WordPress and Magento are two industry-leading scalable open-source platforms for website building. Besides delivering free versions, both have the option to increase functionality if you agree to pay the cost. Generally, building an eCommerce site is a hell of a task especially when you can’t distinguish between the two established online store builders. Both platforms have an impressive range of design options and features, both provide an exceptional approach to setting up a powerful online store.
At the same time, both companies suggest different variants of a core product. WordPress offers WordPress.com – a premium hosting platform, and WordPress.org – a self-hosted platform. Magento, meanwhile, offers Magento Commerce – a premium fully-hosted solution for enterprise companies, and Magento Open Source, which is a self-hosted platform. How do you know which one to choose or which is more convenient for your specific requirements? Well, WordPress appears to be a good option for marketing a small or medium-size online store, while Magento is more appropriate for driving sales of big and enterprise-level businesses. We came to this conclusion by carrying out an extensive review of the two platforms.
In our review, we are going to consider the open-source variants of these two platforms to see what similarities and differences they have, and how they compare in the areas that matter most to you. Through it, you can find out what experiences you are going to get when using any of the platforms to build your online store.
Before we get straight to WordPress and Magento comparison, let’s briefly review the basic concepts of these two giant eCommerce CMS platforms – WordPress and Magento, as well as the stats that help them stand out in such an abundance of website builders.
WordPress is a leading open-source CMS primarily used for setting up content-driven sites such as blogs. The overall number of web projects started with it has surpassed 61,909,719, experts say. For online businesses, this is not a native eCommerce platform. Instead, it requires WooCommerce (a WordPress plugin, our review) to become a powerful eCommerce solution. WP is a multi-purpose CMS that attracts users with varying levels of tech knowledge. As compared to Magento, WP requires less technical skills (though some ground knowledge is still necessary) and a smaller budget.
Apparently, WP is quite developer-friendly and lets users start small and grow gradually while also enhancing the plan. Even though WP lacks some exceptional features that Magento has, you can still extend the list of the available ones with a wide array of suggested plugins. So, WordPress is an excellent choice if you aim primarily on marketing your website with amazing content.
Magento, meanwhile, is an enterprise-level eCommerce platform, hence is packed with advanced features best suited for large virtual businesses. According to recent stats, the software now powers over 146,372 web stores, while the overall number of the system users has reached 712,179. Unlike WordPress, Magento is less user-friendly. To reach the maximum potential of the service, you must either have developer skills or afford to hire a specialist. Be aware that the platform has registered more than $100 billion in gross merchandise annual volume.
Since Magento is a dedicated eCommerce platform, it comes with impressive in-built functionality which is so important for building and running a big online store. The suggested features involve product comparisons, discounts, product tiers, multi-store management, and so forth.
Which One Is Easier to Use?
WordPress is known as a user-friendly platform since it was basically designed for both developers and beginners alike. However, if it’s the first time you are to use the platform, you will need to watch some video tutorials or read the installation guide on the official website of the platform. Nowadays, reliable web hosting providers offer simple WP installation, i.e. you can install a new WP site in several minutes. For instance, Bluehost (our review), one of the recommended WP hosts, provides its users with one-click installs completely for free.
Thanks to the user-friendly and intuitive features of this platform, publishing content on a WP website is not difficult. eCommerce tools are available via plugins to add and build an online store. Compared to Magento, WP makes it much easier to edit and customize content on an eCommerce store due to the high level of flexibility and functionality. Among the most useful tools to add with a single click are live chat box, one-page checkout process, contact forms, product catalog management inventory, etc.
As for Magento, this is a more advanced platform catered to professional developers or big businesses that can afford to outsource their website development to professionals. Here, too, you can install the app straight from your hosting provider in only a few steps. If Bluehost is the most recommended option for WP, SiteGround (our review) is one of the best variants for Magento.
Nevertheless, since Magento is specially geared to building eCommerce sites, it involves more coding in the setup and usage processes which makes the site builder a comparatively more complex platform than WordPress. If you have no experience or knowledge in the sphere, you will find the majority of the suggested designing tools hard to comprehend. But if you can afford to hire an expert, over 20 advanced features are definitely enough to scheme a perfect eCommerce site.
Design and Flexibility
Both Magento and WordPress have amazing design capabilities including ready-made templates. Besides offering simple themes with no coding requirements, there are custom themes you can handle only if you hire a specialist or you have pro developer skills. Normally, custom themes are offered at significantly higher prices than the ready templates.
Overall, there are around 4,000 free themes available at WP. For instance, users will like the free WooCommerce Storefront theme since it is easy to customize and provides users with deep integration with WooCommerce to drive sales. Users can also have the theme pre-installed in case they opt for signing up for a WooCommerce-specific plan by Bluehost.
Just like there are hundreds of themes designed specifically for WordPress, there are also multiple templates created for WooCommerce. They are also free and paid, which lets users pick a theme that suits their store style and functionality requirements best.
