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Magento vs. WordPress – A Functionality Comparison

Magento and WordPress are two of the biggest platforms available on the web today. Both are used by some of the world’s leading businesses and benefit from high levels of functionality.

If you already use WordPress as the publishing platform for your business and want to start selling products online you will require additional ecommerce functionality. Whilst there are many different ecommerce platforms out there, it really all comes down to Magento and WordPress. Do you stick with WordPress and use the Woocommerce plugin for ecommerce functionality or do you migrate to Magento, a fully-fledged ecommerce platform with CMS capabilities? Which can offer the most functionality and support to your business as it grows? Let’s find out…

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Magento vs. WordPress, which is better for your business?

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About Magento

Magento is first and foremost an ecommerce platform, however over the years it has integrated some of the blogging capabilities that WordPress is known for. The open source application provides a high level of functionality for users, which is one of the reasons it is so widely used. As it currently stands, over one hundred and fifty thousand ecommerce businesses use Magento to power their online stores, including some of the world’s leading brands.

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Magento is an industry leading ecommerce platform.

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One of the great things about Magento is that it has something to offer everyone, from small start-up companies to large multinational corporations. Its high level of functionality and customisability do mean it has a fairly steep learning curve; however it does give merchants the flexibility and control they require in order to tailor their online stores to meet their individual business needs.

Magento boasts a wide range of powerful features including marketing, multi-store management, analytics reports, mobile commerce, SEO and great CMS features, which we will go on to discuss more later.

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WordPress is the most popular content management system.

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About WordPress

WordPress is the most popular publishing tool and CMS on the planet, powering over sixty million websites. It is used by some of the world’s biggest brands, including eBay (the owner of Magento) who uses it to publish their blog content.

One of WordPress’ unique selling points is the fact it is very user-friendly. The platform benefits from great architecture and has an intuitive dashboard that can be easily used by even those with little technical ability. Like Magento, WordPress can be integrated with a wide range of plugins and themes.

Whilst WordPress does not offer ecommerce functionality out of the box, it can be extended to support basic functionality using a plugin called Woocommerce. This gives WordPress the necessary functionality to compete with the likes of Magento.

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You can add ecommerce functionality to WordPress using the WooCommerce plugin.

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What is WooCommerce?

WooCommerce is an open source plugin for WordPress. It was launched at the end of 2011, with the aim of adding ecommerce functionality to WordPress websites. Despite only being a few years old, it has already emerged as the platform of choice for many small businesses looking to sell their products online.

Statistics have shown that the platform powers a larger number of small sized ecommerce stores than the world’s most popular ecommerce website, Magento. The plugin was also named the Technology Growth Award winner of 2014.

For webmasters who are already familiar with WordPress, adding ecommerce functionality with WooCommerce can be very beneficial as it means they can continue using WordPress’ intuitive backend (something they are already familiar with). However the plugin does have some drawbacks in terms of ecommerce functionality, which we will later uncover.

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Both Magento and WordPress are built with open source technology.

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What do Magento and WordPress have in common?

Before we compare the functionality of Magento and WordPress, let’s first take a look at some of their similarities, of which there are many.

For starters, both Magento and WordPress have been built using open source technology. This means that they are free to be used and modified by anyone. They are also both known for being highly customisable platforms, not only in terms of aesthetics but functionality too. In fact, both platforms can be integrated with a wide range of plugins that help businesses to make their websites more compatible with their business needs.

Both Magento and WordPress are known for being SEO friendly platforms. Their clean code and good search engine friendly features, means that their sites are able to rank well in relevant searches.

The two platforms also have strong online support communities, which is extremely beneficial. If you have a problem with either platform or need to ask a question, you can simply go to the Magento or WordPress forums to seek advice from other more experienced users.

Magento and WordPress also offer both ecommerce (with the addition of WooCommerce) and CMS functionality. This means businesses can sell their products online and manage their orders efficiently. They can also create content on both websites and benefit from having a blog.

Whilst there are clearly similarities between the two platforms, which both aim to offer online businesses the ‘full package,’ there are also a number of differences in functionality which we will now go on to discuss.

Hosting

Seeing as both platforms are open source, they need to be hosted externally. WordPress (with the addition of the WooCommerce plugin) can run on any basic shared hosting plan and has standard hosting requirements, which we have outlined below.

