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WooCommerce vs Magento – What’s Best for Your Online Store?

WooCommerce and Magento are two prominent brands in the eCommerce industry. However, few are likely aware that WooCommerce is far ahead in market share. Yet the number of people using it doesn’t necessarily indicate how well it fits your needs.

Making a direct comparison of WooCommerce to Magento isn’t ideal. This poor comparison is because both can technically support a near-limitless scale of operations. For example, beginners can deploy either option, but with more effort needed on the Magento side.

Likewise, Magento's better traffic handling characteristics at a larger scale makes it a better bet.

WooCommerce vs Magento In a Glance

You have two choices for those who would like to know the details and see what segment they fit into. Match your needs to the table above, or read on to learn more.

1. Performance

eCommerce website performance highly depends on several factors aside from the chosen platform. These factors include site design, extensions or plugins, web host performance, and more. There are slight variations in core performance, but these factors tend to be more influential at the initial stages.

It is when considering traffic at higher volumes that differences start to become more apparent. For online stores with low to medium traffic, neither WooCommerce nor Magento offers much perceivable advantage. However, Magento-based websites operating at high traffic volumes have been more effective.

Winner: Magento

Magento’s capability at managing eCommerce websites of almost any volume gives it an advantage over WooCommerce. However, this advantage is minor since, realistically, few eCommerce websites grow to such prominence.

2. Ease of Use

The WooCommerce interface is powerful yet simple.
The WooCommerce interface is powerful yet simple.

Usability is a vital aspect of many applications, and neither WooCommerce nor Magento gets a pass. WooCommerce is much easier to use than Magento. This advantage stems from the fact that WooCommerce runs a WordPress plugin. With that, it inherits many base application characteristics, especially ease of use. 

Comparatively, some have decried Magento as being beginner-unfriendly. However, this is typically in context to more straightforward applications like WooCommerce. While there is a relatively steep learning curve, it is not overly challenging to use.

Magento’s usability challenge lies more in being complex to deploy and customize.

Winner: WooCommerce

Because of the increased usability in many areas, WooCommerce is suitable for a broader market. Anybody and their cat (or dog) can likely install and use WooCommerce with few issues.

3. Customizability

You can theme Magento stores to your specifications, just like WooCommerce stores.
You can theme Magento stores to your specifications, just like WooCommerce stores.

Web applications come in standard form. When installed, Magento and WooCommerce offer the eCommerce equivalent of a generic “Hello World” message. That is the downside of off-the-shelf solutions. Yet, at the same time, it’s where these platforms likewise shine.

Both WooCommerce and Magento are highly customizable applications. Once installed, they can transform into any form desired, both in design and features. 

WooCommerce takes full advantage of the WordPress plugin and theme system. These allow even the newest users to slap them on and transform their WooCommerce online stores in just a few clicks and toggles.

Magento likewise supports a theme and plugin system. The sad part is that these can be incredibly complex for beginners to use adequately. For example, to add a new Magento theme, users need to upload it manually, connect via SSH, navigate to the directory, deploy the theme by command line, then apply it from the Magento dashboard. Most business owners we spoke to find this process daunting and often ended up hiring Magento web designers like Digital Silk to handle their Magento store​ designs.

Winner: WooCommerce

WooCommece is highly agile and, more importantly, relatively easy for beginners to modify. Even if coding is necessary, it’s typically small snippets rather than complex instructions. 

4. Cost

The great news is that Magento and WooCommerce are free to use. The free version of Magento is available as Magento Open Souce, a package you can download and deploy on your choice of a web host. It also comes in the commercial form of Magento Enterprise. 

Magento Enterprise Edition starts at $22,000 for a single license, while Magento Commerce Cloud clocks in at $40,000 per license. That’s not factoring in other associated costs, including hosting, operational expenses, support, etc.

WooCommerce is single-version only which is much less confusing compared to Magento. You are free to download and install the app on as many servers as you want. This zero-cost model makes it highly appealing to a broad customer base.

Another problem in cost with Magento stems from the fact that it has a relatively smaller community. Public assistance is less widely available, and specialized Magento developers can be costly to hire.

For example, freelance Magento developers on Upwork can charge anywhere from $15/hr to over $100/hr. Onboarding in-house developers can cost companies anywhere from $50,000 a year onwards. 

Winner: WooCommerce

From a business perspective, WooCommerce offers a much lower potential total cost of ownership. Individuals or smaller businesses can deploy, customize, and launch a WooCommerce site at no expense other than standard web-related costs (i.e., domain name, hosting).

5. Support

WooCommerce and Magento have support from communities and developers. They’ve been in the market long enough to establish a solid ecosystem. That makes selecting either brand possible in terms of support potential.

Again, we need to consider the considerable cost potential that support (or customization) for Magento systems may incur. If price is not an issue, then it’s likely that Magento users can find professional help with not many problems.

However, support can also refer to the available plugins and themes available to users of either platform. In this sense, WooCommerce comes far ahead of Magento simply due to its much larger public acceptance.  

Winner: WooCommerce

Beginners to online stores can vastly benefit from the excellent public support ecosystem offered by the WooCommerce community. However, from a commercial standpoint, Magento users also have access to expert developers for support – at a price.

6. Security

Perhaps the most significant factor when considering an online store platform lies in security. As an open and widely available platform, WooCommerce is relatively secure. There have been no major incidents of native security weaknesses or loopholes. While vulnerabilities do occasionally arise, they are often swiftly patched.

However, users should note that due to wide adoption, WooCommerce-based platforms can sometimes be put at risk by site owners. It takes more than just the app to secure a website, and security lapses at any point can compromise entire online stores.

For example, deploying a WooCommerce website on a host with poor security or even less secure plans like shared hosting is just as bad as a poorly-secured eCommerce application. Security needs must be met as a whole, not simply from a platform perspective.

Even considering those factors, Magento is a much more secure app by nature. It offers a broader range of built-in security features that help users protect their websites. These cover password management, prevention of specific exploits, file ownership management, etc.

Winner: Magento

Security is one of the shining lights for Magento. It’s a part of what makes Magento more cumbersome to manage, but at least now you know why. Do note that technically, both platforms meet general security standards.

Other Factors to Consider

The performance of web hosting providers can significantly differ.
The performance of web hosting providers can significantly differ.

Earlier, I mentioned that the app should not be the sole consideration for your online store. Equal weightage must be placed on the host you intend to deploy. Your choice of web host heavily influences multiple areas of concern for your WooCommerce or Magento store.

When choosing a web hosting provider, you must be aware of specific areas, including speed, reliability, security, and customer support. Spending $22,000 or more on deploying an online store makes little sense if your web hosting server is slow and incapable of handling much traffic.

Ideally, deploy online stores on VPS or Cloud hosting platforms. These are highly reliable and scalable, making good commercial sense. You’re essentially only paying for the resources you need. One option I highly recommend is Cloudways. It’s fast and provides you with a selection of multiple Cloud platforms as your base.

Final Thoughts

There’s a good reason why WooCommerce occupies the lion’s share of the eCommerce platform market today. It’s so simple to use that many individuals and smaller companies choose it over the complexities of Magento.

I would lean heavily in favor of WooCommerce unless my online store expects volumes in the tens of thousands per day. At that point, you can probably afford all the Magento developers you need to sustain your store.

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Article by Timothy Shim

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