Most WooCommerce themes offer customization options. As a result, you can configure the color scheme, fonts, layouts, and other design elements to match your brand identity.
Mind that WordPress also grants access to several popular page builders like Elementor, Divi, or Beaver Builder. They come with integrated drag-and-drop functionality, letting users create custom layouts and designs for their WooCommerce site. These extensions offer a range of pre-designed elements and integrated tools to simplify the design process.
Do you feel that you lack coding knowledge yet need a full-featured web store? If so, you can independently customize WooCommerce store design using CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) the system provides by default. This makes it possible to modify visual website elements like colors, fonts, spacing and more.
If you are interested in Magento, meanwhile, the software also lets you choose from free and paid designs. They provide pre-designed layouts and color schemes you can customize with regard to your brand style and parameters. This gives you full control over web store design elements. For your convenience, the settings may be configured directly in the Magento admin panel, but you can also edit the theme files directly, if required.
Just like WooCommerce, Magento has some themes that are compatible with popular page builders, such as Visual Composer, Magento Page Builder, Elementor and more. When using this software, you will be able to set up and customize a Magento website with no coding skills required. CSS customization, however, is available here as well.
When choosing between free and premium Magento designs, however, you will, probably, prefer a custom, paid plan to fit into your enterprise-level site. Depending on the size and complexity of the website, a custom theme for an enterprise business at Magento may cost anywhere between $600 and $25,000.
Before choosing an eCommerce platform to build your online store on, it’s important to have a clear image of the basic motive and primary function it should complete. For instance, you may plan on selling 500 and more physical products per month online. Magento will perhaps serve better for such big plans.
You see, thanks to the advanced features of Magento, it is more convenient to build a multi-vendor marketplace particularly on this platform. It will provide a professional look and a high level of versatility to the website whether you plan to sell physical or digital products.
Magento stands out from the crowd due to its extensive product management features that simplify the process of setting up and editing product listings. As a web store owner, you will have an opportunity to assign product attributes, options, specifications and variations. The system supports complex product types, including configurable, grouped and bundled items.
The software also makes order management easy, which will be an advantage to the owners of online shops selling hundreds of products and receiving lots of orders every day. Magento allows tracking orders, working with customer accounts, processing refund inquiries, issuing invoices, generating packing slips etc.
As an eCommerce platform, Magento makes it possible to configure shipping methods, offer various payment gateways, adjusting tax/order parameters etc. The software also grants access to its rich marketplace with multiple extensions and modules. The possibility to choose and adjust SEO settings, customer segmentation options, marketing automation and other related parameters allows enhancing the overall web store functionality.
By the way, you can manage multiple stores from a single installation with Magento. This matters a lot for users who own multiple brands or international stores and wish to promote their services online. Each store can have its own product catalog, pricing, language and other settings.
On the other hand, in case you aim at selling virtual products online through your website or blog, WordPress may appear a far better choice than Magento. WordPress offers a series of plugins to help you establish an eCommerce site on an affordable basis. It supports such simple eCommerce tools as shipping management, tracking the orders, delivery and payment options, and so forth.
Among the variety of eCommerce plugins for WordPress, WooCommerce obviously holds the leading position. This is by far the most popular eCommerce extension that seamlessly integrates with your WP project, providing a comprehensive set of features to sell products online and to manage a web store in general.
With WooCommerce, you can create product listings, set up a shopping cart, handle shipping options, configure payment gateways, manage inventory and complete other eCommerce-related tasks. Tracking and managing customer orders from the very beginning to the final stage is also possible with WooCommerce. The system provides order notes and status updates along with the ability to process refunds/cancellations, generate invoices etc.
WP themes that are compatible with WooCommerce can be individually customized with regard to your store/brand parameters. CSS and HTML customization is allowed as well. This will certainly be an advantage to code-aware users.
The primary aim of a blogging section in an eCommerce site is to attract more potential customers, thus enhancing sales. Both WordPress and Magento can be excellent for the purpose, and yet, the tools and overall blogging functionality of the two differ drastically since one ensures all possible blogging tools while the other offers to blog only via an extension.
Magento comes a solely eCommerce platform and, thus, it does not offer integrated blogging features. However, you can reach the Magento Marketplace to find and integrate third-party blog extensions. They add a dedicated blogging module to your Magento store, allowing you to create and manage blog posts. They typically offer features such as categories, tags, comments, author profiles, and social sharing options. Still, this is not enough to set up a full-featured blog.
WordPress was initially created particularly via a blogging platform. And although since 2003 WP has evolved into a multi-purpose CMS, it still features both standard and outstanding blogging functionality. You can access all of the available blogging tools straight from the dashboard.
