The e-commerce business world manages to create one of the most crowded and diverse markets in the world. And, while it’s true that the pandemic sort of forced many people into the e-commerce sphere (as either vendors or customers), the trend remains upwards.
Does this mean there isn’t any room for newcomers? Will the competition make it more difficult to start your own e-commerce business?
Global retail e-commerce sales are expected to reach $5.5 trillion in 2022 and around $7.3 trillion by 2025. These numbers can be scary for a beginner, but the data also shows there is a lot more room for growth. Sure, some niches are more competitive, but this only means you need to find the one that works for you.
Plus, if you want a long-lasting e-commerce business, you also need to find a durable and reliable e-commerce platform that will support your efforts.
Today, we will compare two of the most popular e-commerce platforms of the moment and try to find out which one is best suited for web development beginners.
What are Magento & Woocommerce?
As we already established, both are e-commerce platforms. Also, both are popular in the e-commerce world because each comes with a well-defined set of features that fit the needs of an online business owner.
But let’s take a closer look.
Magento started in 2007 as an open-source platform designed to meet the needs of medium and large online stores. It’s also a platform that comes with one of the most robust feature sets on the market, which is why so many big brands favor it.
The platform is also easy to customize, has out-of-box functionalities, and integrates easily with third-party apps and software pieces.
Due to all these features, Magento became extremely popular in the e-commerce world, which led to an acquisition by Adobe, in 2018. Since then, the platform became Adobe Commerce, and it works hard to serve both B2B and B2C customers worldwide.
Woocommerce is a WordPress plugin (WordPress is the platform that supports the site, in this case), also open-source, that allows users to create gorgeous websites. Woocommerce is a bit younger (launched in 2011) and is constantly improving to keep up with the world of e-commerce and web development.
Woocommerce powers around 5.1 million websites across the globe (according to the BuiltWith 2022 report) and is one of the most popular platforms due to its built-in SEO features and ease-of-use specific to the WordPress system.
Magento vs. Woocommerce
Now that you have at least an idea of what each platform is, we will compare their capabilities and features and try to decide which one is best for a beginner in e-commerce.
For this, we’ll take a closer look at the following factors: price, performance, ease of use, scalability options, security, and support.
Given that beginners will worry about the costs first, we decided to take a look at each platform’s pricing system. Plus, it’s important to make sure you evaluate all costs, such as maintenance, scalability, and more.
Woocommerce is a free WordPress plugin, but you still have to take into account the cost of the domain name, hosting, and SSL certificate. Plus, keep in mind that you will have to renew these purchases when the initial validity period expires (most people prefer to pay on an annual basis).
Add to this the theme or template and website design costs, any plugins and extensions you may need, and your initial investment with Woocommerce may easily be around $200 and $500.
Magento, on the other hand, offers three pricing options:
- Magento Community - free to use but basic functions only;
- Magento Enterprise - the premium version with most additional features included, designed for large-scale and complex business;
- Magento Enterprise Cloud - same features as Magento Enterprise, but in the cloud
Of course, you will also have to include the domain name and hosting in your calculations. Overall, if you’re just starting and don’t have a large base of customers, the Community edition may be the best option.
You can customize and shape the store to your liking, but in order to make it functional and bring everything to life, the cost may be around $15,000. The other two versions are $22,000 and $40,000 respectively, but these are just the starting price tags.
Performance (Page Loading Speeds & Availability)
Nowadays, any page that takes more than a few seconds to load is dead in the eye of the customer. Luckily, both Magento and Woocommerce perform well in terms of availability, but page loading speed could be better (the average speed is 776m for Woocommerce and 665ms for Magento).
Still, given the complexity of the Magento background and high page availability, the system moves rather well. In this scenario, the overall customer experience will be more pleasant when browsing a Magento store.
Scalability & Ease of Use
Both platforms provide users with a multitude of third-party extensions (free and paid) that can help shape the store and your customers’ experience. However, Woocommerce wins this round because it works on WordPress - the platform with the most plugins on the market.
In contrast, Magento is better in terms of scalability since it is practically a CRM in the background. Also, the Magento community is well-supported by professionals in the field, so the system is constantly evolving.
Lastly, when it comes to ease of use, Woocommerce is better equipped for absolute beginners. Magento was designed to cater to large and medium online stores and it requires its users to have at least basic technical knowledge and some web development experience.
Security is another crucial aspect when it comes to building an e-commerce business. After all, if your customers don’t feel safe buying from your store, there’s no chance for growth.
Both platforms are safe to use (there are no known vulnerabilities left unfixed), but Woocommerce is a bit more vulnerable because it uses third-party plugins and extensions (one of the reasons why WordPress websites get hacked).
On the other hand, Magento is more focused on security and it constantly releases security patches and extensions to keep the entire system safe.
What do you do when you hit a wall and have no idea which way to go?
Well, it depends on the e-commerce platform you use. Woocommerce and Magento Community Edition are both free to use, but this also means no access to a specialized support team.
Of course, both platforms have strong communities and you will most likely get a reply in forums, but it’s a time-consuming and brain-draining task.
The other option would be to hire a developer who can solve the problem and teach you how to avoid it in the future.
If you select Magento Enterprise or Cloud, the situation is radically different since you have access to their official full-fledged support team. This also includes live support, which can be an extremely useful feature.
When you draw the line, it’s clear that Woocommerce is more beginner-friendly. It is free to use, it gives you access to a wide range of plugins and extensions, and it’s not very complex in the background. It’s also a lot more affordable.
Still, if you plan on growing your business anytime soon and you want to make sure your store is well-guarded in front of cybercriminals, Magento may be the right path. However, it is pricey and it does require basic to medium technological knowledge.
At the end of the day, you are the one who makes the choice. So make sure you are well-informed and understand your future business goals.
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