WooCommerce vs Magento: The best self-hosted E-Commerce platform

11 minutes reading

Starting your online sales journey can be treacherous if you don’t know the ABC of E-Commerce. Naturally, the starting point of any such business endeavor is establishing an internet presence. Building a website that’s eye-pleasing, handy, and user-friendly is the cornerstone behind any successful online retailer. Thankfully, various platforms allow you to create genuinely stunning websites with little to no IT background and web development skills.

Among the dozens of e-commerce platforms, WooCommerce and Magento are undoubtedly the A-listers, with millions of businesses using them for their online shops. And while it’s a well-known fact that WooCommerce has a far bigger market share than Magento, many still wonder if it is the better choice for their e-commerce ambitions. Let’s find out.

Why is WooCommerce so widely used?

WooCommerce is a customizable open-source platform that’s powered by WordPress. Currently, the platform owns 23.39% of the global market share and is the most widely used platform globally. Some estimates suggest that around 40.6% of all online stores use WooCommerce. To put it in perspective, approximately 7 million currently active websites use WooCommerce as their e-commerce platform. The most significant percentage of them (nearly 10%) are from the US (660,931), followed by the United Kingdom (270,073) and Germany (181,026). 

Among the platform’s key features is the ability to pick almost any payment processor via a separate plugin for WordPress. In addition, WooCommerce has some outstanding customization opportunities, supports an unlimited number of products, and has limitless growth potential. The platform is easy to use even if you have zero experience, it’s highly cost-efficient as it is absolutely free, there is outstanding support, and thanks to the WordPress extendability, it has a solid SEO base score.

Graph for website using WooCommerce

Graphic Source: https://trends.builtwith.com/shop/WooCommerce

What about Magento?

While WooCommerce is directed more to beginners with little to no budget, who are interested in functional and easy to work with solutions, Magento targets companies ready to fund something more sophisticated.

So naturally, Magento has a much lower market share (1.32%) as it’s targeting a niche group that can afford and are willing to spend some money to receive a better quality platform. While it pales in comparison with WooCommerce in sheer numbers, Magento still has some solid usage as approximately 250,000 active websites are currently using this platform. Moreover, this number has doubled since 2018

Furthermore, Magento has around 20% of the top 1000 internet retailer’s websites in its portfolio, unmatched by any other platform. 

What genuinely draws businesses to use this e-commerce platform is the efficient and secure APIs that can connect with any third-party solution. Furthermore, while there is a steep beginning of the learning curve, once you reach the plateau, Magento becomes intuitive and easy to use. 

Magento is created for rapid growth and can easily support an unlimited number of products. 

Needless to say, both WooCommerce and Magento have some serious pros and, of course, some cons. But which one is better? Let’s check their performance in several categories to find out.

Round 1: System

Being two of the best e-commerce platforms, WooCommerce and Magento have much in common. They are both open-source products, predominantly free to use, self-hosted, have an outstanding community behind them, and are highly customizable. But, of course, they have some significant differences as well. The main one is that, unlike WooCommerce, Magento is a content management system on its own, albeit explicitly built with e-commerce in mind. WooCommerce, on the other hand, is essentially an e-commerce plugin, which you can install on the most popular platform worldwide – WordPress. 

Winner: Magento – Even though WordPress, without a doubt, is the best CMS in the world, with over 43% of the CMS market share, Magento’s system was built explicitly for e-commerce, giving it the advantage. 

Round 2: Web Hosting

Both platforms need secure, fast, and reliable hosting to perform at their total capacity. HostArmada is an excellent choice, as our cloud-based servers guarantee high speed, security, and optimal uptime.

WooCommerce, being a plugin, is exceptionally lightweight and doesn’t occupy much server space. Furthermore, it runs smoothly, and web servers effortlessly deliver it in a blink of an eye due to its optimized code. That’s why even our Start Dock plan is quite enough to create your own online retail business. 

On the other hand, Magento has more serious web hosting requirements due to being a more complex system. Naturally, it would need some more powerful hosting options to run smoothly. Our Web Wrap proposal is perfect for starters, but once your business grows, be prepared to switch to Speed Reaper. In addition to that, the most recent version of Magento require an additional Search Indexation service called Elastic Search which we do offer as an additional service. 

Winner: WooCommerce – The platform’s lightweight is definitely an asset, which will help newcomers to the business get a fast and reliable online shop for a reasonable price. 

Round 3: Usability

Picture of a woman admiring how easy to use the platform is

WooCommerce, just like WordPress, is extremely easy to use. The intuitive design of the dashboard makes it effortlessly navigable even by beginners. It’s, without a doubt, the go-to e-commerce platform for people with zero experience in creating or maintaining websites. Moreover, if you have minor experience with WordPress, WooCommerce will feel natural and blend into the interface. There is practically no learning curve, as using the system is genuinely effortless. From creating a product to bringing it to life on your website, it can take as little as a couple of minutes (provided you have ready pictures and a copy on standby).

Magento‘s usability is somewhat more complicated. The platform has a steep learning curve at the beginning, but once you reach the plateau, Magento will come as naturally as any other E-Commerce platform. If you are serious about your business and you are willing to put effort into learning all there is to know about Magento, the platform will repay tenfold. 

While adding new products to Magento is far from being complicated, it’s still a bit harder than doing it on WooCommerce. It needs some additional steps, and it will take some extra time to put your products live on your page. 

Winner: WooCommerce – It’s simply the more user-friendly platform, although Magento may have some more options in the long run. 

Round 4: Customizability

Both platforms have some outstanding customization abilities, as both have a vast library of themes and templates that can make your website a truly gorgeous online store.

