Choosing the right ecommerce CMS for your storefront is important. Not only does it influence what you’re able to do, but it also allows you to set expectations in terms of development costs and timeframes. But with your CMS choices now more diverse than ever before, picking the right solution out from the crowd can be difficult.
Two applications you’ll be introduced to early on are Magento and WooCommerce. Both are used by an impressive number of stores. WooCommerce is used by over 3 million stores, while Magento runs over 200,000. Both offer flexible feature sets that can be expanded easily with extensions, and both are backed by supportive communities.
So why should you choose one over the other?
As you seek to drive revenue and distinguish your store, it’s vital that you pay attention to the customer experience you’re able to provide. Now is the time to drive change within your organization and optimize the commerce experience for your customers. By selecting the right solution for your storefront, you’ll be able to optimize your speed to market and drive revenue quickly.
Let’s pit WooCommerce vs Magento and see which ecommerce platform is best for your store. If you’re a merchant that still needs to make a choice, keep reading to find out more.
Magento vs WooCommerce Summary
Questions about speed and power are usually some of the first merchants ask. Most of the time, merchants need to prioritize one. This especially holds when looking at Magento vs WooCommerce.
Speed and power are two different performance metrics and rarely go together.
While Magento may offer more in terms of power, it also requires more resources to deliver the same experience as WooCommerce. WooCommerce, on the other hand, is a very lightweight and fast platform, but it lacks a lot of the functionality you’ll find with Magento.
WooCommerce Is Lightweight
We’ll say it again: WooCommerce is lightweight. This means the same hardware and resources can serve more customers with a WooCommerce store than with a Magento one. Take a look at our SIP and SIPWOO plans to see what this means in terms of real numbers.
*Based on a SIP 400 server build.
Although being lightweight means a higher customer capacity, WooCommerce has comparatively limited functionality out of the box. Without modification, WooCommerce lacks the ability to track activity through other channels and deliver a personalized experience. Magento offers these features by default, but they still require advanced configuration to get the most out of them.
Bear in mind, while WooCommerce requires additional plugins to add advanced functionality, it will almost always perform better in terms of speed. Add to this the capabilities of managed WooCommerce and you’ve got an ecommerce platform that provides the best of both worlds.
Magento Requires the Right Host
For Magento, it’s important to host with a provider that offers optimized infrastructure. While several providers state that they offer optimized hosting, the reality is that only a handful truly optimize their infrastructure for Magento. Hostdedi is known to offer a truly optimized Magento hosting foundation. Here are four reasons why.
In addition to finding the right hosting provider, the quality of the code used to create a Magento store can also have a significant impact. Poorly edited code and unoptimized extensions can cause any server-side optimizations to lose their significance. If you’ve implemented multiple speed optimizations and your store is still crawling, it may be a good idea to start a code audit.
Poorly edited Magento code and unoptimized extensions can easily cause any server-side optimizations to lose their significance.
Two Different Performance Bands
Like much of this comparison, Magento and WooCommerce fall into two different performance bands. WooCommerce is a lightweight contender, with comparatively less power behind it. However, being such a quick and nimble platform means that it requires a smaller hosting plan to support the same number of customers – even when you expand functionality with additional integrations. While Magento has much more power behind it – in terms of stock functionality – it can slow down significantly when too many customers are active on your site.
Despite the two applications falling into two different performance bands, WooCommerce is the winner here. Being lightweight means it’s capable of outperforming Magento, with fewer resources required to serve the same sized customer base.
Magento has long been known as the ecommerce king of functionality. Not only does it allow for the creation of unique and personalized user journeys, but its integration capabilities are second to none.
With that said, a savvy developer can still get a lot out of WooCommerce. Part of the reason for this is that both applications come with REST API. This means that both platforms are capable of supporting expanded functionality through development.
WooCommerce Requires WordPress
A common myth is that WooCommerce only offers limited functionality. The truth is much more complex. When combined with plugins, WooCommerce’s capabilities expand significantly. There are over 50,000 unique plugins available for WordPress, offering functionality for both the ecommerce and content sides of your site.
Beyond plugins and integrations, the REST API means that WooCommerce is also capable of being expanded to suit more advanced functionality requirements through development. This means being able to create unique customer journeys that rival Magento and that scale as your store does.
