WooCommerce or Magento: Which E-Business Platform is Best for You.
When building an online store, an important decision that you’re going to have to make is choosing the best e-business platform for your needs. The two most popular choices with small and medium enterprises are Magento or WooCommerce, which demonstrate clear advantages over the rest of the competition. But which is best? We take a closer look to help you decide which is best for your needs.
What is an e-business/e-commerce plugin?
Also known as shopping cart software, e-business plugins are typically third-party software components that augment websites with the tools needed to run an online shop, including point of sales management, taxation, shopping cart, newsletters and a whole lot more.
What should you know before choosing an e-business plugin?
The nature of your business and the amount of customization needed are what generally dictates the e-business plugin you should use. While the plugins are free, choosing and building your business using a plugin that’s not suited to your needs will only cause you a lot of problems later on – and it’ll take a considerable amount of time to fix it.
Here’s a checklist of key factors that you need to consider to facilitate the decision process:
- Your target audience (male, female, young, old, professional, students, etc.)
- The size of your inventory and how heavy traffic is expected to be.
- The type of shop you’re planning to build.
- Are you planning to run multiple business from a single platform? (e.g. using an Enterprise Resource Planning system, or ERP).
- How much additional functionality and/or customization do you need? Are you willing to pay more for it?
- Will a predefined but limited platform suffice or do you need an experienced development team to build one that is more secure?
Similarities between WooCommerce and Magento.
- Open Source.
The biggest similarity between WooCommerce and Magento is that they are open source and is not owned by any sole proprietor. This is a significant advantage to end users and developers as it gives them the choice to independently develop new components and/or features, or modify existing code to better suit a need. This allows for a high-level of customization that would otherwise not be possible, which in turn has built a large community that continues to support the platform.
- Built on My SQL.
My SQL is a popular data management architecture that makes anything built on it fast, scalable and inexpensively. It runs on multiple operating systems including Novell, NetWare, Windows, Linux, UNIX, OS/2 and FreeBSD. My SQL also boasts strong security.
- Basic functions.
Like most e-business plugins, WooCommerce and Magento feature many of the same basic functionality in terms of how it manages products and communicates with customers. Both platforms have no limit to the number of products that you can display in one space, and both platforms allow you to run a blog, which is an essential component of content marketing and SEO.
- High availability of video tutorials and guides online.
An important indicator of the success of a piece of software is the following that has. This success translates naturally into community-made tutorials, forum discussions and other forms of support. This support ensures that the platforms will continue to receive updates and fixes that is needed to keep it relevant and in use for a long time to come.
Differences between WooCommerce and Magento
- WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin – Magento is dedicated e-business platform onto itself.
Built for WordPress, WooCommerce is an attractive option for users who have already built up a substantial portion of their business on WordPress, eliminating the need for users to directly implement the plugin into existing webpages and content. In addition, WooCommerce/WordPress possesses an exceptionally simple and intuitive interface that’s easy to get into.
- WooCommerce is easier and cheaper to develop – Magento is harder and more costly, but offers more customizability.
While both WooCommerce and Magento are free to install and use, it is often necessary to hire a developer to implement customizations and new functionality that is needed for your business, the cost of which depends on the degree of customization you want.
The widespread popularity of WordPress means that it is easier to hire a WooCommerce developer as the learning curve is lower. However, the basic WooCommerce getup is very basic and limited and it’ll cost some money to get all the plugins you need.
For Magento, the biggest downside is hiring a developer, which is difficult. For one, the platform is more rigid, and new installation or changes are likely to crash and stop working if they are not implemented properly.
- Magento offers better functionality – WooCommerce, easier implementation.
In terms of basic functionality, both WooCommerce and Magento are capable of handling any number of products and have virtual shopping carts in place.
But while Magento may cost more to operate, it offers a lot more options, including up-selling and cross-selling, allows customers to compare products, and better search tools. The platform also boasts a lot more customization options for their product pages and provides some customer activity tracking capabilities.
And while it costs more to run Magento, the scalability of the platform (ability to manage a greater number of online stores and/or ecommerce networks at the same time) is a significant advantage over WooCommerce. This scalability does require a dedicated hosting service, but it’s an important option for users that are planning to upscale their business at some point of time.
- Magento adds additional analytics features over WooCommerce.
Google Analytics provides web traffic tracking and reporting for both e-business platforms, which is key to making decisions on how best to optimize and improve an online shop.
Magento does offer a lot more options and you’ll be able to find thousands of extensions and expansions in the Magento Connect Database. These extensions can be implemented independently, but it is recommended that you get an expert to handle it.
- Page responsiveness and Themes.
Page responsiveness refers to the ability of webpages to adjust itself to the size of different screen sizes, which is important as customers will be viewing from devices with a wide range of screen sizes – a feature which WooCommerce does very well, although Magento has upped its game since 2014 (v1.9).
If you’re new to ecommerce, starting out first with WooCommerce may be a good idea as it features lots of free themes to choose from (many of them free), but switch over to Magento once traffic to your online store becomes too heavy for it. When this happens, a concise e-business model and ERP system should be implemented.
- WooCommerce/WordPress was designed for content marketing from the start.
Built on WordPress, WooCommerce has always been designed specifically for content, portfolios and website and news site creation. Although Magento does have a blog page feature, content management has never been its strong suit.
WooCommerce’s advantages over Magento in terms of content management and website design goes across the spectrum, big and small. Magento is not ideal for anyone looking to send out newsletters.
And while it does have extensions that cater to email management, it’s still better to rely on better alternatives like GetResponse and MailChimp.
- WooCommerce/WordPress suffers security concerns.
WooCommerce/WordPress has a bad reputation of being very vulnerable to hacking and other security breaches, and for the most part it’s true. There are even cheap third party plugins and templates that hackers put up for download that have hidden backdoors to allow a hacker into a site that’s installed it, so it’s important to find out more about a plugin and download only from reputable sites.
Magento offers better security, which also boasts more basic functionality from the get-go so users don’t have to risk downloading malware. Periodic security updates will need to be downloaded from time to time to maintain security. However, it is still advisable to disallow robots from visiting sensitive pages, such as the admin URL page, just for good measure.