you need to set up and manage an online store, with an unlimited number of products and unrestricted customization.
Of course, while both WooCommerce and Magento are feature-rich right out of the box, neither offers everything and depending on your plans you can expect to add some extensions. Understand and research your top priorities, so you know what you’ll need to add and how much you can expect to spend.
Here is a sampling of some differences. Keep in mind that if a feature is not included automatically, you can find an add-on to meet your needs.
It’s no surprise that a store built on WordPress makes it easy to add blogging to eCommerce. And WooCommerce offers shortcodes you can use to embed products to blog posts.
WooCommerce lets you show products available on other sites, using an affiliate link that lets customers purchase them.
Magento integrates with UPS, FedEx, USPS, and DHL, so you can get real-time shipping information from all the major carriers.
You can manage multiple Magento websites and stores from one admin panel, sharing as much or as little information as you choose. There’s even support for multiple languages, tax rates, and currencies.
You can accept gift messages per order and per item through a Magento store, but you’ll need to add a plug-in before you can do so on a WooCommerce site.
When it comes to Magento’s cost, you’ll like what you see. Magento Open Source is completely free to download and use, and free themes are available. However, it’s aimed at developers, so if you don’t have solid tech skills, you can expect to pay someone to build and maintain your site for you, with prices likely in the tens of thousands. You’ll also need to pay for a domain name, site hosting, a security certificate, and any add-on you choose.
WooCommerce pricing is the same. Both WordPress and the WooCommerce plug-in are completely free to download and use. While the average person may not find it easy to create a store using open-source software, you can try your hand at it or choose to work with a developer. You should also expect to pay for site hosting, a domain name, security, and any extensions you add. You can use a free theme or buy one.
Ease Of Use
Is ease of use a determining factor in your WooCommerce VS Magento comparison? Unlike the popular DIY website builders, Magento is aimed squarely at developers who will feel comfortable in a PHP (programming language) environment. Once you have your Magento website up and running, daily use and management are not overly cumbersome, thanks to a well organized and responsive admin. You will need to stay on top of updates and security issues.
Unlike Magento, WooCommerce is not a website builder. It’s a plug-in that works with WordPress websites to enable eCommerce. So you’ll need to download and use WordPress first, to build your website, and then add WooCommerce so you can start selling. Of course, if you’re already using WordPress, you’ll probably find WooCommerce relatively easy to use.
Customer Service & Support
What can you expect, in terms of service and support, when you’re not paying a nickel to buy or use a product? The answer is, unsurprisingly, not much.
You won’t get any support from Magento when you use Magento Open Source, although you’ll find no shortage of expertise for hire. What you will see is plenty of self-support options, including a user guide, knowledgebase articles, a community forum, developer documentation, and more. You won’t be able to pick up the phone, send an email, or create a support request in any way.
When it comes to WooCommerce support, again, if you’re using the free version of the software, don’t expect any live support in any form. Self-help options include documentation, FAQs, a blog, and a forum. And you can easily connect with a consultant, or WooExpert, if you have problems you’re willing to pay to have solved for you.
Reviews & Complaints
Both Magento and WooCommerce draw high marks from users. In particular, WooCommerce appeals to users who are already using WordPress. WooCommerce users also express support for the level of control they gain over both functionality and design. Despite the rich feature set included, some wish for even more and dislike the expense of add-ons and the effort of keeping up-to-date on security needs. Most appreciate the attractive price for using WooCommerce while acknowledging that it can be too complex for every user to feel comfortable with.
Magento users acknowledge a steep learning curve, even for people with coding skills. However, its power, flexibility, and rich feature set draw approval, especially in combination with the $0 price tag. Performance issues have been an ongoing concern, with a pattern of complaints about bugs. Security has been a concern for some users, too. Although lack of customer support pops up as a complaint, other users appreciate the supportive community and forums where you can usually find others who have faced or solved the same problems you will encounter using the software.
Any time you’re looking at open-source software, you can expect to find a bevy of integrations, because any developer can make and market them. For example, WooCommerce has more than 400 extensions covering everything from payments and shipping to marketing and accounting. You can also customize your site with a built-in REST API. Plus, every hook, filter, API endpoint, major release, and extension is meticulously documented, so you easily can find the information you need to make the changes you want. And you can expect to find the big-name add-ons you want, including JetPack and Zapier, in the WooCommerce Extension Store.
The same is true of Magento. You’ll find thousands of extensions, including Zapier, in the Magento Marketplace, many of them for free. (Just make sure they’re compatible with the Open Source version you’re using.) Whether you’re looking for marketing, SEO, shipping, or more, you’ll likely find the extensions you want for your Magento store.
The Key Differences Between Magento & WooCommerce
You should now have a fairly clear understanding of what both Magento and WooCommerce have to offer. You know you can use either to set up a powerful eCommerce website with nearly unlimited customization. However, there are some key differences between them that you should understand before you make your decision on which to use. Here are some key differences:
- Enterprise Options: No matter which you choose to build your eCommerce business upon, you’ve got plenty of room to grow. Only Magento, though, offers an enterprise-level plan. If you’re expecting rapid or sustained, ongoing growth, you have the option of upgrading to Magento Commerce or Omnichannel. Although those come with a high price tag, it may be worth it.
- Technical Requirements: You can run a WooCommerce site from just about any up-to-date computer. Not so for a Magento site, which has some specific system requirements. For starters, you’ll need to work with the Linux operating system, since Magento is not supported on Microsoft Windows or Mac OS.i
- Security: Any time you use open-source software, you run the risk of encountering bad actors who may manipulate the code, seek weaknesses, and exploit them. If you build a self-hosted site, security will be all up to you, especially after software updates. Magento does offer Google reCAPTCHA and two-factor authorization as standard features. You’ll need to install those if you choose to use WooCommerce.
Which eCommerce Software Is Best For My Business?
Two good choices, each with its strengths and a few weaknesses. How can you decide which is right for your small business?
Choose Magento If …
Magento is best for:
- Vendors who are hoping to experience significant growth.
- Users who are comfortable with coding duties or have the resources to hire a professional.
- eCommerce merchants who eventually might like to access deeper resources through a paid plan
- Businesses that include operating multiple stores
Choose WooCommerce If …
WooCommerce is best for:
- Vendors who already use WordPress
- Users who want to create a dynamic eCommerce operation on a top website builder, for free
- Businesses that treat content management as a key strategy
- Those who don’t want or know how to meet tricky technical requirements
Comparing WooCommerce VS Magento: The Final Verdict
While it’s true that Magento is one of the best eCommerce platforms you’ll find, it may not be right for you. Yes, it’s rich in features and offers users a ton of options, customizations, and, ultimately, control. It’s also relatively difficult to set up and develop a functional site if you don’t have experience in web development. Because it’s a complex job, if you’re planning on farming your site development out, research the costs first and make sure your budget is in the right range.
WooCommerce is a little easier to set up and use, with the tradeoff being perhaps a little less power and a little less control. Will you notice the difference? Maybe, but maybe not. If you’d like to get a site up and running in a short amount of time, download WordPress and give it a try. After all, it’s free — so what do you have to lose?
No matter which way you’re leaning in the Magento VS WooCommerce matchup, you’re on the verge of creating a truly unique and powerful eCommerce operation. So dust off your coding skills, make your pick, and take the first steps toward selling online.