Coffeebros.com, for example, has created a storefront that includes discounts, calls to action, and a clean, easy to understand buying experience. Weber.co.za, the grill provider, has also created an easy-to-use store that integrates both the ecommerce product and content recipe sections seamlessly.
The ability to integrate both commerce and content seamlessly is one of WooCommerce’s strengths.
This is one of the biggest pros for WooCommerce: WooCommerce lets merchants integrate the content and ecommerce sections of their site seamlessly. Magento does not offer this.
Magento Powers Global Commerce
Magento powers some of the biggest ecommerce stores in the world. There’s a reason for this: the functionality it offers global retailers.
Magento allows for Global storefronts with regional differences.
Magento powers some of the biggest ecommerce stores in the world. There’s a reason for this: the functionality it offers global retailers.
HP transformed their selling experience in the Asian Pacific through Magento. They launched five different stores on a single platform, with regional differences and global similarities. This allowed them to meet local requirements for payments, fulfillment, language, and order technicalities, while also optimizing site management with global consistency.
Rubik’s also managed to create a strong global online presence quickly, using Magento to expand worldwide. Magento’s functionality made it easy for them to spin up new regional storefronts and landing pages. Something which would have been a lot more complicated with other platforms.
Not only does Magento allow for easier access to international markets, but it also enables a more in-depth customization of the buyer’s experience. Just take a look at the difference between a typical Magento site and a typical WooCommerce site.
Still the King of Functionality: Magento
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that this category goes to Magento. Its ability to customize the buyer’s experience and create unique, international storefronts is something you just can’t do in the same way with WooCommerce – unless you invest in development. Moreover, with Adobe’s integrations weaving themselves into the Magento ecosystem, its functionality is only going to improve.
WooCommerce, however, is a close second. In many cases, plugins and development work can lead to customer experiences that are just as unique and targeted as Magento’s. It’s just slightly easier to implement them with Magento.
With that being said, managed WooCommerce solutions bring with them some of the most important ecommerce functionality around, and they make them accessible out of the box. This makes WooCommerce the better option when it comes to balancing functionality and ease of use.
Security for an ecommerce store is vital. Not only does it help prevent loss of customer Personally Identifiable Information (PII), but it also ensures that merchants remain in compliance with the Payment Card Industry standards (PCI Compliance) needed to sell effectively online.
While both applications offer environments backed up by security teams and vigilant communities, WooCommerce suffers from one major disadvantage: WordPress. As a plugin, it is vulnerable to the same exploits as its parent application. In 2018, 57% of web application vulnerabilities identified were from WordPress.
This doesn’t mean Magento doesn’t have problems of its own. In research conducted by Securi, 40% of Magento stores have at least one security issue. That’s much lower than the 73% of WooCommerce stores reported by EnableSecurity, but it’s still a sizable portion of live storefronts. And these are not complex vulnerabilities. Most of them could easily be detected using free automated tools.
So why such large numbers? For many sites, it’s because they are out of date. Clunky update processes or simply forgetting are two of the biggest reasons for security vulnerabilities across modern CMS.
One of the most common reasons that storefronts are vulnerable is simply forgetting to update.
For this reason, one of the best security features offered is the ability to easily update. When compared with the WooCommerce update process, Magento security patches aren’t easy to apply. With a managed WoCommerce solution, not only do updates occur automatically, but they’re set to test any changes in case they break your site, before they go live. This makes maintaining and up-to-date site easy and effective.
Despite this, Magento does have a lot of positive security features going for it, including:
- Enhanced password management
- Cross-site scripting (XSS) attack prevention
- Flexible file ownership and permissions
- Non-default Magento Admin URL
- Two-Step Verification
The Magento 1 End of Life Impact on Security
Magento can be split into two versions: Magento 1 and Magento 2. Each is largely unique, in that moving from Magento 1 to Magento 2 requires replatforming. Currently, a large percentage of Magento stores are still on Magento 1.
In June 2020, official security support for the Magento 1 platform will cease. This means security will become a pressing concern for merchants still on the platform. If you’re a Magento 1 merchant looking for alternatives, we recommend reviewing your options and downloading the After M1 guide.
