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Forget Magento. Wordpress Can Power Your Ecommerce Store

Magento is currently the most popular open source product for setting up an ecommerce store. And not just open-source, it's the most popular product of this kind in general. OsCommerce used to be first in the past but Magento just kicked it out in the blue.

Magento is damn powerful. There is also a hosted solution called Magento Go that removes all the hassles from hosting your store yourself - of course, this one is paid.

OK, so you already downloaded Magento files and planning to play with it and set up your small store selling homemade cake? Delete the files. You don't need Magento. You need Wordpress.

Magento vs Wordpress

Why am I advocating using a blogging platform for ecommerce?! Isn't Wordpress just for blogs? Hell, no. Wordpress is capable to do almost anything you can imagine, and then some more. And all of this can be done with plugins that can be installed, deinstalled, activated and deactivated any time with a couple of mouse clicks. But let's look at the plugins later. Let me now tell you why I prefer Wordpress:

  • It's smaller. Much smaller. The latest Wordpress zip is 5 MB. The latest Magento zip is 26 MB! Yeah hosting space is cheap but once you expand these and install on several domains all your "huge" hosting space quickly gets exhausted. So software size does matter.
  • It's faster. Multiple people have tried Wordpress + some ecommerce plugin and figured out the sites work much faster than when Magento is installed. See here for example. Or just go ahead and try yourself, install default Magento and default Wordpress with an ecommerce plugin. Don't tweak Wordpress, don't even install SimpleCache or other caching plugn. It's still faster.
  • It's simpler. Wordpress practically has no learning curve. You install it (super easy), then log in the administration and you can start using it right away. There is simple dashboard with intuitive user interface. On the other hand, with Magento... well, you have at the very least watch some screencasts. And maybe download the user guide book. Or why not get some training? Uh.
  • Wordpress is easier to modify. If you are a developer you can write your first Wordpress plugin with few lines or code. Or you can code your custom functions right in the theme. Simple and easy, all functions are easy to find in the documentation and no ninja-level of coding skills is required.
  • Super large community. Yes, Magento is popular. But Wordpress is vastly, enormously popular. There are millions people out there who use it, thousands of blogs and forums about Wordpress, and virtually limitless number of users who are there to help if you have a question. Even the official support forum on Wordpress is super large and busy and questions are often answered within minutes.
  • Cheaper developers. Because of its popularity and simplicity, there is abundance of freelance Wordpress developers, developers who want a job on Wordpress, companies who offer Wordpress services, and so on. And of course, because of this prices of workforce are lower compared to Magento. Customization costs are important to take in mind if you plan to run long term ecommerce business.
  • Easier to design Wordpress themes are just HTML with a few PHP functions inside. Fairly easy to see what you are doing and what to expect, where is header, footer, sidebar, etc. With Magento... well, you need to download another guidebook.
  • More mature. The current Magento version is 1.7. The current Wordpress version is 3.5. Need I say more?
  • More frequently updated. While the latest Magento release right now is nearly 6 months old, Wordpress is releasing updates every month if not more often. And in every release they show significant improvement.
  • More plugins. Only in the official Wordpress plugin depository there are nearly 23,000 plugins. All of them are free. There are plenty of other free plugins that are not listed there, and thousands premium plugins with excellent quality and reasonable prices on sites like Codecanyon and many independent sites.
  • Wordpress has a better site. Magento site is confusing. It's hard even to figure out where to download the free Community version. I appreciate that they are making money with the product, but the nags everywhere to switch to MagentoGo or get the enterprise edition are quite boring. Documentation is spread in so many sections. On the other hand Wordpress site is simple, has just a few menus, and a large red download button.

A Bunch of Great Wordpress Plugins

Let me support what I say with specific suggestions. How do you convert your basic Wordpress installation into a fully functional, well looking, and well working ecommerce store? With customizing the code on your own? Not of course. By using plugins. There are plenty of them, most are good, and many are even free. How cool could be this?

Here you are: (click on the headings to go to ech site)

MarketPress

Screenshot of MarketPress

Here's one very popular and mature plugin offering the full functionality that a small to medium sized e-store would ever need. The plugin is developed by the well known WPMUDev group and has also a pro version - just in case the free is not enough for you. The price of pro is only $19.

Ecwid Shopping Cart

Screenshot of Ecwid Shopping Cart

Ecwid shopping cart is newer plugin but already even more popular than the one above. It has very modern and slick user interface, and super-easy set up. The downside is that it's a hosted service and the free plan lets you list only 10 products. The other plans come with monthly recurring fee.

eShop

eShop is entirely free and accessible shopping cart for Wordpress. It has extensive wiki based documentation, many additional plugins and code snippets, and is regularly kept up to date.

Woocommerce

Here is one of the most loved plugins, and the most popular one on this list. Woocommerce is used by several hundred thousands of internet stores and is developed by the famous Woothemes team. It has a lot of extensions ready to meet every of your specific needs.

TheCartPress eCommerce Shopping Cart

Just like the previous plugin, this one is free and extendible with further plugins. Many of them are also free, some cost few bucks. Handles all kinds of digital and tangible product sales and is easily applicable to a dropship store.

Jigoshop

Yet another one with free extendible base. There is large choice of well designed and mobile friendly themes (paid), and extensions that will make it do almost everything you can imagine.

In fact by switching your dropship or other ecommerce store to using Wordpress you seem to have even larger choice of solutions compared to using Magento. Add the other benefits listed above and I think it's clear which one wins.

My respect to all the guys and gals involved in Magento development. I just don't think it's appropriate choice for the small to medium ecommerce merchant!



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