Let’s start with some facts.
According to Statista:
- Worldwide retail eCommerce sales amounted to $3.53 trillion in 2019
- E-retail revenues are projected to grow to 6.54 trillion in 2022
- The eCommerce software application market is forecast to grow to approximately $6.3 billion by 2023, up from $5.1 billion in 2018
The market is booming with opportunities.
Today, we’ll compare and contrast the top three eCommerce platforms: Magento, Shopify and WooCommerce, to help you decide which one is best for your business.
What is Magento?
Magento is the most advanced eCommerce platform on the market. It is mainly used by web developers and large-scale businesses that require high-functioning online stores.
It’s considered to be a niche but it has been gaining steam over the past few years. Here are some interesting facts about Magento:
- As of April 2020, Magento has a 1.4% market share of all websites using a CMS
- Magento is downloaded nearly 5,000 times every day
- Almost 7,500 retailers migrated to Magento from other platforms
Just because it’s considered a niche platform, that doesn’t mean it’s unpopular. On the contrary, you may have heard of a few of the brands using Magento at the moment:
- Christian Louboutin
- Paul Smith
To put it lightly, Magento is not the sort of platform you simply jump into.
It has its own learning curve and if you don’t possess a working knowledge of PHP, cloud hosting, or HTML, head-scratching moments will come in waves.
In saying that, Magento has come a long way since its release in 2008 and with each new version, usability has noticeably improved.
Magento is the premium, most advanced option of the lot so it’s reasonable to wonder what kind of features it provides to its clientele. Here are some of the most notable:
Feature #1: Inventory Management & Cataloguing
When dealing with a scaling business, the stock is one, if not the biggest challenge.
Magento’s inventory management system allows batch import and export of products, syncing the warehouse stock with the online shop.
Additionally, the platform appropriates different tax rates per location, solving another headache of such a large-scale operation.
Feature #2: International Support
Running an e-shop is one thing, but running it on a global scale is a completely different story.
Magento supports multiple languages and currencies, and they provide a list of information about registration, purchasing and shipping.
Feature #3: Hosting Choice
Magento gives you the freedom to choose the hosting service of your liking and have complete ownership of your store.
Magento has its own hosting solution as well which ensures the smoothest, fastest integration of them all.
As you would expect from a platform of Magento’s caliber, the SEO optimization is off the charts.
The solution comes with a built-in SEO package and inbuilt analytics, but also offers settings such as meta tags optimization, edit robots.txt file, canonical tags for products and many more.
Magento takes security very seriously and this is obvious from their continuous updates on the security front.
The provider offers a comprehensive best practices guide to enforce and strengthen an already formidable offering.
Magento comes in three editions which you can choose from according to the size of your business. The price range is considerably higher than any other eCommerce solution:
- Magento CE Community – Free
- Magento for EE Enterprise – Starts at $22,000 per year
- Magento EE Cloud – Starts at $2,000 per year (includes hosting)
Magento Customer Support
Magento’s customer support varies according to the edition you’re using.
The open-source version might not guarantee official support but it does give you access to a community of around 300,000 members.
Their direct customer support is rich in resources and availability.
Magento does an excellent job of separating itself from the pack in terms of the audience it’s serving.
With the pricing, the usability and packages available, Magento carves its own place in the marketplace, serving clients with specific needs.
It is a high-end, high-quality, advanced eCommerce platform for businesses that already have the brand name and following to support them.
What is Shopify?
Shopify is the most notable SaaS eCommerce platform in existence with a continuously growing user base.
Looking at stats, you might find that Shopify ranks third, with just 10.98% of the eCommerce software market. That’s because first-place WooCommerce is not really its own platform, but a WordPress plugin.
Shopify has been gaining steam with distinguishable brands over the past few years.
Here are a few examples:
- The Economist
- Kim Kardashian’s beauty brand KKW Beauty
Shopify pioneered the idea of building an online shop without eCommerce development or coding experience.
The platform introduces a drag-and-drop mindset from the get-go, making it simple, clear and intuitive for the user.
This idea of simplicity translates into the conversion funnel and user journey optimization, making Shopify’s end-product very competitive.
It becomes apparent from the very beginning that someone else has done the legwork for you, leaving you to decide about how you want your shop to look and what you want it to do.
If you decide to customize your theme and proceed with Shopify development, you can do that too.
Apart from the core offering of an online shop, Shopify comes with an arsenal of difference-making features.
Whether it’s making your life easier in the backend or making your shop stand out in the frontend, these features are something to behold.
Here are a few examples:
Feature #1: Calculate Real-Time Shipping
Simplifying complicated tasks is what Shopify does best and this is an ideal example.
Calculating shipping costs when you want to have a truly national/international business is a headache and Shopify does the work for you.
Feature #2: Build Detailed Customer Profiles
This is where Shopify goes above and beyond.
It won’t stop at providing you with the platform to sell products, but it gives you the technology to understand your clientele and re-target them with tailored offers.
You have a full history of a buyer’s journey – their preferences, their medium of choice, their price range. This information is gold when you want to build customer loyalty.
