One of the first things you’ll have to do after deciding to open an online store is choose an ecommerce platform. Don’t take this decision lightly. The platform can significantly influence the look and functionality of the store and, as a result, its performance.
WooCommerce and Magento are both massively popular choices, and if you know anything about ecommerce, you’ve probably heard of them by now.
But which one is better? Both have their strengths and weaknesses, so choosing one can be hard.
If you still haven’t made a decision, this article is for you. We’ll go over the main differences between the platforms and how they can influence your store, so you can make an informed decision.
So, let’s go! Before we take an in-depth look into both platforms, let’s review the basics.
1) First, let’s address the main difference: Magento is its own platform, while WooCommerce is a very sophisticated WordPress plugin. It is very advanced and has a lot of functions, but still, it’s an add-on for another platform that wasn’t made for ecommerce. You will also need to install WordPress first for your store to function.
2) Both of the platforms are open source. This is good news for you since it means that the source code is completely free to install for all. However, it doesn’t mean you won’t have to spend anything – there are still added costs involved.
3) Both are self-hosted platforms, so you’ll have to set up (and pay for) your hosting.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s start with our comparison.
Magento is one of the most famous and the most advanced ecommerce platforms out there. Magento was first presented in 2008 and has been one of the key players in the ecommerce field ever since. In 2018, Adobe acquired Magento for $1.68B and used it to create their ecommerce platform Adobe Commerce.
Magento is renowned for its scalability, flexibility, and almost unlimited customization with the right extensions.
A lot of world’s leading businesses use Magento, including Ford, Land Rover, Christian Louboutin, and ASUS.
WooCommerce was developed in 2011 as a plugin for WordPress. It quickly became very popular due to its simplicity, and the fact that it was a free plugin for an already popular platform. In 2015, WooCommerce was acquired by Automattic, the operator of WordPress.
WooCommerce is an overwhelmingly popular ecommerce solution. According to Wappalyzer, as of June 2022, over 40% of all online stores use WooCommerce. Most of them are smaller stores since big enterprises prefer to use a platform that was built for ecommerce.
As we’ve mentioned, both Magento and WooCommerce are open source, so the base versions are 100% free to use. But it would still cost you money to open and operate your store. Here’s why:
Magento is a self-hosted platform. That means you will have to pay for your own hosting. And since Magento can get heavy, you would need good hosting to make it run smoothly. Additionally, you would have to pay for your domain, security, and other things.
Magento is also a complicated platform, so unless you know PHP, you will have to outsource the development. In the case of Magento, it can get expensive ($50-$200 per hour), especially since the process can be lengthy.
After Adobe acquired Magento, they presented their own ecommerce platform – Adobe Commerce. It is based on Magento and has some added functions (for example, hosting by Adobe, special B2B functions, advanced analytics, and more). The exact pricing depends on your store, its size and revenue, but the cheapest it can get is around $24,000 per year.
Adobe Commerce is great, but don’t worry if you can’t afford it: this solution is primarily for enterprise-level stores, so if you are only starting your business, you will be just fine with the open-source version.
WooCommerce would also need its own hosting. You would have to pay for the domain name, theme (if you don’t like the free version), and other small things. If you choose to hire a WooCommerce developer, it would cost you less than hiring a Magento developer: the prices start from $10 per hour. However, the platform is simple to use, so if your store is going to be simple, you can get away with doing everything yourself.
Both platforms are technically free, but you would still need to spend money to set everything up. All things considered, WooCommerce would be a cheaper option since Magento development can get pricey.
As we said previously, Magento is a complicated platform. It offers a lot of functions, but setting everything up with no coding experience is almost impossible. For this reason, we recommend hiring a developer for the initial development process.
Compared to that, WooCommerce is way more accessible to beginners, especially if they already have some experience with WordPress. It is still a complicated platform with a lot to learn, but compared to Magento it’s way more intuitive.
For day-to-day operations, both platforms are a solid choice. Magento 2 introduced a new Admin Panel that’s way more user-friendly than its counterpart in Magento 1, so you won’t have any issues with it.
WooCommerce is a clear winner in this category since it is way more simple and intuitive.
If you plan to outsource the development, you shouldn’t worry too much about this category. For daily operations, both WooCommerce and Magento work well.
However, if you want to make your store yourself, we strongly advise going with WooCommerce, since Magento would be too complicated to understand without good experience with PHP.
When starting a store, you’ll never know what functions you’ll need a year or two from now. You also can’t predict how much traffic it will need to handle. As your store grows, the platform you choose should be able to adapt and scale depending on your needs.
Magento is known for customizability. It has a lot of functions built in, and even more can be added with the right extensions. With Magento, you can do almost everything, and the limit is mostly determined by the technical skills of the developers.
It is also very scalable. Magento is built with middle-sized and enterprise-level companies in mind, so it has no problems with handling heavy traffic or adding many products. It also supports multi-stores, so if you want to add a version of your store for another country, or even a new store altogether, you can easily do it with one platform.
WooCommerce is a bit more limited. By default, it has fewer functions than Magento, but you can add more functions with plugins. It’s not as customizable as Magento, but you still shouldn’t have any problems with implementing the most common functions.
It is also not as scalable. While WooCommerce developers say there’s no limit to the number of products that can be added, there is a reason why all bigger companies seem to prefer Magento or other platforms developed specifically for ecommerce. Usually, stores that size require functions that simpler platforms like WooCommerce or Shopify simply don’t offer.
