When it comes to e-commerce platforms, Magento vs WooCommerce is a common question because both are very capable self-hosted ecommerce solutions. While Magento does have a SAAS cloud option, it is very expensive compared to WooCommerce. Although both are powerful and very popular, you won’t find many heavyweight brands using Woo but that’s not to say that Woo isn’t a great option. Here’s our overview of both platforms, their pros, cons and costs.
Magento is a powerful eCommerce platform best suited to large eCommerce companies. The ‘enterprise level’ software has a lot to offer but requires development experience so is best suited for companies that have an in-house developer or can afford to pay a third party developer.
Is Magento SAAS?
No, Magento is not SAAS. You will need to download and install the Magento code on your own server and therefore you will need to factor in hosting costs.
Magento Setup costs
A major bonus: there are no setup charges or transaction fees to use Magento. However, in order to set up the online store you want, there are a significant number of other set-up costs including payment gateways, SSL certificates, product and shipping plugins which can cost several thousand pounds. Not forgetting that, unless you’re technically savvy, you’ll need a developer to configure Magento for you.
Magento Monthly Costs
Magento targets large enterprises so is not the cheapest eCommerce software around as you have to factor in setup costs which usually involve an agency or specialist developer.
In addition to set-up fees, there are a number of other costs to take into consideration; hosting, payment gateways, development, and various set up costs. It is estimated that the annual running costs for a basic Community Magento Edition (CE) will set you back between £1,000 and £5,000, which equates to the costs of your server hosting fees, plus minor additions like SSL certificates, renewing plugins, etc.
Large eCommerce companies typically need the Magento Enterprise platform which cost between £20,000 and £580,000 a year to run, develop and maintain. The exact pricing plans for Magento vary quite widely as you can choose between the (self-hosted) Enterprise Edition or the Magento-hosted cloud version Enterprise Cloud Edition.
Magento Hosting Options
Magento is a standalone platform so you will need a web host, unless you opt for the enterprise Cloud Edition, which is only realistically an option for larger stores with big budgets. There are plenty of hosting companies offering good packages, but not all are optimised. Hosting prices vary from £40-£350 per month depending on which additional services you need in addition to basic hosting.
Magento Set-Up Skills
In general, Magento users need some technical skills. If you’re planning to manage the software in-house you will need someone with development skills. It is not the easiest e-Commerce platform to use. However, if you are feeling a little overwhelmed, take advantage of the ‘Start My Store’ wizard which you will find at the top of the administrator page. This will help get you started and has demonstrations of how to create the design, add products, payments, shipping and everything else in between.
Magento Theme Availability
If there is one area which lets team Magento down is the lack of built-in templates. That’s not to say you won’t find a design suited to your eCommerce setup, but needless to say, you will have to pay for a decent template. There is a saving grace, however. ThemeForest list over 500 Magento themes starting from £30.
Magento Day-to-day Running
Although coding skills are required for to set-up your eCommerce store with Magento, daily management processes are relatively straightforward. The dashboard is clean and the intuitive user-interface makes navigation simple. The dashboard also gives you a quick overview of analytics and transactions.
Content can be easily imported from your computer’s hard drive and customising product pages does not require any technical skills. You use the admin panel to manage transactions; orders, fulfilment, shipping, invoices and extended credit are all accessed from one location. Overall, Magento is pretty easy to use and offers customer-friendly features such as a one-click buy button and zoom.
Magento Payment Options
The payment options in the Magento software has everything you would expect from an enterprise level software. Businesses can offer customers several gateway options, more than other eCommerce sites. This gives you more flexibility and professionalism.
Magento is compatible with PayPal, Simple Pay, Amazon Payments, Google Checkout and Authorize.net. Furthermore, there are no transactions fees or what customers may deem as ‘hidden costs’ – tax and shipping costs are built into the total invoice amount before customers head to checkout.
Another advantage of the Magento payment options is the “bill me later” program. This gives buyers the opportunity to set up convenient and affordable direct debits whereby they make monthly payments rather than a one-off payment. This is a feature online buyers appreciate for expensive items.
Magento Product Attributes (whether unlimited or not)
There is no limit to the number of products or product attributes that you can run in a Magento install.
Typical Annual Running Costs for the first year then ongoing years
Given Magento targets large eCommerce companies, the annual running costs are high. The licence for the hardware is £8,500 for the first two years and reduced to £6,500 in the third year. On top of that is the cost of a hosting plan which varies quite widely: from £400 upwards a month.
Magento Customer Support Options
Businesses that opt for the Magento CE are without technical support other than a users forum where you can tap into a huge knowledge base of active users. The Magento EE version does offer a tech support team.
