Magento vs WordPress vs Drupal for Building eCommerce Websites

Looking to build an eCommerce website quickly and as efficiently as possible, by using the right technology?  Well you’ve come to just the right place. Because here, we are going to review 3 of the content management systems that are most widely used for building eCommerce websites.

I would like to say that building an eCommerce website with the right CMS is a piece of cake, but it really isn’t. No matter what platform you choose, you’ll have yourself some learning to do. Unless, you go with a proprietary CMS, but we have covered what that is in a different article.

Today, we’ll be talking about three open source content management systems that are all excellent for building and managing an online store or an eCommerce website. Each of them has their own set of unique attributes that set them apart from the others and makes them a popular choice.

Read: How much does an online store cost?

So, without further ado, let’s see what each of these content management systems would have to offer for your future eCommerce website!

Magento

Magento is currently the most popular eCommerce platform in the world. With about 300,000 merchants using it, many people could argue that it is an awesome platform to have a store running on. It has been on the market since 2007 and has been on a steady road to success, with big players like eBay, having bought it.

The reason for its huge popularity is that it is excellent for mid-size or even the most massive businesses.

Magento is a self-hosted platform that is completely customizable and can be used by people with zero programming experience or plenty of programming experience. But if you jump into it with zero experience, you’ll have a long learning curve. If you don’t know much about programming and you don’t even want to learn much either, you should skip using Magento.

Magento has three versions and we’ll review the most widely used one, the Community Edition (Magento: CE). There is also the Enterprise Edition and the Enterprise Cloud Edition but we’ll leave that out for now. So what does Magento have to offer to its users?

Is Magento Easy to Use?

Magento is best used by programmers, because it isn’t an easy to use system. Even the first step of using Magento (installing the system) requires an FTP connection. This shouldn’t be a problem for a developer but it definitely isn’t how user friendly content management systems function.

But for developers, Magento can come quite handy and make their work a lot easier. The interface is reasonable and the entire system is very secure.

If you’re a business owner with not much programming knowledge and still find a solid reason to use Magento for your business, you can. You can hire a developer to work for you and help you with managing your online store.

Once you got a hang of a few things, doing everyday admin tasks becomes fairly easy. The hardest part in using Magento is the customization part. Creating your websites design and functions requires plenty of work and plenty of developer knowledge. Even downloading and setting up Magento is beyond an average user’s ability.

Features of Magento

This is where Magento really shines, because it has the most extensive list of features that any eCommerce platform has ever seen. It is the reason why large companies use it to run their stores. It provides all the necessary tools for managing products and money in numerous currencies. Anything you need for marketing and search engine optimization is included as well.

You also have plenty of extra features such as coupon codes, newsletter management, discounts, customer groups, customer management and so on. But if you need any other feature, you’ll easily find an extension that provides it.

Magento has the following features:

  • Build a Website From Scratch – Magento’s community edition is free and it works really well for a small or medium sized business that’s on its way to making it big.
  • SEO Tools – Everything in Magento uses friendly URLs. It also handles meta-information, meta-data and content pages really well. Google Site Map is also included. Overall Magento has good out of the box SEO.
  • Analytics – You can easily track users’ behavior and have Magento make reports for you regularly. You can also get information for tax, sales and a lot more. With Google Analytics being integrated to the system, gathering data has become a whole lot easier.
  • Mobile Friendliness – Responsive web designs are a must have in today’s internet environment. Almost half of the online traffic is from mobile devices, so it’s only natural that your online store is optimized for them. You can also access your admin panel from mobile and manage orders and sales no matter where you are.
  • Administration – Magento lets you manage multiple websites from a single admin panel, manage permissions for different users and makes it very easy to import and export large bulks of data with CVS files.
  • Marketing – Magento offers numerous useful marketing features, such as the use of coupon codes, a persistent shopping cart or sending users’ wish lists to them by email. You can also show related products on your website and make up-sells and cross sells. Customers can be placed into groups which allows easier management and the ability to make better product offers.
  • Payment Processing– Customers don’t have to register to buy from your store, they can instead use the guest checkout. Products can also be shipped to multiple addresses and in multiple directions. You can also see reports of estimated shipping costs and tax in the shopping cart, so nobody has an unexpected surprise once the item is sold.
  • Product Management – Magento has all the necessary tools for running even the largest online stores. You can provide products with an unlimited number of attributes that help users to find them. You can apply advanced pricing rules and discounts if products are ordered in bulk or if any sort of discount applies to them. Customers can be sorted and filtered, so that you can help them find exactly what they need. Add a “Share on Facebook” button to let users share what they love and let your store expand.
  • Inventory Management – There are plenty of features that help you keep track of shipments of new products and all of the items that you’re getting and selling.