Magento’s themes are almost always ready to use right out of the box. They, however, are a bit more complicated to install, and some might even need a professional to get involved. Furthermore, the paid Magento’s themes can be more expensive than their competitors. 

WooCommerce, on the other hand, needs some extra effort to make the theme look like a true online shop. As a plugin, WooCommerce requires some extensions and widgets to be installed so you can add more features and missing functionalities. The paid themes are relatively cheap, but if you want a genuinely gorgeous website, you might need to enlist the help of a developer. 

Winner: Magento – although the theme is a bit harder to install, its genuine professional look can’t be reached with WooCommerce, without having some developer’s skills or enlisting the help of a professional. Naturally, Magento wins this round.

Round5: Features

Being a platform explicitly designed for e-commerce, it’s not surprising that Magento has some serious advantages over WooCommerce in this round. The state-of-the-art system allows for multi-language capabilities, multi-store options, much more complex product structures, highly sophisticated navigation, and many more features you get right out of the box.

On the contrary, WooCommerce comes as a blank page, which you must fill with extensions and widgets to get the desired functionality and design to appear to the end user. Thankfully there are thousands of these on the market, and WooCommerce can also acquire Magento’s superb features. Unfortunately, adding them up will slow down the platform, and some of the plugins may add to the cost. 

Winner: Magento – Despite having the opportunity to add the same premium features that Magento comes with out of the box, WooCommerce can’t compete in this regard with a system that has been created explicitly for this task. 

Round 6: Extendability

Both e-commerce platforms have, as it seems, an infinite number of extensions and plugins, which can add different functionalities the website owner desires. What separates them, though, is the price and the usability. 

WooCommerce offers almost all of its extensions for free. Many of them have been developed by the WooCommerce community and have the only purpose of helping out. Even those extensions, which are paid, cost significantly less than what they would cost on other platforms. Furthermore, the installation process is as straightforward as they come. All you need to do is follow a simple procedure that often includes less than five clicks.   

Magento is equally rich in extension variety, although it is equipped with everything one might need to build a genuinely magnificent online store from the very get-go. However, if any additional features are required, there is most probably a plugin or an extension as a solution to the problem. The downside, however, is that those plugins are most commonly paid, and their price can add up fast. Furthermore, installing the plugins and extensions may prove difficult for beginners, and even if you are well acquainted with the platform and how to work with it, you may still need assistance from professionals for some plugins. 

Winner: WooCommerce – The practicality, cost, and user-friendliness of WooCommerce plugins definitely give it an edge over Magento in this round.

Round 7: Scalability

Magento’s whole sales point is that it’s the most scalable E-Commerce platform out there, so it is no surprise that it offers just that. With decent hosting behind its back, the platform has no limits, and it’s definitely the right choice for you if your goal is rapid growth and expansion. In addition, the platform can easily handle thousands of products and orders, making it perfect for massive stores.

WooCommerce is not that great when it comes to the sheer number of products you can add. Although the platform can handle an infinite number of products, after adding 2500, the system becomes a bit sluggish. Even if you upgrade the hosting service, you will still find that the platform itself has some limitations. That’s why WooCommerce is not ideal when scaling with products and extensions despite its many advantages.

Winner: Magento  – The platform was literally created with scalability in mind. Although WooCommerce has many advantages, Magento is definitely the right choice if you are trying to become big. 

Round 8: Security

Picture of hacking tools

Being a special-purpose platform built to accommodate e-commerce needs, Magento, in general, is among the most secure E-Commerce platforms out there. In addition, Magento rarely needs additional plugins, and even if it does, they are more sophisticated, and it’s far less common for them to have some malware inside. So naturally, this tightens the security holes that can be exploited.

WooCommerce is also not that frivolous with its security. Although WordPress, which powers WooCommerce, was built initially as a blogging platform and tends to have more hacker attacks annually than any other platform, the developers take security extremely seriously. As a result, there are rarely any occurrences of leaked information through the WooCommerce platform. Security can be tightened even more by some high-profile WordPress plugins, which can be a bit expensive but are well worth every cent. 

Winner: Tie – Although Magento has built-in security and has been created as an E-Commerce fortress, WooCommerce security is definitely not to be underestimated. Yes, the top-of-the-shelf security plugins may drive the cost a bit higher, but the price is well worth it. Thus we can’t definitively say that one security is better than the other. 

Round 9: Cost

Both platforms are free to install and use. However, there are some accompanying costs that you need to address when using either one. 

WooCommerce is by far the cheaper alternative. It requires a lower-grade web hosting solution, which respectively you can get. Moreover, most of the plugins needed to build a fully functioning online store are free, and those that offer extravagant features and are paid have much lower prices. The development costs are also pretty much on the downscale. 

Conversely, Magento’s cost may escalate quickly if you decide to go beyond its factory features. The plugins are costly. It does require a high-end web hosting solution, and you may need to ask professionals for help much more often than with the alternative.

Winner: WooCommerce – The platform was created as a low-cost online store platform, so it shouldn’t be surprising that it’s not very pricy. On the other hand, Magento’s niche is definitely going for a more refined target group, meaning their product would naturally cost a bit more. Therefore, WooCommerce is the clear winner in this round. 

So which one is better?

As it most often happens, the answer is “It depends.” With a 5:5 score, we can genuinely say that both platforms have their advantages and disadvantages. If you need a highly-functioning online store with a few products, nothing fancy, and practically no cost, WooCommerce is your best choice. 

If you are going for fast growth with many products, high-end features, and a professional outlook, then you should invest in Magento. 

Whichever you choose, you will need some top-of-the-line hosting service, which you can secure with HostArmada. All you need to do is give us a call, and we will fix you up with the best plan for your needs.