Feature #3: Embedded Analytics & Reports
Being able to track your traffic, sales and user journey is key if you want to build a sustainable business.
Shopify’s embedded tracking system is not only detailed enough to provide you with all the information you need, but it’s presented in a simple, yet beautiful way.
According to WebsiteBuilderExpert, Shopify is “the gold standard for setting up shop online, and its SEO is built around that functionality.”
The platform comes out of the gate with some built-in SEO features, including title tags, meta tags, ALT tags, page URL optimization and image optimization, showcasing its understanding of how SEO works and why it matters.
Shopify doesn’t stop there. The platform does an excellent job at providing resources on improving search engine optimization, and answering questions such as “What Can I Do to Help My Store Rank in Search Engines?“
SEO can be difficult to get right, but let’s just say that Shopify’s got your back.
Security concerns can sway merchants one way or another when choosing their eCommerce platform.
Taking the right steps to ensure your shop ticks all the online security boxes can be time-consuming and taxing on resources. Shopify eliminates those worries for you.
The provider follows a number of procedures to ensure online security, including:
- The most recent TLS protocol (TLS 1.2.)
- Default SSL creation when building your shop
- All Shopify stores are automatically certified for Level 1 PCI DSS compliance
Shopify’s “all-in-one” solution is reflected in its “all-in-one” pricing model.
The provider offers a 14-day free trial and works with three monthly offerings at different price points, for different user needs.
- Basic Shopify at $29/month for starters
- Shopify at $79/month for growing businesses
- Advanced Shopify at $299/month for businesses that want to scale
Shopify Customer Support
According to Hubspot, 80% of people will stop doing business with a company because of poor customer experience. This stat brings on the realization of how truly important customer support is for your business.
Not only does Shopify provide 24/7 support, but they do it in style: they offer support by phone, email, chat, or any social media channel, you pick whatever works for you because Shopify covers it all.
This is another area where the platform has managed to gain ground over its counterparts as setting up your own shop with no prior experience comes with a lot of questions.
With Shopify, you’re never alone and every answer you need is a message, or a phone call, or an email, or a DM away.
Shopify is an end-to-end eCommerce platform that does one thing and one thing only: help you build a complete online store.
It’s very similar a restaurant serving one main dish: they better get it right and Shopify most surely does.
When building your e-shop with Shopify, you may often catch yourself marveling at the level of detail they have gone to. You’ll likely get answers to questions you haven’t even thought of.
Shopify’s flexibility allows you to apply your own branding and digital strategies seamlessly, not posing any hurdles in the process.
The platform is built in such a way that it has accounted for changes in consumer behavior. Think of online shopping habits during COVID-19 and the domino of changes for e-commerce companies.
Shopify’s arsenal of features and capabilities allow you to respond to such scenarios with ease. Using Shopify, you could have easily been amongst the eCommerce coronavirus success stories, leveraging the power of the platform.
What is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is the most used eCommerce solution in the world.
Did you notice how we used the word “solution” and not the word platform? This is because WooCommerce is not its own entity. It’s a free plugin powered and engineered by WordPress.
Its popularity mainly stems from the established user-base of WordPress. Here are some interesting stats:
- WooCommerce is used by 4.9% of all websites
- It powers over 28.19% of all online stores
- 22% of the top 1 million eCommerce sites use WooCommerce
Even though the plugin-platform technicality might seem insignificant to many, it does come into play when you’re comparing and contrasting the best in the business.
WooCommerce is at the top of the hill and we’re about to find out why.
WooCommerce is extremely easy to use and navigate as a plugin. This is one of the main reasons people choose it.
The user experience is smooth for the most part and it only becomes challenging when you decide to perform customizations or deal with third-party additions.
Features leave an impression on users and WordPress has managed to create a name for itself for certain categories.
Feature #1: Themes Galore
WooCommerce provides users with a gallery of endless themes to choose from. Here’s a sneak peek:
- 1,300+ WooCommerce themes on ThemeForest.
- 1,065 WooCommerce themes on WordPress.org.
You can save a lot of time by selecting a beautiful ready-made theme.
Feature #2: Unlimited Customization
WooCommerce leverages the WordPress technology to offer users the ability to customize their e-shops to their liking.
The value of this proposition is that you can take a theme and turn it into your own, personalized shop without too much hassle. WooCommece gives you the base and you build it according to your needs.
Feature #3: Integrated Blogging
The web is filled with articles outlining “The Best Sources for Ecommerce News and Information in 2020.” If there’s one thing people do before they shop, it’s read.
This is exactly why blogging is an integral part of any contemporary e-shop.
While WordPress and blogging might as well be synonyms at this point, WooCommerce is in the unique position of offering built-in blogging.
You’re essentially building a shop on the world’s most popular content publishing platform. The advantages are countless, which brings us to our next point.
WooCommerce is built using SEO-optimized code, meaning that it doesn’t come packed with SEO features right out of the box.
As explained above, WooCommerce gets its SEO juice when integrated with WordPress and the plugins that are available (see Yoast SEO).