Security is never simple. The nature of vulnerabilities means that every application’s community needs to remain vigilant. WooCommerce offers some great security features for automating the update process and keeping everything up to date. However, it also has a lot more vulnerabilities to begin with thanks to running on WordPress.
Magento has better security tools and features, despite patches being hard to implement and take full advantage of.
However, managed WooCommerce solutions have brought with them a curated selected of security tools and features. From automated updates to an entire security suite capable of managing advanced configurations, WooCommerce comes with all the security features of Magento and adds ease of use.
Design and Templates
Before a site can go live, a merchant needs to decide on a design. Without a design there is no site (at least, not an attractive one).
With WooCommerce, this is an easy process thanks to a large selection of templates and pre-designed themes. Taking these and tweaking them to individual requirements is a quick process, making the time from ideation to creation much faster than with Magento.
Magento does have a limited number of templates. However, these are relatively simple when compared with what Magento can actually do. They are also not particularly attractive. To take advantage of the platform, most merchants will need to hire a developer to design and code their site.
Design becomes a lot more complicated when headless implementations are considered. For Magento merchants, the application’s API makes implementation a relatively simple process. There are several headless Magento sites already using headless architecture to deliver unique user experiences.
Headless architecture allows for stores to utilize an optimized ecommerce API and flexible front-end design.
With WooCommerce already being a plugin, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to use it in a headless implementation. Instead, it may make more sense for merchants looking towards headless WordPress to opt for something like BigCommerce instead.
WooCommerce vs Magento: Template vs Design
WooCommerce, with its huge library of themes, is much better in terms of templates. Yet the two platforms draw when it comes to design. Both offer an expansive API, both provide you with the ability to design a unique storefront, and both offer extensive feature sets capable of integrating with your designs.
If you getting started with your first store or looking for ease of use, we recommend using WooCommerce and taking advantage of its themes and templates. If you’re a medium-sized store though, deciding between Magento and WooCommerce isn’t going to be a decision made around design.
Extensions and Plugins
While an application needs to have great out of the box functionality, it’s also important to be able to expand and customize it with plugins or extensions. Today, almost all CMS offer plugins or extensions in one form or another; WooCommerce and Magento are no exception.
In terms of numbers, WooCommerce wins due to having access to the WordPress plugin library. Here, over 50,000 unique plugins are available to you. Chances are, with a selection that large, the functionality you’re looking for is already there.
However, bear in mind that WooCommerce and WordPress are different applications, and not all of these WordPress plugins will be optimized to run on your store.
Magento, on the other hand, has over 4,700 plugins optimized specifically for its ecommerce platform. Not only that, but Magento’s extensions provide a lot of in-depth customization.
Magento extensions allow for merchants to:
- Upgrade internal search functionality
- Build custom checkout experiences
- Improve sorting and categorization functionality
- Create up-sell and cross-sell campaigns
- Customize shipping and fulfillment options
Dedicated WooCommerce extensions are relatively light. They provide some useful social and payment integrations, some basic enhancements, and a few useful shipping and fulfillment extensions. Overall though, the options are not as powerful or diverse as Magento, despite growing quickly.
Managed WooCommerce Bundles up to $6,000 of Plugins
With Hostdedi managed WooCommerce, you don’t have to worry about plugins and extensions. We’ve bundled up to $6,000 worth of integrations for free with all of our managed WooCommerce solutions. These cover everything from image optimization to page building and abandoned cart emails to business analytics.
With Hostdedi, getting started with a WooCommerce store is faster and easier. The ability to easily implement the right technology solutions for every store means taking the guesswork out of platform selection.
We recommend managed WooCommerce for merchants looking to expand their store. Not only is it more cost-effective, but you’ll also have access to a team of experts to help you keep your store performing at full capacity.
Managing an ecommerce store means managing products. That includes how, when, and where they are delivered to customers. Many ecommerce stores today deliver personalized buyer journeys, setting the bar high.
It’s Magento’s advanced functionality that shines here. In addition to offering merchants the ability to provide regional deviations in product delivery, it also allows for the creation of unique journeys within a specific area. This includes upsells and cross-sells. While this functionality can be added to with the use of extensions, the default feature is powerful in its own right.
WooCommerce doesn’t offer the same flexibility. But what it does provide by default are:
Magento vs WooCommerce: A Summary