Magento and WooCommerce are two of the big eCommerce website builders that business leaders love. But which is better? Let’s answer the question by comparing the features, costs, pros & cons, and learning curve required for each of these popular tools.
In this Magento vs WooCommerce guide:
Magento vs WooCommerce overview
Magento is better than WooCommerce for medium to large businesses, but costs much more and is more complex. WooCommerce is better than Magento for smaller and new businesses.
Magento vs WooCommerce
What is Magento? An introduction
Magento is an open-source eCommerce platform first developed by Varien Inc., but later bought by Adobe. It has two main versions:
- Magento Open Source, which is free but has limited features.
- Adobe Commerce, a paid enterprise solution with a full suite of functionality and optional cloud hosting.
Its open-source PHP nature is one of Magento’s biggest draw cards, offering users extraordinary customisability compared to more rigid eCommerce platforms. Users praise the scalability and flexibility of the platform, as well as its SEO and omnichannel capabilities.
Adobe is also experimenting with AI-driven automation, allowing for some pretty cool customer experience customisation which isn’t widespread in the eCommerce market yet.
What is WooCommerce? An introduction
WooCommerce is the world’s most popular eCommerce platform, built right into WordPress as a free open-source plugin.
The idea of WooCommerce is that it transforms any WordPress site into a fully functional eCommerce site, with all the functionality you’d expect in such a package. That means it comes with the product lists, shopping cart and payment gateway, security, SEO, and inventory features you’d want, integrated automatically into WordPress – but only WordPress.
Magento vs WooCommerce features
Magento features snapshot
- Highly flexible PHP-based architecture and web page builder.
- Search engine and mobile optimisation.
- Multiple store and multi-channel management from a single dashboard.
- Built-in AI-driven customer experience personalisation.
- Hundreds of available free and paid extensions, plus API integration.
- Built-in PayPal, Authorize.net, and Braintree support, with extensions available for other payment gateways.
- Content localisation, including multi-language and multi-currency support.
- Advanced marketing tools.
In summary, Magento has been designed to be whatever its users need it to be. Being an open-source platform, the customisability is pretty startling so whether you’re a huge enterprise or a tiny start-up, you’d still be able to make a highly effective eCommerce site with mobile, search and omnichannel optimisation built right in.
Adobe has also enabled AI in its Commerce platform, which offers certain types of customer personalisation natively to the platform – for example, intelligent product rankings and recommendations, audience segment-based content, and AI-powered search.
It also has a large user base as well as certified experts, so whether you have paid support from Adobe or not, it’s generally easy to find either a community member to help you or a consultant.
- Learn more: What’s the best inventory management tool for Magento?
WooCommerce features snapshot
- Built-in WordPress integration, providing access to CMS and SEO functionality.
- Modular framework which can be expanded with plug-ins.
- Highly flexible due to open-source nature.
- Easy to integrate with a variety of other leading software, such as CRM, marketing and inventory management.
- Comes bundled with a basic payment gateway, with hundreds of region-specific gateways available as plug-ins.
- Built-in sales analytics with option to expand using third-party plug-ins (i.e. Google Analytics).
- Large community of developers and tech experts for both WordPress and WooCommerce.
People love WooCommerce because it’s big, open and cost effective. The base software and a great many plug-ins are all free, though there are a number of extensions with price tags if you want specific functionality.
This means that, if you’re hosting your website on WordPress, you have an entire suite of eCommerce functionality available to you either built into the base WooCommerce package or available as an extra via the plug-ins ecosystem. This means that whatever feature is lacking in the base offering is probably available as an extra, which can be installed with the push of a couple of buttons, because it’s on WordPress.
Additionally, as WordPress is of course its own huge CMS, you’ll also gain access to the blogging and SEO features available through a regular WordPress site, helping you reach and engage more customers.
- Learn more: What’s the best way to manage inventory with WooCommerce?
Magento vs. WooCommerce features summary
Both Magento and WooCommerce are open-source platforms with free options available. With huge community support, plenty of developer experts in the market and a lot of available extensions/plug-ins, they can pretty much do anything you’d need them to.
Larger or more complex organisations often turn to Magento for its added flexibility. While it requires a higher level of technical know-how (and cost), it does mean the platform is more of a “do what you want with it” system than WooCommerce.
WooCommerce, meanwhile, likely has all the features you’d need as a smaller or simpler enterprise, but may feel constrained if you grow big enough to want a totally tailored eCommerce site.
Magento vs WooCommerce pricing
Magento average price
* Depending on size of business, and whether you opt for Adobe Commerce or Adobe Commerce Cloud
- Web hosting, a domain name, SSL certificate and related costs.
- Graphic design + website development (though some free themes are available)
- Any required Magento extensions
- Regular website maintenance
WooCommerce average price
- Web hosting, a domain name, SSL certificate and related costs.
- Graphic design and WordPress development, if you want a custom theme
- Some plug-ins, though many are free
- Regular website maintenance
Magento vs WooCommerce pricing summary
WooCommerce is, by a country mile, a lot cheaper than Magento. You can access essentially the entire thing for free, so long as you’re using premade themes and simple plug-ins. Even if you opt for premium themes and plug-ins, or custom themes, these aren’t particularly costly compared to other business expenses, so the price still tends to stay in the low four figures.
