In today's e-commerce world, there are so many options for online stores that confusion is certain to happen. Hosted versus Self-Hosted, colors and layout, add-ons, plug-ins and themes, front-end and back-end - the list goes on and on. So, how does one choose a store and a cart system that takes care of all your needs? Basically, you take a look at the facts.
If you take the time to sort through all the reviews out there, you'll find there are two e-commerce solutions that rise to the top: WooCommerce and Magento. Both allow you to develop great looking stores with layered navigation, integrated blogs, flexible layout and design and an integrated shopping cart which somewhat simplifies setup and maintenance on the back-end.
However, there are some significant differences which you'll want to understand in order to take full advantage of either product. Both packages have advantages, however, both also have their drawbacks which will definitely affect the decision making process. Here's a quick overview so you can make an informed decision on which will suit your needs best.
- Easy to set up. All you have to do is install Wordpress, then install WooCommerce.
- Easy hosting requirements. As long as the host will support Wordpress, you shouldn't have any problems with WooCommerce.
- Low learning curve. If you're reasonably comfortable installing websites and configuring options, you shouldn't have a problem working with WooCommerce.
- Allows easy integration of affiliate products. If you sell affiliate products, WooCommerce gives you easy ways to make them look like your own and to handle sales.
- WooCommerce makes provision for product ratings. This allows customer feedback so other customers will see which products are "hot".
- Since Magneto has it's own installer, the initial install and setup is relatively straightforward. Magneto also includes demo products to make understanding how to load up your own stock easier.
- Designed for small, medium or large stores. This gives you the ability to have just a few items or tens of thousands of products which makes expansion a straightforward process.
- Magneto gives you multiple store views right out of the "box". This means you can have a store that looks the way you want with just a couple of mouse-clicks instead of working through Wordpress plug-ins.
- With integrated selling tools, Magneto easily enables cross-sells, "coupons" and product discounts.
- As perhaps the most popular e-commerce store to date, there are thousands of themes and add-ons, both free and for sale, to easily customize your store.
As you can see, there are definite advantages to both packages. Also, since both packages are open source, there are huge communities around the internet so you can find answers to questions, to find add-ons and themes and to find developers to help you build the exact store you want. However, there are distinct disadvantages to both packages as well.
- No demo products. This puts the onus on you to figure out how to add your own products. Not all that difficult if you're used to doing such things but still a disadvantage.
- Limited size. WooCommerce is designed primarily for the small business community. For those who need support for a medium to large store, WooCommerce isn't going to be your solution.
- Server resources. Since WooCommerce is based in Wordpress, as long as the store is small, you won't have any problems. However, if the store grows, server resources will become more and more taxed and, with the way WooCommerce is designed, optimizing server resources can be tricky.
- Confining store view. Without a lot of Wordpress experience and some programming know-how, your WooCommerce store may not be as "individual" as you'd like.
- Server resources. While Magneto runs well on most hosting servers, when working with a medium or large store configuration, you'll find server resources may be taxed to the max. However, with Magneto, splitting front-end resources from back-end resources is relatively easy. This means a large store can work from multiple servers to reduce server load.
- Expensive developer costs. Magneto may be the most popular e-commerce package today, but it is also more expensive to have specific customization designs implemented. Also, maintenance costs are more expensive as well since Magneto is "stand alone" instead of integrated into Wordpress.
- Steep learning curve. Since Magneto is significantly more complex than WooCommerce, learning all the ins and outs can take a while.
Basically, what it comes down to is what you need. Magneto has been designed as a "professional" level package with expansion in mind whereas WooCommerce was designed as a solution for small businesses with limited resources to work with. Both sites have plenty of features for you to take advantage of, but there are also ramifications that have to be considered as well.
While WooCommerce can be handled by someone with limited website install and design experience, it is limited in it's scope to handle products and sales. Once the limitations have been hit, expanding WooCommerce seems to be difficult at best.
Magneto, on the other hand, is best left to a dedicated web person who is essentially being paid to maintain and update your store on a regular basis, especially for medium and large store sites. Since Magneto was designed with expansion in mind, even though more server resources are required, balancing those resource needs is much easier to do.
On the whole, if you have a small business and don't plan to expand much further in your product line and don't plan to have tens of thousands of online sales per month, WooCommerce may be the best option for you. With easy installation, relatively easy configuration, updating and maintenance, WooCommerce is a great small business solution.
However, if your business needs the capacity to handle thousands of products and the ability to process tens of thousands of sales per month, Magneto will bear much closer scrutiny. While Magneto demands more resources, both server and human, it also provides more flexibility and expansion. For those who need this kind of e-commerce power, Magento will be the solution you'll want to opt for.
If you still can't decide what to choose or if your looking for a company to get one designed and implemented for you, contact us for a free quote.