WooCommerce vs. Magento: A direct comparison of the two online shop giants

WooCommerce and Magento have been among the most important applications for developing and maintaining web shops for years. However, the two tools differ fundamentally in their focus: Magento is an independent software that is available as an option in an open-source or proprietary edition. WooCommerce, on the other hand, is a plugin, or an optional extension, of the firmly established content management system WordPress.

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In the following “WooCommerce vs. Magento” comparison, we will take a closer look at these two solutions for getting started in e-commerce. We will go into the respective strengths and weaknesses in various categories, such as user-friendliness for beginners, expandability, payment options, and support.

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An overview of the advantages and disadvantages of WooCommerce and Magento

If you want to create a web shop these days, you have a variety of options. Both with WooCommerce and Magento, you will be choosing an established online shop software with an experienced team of developers behind it. The first, official edition of Magento was published in March 2008, and WooCommerce appeared in September 2011 as one of the first shop plugins for WordPress. Before we get into the nitty-gritty of this “WooCommerce vs. Magento” comparison, we'll first summarise the basic advantages and disadvantages of the two shop solutions.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of WooCommerce?

With WooCommerce, you can transform your WordPress project into a fully-fledged, responsive online shop that will not in any way affect the basic strengths of the content management system. The modular structure and the high degree of expandability with plugins make the flexible platform interesting for a wide variety of shop sizes. Like WordPress, WooCommerce is also basically free of charge. However, you will have to bear the costs of hosting. Depending on the selected provider, you will also have to put in more or less effort to install, set up, and manage the shop system. The WordPress plugin is heavily geared towards the US market when it comes to legal security.

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Overview of strengths and weaknesses:

WooCommerce advantages WooCommerce disadvantages
Many design options (especially for advanced users) Legal texts, such as terms and conditions, data protection statements, etc. are not included by default
Unlimited number of products Financial framework is difficult to calculate
WordPress as a fully-fledged CMS in the background WooCommerce always depends on WordPress
Comprehensive control over essential areas such as SEO, security, theme development, and back-end design Multichannel selling is sometimes associated with extra costs
Multilingualism/internationalisation can be implemented very well Stability and performance problems can arise during load peaks
Connections to numerous warehouse management systems, POS systems, and accounting systems  
Tip

We have also written another comparison article on “WooCommerce vs. Shopify” to contrast the WordPress shop plugin and the complete e-commerce solution.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of Magento?

Magento rose to the rank of an enterprise shop system around the time it was taken over by Adobe in 2018. The two commercial versions, Magento Commerce and Magento Cloud (with hosting), are the best proof of this, but they also come with a hefty price tag. This is not a disadvantage per se: The original, open-source edition is still available to all interested users. However, this version is significantly less functional, and you will be on your own when designing your shop. Thousands of free and fee-based Magento extensions provide a solution here, even if you initially feel overwhelmed by the variety.

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Magento advantages Magento disadvantages
Huge community and first-class documentation High set-up effort for open-source and commerce editions
Available as a free, open-source edition The free, open-source edition lacks some features, such as B2B or advanced marketing tools
Highly scalable and expandable High costs for licensed solutions
Over 3,800 available extensions The update and upgrade process for new versions is very time-consuming
Either hosted yourself or in the Adobe Cloud Basic PHP and MySQL knowledge is required

WooCommerce vs. Magento: A direct comparison of the two online shop giants

WooCommerce and Magento are just two of the numerous competitors in the great shop-system battle. Just as one general winner cannot be singled out from this entire jumble of tools, neither WooCommerce nor Magento can be described as “the better shop system.” We’ve already made it clear that both applications have their strengths and weaknesses. In the following section, we will go into more detail with our “WooCommerce vs. Magento” comparison and highlight various evaluation categories. This will make it even easier for you to find out which e-commerce solution is better suited to your purposes.

Which software is better for beginners?

WooCommerce is an excellent option for newbies who are not only taking their first steps into the world of e-commerce, but who also have no experience using a web content platform. WooCommerce is cheap to set up and relatively easy to manage on your own. Anyone who has already worked with WordPress will still need a little bit of time to get used to it and quickly feel at home. Otherwise, the excellent documentation and various online tutorials will help you get started.

Tip

In our article “Create an online shop with WordPress: How it works”, you can find out more about installing and setting up WooCommerce.

Magento is also generally appealing to newcomers to the world of e-commerce. The open-source community edition can be used by anyone with the appropriate hosting environment. However, the focus has now clearly been shifted onto enterprise customers, for whom the high costs of the two commercial editions are no hurdle. In particular, the installation and set-up of the platform are much more complex than with WooCommerce.

Summary

WooCommerce knows how to impress in terms of user-friendliness for beginners, especially if you’ve already worked with WordPress. If you’ve struggled through the installation and set-up, Magento would also make for a good choice to get started in e-commerce.

WooCommerce or Magento: Expandability comparison

Both WooCommerce and Magento come with a basic set-up of functions and interfaces that can be expanded through free and fee-based extensions. In both systems, the plugins can be installed via FTP upload or an integrated function in the back end.

There are around 600 official extensions for WooCommerce in areas such as payment methods, CRM, shipping, or marketing. There are also over 25 themes that can be used to customise the look of your own online shop. The number of free extensions is very manageable.

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There are more than six times as many extensions (over 3,800) for Magento in the official marketplace. There are only eleven themes, but this is not a problem, since you will still have enough options for an individual, customised visual design. The same applies to Magento extensions: Only very few of them are free.