Small business owners that have built a modest eCommerce store with WordPress might want to take a look at the WooCommerce shopping cart. The plugin is free and providing you don’t need too many extras, WooCommerce software presents an affordable and user-friendly option.
Is WooCommerce SAAS?
No, WooCommerce is an add-on to WordPress and you’ll need to pay for hosting of WordPress and then use the WooCommerce plugin to convert WordPress to an e-commerce store.
WooCommerce Setup Costs
The WooCommerce plugin is free from WordPress. For small businesses on a budget, this provides you with all the functionality you need to get your eCommerce store up and running at low-cost. However, if you want to add more functionality, you’ll need a handful of plugins, which cost around $49/£35 each.
On top of that, there is a £70 fee for an SSL certificate and web hosting costs together with domain registration fees. Some web hosts offer SSL certificates and domains for free as an incentive for customers to sign up. Realistically, you can set up a fully-functional eCommerce website with WooCommerce for under £1000 if you do it all yourself.
WooCommerce Monthly Costs
WooCommerce is a free plugin which reduces your monthly running costs. Basic eCommerce sites can be as little as £15 a month for the first year if all you need is web hosting. Monthly costs, therefore, depend on your hosting package and could ultimately, be as high as £350 a month if you use a dedicated server.
WooCommerce Hosting Options
WordPress, and thus WooCommerce, require third-party hosts. Hosting plans are well represented across the board and for the most part are reasonably priced. You can get premium hosting plans for as little as £200 a year with unlimited bandwidth. The cost of WooCommerce really depends on how much you develop the platform from the standard install.
WooCommerce Set-up Skills
Setting up WooCommerce is as easy as installing a plugin into the backend of your WordPress website. Okay, there are other more technical functions to perform such as setting up buy buttons and syncing them with payment gateways, but if you are already familiar with WordPress, this is not too difficult to do.
Having said that, it is easier if you have some coding and WordPress knowledge – although your host support or development team should be able to guide you through most of the setup functions. If you need visual aids, use the WooCommerce setup wizard. That walks you through everything you need to know in less than five minutes.
You also have access to Storefront Powerpack which hosts easy-to-use tools and enables you to make customisable designs to the template without needing any coding skills. Again, this is much easier if you already have some understanding of how WordPress works, but in all honesty, it’s not too difficult to pick up if you are given the right guidance to get you started.
WooCommerce Theme Availability
Templates for WooCommerce are scarce in the WooThemes Storefront, but at $39/£29 are not expensive. However, you will find plenty of pre-formatted design options through WordPress themes and other third-party sources – although you may have to pay twice as much for a theme. Marketplaces like ThemeForest are a great source of themes.
WooCommerce Day-to-Day Running
Together with Shopify, WooCommerce is the easiest interface to navigate. You access WooCommerce through your WordPress dashboard and can see pending shipping orders, product information and inventory tracking at a glance. Shipping details are built-in automatically so customers can select their preferred method. Adding products is performed through WordPress.
WooCommerce Payment Options
WooCommerce software offers five built-in payment gateways including PayPal (and Simplify for US users). Customers also have the option to pay by direct bank transfer, check payment or cash on delivery.
In addition to the free options listed above, you can install the following payment gateways:
- Amazon Payments
- Stripe (supports Apple Pay)
- PayPal Pro
WooCommerce Product Attributes (whether unlimited or not)
Because WooCommerce is open source, one of the advantages the software offers is unrestricted customisation. However, some WordPress themes present obstacles which can only be navigated with additional code which subsequently slows download speeds. Because the WooCommerce shopping centre is hosted by a third party, file storage depends on the package you have with your web host.
WooCommerce Typical Annual Running Costs for the first year then ongoing years
The WooCommerce platform is free and unlimited – if you choose it to be. However, on-running costs will depend on how much you want to enhance your eCommerce store. Remember that extensions, shipping options and payment gateways carry individual fees but you only have to buy these once. Hosting plans and SSL certificates may change yearly so check with your web host.
WooCommerce Customer Support Options
WooCommerce does offer customer support, but it is a ticket system and replies typically take 48 hours. Support options are limited, particularly if you have a customised website. The tech team at WooCommerce will just refer you to your web developers or ask you to disable third-party products before they help you. There is also a self-support forum which features useful documents, tutorial videos and tips from other users.
How The Content Works can help
Here at The Content Works, we specialise in Technical Website Audits. We’re here to find the issues on your website that are causing you to lose visitors, see poor conversions rates and ultimately we highlight the issues costing you money. Take a look at our services page to see the technical website audits we offer. Call us on 0207 305 5599 to discuss your situation and we’ll show you how we can add value to your business.