Web Design and Templates for Magento

Like with any other CMS, you can download pre-built website templates and customize them later. Doing so is a knowledge demanding and time consuming process, but you can definitely put together the website you envisioned. Some templates are completely free, while others are paid for. It depends on your taste and your wallet, how much you’re willing to invest in your website’s appearance. One of the best places to look for these themes is the ThemeForest.

Magento’s newest version, Magento 2.0 doesn’t have too many themes yet, but the previous versions, such as the 1.9, have plenty. You can download some awesome, fully-responsive themes that are truly professional looking and are worthy of even the biggest online stores.

Magento Extensions

Anyone within the Magento community can develop their own extension for Magento. They can create new applications and extensions for the platform which they can either sell or provide for free.

You can download automated tax calculators, a search bar or various marketing tools that boost your overall efficiency.

Magento Security

Magento offers some pricey but effective services when it comes to fixing your website’s security. They will fix just about any issue for you, but expect to pay a few thousand dollars for the service. They’re not shy to demand money for any support they provide, since you yourself will be making money off the system they built.

You can expect nothing less but a solid service if you turn to Magento’s support team for help.

The Price of Using Magento

The community edition, which we’re reviewing here is completely free to use, although the other versions aren’t. They require you to sign up with all of your contact information and send the company a request quote, along with your email.

If you take this into account and the amount of money you would spend on hiring developers to help (if you don’t have the required technical knowledge) Magento can indeed be one of the priciest open source eCommerce platforms out there.

The Verdict

Magento is a robust system with an infinite amount of customizability. It is perfect for a business any size and can be scaled from a small online to a huge company easily. It was installed by 4 million users and runs the store of huge companies for a reason. But it definitely isn’t for everyone. A non tech-savvy person will probably get lost within the installation process, let alone customize a website and add various functions. In order to build a successful Magento store you will also need reliable hosting. We have reviewed the top 3 Magento web hosting providers you should consider for your website.

If you’re looking to use Magento, with enough programming knowledge, you can do a lot for free, but once you reach out to developers and other external resources, things will probably get pricier than with other eCommerce platforms.

You can check out and start to use Magento here!

WordPress

WordPress is the most popular content management system on the internet right now. It has been downloaded and installed about 60 million times and every fourth website is made with it. It is being used by famous websites and brands such as the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, TED, eBay, PlayStation, General Motors, New York Times, and so on.

WordPress has outstanding success, yet it was built entirely by volunteers and is completely free to use, thanks to its open source nature. It is constantly maintained with fresh updates, functionalities and themes added to it regularly. Being one of the most user friendly content management systems out there, WordPress is loved all over the internet, offering plenty of functionality and stability to users.

It is also fast and can be installed seamlessly on any hosting provider’s servers, which makes it incredibly flexible.

WordPress is a powerful content management system in itself, but anyone who seeks to turn their WordPress site into a full-fledged eCommerce website, uses a plugin to do so. There are a lot of good eCommerce plugins that can be used to build an online store, but we’ll be focusing on a plugin called WooCommerce.

WooCommerce is a free open source shopping card plugin for WordPress. It was downloaded more than 28 million times and has almost 2 million active stores running on it as we speak. About 40% of all eCommerce websites on the web are run with it, which makes it one of the most successful eCommerce platforms.

Even though the numbers are speaking for themselves, let’s see how WordPress with WooCommerce helps us build an eCommerce website.

Is WordPress Easy to Use?

WordPress is one of the most user friendly content management systems and WooCommerce integrates seamlessly with it. Just about anyone, with no technical experience, can setup their online store. Of course, once you move away from the basic functionalities and want to add something more customized, you’ll require at least some degree of coding. But you can do well without it too.

