Each accounting for roughly 30 percent of all ecommerce websites, Magento and WooCommerce are both incredibly popular. For anyone looking to build and maintain an online shop, these platforms are often the top two contenders. But how exactly do they compare?

WordPress with WooCommerce

As covered in our recent overview, the Magento software is designed solely for ecommerce, with extensive features for creating and managing online stores. WooCommerce, on the other hand, is a slightly different beast.

Rather than standalone software, WooCommerce is an open-source plugin for WordPress that provides advanced ecommerce functionality on top of a standard WordPress install. It’s free to download and relatively easy to set up, and just like WordPress and Magento, it offers a wide array of customisation options via themes and add-ons.

Magento vs WooCommerce: usability

In general, building and maintaining a Magento site is far more complex and time-consuming than the WooCommerce alternative. Setting up Magento and learning its basics isn’t too difficult in the grand scheme of things.

But mastering its more advanced features is another thing altogether – if you’re not intimately familiar with the software, you’ll need the services of a Magento developer. And if you want to make full use of the powerful Magento platform, the basics just won’t cut it.

In theory, a WooCommerce shop can be up and running in a day. And while its long-term development and management will require a decent chunk of time and energy, WooCommerce is much more welcoming to novice users, just like the WordPress CMS it’s built on.

This is especially true if you’re already familiar with WordPress, e.g. if you have an existing WordPress site. And because WooCommerce integrates so seamlessly with WordPress, it’s ideal if you plan on using a blog for marketing purposes alongside your WooCommerce shop.

Of course, there’s nothing to stop you getting started with WooCommerce, then switching to Magento at a later date. This also makes sense if you don’t have the required experience with Magento, or the hosting and development resources right now.

Still, if you anticipate a need to rapidly scale up your online shop in the future, getting to grips with Magento up front could save a lot of bother later on.

Magento vs WooCommerce: functionality

Like WordPress in general, WooCommerce is supported by thousands of free and paid extensions. These enable a wide array of specialised features, including integration with payment providers, delivery services, and other marketplaces like Amazon.

Magento also offers a massive range of expanded functionality in the form of extensions, and just like WooCommerce, a large community of developers to create and maintain them. But unlike WooCommerce, Magento also comes with a comprehensive suite of powerful ecommerce features out of the box..

One of Magento’s key advantages vs WooCommerce is its advanced product filtering features, allowing customers to narrow down search results more efficiently based on product attributes. Magento also offers enhanced functionality in terms of cross-selling, upselling, product comparisons, discount codes and more.

Another key feature of Magento is its ability to manage multiple shops simultaneously. This out-of-the-box functionality isn’t possible with WooCommerce, and while a multi-store WooCommerce plugin is available, it comes with a hefty price tag. Multi-store support allows you to open stores for different countries, using different currencies and languages – all on the same install.

Both Magento and WooCommerce offer the ability to add unlimited products. But while WooCommerce is perfect for many small to medium stores, the Magento feature set makes it inherently more scalable, all the way up to enterprise level.

Ultimately, this is why major global players like Nike or Samsung rely on Magento for their online shops – it offers a level of advanced functionality you just won’t find on any other ecommerce platform. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering how Magento was always designed purely for ecommerce, essentially placing it in a higher weight class than WooCommerce.

With all that said, Magento’s enhanced functionality doesn’t automatically make it the superior choice. Many shops will find all the features they need with WooCommerce – it’s a simple case of asking yourself what level of functionality you actually require. Magento offers more scalability, flexibility and customisation – but all this comes with increased complexity for the user.

Magento vs WooCommerce: cost

While Magento does come in both open-source and paid editions, it’s only fair to compare the free version with WooCommerce, which likewise is available to download for nothing.

But as mentioned, to get the most from both Magento and WooCommerce, you really need to combine them with some of the myriad themes, plugins and extensions available from their respective communities. And while many of these are free, some of the most powerful add-ons are paid. This means that an online shop with specialised features will usually incur extra costs, no matter which you choose.

But the real question is, what do these extra costs add up to? On Magento, unless you take the time and effort to master the intricacies of the software yourself, you’ll probably need to hire a developer to implement extensions for you – even the free ones. The straightforward nature of WooCommerce, by contrast, makes the DIY approach more viable.

Still, for some of the more advanced WooCommerce functionality, you may well have to call on outside help. But whether you manage your WooCommerce site personally or employ someone to do it for you, the end cost is usually lower overall compared to Magento.

Magento devs are generally harder to come by than their WordPress/WooCommerce counterparts, so they often command higher fees – putting a premium on the development of your Magento site.

Another cost to consider is hosting. As explained below, Magento will typically place greater demands on servers, so it’s reasonable to expect to pay more for Magento hosting.

So overall, WooCommerce is usually the cheaper option. But just like with usability, these gains in cost are at the expense of functionality and complexity – something to always bear in mind when planning your long-term ecommerce strategy.

Magento vs WooCommerce: performance

Magento and WordPress hosting requirements are key considerations in your choice of ecommerce platform.

For larger, more complex ecommerce websites with high visitor numbers, Magento can offer increased levels of performance. But you’ll need the server power – preferably a dedicated server or a high-performance cloud platform with plenty of RAM.

WooCommerce, like WordPress, is sometimes run on shared hosting. While smaller, lower-traffic WooCommerce sites can get away with the performance of a shared platform, more intensive ecommerce applications will naturally demand dedicated resources.

So whether you choose the advanced features and scalability of Magento, or instead opt for the highly flexible, user-friendly and affordable WooCommerce solution, a capable web hosting platform is always recommended.

At Fasthosts, our Dedicated Servers and CloudNX Cloud Servers are ideal for Magento Hosting, with the power you need to fuel this advanced platform. We also offer WooCommerce Hosting, which sets you up with a fresh WordPress install including WooCommerce with the click of a button – so you can get started with its flexibility straight away.