And the best two “locations” for ecommerce, according to Aheadworks, are Magento and WooCommerce. Together, these two make up more than half of the market share (with Magento enjoying a lead of about 5%).
But despite both dominating the competition, these two platforms take different approaches to site design and management. Here, we explore the differences so you know which one is most effective for your company.
The world’s most popular ecommerce platform, Magento credits its own success to its flexibility. Store owners can shape their stores the way they want, and alter them quickly… as long as they know how. “Adapt fast, and stay ahead of changing customer buying patterns,” is, according to the site, the Magento advantage.
Choosing WooCommerce is pretty much choosing WordPress: WooCommerce is the plugin that allows ecommerce functionality on your WordPress site. That means all the advantages of WordPress are the advantages of WooCommerce: plenty of themes, familiar interface, scalable, and customization through an endless library of plugins.
Unfortunately, Magento’s famous flexibility comes at a price. You’ll need some basic tech know-how to use it to its fullest extent. If you ask around, the most common complaint you’ll hear about Magento is that it’s not user-friendly.
In this area, WooCommerce is the clear winner — especially if you’re already familiar with the WordPress interface. Once you have the site set up, the plugin’s installation wizard handles the rest. While WooCommerce’s usability isn’t as simple as Shopify’s (a platform aimed at beginners), there’s still less of a learning curve than with Magento.
Customization and Design
As open-source software, and a popular one, Magento offers an impressive library of plugins and extensions. The structure itself is responsive and works well on different devices and operating systems. Magento comes with a vast set of pre-integrated features in every category, so you can do virtually anything (its excellent flexibility) if you search long enough (its poor usability).
But perhaps one of the main appeals of Magento is that you can modify the code itself, so you can customize your site any way you want, as long as you know what you’re doing.
WooCommerce offers all the customization options of WordPress, which is to say, an ever-expanding library of themes and additional plugins. With WooCommerce, you can convert any WordPress site into an online store.
That said, you are limited to only what the plugins and themes offer. Magento’s modifiable code offers an extra degree of customization and design.
There are two plans: a free-to-use Community Edition and a rather expensive Enterprise Edition. The Enterprise Edition is meant only for larger-sized companies; prices vary by individual quotes, but expect something around $17,000 a year.
While the Community Edition is free, the plugins, themes, and hosting are not. Still, all things considered, you can make it work on a small budget.
WooCommerce is also technically free; however, you’ll still need to pay for certain plugins, themes, and hosting. Again, how much you spend depends on which options you purchase.
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Conclusion: Who Should Use Which?
Magento is incredibly scalable, meaning if your upstart ecommerce company becomes an overnight success, you don’t have to switch platforms. This makes it usable to small and large businesses alike.
Given the technical aspects of Magento, the questions you should be asking yourself are:
- How inventive do you want to be in designing your site?
- How well can you code?
- How much time do you want to commit to building your site?
In short, Magento is better suited for business owners who are both technology-savvy and have their own vision for the site design. This seems to be the type of client Magento was designed for.
WooCommerce doesn’t have the advanced level of customization as Magento, but it makes up for it with usability. If you’re looking for a simpler and less-involved design process — or if you just prefer the WordPress interface — then WooCommerce is a better choice. It’s still lush and full of advanced features and options; however, overall it’s not as complex as Magento.