Whether you’re a novice eCommerce seller or just browsing the market for an alternative to your current platform, this post will walk you through some of the important steps when choosing between Shopify, WooCommerce, and Magento. All the information that you’ll find here comes from our experience of deploying numerous eCommerce stores for our clients.
Before we move to the subject itself, let’s clear the air for those wondering which platform is the best: there’s no definite answer to this question. In fact, all three platforms — Shopify, WooCommerce, and Magento — can work equally well for eCommerce stores. That’s why we advise that you choose a platform based on inventory size, type of business, and added functionality that you can’t (or can) live without.
This is the main characteristic to ground your decision on. Here, we outline two major categories: less than 1,000 items, and more than 1,000 items.
For eCommerce stores of this size, it’s suggested to choose between WooCommerce or Shopify. These platforms have a fairly simple interface, are not overloaded with product variants, and, thus, are better suited for small or midsize stores.
Here you have two options — Magento or Shopify. If you supply complex products that demand high configuration functionality (entry doors, awnings, canopies, etc.), opt for Magento, which has an extensive list of product settings and custom options that can be altered. If you know you are going to be changing only the size/color/price of an item, then choose Shopify.
Tip #1: For small-sized inventories (10-20 items) choose WooCommerce; 100-1000 items — WooCommerce or Shopify are best, even if you sell complex products.
Tip #2: If you are not sure about your catalog size yet, check out your niche competition to get a general idea of the numbers you’re going to work with.
Judging from our experience, there are some business niches that are a better fit for a particular platform. For jewelry items, for example, we normally choose Shopify, because we know that the product itself is simple and straightforward. For a car parts store, we’d select Magento, only because you’ll be dealing with quite a deep and wide inventory. Aside from that, you’ll probably need to have an advanced SEO tool in place (which the platform also offers).
Tip #3: There’s no setlist as to which products fit which platform better; however, here’s a rule of thumb that can make the selection process easier: consumer goods — WooCommerce or Shopify; large inventory and wholesale — Magento.
If you first started selling on eBay or Amazon and have now decided to build your own website, then it’s better to opt for Shopify, since third-party integrations are already included in its subscription plans while for other platforms you’ll have to set up additional modules to integrate your store with eBay or Amazon.
Among the three platforms, WooCommerce and Shopify have minimal updates and can be upgraded with a few clicks. Magento, due to its large pool of features, is less convenient in that regard and normally it takes up to 40-60 man-hours to upgrade the platform when the new patch arrives.
In addition, if you don’t have an in-house team of programmers who can make updates for you, you’ll need to find one. This will also affect the maintenance costs.
When it comes to pricing options, Magento and WooCommerce outperform Shopify.
You can use this platform for free or opt for an Enterprise or Cloud subscription, which costs $24,000 and $40,000 per annum, respectively. Unlike other platforms, with Magento, you only pay once for the modules you use.
Tip#4: When buying third-party modules for your Magento eCommerce store, we recommend prioritizing vendor over price. For example, instead of sourcing the cheapest components from dozens of providers, get as many modules as possible from a single source (vendors often offer discounts).
Tip#5: At the time of publication (Oct 2021), we refrain from recommending Magento Cloud to any of our clients. The Magento Cloud environment will cost $2,500/mo, while you can build the same infrastructure with zero deployment time that will be 10X times cheaper.
There is no subscription cost to run WooCommerce — but you still have to pay monthly for hosting. There are some plugins that also require an annual payment, which gives you options for ongoing updates as well. Among the main advantages of WooCommerce is the ability to easily upgrade to a newer version right from the admin panel.
Shopify’s pricing policy might be the least convenient among its counterparts. Aside from recurring subscription fees that start from $29/mo (2.9% + $0.3 per transaction for the Basic package) and a minimum of $2,000/mo for Shopify Plus, the platform will also charge you for the modules you are using on a monthly basis.
With some vendors, you are also expected to pay an extra fee once you exceed a certain number of orders/items processed (1,000, for example).
Shopify is a hosted platform, which means you can’t do much about load speed since all the adjustments are managed by the platform’s tech team on the server-side. As you might have already guessed, manually improving your Google PageSpeed Insights stats would be near impossible as well.
Magento and WooCommerce are self-hosted platforms, so you can either find a hosting provider who offers a managed hosting package and can do all of the optimizations for you, or you can choose a provider and manage all the processes yourself (with the help of programmers by your side).
Unfortunately, neither of the platforms offers comprehensive functionality that would be able to cover all your marketing needs. This means that you will likely have to look for third-party solutions (like Klaviyo), anyway. On a very basic level, however, you can use the standard Magento modules to set up simple email sequences or do basic SEO — among the three platforms, Magento comes with more profound SEO functionality.
If you are looking for some added value, then each of the platforms has something to offer:
Magento — you can add multiple stores and manage them all independently via a single admin panel.
Shopify — the mobile app provided by the platform allows retailers to make sales, connect with customers, track statistics, etc. right from their phones. Shopify also carries POS functionality on board, which is extremely convenient for those business owners who run offline stores.
WooCommerce — literally tons of extensions offered by vendors make it possible to customize your store however you want. Plugins made for WordPress websites are also compatible with WooCommerce stores.
Let’s summarize the above and help you figure out which option will be the most relevant to you: