Choosing an eCommerce platform is a pretty big decision. You can easily get stuck with it, and since you might need to spend serious money migrating your site after several years’ operation, you’d be better off getting it right from the start.
Fortunately, as long as you stick with the big name platforms, it’s unlikely you’ll ever make a decision that will prove disastrous. Some might be slightly more attuned to your business model than others, but all will do a competent job of letting you sell your products online and integrate with brick and mortar stores if that’s the way you’re going.
Here, we’re looking at two of the main players – WooCommerce and Magento, to identify the differences so you can make a more informed choice, whatever stage your business is at.
If you’ve ever built or maintained a WordPress site, you’ll be able to slide pretty seamlessly into running a WooCommerce site. That’s because it is simply a plugin on the WordPress platform. What that means is that you can design a site around the world’s most popular CMS and add in eCommerce without extensive new learning. If you’ve already got a WordPress site and you’d like to expand its functionality into eCommerce, it’s a no-brainer.
While the plugin itself is free and open source, beware that the ecosystem that’s built up around it, for example themes, security and payment solutions, are usually paid-for services. How this balances your budget compared to starting on a new platform with a different eCommerce solution will depend upon where you are now and what platform you choose, but it’s worth knowing.
Roughly a third of eCommerce sites are currently run by WooCommerce, although it’s uncommon to see very large eCommerce operations using it. On their own showcase, notable exceptions are Singer (sewing machines), Weber (barbecues) and All Blacks (official rugby merchandise), but the vast majority of users are small and boutique operations. Find out about how we could integrate WooCommerce into your WordPress site.
Magento proved itself a more than capable eCommerce platform in the decade after its 2008 launch. It was owned by eBay for a time, then Permira, and it’s now part of Adobe’s portfolio. It’s generally considered that Magento is better suited to large-volume, high turnover businesses, and comes with a few payment solutions as standard – you can run it straight out of the box.
If there’s resistance to Magento, it’s probably that it requires much more hands-on development skills to make it look and operate at its best. If you don’t have in-house developers, you’re going to need to find a Magento partner to help you set up and manage your site.
This is partly why it’s more popular among eCommerce businesses with turnovers in the millions rather than the tens or hundreds of thousands. But with its own impressive community and a choice of free and paid options, plus the kinds of performance that make it ideal for high-volume sites, it’s a great choice if you’re ambitious about the prospects of your eCommerce business.
This is a quick summary – we’ve already compared Magento and Shopify and written extensively about WordPress in other blog posts, so do take a look. When comparing Magento with WooCommerce, we’d say it boils down to the scale and budget of your operation and how familiar you are with the WordPress ecosystem.
For most smaller businesses, especially those already using WordPress, WooCommerce should be fine. But if your ambition is much more stratospheric, you should at least look into taking Magento with you.