Magento is a clear winner here. The ability to customize the store built with Magento is almost endless. You also won’t have to worry about moving to a different platform after your store grows. And if you need to add custom functionality, you’ll always be able to do that.
WooCommerce can also be customized but to a lesser extent. It also works best for small businesses, so you would have to move to another platform if your store gets very popular.
We can guarantee you that after managing your store for some time, you’ll eventually need a feature that isn’t available by default. It can be an unpopular payment method, integration with a service, or a feature that’s industry-specific. That’s where extensions come in. Extensions & plugins are used to add custom functionality to a store. If your problem is common enough (for example, you need to add another payment method) chances are there is already an extension made to fix it. However, if you need something really custom, you would have to pay for development services, so someone can provide a tailor-made solution just for you.
Both WooCommerce and Magento support custom modules.
If you are looking for Magento extensions, the place to go to is Magento Marketplace. It is an official extension store that offers thousands of solutions, both free and paid. The extensions range from simple ones to very sophisticated – some extensions can cost as much as $10,000. In general, you’ll find what you are looking for for free or for a reasonable price.
WooCommerce also has a store for plugins. There are extensions made by WooCommerce themselves, as well as by third-party companies.
Some of them are free, some of them are paid, and they can successfully cover the basic needs you’ll have.
Also, since WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin, you’ll have access to a very wide selection of WordPress modules. Not every single one will be applicable to an ecommerce store of course, but there are still a lot of very good ones to use.
Both of the platforms do very well in this category. Thanks to their open-source nature, there are thousands of extensions ready to use, and if you can’t find what you are looking for, you can always hire a developer for a custom solution.
It is worth noting that by default Magento has a wider functionality than WooCommerce. This means that to get the same amount of features, you’ll have to install more plugins for WooCommerce. For some, it’s not a big deal, but if you are worried that the plugins will slow down your store or will conflict with each other, this is an important point to consider.
We don’t need to tell you that security is essential for an online store. You have to make sure that your and your client’s information remains secure at all times, and that your store doesn’t have any vulnerabilities, so it can’t be hacked into or cyber-attacked.
Magento takes security seriously. It has all the functionality needed to protect your store, and regularly makes security updates for any possible vulnerabilities. If you find the security lacking (for example, if your country’s laws regulate the level of security that certain niches need to provide) you can always make the platform even more secure with custom development.
WooCommerce is also secure on its own. The plugin is well developed and constantly maintained, so you don’t have to worry about it. However, the problem comes from using other plugins. As we’ve mentioned, you’ll likely need a lot of plugins to get all the functionality you want. Every single plugin you install can potentially be vulnerable to attack, and if you install one from an unreliable third party, you have to worry about data theft as well. To make your store on WooCommerce more secure you’ll need to check every single one of your plugins to make sure it is secure.
Both WooCommerce and Magento meet the security standards. However, the problem lies within the plugins and extensions you install. In our opinion, Magento is a winner in this category since its security features are stronger.
Since Magento and WooCommerce are open-source, they both have communities where the developers and store-owners can share their insights, and help each other solve technical problems.
With the free version of Magento, this is all the support you will get. You can ask your question on the forum and hope you’ll get a reply, or browse through the existing topics. If the problem you are dealing with cannot be solved that way, you’d have to hire a developer to help you.
Most of the discussions are happening on a platform called Magento Community. Apart from the forum, it also has a blog, courses, master classes, and user guides.
Also, Adobe has an Adobe Solution Partner program, where developers that specialize in Magento development can get certified. If you feel that you need technical assistance, you can browse through the Adobe partners on their website, and hire someone reliable to help you.
WooCommerce offers a similar level of support. It has a very active community on Reddit and WordPress WooCommerce Support Forum. There, you can ask any questions you may have.
If you have a question about WooCommerce plugins or themes you bought, you can write a message to WooCommerce customer support.
Similar to Magento, they have a Verified WooCommerce Experts area on their website. If you need professional help, you can contact someone from that list.
If you are using a free version of Magento, both Magento and WooCommerce offer similar levels of support. Generally, you can expect to find an answer to a simple question there, but with more complicated issues you’ll likely be on your own. But if you feel too overwhelmed, there’s always an option to hire a qualified professional to help you.
If you are planning to use Adobe Commerce, the support will be better since you will be able to ask your question to an Adobe Commerce representative directly.
Both WooCommerce and Magento are popular for a reason. They can provide you with the tools you may need to start an ecommerce business.
To make the right choice, you need to consider what stage your business is at right now.
WooCommerce is great if you want to test out the waters. Maybe you already have a site on WordPress and want to try adding ecommerce functionality to it. Or maybe you have an idea for a business but you are not sure if it’s going to be successful. For these cases, WooCommerce will work just fine since it’s free and easy to install.
If your business starts to expand, you may find WooCommerce too limiting, and will eventually have to move to a different platform. It’s not a huge deal, since there are many companies that offer their migration services, but it will still take some time and will cost you extra.
If you are willing to invest extra into your business, especially if you already have a successful offline store, Magento is the way to go. It has an unparalleled functionality, and you won’t ever have to worry about outgrowing the platform.
If none of these seem right for you, consider Shopware. Compared to WooCommerce it has more functionality but is still not as expensive and hard to understand as Magento. We recently made a guide where we compared Shopware and Magento, so if you are interested, give it a read.
If you decide to go with Magento, we will be glad to assist you. Let’s build a store you’ve been dreaming about!