When starting an e-commerce project, there can be some rocks on the road to choosing the best option for an online store.
The number of existing platforms can be quite overwhelming. Today we are going to look closely at the two most popular platforms for e-commerce – Magento and WordPress (with the WooCommerce plugin).
This article will be quite useful for those who are thinking about setting up a website that sells one or more products and who isn’t sure which is a better platform to choose. They are both powerful platforms with different strengths and weaknesses so there are a lot of variables to consider here. We’ll go into detail about the sorts of issues you’ll need to consider and whether or not each platform handles these issues well.
Spoiler alert! Your choice will ultimately depend on what kind of e-commerce website you want to develop. And there’s even a potential option of using both Magento and WordPress for various parts of your site to get the best from both worlds. But you might not need to invest in anything that complex at this stage so let’s get started with a quick description of each platform.
Magento is a dedicated e-commerce platform, formerly owned by eBay, was acquired by Adobe on June 19, 2018. This can bring Magento’s game to the next level – “the enterprise one”. It is a free open-source version (a community edition) available to everyone. It’s built from the ground up to handle complex online stores with lots of products. It incorporates advanced e-commerce features like product comparison tables, discounts and vouchers, and multi-store management. In the marketplace, you can find all kinds of extensions as well as plugins.
WordPress (plus WooCommerce)
WordPress is a free open-source platform. It’s based on PHP and MySQL. It can be part of an internet hosting service or a network host in its own right. The framework has roots in blogging and content publishing. There WordPress has a special place in the hearts of a theme and plugin developers, so its community is quite impressive. There is a good mixture of free and freemium themes and plugins, so there are a lot of good quality options for extending your WordPress website to many other things. You can turn a WordPress blog into a social network, you can add a forum, and obviously, you can add a lot of e-commerce features.
But what lets WordPress stand next to other big e-commerce platform is WooCommerce, a plugin that transforms WordPress into a great e-commerce option.
Pros and Cons list
WordPress and Magento are both very popular and excellent platforms for setting up an e-commerce website. But let’s dive deeper into the subject and explore what advantages and disadvantages these platforms have.
- Changing your website’s look is quite easy. WordPress spares you the efforts of making your e-commerce project from scratch, thus you can bring changes to your website with different themes. The process of doing that is fast and simple, and the data on the site stay unharmed.
- Low, almost non-existing price. With WordPress being completely free, you need to pay just the fee for the hosting.
- Updates. WordPress cares about its users, so the updates happen quite regularly. We all know, that no updates lead to the increase of a website vulnerability. And WordPress solves this problem.
- Community. With such a wide user base, it is going to be ridiculously easy to find the answer to any problem you might have.
- Documentation. WooCommerce has great documentation. Also, you can reach out to its support team for additional questions.
- Analytics. Integrates with Google Analytics using an extension.
- Two platforms. if you are not familiar with WordPress, you need to learn and install two new platforms.
- Security. WordPress is quite a popular CMS, and everyone wants a piece of it, so hackers can become an issue.
- Shady plugin vendors. High-quality themes by trustworthy vendors are usually quite expensive. For this reasons, some of the new WordPress clients go for the cheapest options that can come from untrusted sources.
- Flexible. Magento gives you the opportunity to customize the codebase according to your wishes. You can build any kind of e-commerce project with third-party plugins and APIs.
- Community. Same as with WordPress, you won’t have any problems with getting a instant support because of the community that often makes contributions like useful plugins and themes.
- Variety of features. Thanks to Magento features, you can have numerous websites in different languages, currencies, prices, and locations.
- Scalable. Starting a new e-commerce website, you don’t always go big from day one. With Magento, you can slowly grow your online store.
- Mobile friendly. Magento is known for being a mobile friendly and responsive platform, so it can make your website look equally fabulous on a big screen and on a tiny smartphone screen.
- Price. Magento for the community is free, but an enterprise version comes at a high price.
- Time-consuming. Magento lets you customize your online store with different extensions and features but those can make your website’s loading time really slow. So research things that you’re adding to your website.
- Hosting. The use of shared hosting can be a problem and cause slow loading which could lead to the bad UX. So in order to avoid this problem, it is better to go with a dedicated server or VPS.
Things to consider before choosing a platform for an e-commerce project
Compare Magento VS WordPress WooCommerce
Here is the battle you all have been waiting for. Magento vs WooCommerce for e-commerce, who is going to win?
Security is a very important feature for any e-commerce website, so we should start with it.
Magento is dedicated to e-commerce, so it’s truly built from the ground up to offer a secure way to sell things online. This is genuinely a big bonus in this category. Magento has lots of built-in e-commerce features. It means that you may not need to use any plugins. Basically, any plugin or extension that you add could increase security risk.
WooCommerce loses out in this category because you need a robust security plugin just for the basic WordPress protection. Being much more widespread on the web, and not meant to handle e-commerce transcriptions, it happens to become a victim of frauds and hacker attacks much more commonly. Moreover, you obviously need a variety of plugins to build your own online store even if you only have a couple of products. So it appears there’s more risk with a WooCommerce website.
