Choosing the right ecommerce content management system (CMS) for your storefront is essential. 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 CMS choices now more diverse than ever before, picking the correct solution can be difficult.
Two applications you’ll be introduced to early on are Magento (now referred to as Adobe Commerce) and WooCommerce. An impressive number of stores use both. According to BuiltWith, WooCommerce is used by more than 5 million stores, while Magento is used by more than 182,000. Deciding between WooCommerce vs. Magento can be a tricky process. Both offer flexible feature sets that can be expanded easily with extensions, and supportive communities back both.
So, which is better: WooCommerce or Magento?
As we go through the benefits and capabilities of each platform, keep in mind that both are great for a variety of different stores. Thinking about where you currently stand in your business journey and your next steps will help you select the right platform for you and your needs.
As you seek to drive revenue and distinguish your store, it’s vital to pay attention to the customer experience you can provide. Now is the time to drive change within your organization and optimize the ecommerce experience for your customers. By selecting the right solution for your storefront, you’ll be able to maximize your speed to market and drive revenue quickly.
Let’s compare WooCommerce vs. Magento and see which ecommerce platform is best for your store. If you’re a merchant that still needs to choose between the two, keep reading to find out:
- What Is WooCommerce?
- What Is Magento?
- Is Magento Right for You?
- What You’ll Get with Magento
- Is WooCommerce Right for You?
- What You’ll Get with WooCommerce
- Key Differences Between WooCommerce and Magento
- Design and Templates
- Extensions and Plugins
- Product Management
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- WooCommerce vs. Magento: Summary
What Is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is a free, open source plugin for WordPress sites that adds ecommerce functionality. WordPress began as a simple blogging platform but soon grew into the expansive CMS that is today. Plugins like WooCommerce allow users that didn’t previously have online stores to add ecommerce functionality to their site. Acquired by WordPress in 2015, WooCommerce has become one of the most popular solutions for online stores of all sizes.
What Is Magento?
Magento is a popular CMS with robust built-in ecommerce capabilities, available in both free (Magento Open Source) and premium subscription (Magento Commerce and Magento Commerce Cloud) versions. Like WooCommerce, merchants can use Magento to sell physical and digital goods. While Magento is often billed as more of an enterprise CMS, it maintains a strong community of entrepreneurs.
Now that you have a basic understanding of WooCommerce vs. Magento, let’s look at some differences between the two CMS platforms.
Is Magento Right for You?
Magento is a powerful ecommerce engine capable of empowering merchants to create storefronts unlike any other. Initially released in March 2008, it’s since grown and inspired the release of Magento 2 in 2015. Several improvements can be seen in Magento 2 compared to Magento 1. This upgraded version of Magento has become the ideal ecommerce platform for storefronts with a global reach.
What You’ll Get With Magento
- A powerful ecommerce platform capable of creating unique, personalized user experiences.
- More customization options than WooCommerce.
- An incredible community of developers that manages to easily hold its own, despite being smaller than the WooCommerce community.
- True hosting optimization through an optimized Magento hosting provider.
Is WooCommerce Right for You?
As a plugin for WordPress, WooCommerce comes equipped with features that make it great for managing content and ecommerce. Initially launched in 2011, WooCommerce has grown to become the most used and versatile ecommerce platform available to merchants and agencies alike, with more than 5.1 million active installs worldwide. Now, with Managed WooCommerce hosting from Nexcess, this platform’s versatility and ease of use have only improved. Our hosting solution provides up to $6,000 of integrations available for optimizing site speed, security, scalability, and service.
What You’ll Get With WooCommerce
- Easy to get started with and use.
- A wide range of templates and themes available for merchants without any coding knowledge.
- Bundled integrations that provide advanced functionality for analytics, updates, site optimization, and ecommerce delivery.
- A large community of developers.
- Lower costs.
Key Differences Between WooCommerce and Magento
Questions about speed and power are usually among the first asked by merchants. Most of the time, merchants need to prioritize one or the other. This is especially true when looking at WooCommerce vs. Magento.
While Magento may be more powerful than WooCommerce, it also requires more resources to deliver the same customer experience. On the other hand, because WooCommerce is a lightweight and fast platform, it lacks a lot of the functionality you’ll find with Magento.
WooCommerce Is Lightweight
As a lightweight platform, WooCommerce offers the same hardware and resources but can serve more customers than Magento. Take a look at our Managed Magento and Managed WooCommerce plans to see what this means in terms of absolute numbers.
Magento/WooCommerce Daily Visitors: 5,000 - 10,000*
*Based on a SIP 400 server build.
Although being lightweight means a higher daily visitor capacity, WooCommerce has comparatively limited out-of-the-box functionality. Without making modifications, WooCommerce cannot track user activity through other channels and deliver a personalized customer 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 hosting, and you’ve got an ecommerce platform that provides the best of both worlds.
You’ll get a solid performance from Magento and WooCommerce. The amount that your performance is optimized depends on your hosting service.
Magento Requires the Right Host
For Magento, it’s essential to partner with a hosting provider that offers an optimized infrastructure. While several providers state that they offer optimized hosting, the reality is that only a handful genuinely optimize their infrastructure for Magento. Nexcess is known to provide an optimized Magento hosting foundation.
In addition to finding the right hosting provider, the code quality used to create a Magento store can also have a significant impact. Poorly edited code and unoptimized extensions can cause 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.
WooCommerce vs. Magento: Two Different Performance Bands
When comparing WooCommerce vs. Magento, our analysis splits them into two different performance bands. WooCommerce is a lightweight platform, making it fast but comparatively less powerful. However, being such a quick and agile platform means that WooCommerce requires a smaller hosting plan to support the same number of customers — even when functionality is expanded 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 simultaneously.
If you’re looking to test out a new store and want an agile solution, WooCommerce is a great option. If you’re looking for a more robust solution, Magento is your go-to.
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 of functionality out of WooCommerce. Part of the reason is that both applications come with REST application programming interface (API). This means that both platforms can support expanded functionality throughout site development. Explore the WooCommerce REST API documentation (including hooks, endpoints, filters, and more) or the Magento REST API documentation.
WooCommerce Requires WordPress
A common myth is that WooCommerce only offers limited functionality. The truth is much more complex when looking at WooCommerce vs. Magento. When combined with additional plugins, WooCommerce’s capabilities expand significantly. There are more than 59,000 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 can also be expanded to suit more advanced functionality requirements through development. This means creating unique customer journeys that rival Magento and scale as your store does.
For example, Coffeebros.com, a coffee roasting company, has created a storefront with WooCommerce that includes discounts, calls to action (CTAs), and a clean, easy-to-understand buying experience. Weber.co.za, the grill provider, has also created an easy-to-use store that seamlessly integrates the ecommerce product and content recipe sections. These two examples show the range in functionality that WooCommerce store owners can expect from their CMS.
The ability to integrate both commerce and content seamlessly is one of WooCommerce’s strengths. Magento does not offer this.
Magento Powers Large-Scale Global Commerce
One of the more widely known components of the WooCommerce vs. Magento debate is that Magento is often seen as the go-to solution for enterprise-level sites. Magento powers some of the biggest ecommerce stores in the world. There’s a reason for this: the immense functionality it offers global retailers. Magento enables merchants to establish international storefronts with regional differences.
For example, HP transformed its selling experience in the Asian Pacific with Magento. They launched five 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 optimizing site management with global consistency.
Rubik’s, the Rubik’s cube toymaker, also used Magento to expand worldwide. Magento’s functionality made it easy for them to spin up new regional storefronts and landing pages, which would have been more complicated with other platforms.
Not only does Magento allow for easier access to international markets, but it also enables more in-depth customization of the buyer’s experience.
WooCommerce vs. Magento: Which Offers More Functionality?
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that store owners looking for ultimate functionality should go with 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 will only improve.
WooCommerce is a close second in functionality, so smaller store owners won’t lose out on its capabilities. 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.
Managed WooCommerce hosting solutions bring with them some of the most critical ecommerce functionality around, making them accessible out of the box. This makes WooCommerce the better option for balancing functionality with 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 (PCI) standards needed to sell effectively online.