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Summary

Magento offers a much broader arsenal of official extensions in its own marketplace, making it the winner in the expandability category. There are only a few free extensions for both solutions, which is why you should always keep an eye on the cost factor when expanding your shop.

Which payment processors are supported?

For resounding e-commerce success, it is important that you offer your customers the widest possible range of payment options. WooCommerce and Magento have already implemented staple methods for this purpose by default, which are included in both options. With the appropriate extensions, you can retrofit missing options (e.g., PayFast, Amazon Pay, and other bank transfer methods) at any time. There are around 190 official extensions for Magento and over 60 for WooCommerce in this area.

Both shop systems offer the following options for payment processing by default:

  • Bank transfer
  • Payment by cheque
  • Cash on delivery
  • PayPal

Magento also offers the “payment by invoice” method right from the start, which is only available in WooCommerce by using a corresponding extension.

Summary

If you compare the offers of available payment processors, Magento is just ahead of the game. The Adobe system has integrated bill payment by default, and offers more extensions in this category.

Security and maintenance – who has the upper hand, WooCommerce or Magento?

When looking at the topic of security, one of Magento's strengths stands out in particular. Adobe publishes patches for the platform at regular intervals, which are specifically designed to close security gaps and make the software more secure in general. However, the application of these security patches is not that easy, which also applies to the general maintenance of the shop system. Switching to a new Magento version and even minor version updates require a lot of effort and, without a certain familiarity with the processes, this can become a real stumbling block.

The maintenance effort required with WooCommerce is closely linked to the basic WordPress construct, which also makes switching to newer versions very cumbersome and time-consuming. WordPress security gaps can also pose a threat to WooCommerce shops, which is why the content management system also casts a shadow in terms of security. In particular, plugins are constantly being used as points of contact for malware and the like, although this problem also exists with the highly-expandable Magento.

Summary

Both WooCommerce and Magento are applications with maintenance requirements that can be classified as complex and time-consuming. The commercial editions of Magento present slight advantages in regard to security.

Which system is better for SEO?

When it comes to search engine optimisation, Magento is a very convincing option in all respects. You can choose to define the basic SEO cornerstones, such as meta titles and descriptions, keywords, and product descriptions yourself or have them generated automatically. Various professional SEO tools for integrating an XML sitemap or for image optimisation, for example, are also available by default. You also have the option of creating rich snippets for your catalogue pages, in order to optimally prepare your shop content for crawlers and search engine users.

Tip

How do other online shop applications fare in terms of SEO and the like? Our large shop system comparison will give you some more insight.

WooCommerce is also search engine-friendly by default. After all, the shop plugin uses the basic functions of WordPress. However, the range of features is significantly smaller than with Magento. In addition, it is much more time-consuming to optimise a shop with the available SEO functions.

There are various SEO plugins for both WooCommerce and Magento that you can use to add more SEO features to the systems if necessary.

Summary

Magento emerges as the clear winner in the “WooCommerce vs. Magento” SEO fight. Both systems are fundamentally search engine-friendly, but the SEO features of the Adobe software are much more versatile and user-friendly.

WooCommerce vs. Magento: A comparison of support options

When it comes to support services such as manuals, forums, and tutorials, WooCommerce and Magento (Community Edition) are undoubtedly among the best options for creating your own online shop. If you have any questions about installation and set-up, or specific modules, you will find numerous pages on the Internet, where the communities of both shop systems are available to provide advice and assistance.

In the case of technical problems, other users are the first, but often the only, point of contact, as official tech support is not offered for WooCommerce or the open-source edition of Magento. Only as a paying Magento customer do you have the option of requesting support in technical matters via the support ticket system.

Summary

Magento and WooCommerce have large communities behind them that are always available to answer questions about either of the two shop systems. When it comes to technical support, you will be on your own for the most part (with the exception of the commercial Magento editions).

WooCommerce or Magento: Summary of the most important facts

WooCommerce shines as a beginner-friendly shop system that can basically be used free of charge for designing and managing your own web shop. Since it is actually a WordPress plugin, users of the popular CMS should feel right at home.

A high degree of expandability also makes WooCommerce interesting for larger projects, along with an excellent community standing at the ready with help and advice, despite the lack of any official technical support. Although the open-source edition of Magento does not offer this either, Adobe does provide a ticket system for the commercial editions for the purpose of resolving technical problems.

Magento is specifically aimed (especially the aforementioned commercial editions) at enterprise customers who want to implement large and complex shop platforms. For this purpose, the software presents high security standards, great SEO features, and a variety of marketing and B2B tools.

To conclude, the following table summarises the most important aspects in our direct comparison of “WooCommerce vs. Magento.”

  WooCommerce Magento
User-friendliness Very user-friendly for beginners (especially for WordPress users) Complex and time-consuming installation and set-up
Hosting To be provided by the user To be provided in all plans, except for Magento Commerce Cloud
Expandability If necessary, your own shop can be adapted using a plugin; Around 600 official extensions and 25 design templates available If necessary, your own shop can be adapted to a large extent, both functionally and visually; Over 3,800 extensions and 11 design templates available
Payment methods All common offline and online payment methods are supported with the exception of “payment by invoice” All common offline and online payment methods are supported
Security and Maintenance Security and maintenance are closely linked to the basic WordPress software Regular security patches; Version updates and upgrades are very complex
SEO Features Basic SEO features that can be expanded if necessary Good basic features that can be expanded with over 400 extensions if required
Support English FAQ and a huge amount of community advice English FAQ and a huge amount of community advice; Direct support via ticket system only for paying customers
Costs Free Open-source: freeMagento Commerce/Commerce Cloud: Price on request

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