PHP 5.2.4 or greater

MySQL 5.0 or greater

The mod rewrite Apache module

WordPress does not need to be run on a very powerful server in order for your site to run efficiently. Magento on the other hand does. The platform is a relatively resource hungry system and therefore needs to be run on hosting that is specifically designed to meet its requirements. Choose to run Magento on just any old host and it will result in slow site speeds, inefficiency and unsatisfied site visitors. You can find out about Magento’s system requirements on the Magento website.

Set up

Installing WordPress is very straight forward as it comes with its own installation wizards so you do not have to worry about altering any files. You will also find it pretty easy to configure the WooCommerce plugin.

Whilst Magento has its own installer, allowing for a hassle-free installation process, many users find it a little more difficult to grasp once installation is complete. As we mentioned before, Magento has a fairly steep learning curve, however with a little help from a certified Magento Developer, set-up will be a breeze.

If you do get stuck during the installation and set-up process, there are plenty of help articles and videos available online for WordPress / WooCommerce and Magento installs.

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WordPress has an intuitive, user-friendly dashboard.

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Ease of use

One of the advantages of WordPress is that it is very user friendly. Even if you have never used WordPress before, you will find the platform very easy to learn. The WooCommerce plugin is no different, making it suitable for less technical users. If you want an ecommerce store that you can get started with quickly, WordPress and WooCommerce will make the best choice.

Whilst Magento is not so complex that you will never be able to grasp it, the platform is aimed at highly skilled programmers and those with greater technical knowledge. But if this doesn’t sound like you and you still want to use the platform, you can simply pay for development services from an experienced Magento agency like Online Media Direct.

Customisability

Magento is one of the most customisable ecommerce platforms on the planet. Merchants have the option to choose a pre-made Magento template or they can invest in their own bespoke design. It must be noted however that customising templates requires a high level of technical skill.

Like with Magento, there are hundreds and thousands of attractive themes that can be used with WordPress. There are also a large number of WooThemes for WooCommerce available.

What we will say is that if you want to benefit from a fully customised ecommerce website, Magento is the way to go. It offers far more customisation options in terms of both aesthetics and functionality, allowing you to create a completely unique website and user experience.

Managing products

Choose Magento as your ecommerce platform and benefit from being able to add as many products and categories as you wish to. There is no limit on the number of products or categories you are allowed, which essentially helps to future-proof your ecommerce business. Whilst some ecommerce businesses may start out only selling fifty products, they can have the peace of mind that if their business grows and they start selling five thousand products in the future, Magento will still be able to fully support them.

Magento also benefits from having dozens of default product and order management features and even allows merchants to carry out bulk actions in order to manage their products and orders more efficiently.

Whilst the WooCommerce plugin for WordPress does not put a limit on the number of products and categories merchants can use, it does lack the high-end features required to handle larger ecommerce stores. Like with Magento, adding products and managing categories is very straightforward, however there are no advanced management features and you cannot carry out bulk actions.

Advanced navigation

Magento is a highly functional platform that benefits from advanced navigation filtering. This means merchants can set up filters for their product categories, to make it easier and quicker for their customers to find the products they are looking for. The quicker customers can find what they are looking for, the more likely they are to make a purchase.

Whilst WordPress / WooCommerce have advanced navigation functionality similar to Magento, it only allows products to be filtered by a single attribute instead of many. So whilst Magento websites can be set up to filter products by size, colour, price, weight etc. WordPress will only filter products by one of those attributes alone.

If you are planning on adding hundreds of products to your ecommerce store, having advanced navigation filtering is very beneficial and will allow for a better shopping experience – just something to keep in mind when it comes to choosing between the two platforms.

Marketing

WordPress / WooCommerce users will have the opportunity to use coupon codes which are provided by default to promote their products and help generate sales. With the help of plugins, the platform can also benefit from email marketing functionality, something else that can really help to boost sales. Other marketing functionality can be obtained through plugins found in the WooCommerce Extensions catalogue.

When it comes to marketing functionality, Magento beats WordPress hands down. The platform boasts a wide range of marketing features, allowing merchants to set up specials, cross-selling, up-selling, discounts and coupons to attract customers to their stores and generate more sales. These marketing features are also very easy to set up and customise through the Magento dashboard – no expert help necessary!

