Magento and WooCommerce are two different E-commerce platforms that allow E-commerce merchants to run their business.
Magento used to be a much tougher competitor to WooCommerce until Magento’s acquisition by Adobe in 2018. In recent years, the number of E-commerce stores it makes up has decreased, with WooCommerce making up 26% and Magento making up 10% (stats gathered January 2021). Despite WooCommerce being a far more popular platform, both Magento and WooCommerce have fairly strong communities. This is because the two platforms are both ‘open source’, meaning that their underlying code can be contributed to by other developers.
It is important to note that Magento comes in 3 variations: Magento open-source, Magento Commerce Cloud and Magento On-Prem the latter two of the three fall under the Magento Commerce umbrella. The confusing aspect is that all 3 are technically open-source despite it only being the namesake of one of them. The three versions have some major differences in spite of this innate similarity, which we will get to shortly.
The biggest difference between these two platforms comes down to price. WooCommerce is a free plugin for WordPress – where the only ongoing costs are that of the hosting environment and the domain name. Magento’s pricing on the other hand can be a little confusing.
Magento open source is free-to-download and use, whereas both Magento Commerce versions are paid. The difference between the on-prem and commerce cloud versions is in the hosting. Commerce cloud is self-hosted via a partnership with adobe and is therefore referred to as a PAAS or ‘platform as a service’ – this is the version Adobe really wants you to choose. On-prem (short for on-premises) requires you to find a hosting platform yourself. Neither of these two has a set price.
Magento Commerce has an annual licensing cost ranging from $22,000 to $190,0000 depending on the size of your business. Basically, if you earn more they charge you more.
Ease of use
As two open-source platforms, neither Magento nor WooCommerce are particularly easy to use, although if you’ve used WordPress before you’ll have a head start with WooCommerce.
With WooCommerce, even though the setup process is a little bit complicated compared to hosted platforms such as Shopify or BigCommerce, it’s still more user-friendly for those who don’t have a lot of experience in web development. Magento on the other hand does not try to cater to non-developers in the slightest – even the initial setup is written with web developers in mind.
Magento may have a better reputation in this area, however, most of that comes from a high proportion of WooCommerce stores being setup in a “DIY” fashion and hosted on an inadequate infrastructure, this is an unfortuante effect of the very low barrier to entry that WooCommerce has. In this situation any eCommerce platform would perform poorly (as would Magento), however, setup correctly and hosted on suitable managed infrastructure, WooCommerce can handle large amounts of traffic.
Pros & Cons
- A large community of developers – Due to it being a very complex platform Magento has attracted a large community of developers who simply enjoy the challenge of working with the platform. So, if you are ever stuck as to what to do, finding someone to assist shouldn’t be too hard
- Hosting – Magento is the only major platform that offers a choice between being self-hosted or not.
- Ease of use – Magento is the web developer’s E-commerce platform. It is not designed to be used by small business owners without in-house development support.
- Cost – With the exception of the free version Magento has steep upfront costs. In addition to this as a complex platform costs for developers and maintenance can be expensive.
- Choosing which version to use – As there are three different versions of Magento, deciding which one is best for you can be tough. It is also not made immediately clear which of the three is best for you and your business.
- Great flexibility – If you can think it, WooCommerce likely allows you to do it. Products can be categorized, given sale prices, independent attributes, and more.
- Payment gateway support – As an E-commerce business you won’t get very far without the support of digital payments. Stripe, Square, PayPal – you name it. With so many options available on WooCommerce you can take time choosing the right partnership for you.
- Inventory locations – Allocate inventory to warehouses, retail stores, or other locations where you offer your products.
- Unlimited products – Merchants will not be charged based on the number of products. You can also sell unlimited products.
- Ease of use – Out of the Box, WooCommerce can appear a tough mountain to climb. And for first-time users, there will likely be a learning curve in figuring out WooCommerce’s. However, compared to Magento it is much easier to wrap your head around.
- Scalability – Compared to Magento, scaling WooCommerce can be difficult on your own. Getting the expertise of an experienced WooCommerce developers is required to scale WooCommerce stores to account for higher volumes of queries.
- Hosting – Having to find your own hosting is not in and of itself a con towards WooCommerce. However, with Magento you are given a choice – do you want to host your site yourself or have it hosted through Adobe.
Magento and WooCommerce are two similar platforms in the E-commerce industry. They are both Open source platforms that boast similar levels of flexibility.
Magento is seen as the number one E-commerce platform for larger companies trading online. It offers very powerful caching mechanisms and ways to serve content in a way that makes the user’s interaction much simpler, this is something that WooCommerce will not offer out of the box. However, to combat this, various other options are available at a server level to provide the same functionality and speed.
As Magento offers these advanced caching mechanisms, an experienced web developer is required in order to create and maintain the site, and a more advanced understanding of the CMS is required to add site content.
Magento is simply too advanced for the inexperienced user.