The next category we’re going to look at is flexibility. Magento, having a complete focus on e-commerce, does make it more robust, but it’s a less flexible option. There are extensions available for blogging, but most of the Magento extensions are for extra e-commerce features.
Magento websites are built to just have one purpose, which is to sell lots of products online. With WooCommerce on top of the WordPress, there’re lots of plugins available, you can build any kind of website you can imagine, you can go down the route of having a lot of social features, maybe membership portals, and selling online membership subscriptions. You can build a website with a lot of different kinds of features with WooCommerce. In this category, WooCommerce comes out a little bit ahead.
In the Ease-of-use category, WooCommerce development again is going to come out ahead because it is just genuinely easy to setup and get started. Of course, there’s an initial learning curve, but it’s a much less steep than with Magento.
WooCommerce, like its WordPress foundation, puts a huge emphasis on intuitive design and navigation. For example, adding a product in WooCommerce is simple and fast, just click on “Products menu”, than add a product. There you can give it a name, write descriptions, choose the type of a product, set attributes, price, etc. Adding a product in Magento simple as well. Go to the catalog, then choose “Manage products”. Here you can edit existing products or add a new one by clicking the “Add product” button. First, pick an attribute, set and choose a product type. Afterwards, go though the time-consuming yet comprehensible process of product setup.
It is very important to have a Magento development team that can build your online store correctly if you’re going to build a large one. With WordPress, you know you can start learning and potentially build quite a lot yourself.
When it comes to the SEO category, both platforms are pretty much equal. So it just depends if you pay attention to SEO or not. Obviously, if you ignore SEO, you can come across difficulties over time. But, if you pay attention to it, implement the right features, and have someone on your team or know yourself what needs to be done, then your website will do well in the search rankings.
While both Magento and WooCommerce are free initially, the long-term costs vary considerably.
From the cost point of view, Magento websites may need a little bit more investment up front, but this can pay off in terms of easy scaling and growth. On the other hand, WordPress website can be very quick and easy to set up, but adding lots of plugins over time can mean that there’s quite a lot of complexity in the underlying code base. It means that you might need to bring someone in later to sort that all out for you. Plus, Magento is built to handle lots and lots of products from day one.
Woocommerce requires less expensive hosting, less expensive plugins, and lower development costs. Thus, even if you start with WooCommerce with just a couple of products, if you eventually expand your product variety, it’s probably cheaper in the long run to actually start by investing initially in Magento.
In this category, it depends on what kind of site you’re building and how many products you’re selling.
Magento, as we mentioned, is built to handle a lot of products, so even if you’re just starting with a few, you can easily grow your store to sell more. For truly huge stores, there’s an even more powerful Magento Commerce Edition.
As for WooCommerce, a comfortable upper limit for this platform is around 2,500 products. After passing this number, the limitations of Woocommerce functionality tend to result in your website feeling a little clunky.
That’s why most WooCommerce stores are small-to-middle-sized with a few exceptions in the hands of professionals.
If someday you want to go global and you need your online store to be in different languages and customized for a large number of countries, then WordPress won’t be enough. Magento has specific modules that will help you and the team of developers to build solutions which can be expanded on a global scale.
As we can see, the decision of what platform to pick depends on the type of a website you want to build.
Even though Magento and WordPress are both content management systems, there are still can some differences development-wise.
The first noticeable difference between WordPress and Magento is files arrangement. Magento files are distributed in the folders that have the same name. WordPress files are largely stored in the same folder, all with unique names.
Another major difference is that Magento is mainly object-oriented while WordPress is mostly driven through PHP scripting.
Since 2015 we have a brand new Magento 2 which was made specifically for PHP 5. It is a powerful technical solution development-wise. But, today some of the big commerce companies still use Magento 1.9. That’s due to the difficult immigrating process.
WordPress with its 17 year history comes up as an old school strong solution, but because of its elderly base it can’t provide user with the same functionality as Magento can. WooCommerce saw the world in 2011 and is considered quite relevant, but it loses to Magento because it’s built into an older platform.
Now, let’s talk quality and cost. Due to the very low threshold of occurrence WordPress is known for the cheap and bad quality projects. WordPresses crazy popularity and accessibility is to blame for this outcome. To build an actually good website you will need to hire a professional who is familiar with PHP, MySQL, etc. Thus, the cost of smashing project won’t be different from the good project on Magento.
Best of both worlds
And there is always an option of using both platforms for different areas of your site. So, there’s no need to decide which is better – Magento or WooCommerce. You can have a WordPress blog, on the one hand, for your content production and Magento, on the other, handling the actual e-commerce aspect of your website. In this case, the costs and time will be spent for setting up both of those platforms to work together and you’ll need to look at whether you’re going to use subdomains or subfolders for implementing this combination of platforms.
It may not be the most affordable way to get started, but if you’ve got clear goals and want to build a large website with a great variety of products and also implement content development, then you can always go with both.
Magento and WordPress with WooCommerce are both great platforms for starting an e-commerce website. It depends on the type of your online store which one to choose. Go with WooCommerce if you want to start small, and go for Magento if you want to grow big from the very beginning. To get full e-commerce experience, use both.
If you still have any hesitations, let us estimate your project, and determine which platform is suitable for your specific e-commerce project.