Magento vs. WooCommerce, and Drupal Commerce
Magento, WooCommerce, and Drupal Commerce are all powerful ecommerce platforms. In this article, we help you identify which is right for your business.
As the number of companies setting up shop online has boomed, software companies have rushed to meet the need for feature-rich ecommerce platforms.
In this article, we’re going to compare two of the most popular ecommerce frameworks - WooCommerce and Drupal Commerce - with Magento, the world’s most popular self-contained ecommerce software.
Once you’ve finished reading, you’ll know exactly which platform is right for you. You’ll also understand some of the differences between popular integrations that work on top of existing content-management systems (CMS).
Magento is a complete content management system built specifically for ecommerce. It’s a bit like WordPress for ecommerce. It’s owned by eBay and used by some of the biggest ecommerce players in the game, including Burger King, Fraport, and Kurt Geiger.
Because Magento is a hefty piece of software, it requires committed ecommerce developers as part of your team to leverage its full potential. While there are one-click install options (and managed packages), ultimately these don’t afford the same level of control. It’s an incredibly powerful platform but it does have its downsides, which we’ll explore in a moment.
WooCommerce & Drupal Commerce
Both WooCommerce & Drupal Commerce are frameworks that integrate with existing content management systems (WordPress and Drupal respectively).
Whilst the practical application is slightly different for each, the underlying principle is the same. Both WordPress and Drupal are content management systems whose functionality can be extended to encompass ecommerce by integrating WordPress plugins and Drupal modules.
That said, these two ecommerce platforms are not the same. Drupal is a more open, developer-oriented framework with fewer built-in features. WordPress, on the other hand, is optimized for content management and boasts an intuitive, beginner-friendly interface. The features of the two ecommerce platforms reflect the best elements of the underlying CMS.
Magento, WooCommerce, and Drupal Commerce Compared
The table below outlines the key differences between Magento, WooCommerce, and Drupal Commerce in the most important areas.
|Price||Free-to-use community version with several premium options.||Completely free. Premium add-ons and plugins are available.||Free to download and use but Drupal support can be expensive. Modules and themes are largely free, with paid options available.|
|Hosting||Premium plans include hosting. The complexity of Magento requires a high amount of server power (ideally a dedicated server).||Self-hosted. Little server space required.||Self-hosted. Little server space required (depending on size).|
|Support||Community and premium support.||Community and email/ticket support. Paid options are available.||Small support community. Paid support available through the Commerce Guys, Drupal’s paid ecommerce service.|
|Features||Lots of out-of-the box features.||Good out-of-the-box functionality with multiple features available through plugins (more than 400).||Basic functionality with more features available through the extension marketplace.|
|Inventory||Unlimited||Unlimited in theory. Practically, no more than 3000 products (depending on hosting and developer expertise).||More extensible than WordPress. Will happily handle tens of thousands of products.|
|Security||As an ecommerce-specific platform, Magento has more built-in security than competitors. Security patches are regularly rolled out.||Security is as good as third-party hosting and WordPress updates. High reliance on plugins for features adds a layer of vulnerability.||Drupal is usually considered to be more secure than WordPress.|
|Customizability||High degree of customizability with programming knowledge. Several hundred out-of-the-box themes. Development experience is a must.||Easy-to-edit themes. A host of features are available through plugins. Very beginner-friendly.||Drupal is relatively easy to use but it can take beginners a while to get the hang of it. A basic understanding of PHP is required. Limited packaged themes.|
Before we delve a little deeper into some of these key areas, let’s take a quick look at each of the platforms’ most noteworthy out-of-the-box features:
- Unlimited product listings and variations. Extensive catalog management features.
- Multiple stores and languages.
- Already-integrated payment processors.
- Customer accounts.
- Options for customer loyalty programs.
- Search engine optimization, analytics, and reporting.
- Unlimited inventory and variations.
