There are a lot of options to choose from when considering setting up your eCommerce site. Shopify, OpenCart, WooCommerce, Magento and more all offer different features, so it can be hard to choose the right one. Here we’re going to have a look at the two biggest. WooCommerce and Magento.
WooCommerce is a free plugin for WordPress and one of the most popular eCommerce platforms, holding 22% market share making it easily the most used platform available.
WooCommerce’s product management provides a lot of features. You have the ability to setup configurable products. Manage both and digital products, and a variety of other options. Products can also be extended either with bespoke builds, or using WooCommerce’s extensions.
The basic plugin is completely free, and allows all the basic features you would expect of an eCommerce platform, and the ability to setup a payment gateway with PayPal. If you do require more than what the base plugin offers, you can purchase official WooCommerce extensions. The extensions often won’t be necessary if you have a developer, WooCommerce also have an extensive codex which can allow developers to extend the base package if required.
Being a plugin for WordPress, WooCommerce is as user friendly WordPress, and doesn’t require any technical knowledge to setup and use. If you’ve ever used WordPress you should have no problems using WooCommerce.
It can get a little confusing when it comes to setting up things like configurable products, however WooCommerce offers extensive documentation for various topics to help make things easier.
The advantage of WooCommerce is that it can use WordPress’s resources for SEO, whether it’s default tools, or third party plugins such as Yoast.
WooCommerce supports most popular payment gateways such as: PayPal, Stripe, Amazon Pay, WorldPay, SagePay etc. Most can be installed via a WooCommerce extension some of which are free others you have to pay for.
WooCommerce doesn’t include an SSL, which is a must have requirement for any eCommerce site. However it’s very easy to get one for free from Let’s Encrypt.
On the whole WooCommerce is very secure, so you shouldn’t have to worry about your site being compromised.
While WooCommerce is very easy to setup and use, it isn’t the best for large shops, as it lacks features that platforms like Magento have, such as up-sells and cross-sells and product comparisons.
Magento is a purpose built eCommerce CMS which is bursting with features.
Like WooCommerce it also a very popular platform.
Magento offers a lot more in product features than WooCommerce. Things like: wish lists, advanced pricing options, product personalisation, cross-sells, up-sells, product comparision. Features that would require you to purchase an extension in WooCommerce. It is also much better for managing online stores which a very large amount of products.
Magento’s base product is free, and gives you access to tons of features, including: checkout, product management, order management, tax management. However requires you to have your own domain and server. Magento don’t list their premium costs, however they can be quite expensive and is only really necessary for very large companies. It also has an extensions marketplace, some of which are free, others incur a cost.
The Magento platform really isn’t as user friendly as others. It’s installation process is more complicated, and while Magento 2’s UI is considerably better than Magento 1 it is still very complicated, and has a fairly steep learning curve. It’s CMS capabilities, require a some technical knowledge, however like WooCommerce there is documentation/tutorials to help, as well as an active community.
Magento has plenty of SEO features such as customisable URLs, meta descriptions, XML Sitemaps. While Magento’s SEO capabilities are arguably better than WooCommerce’s it is more difficult to setup.
Magento supports most popular payment gateways including PayPal, Amazon Pay, SagePay and WorldPay. Integration is fairly simple and usually just involves installing the relevant gateway extension.
Magento is very secure. Magento’s staff have a dedicated security team, constantly working on improving the security of the platform, closing up security holes. Patches are released fairly regularly so as long as you keep Magento up to date, you shouldn’t have any problems.
The thing that Magento such a popular platform, is arguably it’s biggest let down. Magento is big, and as a result can feel very sluggish compared to other platforms. It uses various caching techniques to ensure the front end is fast, but the admin can often be pretty slow to use.
As mentioned earlier it really isn’t very easy to use. Without some technical knowledge Magento can be a huge challenge. From a developer point of view, it’s file structure is very complex, so themes and bespoke builds can be time consuming.
So which is better?
Sadly, there is no clear cut answer for this. Each project needs to be evaluated before picking the right CMS, as each eCommerce site has its own requirements.
WooCommece is considerably easier to use, and does not require any technical knowledge to setup, and if you’ve ever used WordPress before, you will have no problems in using WooCommerce.
Magento has a much steeper learning curve, and requires a descent technical knowledge to get the most out of it.
As a general rule, if you have a small company with a few products. WooCommerce will likely be the better choice, as it won’t require any of the extra features that Magento offers. However if you’re going to be selling a large amount of products, and/or have considerably more complicated requirements for your site, Magento may well be the solution.