Magento vs Shopify vs WooCommerce: which ecommerce platform is right for your business?
Published on March 25, 2022 Last modified on April 19, 2022
Estimated reading time: 16 minutes
Choosing which ecommerce platform to build your store on is no easy task. In this blog, we explore some of the most popular ecommerce platforms in the market — Magento, Shopify, and WordPress using the WooCommerce plugin — and compare them using different criteria including costs, ease of use, extensions and integrations, flexibility and customization, scalability and more.
Magento is a feature-rich, professional open-source ecommerce solution that provides merchants complete flexibility and control over the look, content, and functionality of their online store. Designed to be completely scalable from the smallest to the biggest setup and backed by an extensive support network, Magento offers companies the ultimate ecommerce solution. Magento is available as an Open Source solution or as a hosted solution through Adobe (the company behind Magento).
Shopify is a hosted ecommerce platform that lets anyone create an online store without needing to know how to code. Its primary focus is being simple and user-friendly, perfect for people just getting started with ecommerce or those looking to expand their user base.
WooCommerce is a full-featured ecommerce plugin that runs on WordPress, one of the world's most popular content management systems (CMS). It offers a huge number of options and customization capabilities, which makes it one of the most used and powerful ecommerce platforms out there.
Ecommerce platform showdown: Magento vs Shopify vs WooCommerce
Let’s see how these three ecommerce platforms stack up against each other in different aspects relevant to your business.
Cost and fees
There are three major types of costs you have to consider: software costs (i.e., the fees you pay for the software itself, plus any plugins or apps you choose to add on), hosting costs, and transaction fees (i.e., some platforms charge a fee for every transaction that goes through your shop, as well as a percentage of every sale).
Magento Cost: Magento has two versions — Magento Open Source, which is free, but must be installed on your own server or hosting company and configured by yourself or a developer; and Adobe Commerce (formerly the Magento Enterprise version), which is a paid solution. Pricing is upon contact with the Adobe Commerce team.
Other fees to consider: Hosting, premium themes and extensions, custom development
Associated costs with Magento vary widely depending on the level of customization and support you need. You can set up a good-looking online store for just a few thousand dollars, or you can spend hundreds of thousands creating highly customized ecommerce solutions with enterprise-level support.
Shopify Cost: Ranges from $29-$299 per month, depending on which plan you choose.
Other fees to consider: Premium apps for functionalities not available out-of-the-box, and additional transaction fees if you use something different than Shopify Payments for processing transactions.
Shopify is a hosted solution, which means that it does not require a server or maintenance on your end, but it does come with a monthly subscription and transaction fees. Apps and extensions will require additional cost, too.
WooCommerce Cost: Free to download and install on your site.
Other fees to consider: Hosting, premium themes and extensions, custom development
As with Magento, WordPress itself is free to download and install on your own server or web host. Likewise, WooCommerce is a free plugin that you install to add ecommerce capabilities to the WordPress CMS.
Ease of use
The ideal ecommerce platform should make it easier for you to manage your shop. Depending on your technical know-how and existing familiarity with backend systems, some platforms may be easier to use than others.
Magento can be a complex beast, requiring knowledge of Apache servers, MySQL databases and PHP code if you want to manage it yourself. Most companies, however, choose to get professional help for the technical aspects by working with a developer or agency to build and manage the shop.
Because it is so robust, Magento can be difficult to use, especially for first-time users who do not have a background in coding or web development.
The main selling point for Shopify is that it's easy. There are no servers to set up and no software installation required. Once you've signed up for an account, Shopify will guide you through the setup process with easy-to-follow instructions. In most cases, you will have your store up and running within a day.
WooCommerce is built for WordPress, which is known for its intuitiveness and user-friendliness. The content management system also includes a variety of themes and plugins that can be used for your ecommerce store; these features allow you to quickly create a website without having to code everything from scratch.
Themes and customization
The look and feel of your shop has a significant impact on sales. All three platforms offer an array of great designs to choose from — this comparison is about how easy it is for beginners (not designers or developers) to customize themes or templates available for these platforms.