- Inventory management (stock levels, orders, notifications, etc.)
- Customer accounts and guest basket.
- Product sorting and filtering.
- Ratings and reviews.
- Support for digital products.
- Payment processing from top providers.
- Search engine optimization, Google Analytics integration, and theme support.
Out-of-the-box: Drupal Commerce
- Comprehensive shopping basket, product listing, and inventory management features.
- Multiple languages and currencies supported.
- Social media integrations (such as purchase sharing).
All of these ecommerce platforms are open-source and free-to-use at the point of download (Magento Open Source).
WordPress is by far the least expensive of all three options. Drupal comes in second, largely because of the comparatively higher cost of paid plugins and support (and potential development costs).
Magento is the most expensive. The basic cost of the premium service (plans start at $2000/month), add-ons and expenses incurred by developers are all significantly more than any solution based on either Drupal or WordPress. Extensions can cost thousands of dollars.
Features and integrations
All three platforms have a basic package of shared features, including a shopping cart, inventory and order management, and product listings. A handful of secondary non-core features like search engine optimization and analytics are also included.
Despite the shared functionality, however, Magento is the clear winner on this front. Out-of-the-box features included with Magento are almost too numerous to list. In particular, Magento includes the following functionalities that the others don’t:
- Multiple stores (across domains, languages, categories etc.).
- Loyalty programs and promotions.
- Layered menus and highly configurable products.
While these features aren’t available in WooCommerce and Drupal Commerce, they can be added by installing plugins (modules in Drupal).
All three ecommerce platforms support a wide array of integrations. The main difference between WooCommerce and Drupal ecommerce is that the Drupal extension store is moderated (as opposed to WordPress). The popularity of WordPress as a platform also means that there are a greater number of options. Magento integrates seamlessly with virtually all of the big players (payment processors, social media reviews, analytics tools, etc.).
Magento offers both paid extensions and community ones, which are free. Many of these extensions are third-party and can be found through the Magento Connect marketplace.
All three platforms offer varying degrees of support. Magento’s Commerce Starter plan includes 24/7 email support for both the core software and cloud infrastructure. Magento’s free option has a ticket-based support system. There is also a large and knowledgeable Magento community.
Both WooCommerce and Drupal offer a mix of free and paid support. With Drupal, you are limited to either community support or a subscription to their Ecommerce Guys paid help service (starting at $580 a month). The WordPress equivalent is WooExperts, a service to help you with more involved technical tasks. WooCommerce has a free ticket-based support service that is available to all users for minor gripes.
Installation and use
Because WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin, installation and configuration is simply a matter of clicking all the right buttons. It’s built on WordPress’s intuitive framework and is easily the simplest to use.
Drupal Commerce is a little more complicated. You will first need to install the latest version of Drupal, before enabling the ecommerce modules. You can use a pre-configured template called Commerce KickStart, but, ultimately, familiarity with Drupal modules will be required to take advantage of all the features on offer.
Magento requires at least a basic level of development knowledge, with deeper expertise needed to take full advantage of the platform.
Which one to choose
The best choice of ecommerce platform depends on your type of business, goals, and size. If you are responsible for running a smaller ecommerce store, with limited product ranges and a need for comprehensive but basic functionality, then the choice is obvious.
CMS extensions like WooCommerce and Drupal Commerce are to be favored for their simplicity and ease-of-use. Running costs are also (usually) significantly lower. These platforms will happily cope with thousands to tens of thousands of products, after which your site might start to strain under the weight.
If you are after a looser framework with more potential to scale, then Drupal is a better option. For a more hands-off approach (and a minimum of developer experience) with a lively community, an extensive set of integrations and exceptionally beginner-friendly interface, WooCommerce is preferable.
So when is Magento a good fit? Its scalability and customizability make it ideal for medium and large businesses, with a special enterprise edition for the big players. Just keep in mind that trained ecommerce developers are needed to leverage the platform.
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