Here’s where things get a little dicey.
Remember when we said WooCommerce is a plugin, not a platform? Security is one of the areas affected by this reality.
Since WooCommerce is not an end-to-end eCommerce solution, there are areas you need to tackle manually, usually employing the help of third-party vendors. Naturally, these are areas of potential threats.
WooCommerce security threats stem from the following areas:
WooCommerce does offer its own set of resources on how to up your e-shop security, but the initial offering does come with asterisks.
Pricing is one of the most favorable attributes of WooCommerce, as it is free to install.
Are you sensing there’s a “but” coming? Good, because there is.
WooCommerce is free, to begin with, but that’s not the whole story. In order to build a competitive e-shop, you need to invest in paid extensions and plugins. The prices range and differ depending on what you want.
Adding features and capabilities to your shop takes time and can sometimes be a hit or miss. It creates uncertainty in terms of performance, results and budgeting.
WooCommerce Customer Support
Being an open-source solution, it comes as no surprise that WooCommerce doesn’t offer personalized support.
Social media, email, or phone are not options and the only way you can get help is through submitting a web ticket. Another thing to consider is that the more third-party plugins you use, the less help you can get from the WooCommerce help-desk.
WooCommerce is an easy-to-use, free eCommerce building option for WordPress lovers. The plugin’s success is predicated on WordPress’ brand name and clientele.
While many enjoy the familiarity it brings with it, it must be noted that it has often been criticized for the paid extensions, its lack of supporting multiple languages or its ability to allow users to set up more than one storefront.
Shopify vs. WooCommerce
We’ve looked at them individually and we’ve examined them with a fine-tooth comb. Now it’s time to square them off and see how they measure up against one another.
Let’s start by looking at the Shopify vs. WooCommerce comparison, as these two platforms are the closest in principle and market share they serve.
Here’s where Shopify comes out on top:
- “All-in-one” pricing with specific features available at each subscription level.
- Rich features out of the box
- Doesn’t require coding skills
WooCommerce, on the other hand, has advantage over Shopify in the following aspects:
- Powerful SEO functionality
- Plenty of plugins and add-ons to choose from
- Rich customization potential thanks to the WordPress platform
Both Shopify and WooCommerce are relatively accessible eCommerce solutions. The choice between the two comes down to personal preference and business goals.
If you’re looking for a user-friendly, plug-and-play solution and don’t care too much for customization, Shopify is the way to go.
WooCommerce would be a great option for experienced WordPress users who are looking for a more flexible eCommerce platform – at the expense of the varying costs commanded by standalone extensions and applications.
Magento vs. Shopify
They are both eCommerce-first platforms and they both offer a high-end product. As such, Magento vs. Shopify should be a really closely contested rivalry, right?
The reason it would be unfair to square these two off is the fact that they clearly serve different parts of the market.
Magento vs. Shopify would be like matching up a featherweight and a heavyweight boxer – same sport, different weight class.
Nevertheless, both have their pros and cons.
Here’s how Shopify is superior to Magento:
- More affordable pricing
- Comprehensive functionality out of the box
- Plentiful pre-made themes
And here are a few reasons to choose Magento over Shopify:
- Endless flexibility thanks to the open-source nature
- A huge and dedicated user community
- Outstanding security features
Shopify is the ideal solution for beginners, for users with no previous coding experience and people who don’t have all the questions but definitely want all the answers.
Magento, on the other hand, serves experienced developers and businesses that have been in the eCommerce game for longer. It needs more human involvement and assumes you have prior knowledge.
Magento vs. WooCommerce
The same logic that applied to Magento vs. Shopify applies to the Magento vs. WooCommerce comparison.
These two solutions don’t belong in the same class, which makes the choice between the two relatively easy: choose the one that suits your business.
Both platforms require some prior knowledge and skills and can be costly to set up.
As such, Magento vs WooCommerce is not really a debate about capabilities but a debate about different business needs:
- Magento is more suitable for larger businesses that wish to build an extremely customized eCommerce website from the ground up and aren’t afraid to commit considerable time and resources to do so.
- WooCommerce will work best for smaller or up-and-coming companies who are looking for a more cost-effective eCommerce solution. While it requires some prior knowledge of WordPress, it is more beginner-friendly than Magento.
Magento Vs. Shopify Vs. WooCommmerce: Takeaways And Final Comparison
After examining each eCommerce platform and detail and comparing them between each other, we can conclude that each one has its own audience and strengths.
- Shopify is a more user-friendly platform that is perfect for smaller businesses who wish to start an eCommerce website without committing too much time, money and effort.
- WooCommerce is most suitable for businesses that are already running a WordPress-based website and wish to enrich it with eCommerce functionality.
- Magento is the way to go for medium-sized to large businesses that wish to build a comprehensive, tailored eCommerce platform from scratch.
Here’s a comparison of all three platform side by side:
George Anderson is a marketing coordinator and growth hacker. Extremely passionate about new technologies, usability and UX practices that make the web a better place for everyone.