Choosing which platform to go with for your ecommerce website is not always an easy decision, particularly when you are faced with two strong competitors – Magento and WooCommerce.

Before you get into a fight, we are going to make it easy to decide which is the best choice for you by looking at their similarities and differences.

Similarities
Both are open source – this means that the code is free to download and use, tailoring it to suit your purpose. You will also be able to tap into the online communities for support for both, helping with any technical hitches or queries.

Themes and plugins are available for both – some may attract a fee. WooCommerce runs via WordPress so the number of themes may be limited.

Differences
Platforms – WooCommerce works via WordPress and Magento on a platform owned by EBay. This will mean that the installations processes are different; you will need to download WordPress if you go down the WooCommerce route and use the specific installation wizard if Magento is your pick, with this probably being more suitable if your site is being built by an ecommerce development team.

Features – WooCommerce is simpler and possibly more suitable for novices to use. When you need to add a feature, choose a plugin. Magento comes with a whole plethora of features such as discounts, compare options and advanced filters. If you want a multi-store option, Magento has it.

So there we have the summary so let’s now take a look at the specifics of each platform.

WooCommerce
Providing more than 400,000 sites to users, WooCommerce has superb functionality as well as sufficient advanced capabilities to which you can add via extensions.

These are its key features:
• It will support as many products as you wish
• Extensions come via WordPress plugins
• It will work with any kind of payment processor
• Choose from free or premium paid-for themes

If you know a little about WordPress, setting up an ecommerce store is relatively easy. It also integrates well with Google Analytics simply by using an extension. It will be low cost if you are setting up yourself as long as you don’t use too many paid for themes or extensions. Even if you have zero ecommerce experience, it should not be difficult to use, particularly as there are many tutorials online. Optionally, you can always employ the services of a WordPress Development team.

When it comes to price, being open-source, it is free to download. Adding on premium extensions can quickly tot up and become expensive, with some involving subscriptions each year. The cost of your hosting will depend upon the size of your business and the packages on offer.

Magento
Possibly geared more towards the larger business, small companies can use it too, particularly if they opt for the free Community Edition. The big boys would head for the Enterprise Edition but as we are comparing it to WooCommerce, we will focus on the free features of the Community Edition.

These are its key features:
• It supports a vast number of products, being self-hosted
• Has its own layout and theming system
• Its APIs will connect with any third-party solution
• It has very intuitive admin interfaces and plenty of product creation tools

Definitely built for scalability, if you envisage your ecommerce store becoming a big one, then this is the one for you. Checkout is fast and streamlined and guest checkout is always available. Whichever payment option you want, it will integrate well, including PayPal. If you had to choose one of the two that is more geared towards big business, then it has to be Magento, which would ideally need to be handled by a Magento development expert. With regard to the Enterprise Edition, this is fairly pricey but this is to be expected, given the target market. Not terribly beginner-friendly, if you are looking at building your ecommerce site yourself, this would not be the best choice. If security is an issue for your type of business, then Magento would also be the winner as it covers this well.

Which one will you pick?
Magento comes with a far more features than WooCommerce, unless you want to buy additional extensions. WooCommerce is better suited to users who are not looking for advanced store features. You can get up and running quickly and then grow the site later, adding extensions as you need them. If you are going down this route, then be sure to ascertain which ones you will need before choosing your platform; this is the only sure way of obtaining full functionality without it costing the earth.

Price-wise, you need to look at your budget very carefully; WooCommerce is free but only the Community version of Magento comes at no cost. If you are up for paying the full whack for Magento’s premium options, then this is best left to your web developer to negotiate. Don’t forget to look at running costs too – this will largely depend upon your chosen hosting provider and again, is something that your website expert can deal with. For a budget online ecommerce store, both can be used, although you would be restricted to the Magento Community option. If your store is expected to grow quickly but you are on a limited budget, then WooCommerce ticks the box as you will not need to upgrade to an expensive premium version when you expand.

Hosting wise, WooCommerce is likely the cheaper of the two as there are more hosts able to work with WordPress.

Verdict

Much will depend upon your budget and size of business but, if you are just starting out, then WooCommerce is the way to go and the clear winner. It’s easy to use and set up and can be up and running fast, enabling you or your web developer to set up your ecommerce store easily.

Magento has to come second as it is really only suited to bigger businesses who are willing to pay for a scalable and robust option, designed specifically for ecommerce and uniquely tailored to suit them when paying for the premium Enterprise version.

There are other ecommerce platforms available, its worth discussing with your web development company which is the best platform for you based on your needs.