Magento makes it easy for merchants to market their products and generate higher average order values.

Multi-store functionality

Another area that Magento clearly beats WordPress on is its ability to offer multi-store functionality. Using Magento, merchants can manage several stores from a single admin panel. These stores can have completely different products, customers, languages, tax rules and currencies. The benefit of being able to run multiple stores is that it allows businesses to tailor their products and services to a wider audience. Managing the stores in a single admin panel, allows for greater efficiency and the opportunity to combine sales data.

Payment integration

Magento has excellent payment functionality. PayPal and a few other payment gateways are provided by default; however Magento also makes it easy for merchants to add other payment gateways and shipping options to their store using third party modules.

WordPress has basic shipping and payment options that merchants can use. They can also be expanded on with the help of third-party plugins available from the WooCommerce Extension catalogue.

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Both Magento and WordPress offer CMS functionality.

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Blogging / content creation

Whilst Magento boasts superior ecommerce functionality, this does not mean that content creation and blogging is out of the question. All Magento websites can be integrated with blogs that are customised to fit in with the ecommerce store design. Magento benefits from a powerful CMS that enables users to create landing pages and blog posts quickly and easily.

Of course WordPress will always be the king of blogging, as after all this is what it was intended for in the first place. Whilst Magento offers a straightforward CMS, WordPress is still probably the more user-friendly option. The area where you create your blog or page content can be likened to desktop publishers like Microsoft Word, making it automatically familiar to users of all abilities.

SEO

WordPress is known for being SEO friendly, so WooCommerce stores stand a good chance of ranking well in search engines. There are also a number of advanced SEO plugins users can integrate with their WordPress stores to help them achieve higher search rankings.

Magento is the most SEO-friendly ecommerce platform. From the admin area, users can make tweaks to their Magento website to make it even more search engine friendly, such as re-writing URLS and creating meta data for each of their products. Moreover, there are hundreds of Magento SEO extensions available from the Magento Connect store that can be used to optimise Magento stores further.

Security

It must be noted that whilst WordPress / WooCommerce have great functionality, a lot of it comes from third party plugins. The problem is that these third party plugins cannot always be relied on to be secure. WordPress is frequently hacked and it is often due to the fact that people are using unreliable third party plugins to increase the functionality of their WordPress websites.

This is one of the reasons why businesses that want to sell products online end up choosing Magento. The Magento platform is considered to be securer than WordPress and offers greater functionality out of the box, without the need for third party plugins.

How to choose between the two platforms

Now that we have compared the functionality of Magento and WordPress, we thought we would explain how to go about choosing between the two platforms. In order to do this, you will need to ask yourself a number of questions, some of which we have bullet pointed below.

What is the nature of your business?

What is your business goal?

How quickly are you planning on expanding your business?

What is your budget?

Knowing this information will make it much easier for you to decide between the two platforms. From our personal experience, we would suggest that you not only think about the needs of your ecommerce business in the present but in the future too. If you are planning on growing your business (which most people are) you need to choose the ecommerce platform that will be able to support you both now and in the future and in most cases that is Magento.

Conclusion

From comparing the functionality of these two platforms, it is clear that whilst they can both technically ‘do it all,’ Magento’s strengths lie in ecommerce, whereas WordPress’ lie in publishing.

With the addition of the WooCommerce plugin, WordPress has ecommerce functionality; however it is not anywhere near as much as that offered by Magento. This is why we would suggest that only small businesses or those just experimenting with ecommerce consider using WooCommerce. WooCommerce is ideal for small businesses as it is economic and provides them with the basic functionality required to set up an ecommerce store quickly.

If your business goal is to sell products, then Magento is currently the best ecommerce platform available. It’s out of the box functionality alone is enough to power a great ecommerce store, not to mention the additional functionality provided by the various different extensions available.

Magento also has the benefit of being able to support businesses of all sizes. So if you are starting out small, but have great plans of growth in a few years’ time, you can have the peace of mind that Magento is able to provide the level of functionality and support you need both now and in the future.

Image credits: melenita2012, Punkstar89, Adriano Gasparri,  ZERGE_VIOLATOR, TouzaxA, umwdtlt, Gustavo & Anonymous Account

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