Once WooCommerce is installed, you’ll have a decent set of eCommerce features for building your online shop. It has built in calculators for shipping expenses and estimates, currencies, varying prices for shipping zones and so on.

Of course, even though it’s fairly simple, you’ll have to watch a few tutorial videos to get the hang of it and build a proper website with it. But this is the easiest to use among the three content management systems mentioned here.

It is also important to mention that WooCommerce and using WordPress as an eCommerce platform doesn’t come without a fair set of drawbacks. It’s not perfect but can prove to be good for all sorts of online businesses. It depends solely on what you’re building.

WordPress Features

WooCommerce and WordPress come with plenty of handy features right out of the box, but you’ll still have to install a number of extensions to complete the circle. It is also important to say that, though WordPress and WooCommerce are both free to use, you might end up spending a significant amount of money on themes, other plugins or maybe hiring a developer to help. Customizing your website’s design and functionality might prove to be a demanding task.

  • SEO Friendliness – WordPress has the best SEO practices built into it, which makes managing your SEO and ranking higher in search engines a somewhat easier task. Doing good SEO is a time consuming process, but WordPress helps you with doing plenty of the work in your on-page SEO.
  • Product Reviews – You can make your site more trustworthy by letting your users write their own reviews about the products you’re selling.
  • Fully Responsive / Mobile Friendly Design – Almost half of all the traffic on the internet comes from mobile devices, so it’s no wonder that having your store looking just as good and being just as functional on mobile is a good idea. This way, your customers can shot on the fly and make orders from anywhere. You yourself can manage orders from anywhere as well.
  • Seamless Checkout Process – Nobody likes to complicate things when it comes to buying an item, which is why WooCommerce has a single page checkout process. They can check out as guests or create their own account.
  • Smooth Shopping – Pages don’t have to reload if the user clicks add to cart. WooCommerce makes shopping an easy and straight forward process for everyone.
  • Coupons and Discounts – You can always set discounts to apply for a certain time period.
  • Analytics Tools – WooCommerce comes with a set of analytics tools for monitoring profits and tracking orders.
  • Support for Geo-Location – Your website can be set up to provide estimate tax and shipping costs to all of your users, by tracking their geo-location.
  • Seamless Product Management – With the built-in inventory management system of WooCommerce it helps you keep track of all orders and the items you have in stock or allow you to take off out of stock items from your storefront.
  • Payment Processing – You have five payment gateways you can use which are: PayPal, Cash on Delivery, Check Payment, Direct Bank Transfer or Simplify Commerce. But you can also add others like Amazon Payments, Stripe and so on.
  • Supports Digital and Physical Goods Along With External and Affiliate Products – You can add just about any kind of product into your store.

WordPress Support

You have plenty of devoted users to help you out with any problem you might have. You can reach them through a forum or follow developer blogs that provide extensive guides. There are a lot of Video Tutorials to help you and plenty of documentation about every knot and jolt of the system. Whatever information you need to learn and solve problems, you have at your fingertips. But you’ll have to buy one of WooCommerce’s products to get your hands on the information base.

Disadvantages of WordPress

The main problem with using WordPress for an eCommerce website is that most plugins were developed for entry level online stores and it’s hard to get them to suit large enterprises. A lot of WordPress eCommerce plugins have lacking documentation and a bad customer support that won’t get you far. The larger your system gets, the more bugs it will have if you’re not careful, which is an issue that should have a book written about it.

For now, here are some of the basic issues of using WordPress for building an eCommerce website.

  • Theme Limitations – WooCommerce works with any theme, theoretically, but it still works best with WooCommerce themes, which means you have less flexibility when choosing your website’s themes.
  • Limited Support – WooCommerce doesn’t have much of a professional support and even if you manage to reach the support team, you’ll have to wait quite some time for them to respond.
  • Operation Can Get Buggy – WordPress can get really buggy from time to time. Everyone knows this, and the more plugins you install (which you will have to do) the larger chance there is that you will encounter some bugs. Of course all of these bugs can be tackled, it just takes some attention to do so, which isn’t an exciting task for any of us.
  • Has to Be Updated All The Time – Yes, WordPress and most of its plugins and themes are constantly updated, which makes the entire system much more trustworthy and stable. But do keep in mind that you have to install each of these updates and do it frequently, which can be a bit of a drag over time and could cause bugs as well.