Initially, WordPress was created particularly via a blogging platform. And although since 2003 WP has evolved into a multi-purpose CMS, it still features both standard and outstanding blogging functionality. You can access all of the available blogging tools straight from the dashboard. The drag-and-drop block editor of WP allows users to create blog content by simply dragging the necessary element from the dashboard onto the website template and dropping it wherever you find it necessary. This way you can add images, columns for layouts, CTA buttons, and many other elements. WordPress presents to users’ attention thousands of plugins and themes specifically designed for setting up blogs. To cut it short, WP enables users to customize both the appearance and behavior of their web store blog section.
General Pricing Comparison
Since WordPress and Magento are both open-source platforms, you can download them entirely for free. However, you need to pay for hosting to launch the online store, as well as for domain registration, premium templates, and extensions if you want to set up an advanced eCommerce website. If you have absolutely no experience and knowledge in setting up an online store, you may also be obliged to hire a website developer. WordPress and Magento can perfectly work with the same hosting providers. Hence, the price for hosting and domain registration may be identical. The main difference in pricing is in the range of premium themes and extensions, as well as the services of a professional developer. Let’s see exactly how much it will cost to manage your online store on WordPress and Magento.
Overall, prices for premium themes and extensions, as well as freelance developers are significantly lower at WordPress than at Magento. When you buy a premium theme from such third-party marketplaces as elegant Themes or Theme Forest, expect it to be priced between $60 and $200 on average.
What concerns WordPress plugins, meanwhile, there are around 300 premium extensions available (more than 55,000 plugins are offered for free) the prices for which vary from $29 to $299. For instance, WooCommerce’s Card add-on is priced at $29 per year while the one-time cost of the Yoast SEO Premium plugin is $89.
WordPress doesn’t mandatorily require the interference of a web developer to set up a website. You can do it all yourself by simply reading the articles in the knowledge base and blog. And yet, if you need to save time and have a professional-looking web store ready for you, the price of a freelance developer’s services is between $5 and $125 per hour.
The prices for Magento’s premium themes, extensions, and developer’s services are much higher, though. The free themes here are rather simple both in functionality and design. Premium themes, meanwhile, cost between $17 and $499, with most of the great themes priced around $80.
Magento catches the eye with a robust range of in-built eCommerce features. Anyway, if you find there are any key features missing that can boost the functioning of your online store, you will most certainly find them in the Magento marketplace. The latter incorporates around 4,000 apps and 1,000 of them are free. The rest are priced from $25 to $15,000 (the average prices for the most commonly purchased plugins are from $30 to $300 though).
Which One Is the Best for SEO?
In order to drive traffic to a virtual store, using paid ads and social media is definitely useful. However, in order to get more organic traffic, you had better concentrate on optimizing the site for search. Here is when SEO features come especially useful. Let us review the SEO tools by Magento and WordPress so that you get a better image of which platform best aligns with your eCommerce SEO strategy.
WordPress enables its users to easily customize meta descriptions, alt-texts for images, and custom URLs after choosing a responsive theme to design the online store. Furthermore, WP allows downloading or purchasing a series of SEO plugins, as well as optimizing any part of the website’s underlying code. Accordingly, if you want to set up an advanced online store, you can remove any unnecessary code which may slow down the site operating or prevent the search engine bots from crawling. But if you are a non-technical user, you may wish to download or buy WP plugins such as WP Rocket, Yoast SEO, and Redirection to simplify and automate some of the optimization processes. So, regardless of your level of SEO knowledge and experience, you can rely on WordPress SEO tools and have your store perfectly optimized.
If you choose Magento to optimize your online store for search engines, you will be provided with several practices. Expect to get such functionalities as optimizing the alt text of images for products, adding meta descriptions to all the pages for products, choosing a responsive theme, creating an XML sitemap for the website, setting the checkout, removing all the duplicate content, setting the “my account”, “my cart, and admin pages to “no follow”. Anyway, all these functions are accessible for those users who are well-versed in SEO. Otherwise, you won’t be able to handle all these tools if you don’t have experience and knowledge in the sphere.
Which One Is the Best for eCommerce?
If we compare the eCommerce property of WordPress and Magento, the latter is definitely a more powerful platform for selling online. Even though they both are highly recommendable online selling software, Magento features premium sales tools that come already built-in, while those of WordPress are available via plugins.
The most notable eCommerce features that Magento is ready to provide every client with include:
- Free shipping options;
- Recently viewed and compared products;
- The feature to create various price points for different groups of customers (retailers and wholesalers, for instance);
- One-page checkout;
- Add multiple images per each product list.
Nevertheless, WordPress is there to provide its users with amazing eCommerce features, too. Although they are all available only via extensions through the WooCommerce plugin, you can still benefit greatly. WooCommerce is definitely a powerful tool for growing an online store and driving sales, and it doesn’t require as much technical knowledge as Magento does.
So, taking into account the immense number of digital buyers, which is more than 2 billion in the world, an eCommerce business certainly has much room to grow. If you are yet to start an online business and don’t aim high at present, WordPress is the best choice for you.
But Magento has all the necessary resources for aiming high and achieving much if you are ready to pay for the service respectively.