While Magento and WooCommerce offer environments backed by security teams and vigilant communities, WooCommerce suffers from one major disadvantage: WordPress. It is vulnerable to the same exploits as its parent application as a plugin. There are more than 26,000 detected vulnerabilities within the WordPress platform, and WordPress plugins generate 90% of these vulnerabilities. This doesn’t mean Magento doesn’t have problems of its own. In research conducted by Astra, 62% of Magento stores have at least one security issue.
So, why do both platforms have so many security issues? For one, many sites on either platform aren’t up to date. Clunky security updates or simply forgetting to perform the updates are two of the biggest reasons for security vulnerabilities across modern CMSs.
For this reason, one of the best security features offered is the ability to update it easily. Compared with the WooCommerce security update process, Magento security patches aren’t easy to apply. With a managed WooCommerce 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 an 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
Magento 1 End of Life Impact on Security
It’s important to remember that Magento is split into two versions: Magento 1 and Magento 2. As of June 2020, official security support for the Magento 1 platform ceased. If you’re still a Magento 1 merchant looking to keep your site secure, we recommend Nexcess Safe Harbor and downloading our After Magento 1 guide.
WooCommerce vs. Magento: Which Is More Secure?
Security is never simple. The nature of website vulnerabilities means that every ecommerce platform’s community must remain vigilant. WooCommerce offers some great security features for automating the update process. However, it also has a lot more vulnerabilities to begin with due 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 a curated selection of security tools and features. From automated updates to an entire security suite capable of handling 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 themes and tweaking them to your 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 do. Most merchants will need to hire a developer to design and code their site to make the most of using the platform.
Design becomes a lot more complicated when headless implementations are considered. In a nutshell, “headless” means you can separate the back- and front-end functions of a CMS to create, manage, and deliver more unique user experiences to more devices. For Magento merchants, the application’s API makes implementation a relatively simple process. Several Magento sites already use headless architectures to deliver unique user experiences.
With WooCommerce already being a plugin, it doesn’t make much 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.
WooCommerce vs. Magento: Look and Feel
WooCommerce, with its vast library of themes, offers a more significant number of templates than Magento. And many of the best WooCommerce themes don’t require any additional plugins. Yet, it’s a draw when it comes to design. Both platforms offer an expansive API, provide you with the ability to design a unique storefront, and provide extensive feature sets capable of integrating with your designs.
If you’re 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, however, deciding between WooCommerce vs. Magento will be a decision made around more than just design.
Extensions and Plugins
While an application needs great out-of-the-box functionality, it’s also essential to expand and customize it with plugins or extensions. Today, almost all CMSs 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 50,000+ plugin library, including WooCommerce sales plugins, analytics extensions, and much more. Chances are, with a selection that large, the functionality you’re looking for is already there.
However, remember that WooCommerce and WordPress are different applications, and not all WordPress plugins will be optimized to run on your WooCommerce store. On the other hand, Magento has over 3,000 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 helpful social and payment integrations, some basic enhancements, and a few helpful shipping and fulfillment extensions. Overall, WooCommerce’s options are not as powerful or diverse as Magento’s.
Managed WooCommerce Bundles Up to $6,000 of Plugins
With Fully Managed WooCommerce Hosting from Nexcess, you don’t have to worry about plugins and extensions for your ecommerce store. We’ve bundled up to $6,000 worth of integrations with all our managed WooCommerce hosting solutions. These cover everything from image optimization to page building and WooCommerce cart abandonment emails to business analytics.
With Nexcess, getting started with a WooCommerce store is faster and easier. The ability to quickly implement the right technology solutions for every store means taking the guesswork out of platform selection. We recommend managed WooCommerce hosting for merchants looking to expand their store. Not only is it more cost-effective than Magento, but you’ll also have access to a team of experts to help you keep your store performing at total capacity.
Managing an ecommerce store means managing products. That includes how, when, and where they are delivered to your customers. Many ecommerce stores today provide personalized buyer journeys, setting the bar high.