The Verdict

WordPress and WooCommerce are both very user friendly and seek to make building an online store as easy as possible for everyone. Although it’s not a perfect system, it still gets the job done and with a bit of tweaking and customization, it can be turned into one magnificent eCommerce site. Remember that an online store requires much more server resources that a regular website. If you will be using WooCommerce to create your online shop, we recommend using only the best WooCoommerce hosting providers.

But it is important to mention that WordPress isn’t great for handling large, enterprise level online stores. It can be done, but other systems can handle huge bulks of data much better.

This CMS is perfect for someone who seeks to build their online store themselves, with as less help and as less resources as possible. You will have to spend some money on your system eventually, but it will be a lot less than it would be with Magento if you do it right.

If you use the right set of plugins for the job, anything can be done with this user friendly platform!

You can download and use WordPress and WooCommerce here!

Drupal

Drupal is a powerful open source content management system that has been optimized as a social medium, making it excellent for eCommerce websites and any kind of community website. It is also an application development framework, which simplifies developers’ work with easily maintainable code and a common user interface.

Drupal is an excellent platform from the smallest to even the largest online businesses, thanks to its flexibility.

Drupal is a simple looking yet sophisticated content management system, which can be used on multiple platforms, such as Linux, Windows and Mac OS X. Thanks to its open source nature, you can make changes to the code and add further functionality as you wish. Its script could rather be called as a programmer’s platform than a CMS script, which is why developers can make the best use of Drupal. It is an enterprise level application that’s nothing short of professional. It is also free to use, so anyone from anywhere can download it and start building their website.

Even inexperienced users can build their own website just by watching a few tutorials and understanding the basic concepts. But customizing a website’s design and functionalities requires more extensive knowledge. Still, once you get the hang of Drupal it’s easy to use and the variety of functions and features one can implement are plenty. You can make your job infinitely easier. Drupal’s simplicity and robust features greatly reduces the amount of time that one has to spend with learning and training. The wealth of documentation and the huge community also helps by a great deal when it comes to learning.

Installing Drupal is a really straight forward process, anyone can do it who is familiar with installing simple programs or web applications. You can download plenty of modules (around 15,000) to extend Drupal’s functionality or create your own if you’re experienced in PHP and understand Drupal’s framework.

In short, Drupal is perfect for having absolute control over your website’s business logic and layout. One thing’s for certain, this software will comply with your business needs.

Once you have set your mind to building an eCommerce website, the module you have to install is Drupal eCommerce. This module offers all the necessary functionality to create and manage an online store or any kind of eCommerce website. Now let’s see what goodies this platform can offer to someone who seeks to develop an eCommerce website and how Drupal stands out among the others.

Is Drupal Easy to Use?

Although Drupal is more developer orientated, it is also very user friendly. Even inexperienced users can handle it and build their website right after the seamless installation process. You can download the themes and modules you require on the go.

Managing an eCommerce Website with Drupal

Some eCommerce platforms are better at managing an online store than Drupal. Importing and exporting products have proven to be more difficult than it is with Magento for example. But this issue can be easily handled once you install the right modules. The only problem is that you’ll have to install plenty of them before you get the full range of functions you require to seamlessly manage a website.

The Drupal community is constantly backing their software, always extending it with the extensions required to solve certain problems.

Drupal Design & Themes

Drupal is very flexible when it comes to design. The script also includes various design elements and tools for editing.

You can download plenty of themes and give your website the professional look it requires and you’ll only be scratching the surface of its potential. You can easily switch back and forth with themes and customize them according to your taste, with some CSS knowledge. Once you get the hang of the customization, it becomes very easy.

If you want to switch between various themes on the go, for a holiday season or for other reasons, you’ll have an easy time doing it. There are plenty of free and paid themes to choose from.

Features of Drupal

Drupal is rich with useful eCommerce features. The first most powerful feature of Drupal is that it minimizes the number of hard-coded features you require as you build your website. You’ll easily build a website that complies to your business demands. The core system is capable of managing your products, creating checkout forms, a shopping cart and so on. You can have your online store operating with multiple languages and multiple currencies. But Drupal and its eCommerce module has a wealth of other incredibly useful features as well.