Magento has a much higher development cost due to its more tailored nature, which can also lead to higher maintenance and upgrade costs. The trade-off is added flexibility and scalability which larger enterprises typically require.
Magento vs WooCommerce reviews
Magento vs WooCommerce reviews summary
As you can see, there isn’t much separating either Magento or WooCommerce in terms of their ratings. WooCommerce is rated marginally higher, but it really is marginal.
For both platforms, people tended to agree on what was right and wrong with them. Magento users loved the large set of capabilities but baulked at the price, and others found it hard to use. WooCommerce users found the capabilities and user friendliness to their liking, but felt it wasn’t as ‘free’ as they had been led to believe due to the price tag on many of the more popular plug-ins.
Shopify vs Magento and WooCommerce
Shopify is the elephant in the room in any comparison of eCommerce platforms. It is one of the most popular eCommerce tools on the market – it far eclipses Magento in market share, taking up 10% compared to Magento’s 1.72%, according to Statista.
Like its peers, Shopify is a complete online eCommerce solution. Users can build an online store totally within Shopify, with the usual functionality built in – easy website design, in-built payment gateway, multichannel support, etc. Shopify includes hosting and security in its product, as well as very simple website design.
Shopify vs WooCommerce
Shopify is arguably even more beginner friendly. Whereas WooCommerce suits small or medium enterprises with relatively simple needs, Shopify is suitable for even smaller organisations with even simpler needs, making it highly popular among start-ups, pop-ups, artists and sole traders.
Shopify vs Magento
Shopify will seem very basic to Magento users. Magento offers a stunning array of tailoring options that aren’t present in Shopify, because that’s not what Shopify is for. Shopify is more of a pick-up-and-play package, appealing for users with lower technical know-how, but lacking features that a large or growing enterprise would need.
What about Shopify Plus?
Shopify Plus is the platform’s premium enterprise-level product. It offers an expanded suite of functions compared to the regular version, including access to the underlying code, new features and more support.
It’s definitely an upgrade over regular Shopify for a fast-growing or large organisation, but still doesn’t have as many tailoring features as Magento. From a comparison perspective, it probably fits somewhere between WooCommerce and Magento, and is commonly used by existing Shopify users upgrading to get more functionality.
- Learn more: Discover Automated Shopify Inventory Mangement
So which is better: Magento or WooCommerce?
Magento pros and cons
Advantages of Magento
- Flexibility and scalability: Magento is highly tailorable, meaning just about any eCommerce business can use it. With this flexibility also comes scalability, allowing a Magento website to grow with the business.
- All the features you’d need: Magento is a powerful platform with a lot of out-of-the-box features, plus lots of third-party plug-ins to add even more functionality.
- Large community of users: As an open source software which has been around for a long time, Magento benefits from a large community of technical experts who can help you find solutions to problems, or come on board as implementation consultants.
Challenges of Magento
- Arguably too much complexity for a smaller business: Magento can have a steep learning curve for those without at least a degree of coding know-how. Small companies may find this makes development take too long, and cost too much.
- No hosting: Unlike some eCommerce platforms, only the most expensive form of Magento (Adobe Commerce Cloud) comes with a dedicated server to host it. That means on top of the development and implementation costs, you’d also need to pay for the server and website domain.
- Potentially high cost to implement: With no dedicated hosting server, a steep learning curve and a near-limitless array of customisability options, Magento can be an expensive platform to establish. Even businesses who choose the free open source option can find themselves paying more than expected for development and maintenance.
WooCommerce pros and cons
Advantages of WooCommerce
- Price: WooCommerce is a highly cost-effective eCommerce platform, with a very low price tag compared to competitors.
- Simplicity: With limited technical knowledge required to set it up, WooCommerce can be very simple to start and use.
- Plenty of functionality in the plug-in market: If the functionality you need isn’t available in the standard WooCommerce package, it’s probably available via the plug-ins market.
Challenges of WooCommerce
- Restricted to WordPress: WooCommerce is, first and foremost, a WordPress plug-in. You won’t be able to use a different CMS with WooCommerce because you need to be on WordPress.
- Limited customisation options: A side effect of being built into WordPress is that WooCommerce does have more restricted customisation options – it can only do what can be achieved within WordPress itself.
- No customer support from WooCommerce: WooCommerce relies on its community of developers to offer support to others needing technical help. That, or consulting firms who will, of course, charge for the service.
Magento vs. WooCommerce: The final result
Magento tends to suit larger enterprises with more complex needs. It has a scalability and flexibility not found in WooCommerce, which means it can handle some seriously big eCommerce sites. The downside is the start-up cost and the required technical knowledge, which puts it out of reach of many organisations.
WooCommerce is a beginner-friendly eCommerce offering that ideally suits organisations with a smaller budget or simpler needs. Getting started is quite quick so long as you’re already on WordPress, and it has all the functionality you’d probably need to run an eCommerce store at this level.