Magento’s advanced functionality shines here. In addition to offering merchants the ability to provide regional deviations in product delivery, it also allows for creating unique journeys within a specific location. This includes upsells and cross-sells. While you can add to Magento’s base functionality using extensions, its default feature is powerful.
WooCommerce doesn’t offer the same flexibility. But what it does provide by default are:
When comparing WooCommerce vs. Magento, considering the price of each platform is essential. While both platforms offer free, open source options, merchants will likely have to pay additional costs to operationalize their ecommerce store. For example, merchants on either platform will need to pay for things like a hosting solution, a domain name, and an SSL certificate from the get-go.
WooCommerce offers hundreds of free themes and plugins that can work perfectly well for new ecommerce business owners. However, merchants have more limited access to free themes with Magento Open Source.
If a merchant doesn’t have coding experience, they will likely need to purchase a theme or hire a developer to design a custom theme to stand out from the crowd. The Magento platform does provide merchants with access to several free extensions, but many of these can become obsolete as an online business grows.
Hiring a site developer and paying for premium extensions on Magento can be costly. What’s more, Magento is resource intensive, whereas WooCommerce is more lightweight. This means Magento merchants will need to spring for more advanced hosting solutions to handle its layered software.
While free themes and plugins on WooCommerce can be convenient for merchants who are getting started with ecommerce, they also have their limitations. As an online business using WooCommerce grows, merchants will likely need to upgrade to more premium plugins and advanced themes to keep up.
WooCommerce vs. Magento: Which Is the Cheaper Option?
At a foundational level, WooCommerce can be a cheaper option for merchants on a budget, as it offers a wide selection of free themes and plugins. In many cases, Magento Open Source merchants will need to hire a developer to design a unique ecommerce store and pay for a more advanced hosting solution that can handle platform requirements.
For larger ecommerce businesses, Magento also offers two higher-tier platform options: Magento Commerce and Magento Commerce Cloud. Both options come with higher price tags, mainly consisting of licensing fees based on an online business's annual gross revenue.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Both Magento and WooCommerce provide strong SEO foundations. Because WooCommerce is a part of the WordPress ecosystem, the platform inherits WordPress’s SEO capabilities. For example, WooCommerce provides out-of-the-box blogging functionality, which aids in a merchant’s content marketing initiatives and longtail keyword targeting. The platform also offers several premium SEO plugin options like Yoast SEO or All In One SEO Pack.
Magento also comes with a powerful SEO toolset built-in to its platform. Merchants with more SEO knowledge can likely get more from the Magento platform. It offers advanced SEO extensions and enables developers to meet SEO coding best practices quickly. At its core, Magento offers several opportunities for merchants to manually control SEO, such as generating sitemaps, performing URL rewrites, and controlling meta-information for products, categories, and content pages.
WooCommerce vs. Magento: Summary
Much has been written about these two platforms, and you can undoubtedly come back to this guide as you are making your decision. But for now, let’s recap a few of the main takeaways you should consider when deciding between Magento or WordPress with WooCommerce.
Magento Is Great for Larger Stores Needing More Functionality
Magento shines when a merchant wants a custom implementation. It allows for an unequaled exploration of the buyer’s journey and creates personalized sales funnels tailored right down to the individual.
Unfortunately, this level of customization and functionality means that it requires a development team to support its full range of capabilities. Implementing its best features needs to be planned down to specifics. So, while it will likely increase your bottom line and lead to a surge in sales, it requires an investment to get you there.
As a result, we recommend Magento if you have a larger storefront and are looking to invest in growth. If you’re interested in getting started, check out at our Magento cloud hosting solutions.
WooCommerce Is Great for Smaller Stores Needing Ease of Use
Alternatively, if you’re running a small or medium-sized business (SMB) and still haven’t decided between Magento or WordPress with WooCommerce, we recommend WooCommerce. Not only does it offer a much quicker time to market than Magento, but it also makes store management simple and allows for merchants to take advantage of WordPress’ content management tools.
However, it doesn’t provide the same level of store customization as Magento, which is why we recommend WooCommerce to smaller stores. If that’s what you need, explore our WooCommerce cloud hosting solutions today.
This blog was originally published in January 2020. It has since been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.