  • Incredibly Efficient Content Management– This is ones of the basic concepts in Drupal’s terminology. Content types make managing videos, users, text, statistics, audio, articles, images and literally anything you would wish to publish on your website. Drupal’s structure makes management and administration tasks infinitely easy. You can also categorize any of your content through paths, URL addresses and use them or display them any way you like.
  • Wide Range Of Available Modules – Drupal has thousands of available modules, each with their own unique function. A lot of them are open source and can be tweaked to fit you better. But you can also develop your own module if you have the necessary PHP knowledge.
  • Drupal Commerce – Drupal Commerce has numerous benefits when it comes to your website’s SEO. It makes generating content and having it edited by multiple users a seamless process. A well scheduled stream of quality content leads to good SEO, which is good for business. You can easily make blogs, forums, add comments, and produce SEO friendly URLs and so on. Internal linking is streamlined through the CMS and it also allows text based links to be implemented.
  • Marketing Tools – This is where Drupal Commerce really shines, because its creators understood the importance of online marketing, while running an online business. Drupal in itself is an awesome online marketing platform and Drupal Commerce enhances that by a great deal. It does two things really well, Search Engine Optimization and Conversion Rate Optimization. Drupal’s SEO is top of the line, which can help you get a high ranking with search engines. Also, you can constantly monitor your analytics or analytics submitted by the other users of Drupal Commerce. All the data gathered from logging and statistics enables a business owner to make much better predictions and decisions. With analytics tools available, you can constantly view how many visitors your website is currently receiving. Drupal also makes publishing content the way you want it, much easier, which also helps your SEO efforts. It also supports RSS feeds and feed aggregators, which give a major boost to your content marketing.
  • Huge Community and Great Support – Drupal has a community of 630,000 users, who all reap the benefits of this powerful CMS. Drupal has a homepage that’s filled with documentation and has a discussion board, where people try to find solutions for their own or someone else’s problems. There is plenty of information to help you learn, and any problem you might have come across has been probably encountered and solved by someone else. Thanks to its large developer base, Drupal is constantly being developed, with new versions and updates being released constantly. Drupal Commerce has its own dedicated support team, to whom you can reach out to when you need any help. They are available 24/7 and will co-operate in solving any business or enterprise problems you come across.

Disadvantages of Drupal

  • Customization – Installing Drupal and putting together a website, is something that even a non tech-savvy person can do, but making modifications is an entirely different story. Customizing a design and features in Drupal requires extensive knowledge in CSS and PHP.
  • Needs some Getting Used To – Drupal’s framework requires a bit of learning and it can take some time. If you’re used to different systems, you’ll have a steep learning curve to go through.
  • High Resource Demands – Drupal offers a huge range of features and possibilities, but that takes its toll on the server it is stored on. Being so heavy, it isn’t as efficient as other systems, such as WordPress, but you can fix the problem with a few modules. These modules turn off unused features within Drupal and decrease the load it puts on the server it’s running on.

The Verdict

Drupal can be a truly powerful eCommerce website building tool if used properly. It does have a steep learning curve and it helps a lot to have some web developer background if you want to make the most of it as quickly as possible. I’m not saying that you must have web development knowledge, but you’ll eventually run into some problems that you can’t solve with basic knowledge alone. But anyone who is willing to climb that steep learning curve and willing to invest, will get the hang of using Drupal.

Drupal is great from running the smallest or even the largest enterprise level online stores, thanks to its robust features and the possibility to build your entire business logic. You’ll also have an easier time managing and keeping track of large bulks of data, than you would have with a lot of other content management systems. Don’t forget that a Druapl website requires good web hosting too. If you are looking for reliable hosting servers for your Drupal built store, please take a look to our top recommended Drupal hosting providers.

So, if you’re seeking to build an eCommerce website that gets the job done, you can definitely do it with Drupal once you get the hang of it or have the right developer to help you!

You can check out and download Drupal content management system here.

Conclusion

There you have it! The battle of the best open-source eCommerce platforms available on the internet! All three of them stand firmly for themselves, each offering plenty of features for running an eCommerce website. The question, which is better than the other can’t be answered with absolute assurance, because it depends on the size of your business, your web development knowledge and the type of business you’re going to build.

With each CMS’ strengths and weaknesses being laid out, it’s up to you to decide which one will suit your business and budget the best!
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