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magento & ecommerce

Online Retail Store Dilemma: WordPress or Magento?

It's an understandable situation. You've decided that you want to open an online retail store, so that question is out of the way. But now you have to decide: which platform will the foundations of your business be built upon? Will it be WordPress or Magento?

It is well worth to spend some time dwelling on this issue, because it is not something that you can easily change later on. But don't worry: if you consider the factors we'll expose on this article, you'll be able to make an educated decision with no regrets.

The Similarities

The reason why it can be so difficult to choose between WordPress and Magento is that they have so much in common with each other. They are both very popular open-source content management systems (CMS) with a huge online support community. They both have a high level of customization through a large collection of themes and extensions and they both are SEO-friendly platforms.

Though generally, they may seem alike, the similarities between the two end here. A more in-depth analysis reveals that they are, in fact, quite different. Let's take a quick look at each of them individually before drawing some conclusions.

WordPress and Magento in a Nutshell

WordPress

In terms of sheer popularity, WordPress is clearly the winner. As of May 2017, this open-source blogging platform powered almost 27 percent of the websites on the entire Internet.

Like we've just said, WordPress was created essentially for blogging purposes. It is very user-friendly and it beats Magento in terms of customization options, with a vast array of available themes and plug-ins. It is also arguably more SEO-friendly than Magento, although you can also improve your SEO with Magento, it just takes a bit more work.

Some of the available plug-ins offer basic web store functionality, of which WooCommerce is the most notable. We won't cover WooCommerce in much depth, as it is out of the scope of this article, but it is the eCommerce solution we recommend if you decide to go for WordPress, and the one that comes closest to Magento in terms of functionality.

Magento

Magento is also a highly popular open-source platform, but not as much as WordPress. This is probably because its learning curve is steeper, making it more appropriate for developers or people with some experience in web development. However, unlike WordPress, Magento was created specifically to be used in eCommerce websites.

One thing you should know is that Magento comes in two flavors: the Open Source edition (formerly Community) and the Commerce edition (formerly Enterprise). The first one is free and the second is the premium, paid version. With the Enterprise version, you'll have to pay a substantial amount per year, but you'll have full support from the Magento team, as well as access to some exclusive security features and product enhancements. This means that even if you choose Magento, you’ll still have to decide between the two versions.

It is well worth to spend some time dwelling on this issue, because it is not something that you can easily change later on.

Wordpress vs Magento for an Online Business

Wordpress

WordPress was designed for blogging, so this is the area where it truly shines. This makes it more suited for content marketing than Magento, which is more limited in this aspect.

On the downside, WordPress does not integrate so easily with different shipping and payment options. It is true that some of these are accessible through plugins, but they are not so complete and seamless as they are with Magento.

So if your goal is to have something like a multivendor marketplace, WordPress is not for you. If on the other hand, you are selling digital products or services and have little to none physical sales, it is a good option.

Magento

While it is true that Magento can be more daunting for beginners, you should not be afraid to go for it if it is truly what you need. Try not to decide based on complexity.

If you have experience with WordPress, developing with Magento may seem a bit difficult at first, but recognizing and relating the common points between the two platforms will help you move forward. You’ll find several guides out there that can help you with that.

When you start using Magento, you'll notice that it is perfectly tailored to support multiple shipping and payment options, and even integrate your web store with a POS system. So for an online business selling physical products the recommended platform is Magento. A rule of thumb that you'll hear sometimes is to choose Magento if you are going to sell more than 500 different products.

Magento also beats a WordPress eCommerce website in terms of security. Not only because you will get dedicated security patches, but also because a fully integrated system is inherently more secure than using plug-ins, as will happen if you choose WordPress.

You might be wondering whether to go for the Open Source version or the Commerce version. Take into account the size of your business and the available budget, and whether you are willing to pay for extra features, support, and managed cloud hosting. Ultimately it is your decision, but bear in mind that while the price for Magento Commerce may seem a bit high, you really do get what you pay for.

It is well worth to spend some time dwelling on this issue, because it is not something that you can easily change later on.

So, all things considered, which solution should you choose?

You should go for WordPress if:

  • Your website is content or marketing based
  • You are selling digital products or services
  • You have a small physical product catalog (less than 500 products)

You should go for Magento Open Source if:

  • Your catalog is more than 500 products
  • You have a small or medium sized business
  • You want to set up lots of payment and shipping options
  • You'd rather give up some ease of use in favor of security

Finally, choose Magento Commerce if:

  • You have a larger sized business
  • You don't mind paying to get extra security and product features, as well as full support

Why Not Combine The Two?

It would be great if we could join the eCommerce features of Magento with the blogging capabilities of WordPress, right? Well, actually that is possible. There is a great extension for Magento developed by Fishpig, called Magento WordPress Integration.

This extension fully merges WordPress into Magento, to the point where you can even use WordPress plugins. It also allows you to associate WordPress blog pages with your products.

The Answer

Hopefully, we've shown you how each of these two platforms is great in its own right. To the question that we raised in the beginning, there is not one single answer, but there is an answer for you based on your needs. Evaluate and think about what you want out of your business and how you imagine it growing. You'll then be able to make a decision and go forward, without ever looking back.

By interactivated • on December 3, 2017

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