Magento is highly customizable. Being an open source platform means that you have access to thousands of different templates created by the Magento community.
For those who prefer to code their own templates, or have someone do it for them, Magento's structure makes it easy to implement custom designs.
There’s a limited selection of free themes on Shopify, but if you’re willing to pay for a premium theme, you can get some really nice designs that will make your store stand out.
Unlike Magento and WooCommerce, with Shopify you do not have access to the source code. That means you cannot modify it if you want to code something that requires you to change the core of Shopify. That being said, it is very, very seldom that a company has requirements like that. While you can edit the theme code, it may make the webshop ineligible for automatic upgrades.
If you're looking for a platform that gives you complete control of your webshop, then Shopify isn't the best choice for you.
With WooCommerce, you can use many of the same themes that are also available for WordPress. It also has its own marketplace where you can purchase themes designed specifically for use with your ecommerce store.
Third-party extensions or plugins
Businesses have complex needs, and it's not always possible to find a platform that meets all of those requirements out of the box.
There’s a huge number of Magento extensions that you can choose from, ranging from simple functionalities like different payment gateways to more advanced functionalities such as accounting software integration and personalized recommendations for customers.
The flexibility of Magento makes it a good fit for ecommerce companies that use many different tools or have complicated workflows. Magento's open-source design means that there are virtually no limits to the types of integrations that can be built.
You can access a wide range of apps (or extensions) from the Shopify App Store. This includes apps for marketing, sales channels, store management, accounting, shipping and more. There are free and paid options – many of the most popular apps are free to use.
There are thousands of plugins in the WordPress plugin repository, most of them free. This is because WooCommerce is open source and its code can be edited to your heart's content. There are also plenty of third-party developers creating premium plugins for WooCommerce and selling them on their own sites.
You probably use several different systems in your business to supplement your ecommerce strategy — ERP, PIM, CRM, point-of-sale for physical stores, inventory management, and more. For a smoother workflow and better user experience, all these systems need to be integrated with your ecommerce site.
Magento integrates heavily with other platforms, making it relatively easy to create a seamless experience for your customers. In addition, Magento has a strong community which can help new users find solutions to problems with third-party integrations.
While there are a lot of integrations available through extensions, you may still need to hire a developer to do some technical configurations.
Shopify is a hosted solution and as such it's not possible to install software on the server. However, this doesn't mean that there aren't any customization options. Shopify offers a simple, clean API and extensive documentation to help developers get their apps up and running quickly.
WooCommerce also offers native integrations using its API. This makes it easier for you to utilize all the software you need for your business without having to worry about how they will integrate together.
One of the most important aspects of running an online store is product management. The better you can organize and display your products, the easier it will be for shoppers to find and purchase them.
If your main focus is product management, Magento is a strong contender. The amount of products you can include and the categories they can be organized into are essentially limitless. You can also schedule products to go live at a specific time, which can help prepare for an upcoming sales event or new product release. You can even set up special pricing for loyal visitors based on discount codes or accounts they create on your site.
Shopify has both basic product management options as well as more advanced ones. Shopify doesn't limit how many products you can add to your Shopify store, even on their basic plan. Thus, Shopify is suitable for a variety of online merchants from small to large scale enterprises.
WooCommerce is suitable for small to medium businesses who do not have a large number of SKUs but still want to take advantage of WordPress's content and blog features.
Marketing and SEO
Digital marketing and SEO are essential aspects of your business. No matter how optimized your store is, you still won’t get sales if customers don’t find their way to your shop. Here’s how the three platforms support your marketing strategy.
Adobe Commerce (previously Magento Enterprise, Magento’s paid and hosted version) has built-in marketing tools that allow you to create and manage coupon codes, up-sell and cross-sell products, and set up email campaigns. You can also integrate your Magento store with Google AdWords, Google Analytics, and Facebook.
Magento is built with SEO in mind from the ground up. It makes it easy to add page titles, descriptions, and URLs for all products, categories, and other pages on your site. Magento will automatically generate the URLs and titles in accordance with your store settings. It also provides you with powerful tools to control duplicate content issues and uses canonical tags throughout the site by default.
Shopify has a built-in blogging platform that lets you create posts that are automatically shared on Twitter and Facebook. It also comes with a database of abandoned shopping carts so you can follow up with customers who left before purchasing something. You can also use Shopify to connect your store to Facebook where people can buy directly from your page. Like Magento and WordPress/WooCommerce, there are many apps available to help run your marketing campaign.
Similar to Magento, Shopify has URL, meta tag and title customization options for every product and category page on your site. You can also create 301 redirects if you change any URLs or remove pages from your site in order to preserve their search ranking power.
The WooCommerce plugin has a range of marketing extensions you can purchase. There are extensions that let you use coupon codes for discounts, run deals for a limited time period, offer rewards points to customers for purchases or signups, send out email newsletters, integrate with various social networks, set up affiliate programs and more.
WordPress has native SEO features, but there are also many plugins that can help — the Yoast SEO plugin gives you complete control over meta tags, improved XML sitemaps, and even allows you to set canonical URLs to prevent Google from penalizing duplicate content.
How easy is it to move platforms? When considering which e-commerce platform to use, it's important to think about the long-term. The last thing you want is to be stuck on an inferior platform, unable to migrate your store to one that is better in the future.
Magento offers a native way to get your webshop data if you decide to move to another ecommerce platform. If you use custom data aside from those that are native to Magento’s structure, you’ll likely need the help of a developer to export and migrate these data to your new ecommerce site.
There are also third-party extensions and services available that can automate the migration for you. Of course, the effectiveness still depends on the level of customization of your site and the types of data that you will be transferring to the new shop.
Shopify allows you to manually export data (e.g., products, orders, customers, etc.) in .CSV format, which you can in turn manually import to your new webshop. Like with Magento, there are also apps available online that can help you migrate your data to most ecommerce platforms out there.
Many third-party ecommerce migration services support moving from WooCommerce to other ecommerce platforms. Aside from this, there are also third-party WordPress plugins that help you export your webshop data to take with you to your new ecommerce site.
Ecommerce sites store a lot of personal and financial data of customers, making them a usual target for hackers. Ensuring security on your site not only saves you from legal trouble, but strengthens customers’ trust in your business as well.
Magento's open source software is available to everyone and is therefore vulnerable to hackers who can poke around and identify security holes. To keep the platform secure, Magento recommends that businesses use a developer or an agency to maintain their ecommerce site by installing security patches and upgrading Magento to the latest version.
With Shopify being a hosted solution, all security updates are taken care of for merchants by Shopify. They keep all sites up-to-date with patches and are constantly improving their platform against threats.
There are third-party plugins available for WordPress that help with site security, ranging from the likes of Wordfence that enables two-factor authentication for admin logins to Sucuri for overall website protection and monitoring.
Like with Magento, you can also have a developer support your WooCommerce site by regularly installing security patches from WordPress and the third-party plugins that you’re using.
Magento has a very active community of developers on the official Magento site, as well as Facebook groups and dedicated support forums or portals. While there are no official guarantees you will always find the help you need, there is a good chance you will be able to connect with other users and Magento experts who can answer your questions.
Shopify's support is generally excellent for both merchants and developers alike. You can contact support via live chat, email or phone 24/7/365. Shopify also has an extensive library of FAQs and tutorials to help you learn how to use Shopify.
WooCommerce has its own support team available through email to help you with your problems. You won't find any support from WordPress itself, but you can get plenty of information on the WordPress website, Facebook groups and similar sources. There is also a thriving community of WordPress users who have built their own ecommerce websites and share their knowledge through blogs and forums.
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to platforms, so you must do your own homework in order to find the system that meets your needs best.
While these platforms all do an excellent job of providing powerful, flexible and customizable solutions for merchants big and small, your best bet is to start out by creating a list of must haves. Next, try to connect with companies using the platforms and ask how well they perform on your key points.
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