eCommerce store owners who are new to the industry are faced with a choice that may affect the future of their business: which eCommerce applications or service should they use? Many people will think of using hosted solutions like Shopify or Squarespace. Some might even try marketplaces like Etsy.
What they don’t realize is that once their store starts to do well, they will run into issues.
These types of solutions work great initially, but at some point as your store becomes successful, you are going to want other features or need to get resources to optimize your site. Because of this, self-hosted applications will provide you more flexibility and future-proof your store by decreasing the risk of migration to another platform at a later date. Store Owners should take advantage of marketplaces, but base their business on an eCommerce application they have control over.
What are the Leading Self-Hosted eCommerce Applications?
The leading self-hosted eCommerce applications are WooCommerce and Magento. Both have significant market share and both are capable of supporting stores of almost any size. But there are differences that shape the experience for store owners and their customers.
There are several versions of Magento, but for a fair comparison to WooCommerce, this article will focus on the free version called Magento Open Source (previously Magento Community Edition).
WooCommerce and Magento have all the features that a new eCommerce store owner needs to get started. WooCommerce includes fewer features out-of-the-box, and allows store owners to add the functionality they need most to their site, allowing them to focus on their business.
Magento has a wider range of features and options, making it more complex and harder to use for someone with no experience with eCommerce.
Because of the way that WooCommerce is built, store owners may find that they need to purchase additional plugins to add functionality. While you spend some money up front to get all the functionality you want, WooCommerce is build upon WordPress; there are a lot of developers and options you have when selecting WooCommerce.
Magento offers everything out of the box for you as a store owner. It is built with a lot more complexity, but it is built specifically with eCommerce in mind.
Ease of use
WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin, so anyone who is familiar with WordPress has a head start. There will still be a learning curve because eCommerce is not the same as blogging or managing a business website.
But if you already know WordPress, it makes sense to leverage that knowledge rather than starting from scratch with Magento’s more complex interface. If you already have a website or blog, adding WooCommerce means everything can run under one roof as opposed to running several different platforms.
WooCommerce also inherits WordPress’s ethos of user-friendliness, whereas Magento is aimed at professional retailers and developers.
Customization and support
Magento and WooCommerce can be customized with themes and extensions that provide additional features. Many of these extensions are free on both platforms, while the best-rated extensions can be purchased.
The Magento Marketplace hosts thousands of curated extensions that cover a vast range of functionality. WooCommerce benefits both from its own extension marketplace and from WordPress’s enormous selection of themes and plugins.
With a larger ecosystem and developer community than Magento, WordPress provides store owners the ability to easily find professionals to help carry out custom development, design work and support services. Magento professionals tend to be more expensive to hire than equivalent WordPress developers, since it is a smaller community.
When running an eCommerce store, you need to make sure that you have the proper security measures in place. Magento and WooCommerce are both secure platforms when managed properly. WordPress and WooCommerce make it somewhat easier to apply updates and carry out routine security tasks via one-click updates for WordPress.
Magento has a rather non-intuitive patching process for updates.
As a store owner, it’s important to have a good grasp on how well your store is doing. Both Magento and WooCommerce offer some built-in analytics. Since Magento is only an eCommerce platform, it provides better analytics for store owners. Both applications can be extended through integrations with many analytics platforms and services. In fact, this is what we did with our Managed WooCommerce hosting.
Both platforms will get your store up and running. Both platforms will provide you with the ability to customize your store’s experience. And both platforms are excellent products that can support an eCommerce business as it grows over many years.
If you want unlimited flexibility, a large community to assist in developing and training, and an easy-to-use interface, then the choice is simple. You go with WooCommerce. It is the best choice for new eCommerce applications for store owners that want to future proof their store for years to come.
Want to Learn More?
Here are some more articles on WooCommerce from Liquid Web.
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