There was a time when I was working on multiple solutions, thinking positively that a lot of time spent on each of them would give me a great insight of all possibilities that a mix of solutions could offer. And year after year, solutions evolve and some get better and easier to maintain and develop, and some not. I have been using prestashop, magento and wordpress / woocommerce for years and here is a quick review of all these solutions, from the point of view of the developer but also of the website owner, and of course of the end user. Curiously you will find that all these point of view lead to the same conclusion : wordpress woocommerce for all !
Magento / WOOcommerce / Prestashop comparison
The developer point of view
Magento is incredibly smart. When I mean smart I mean you'll need a few months before you can even understand how to access data from the database. you need serious ZEND specific OOP knowledge and a lot of time and expertise to code Magento. And that's expensive. Yes a developer with magento expertise can earn a lot, but who pays. check that below in the website owner section.
in comparison with the truck and the pickup above, Wordpress at first glance looks like a horse carriage. In its default distribution package, wordpress is just a blogging platform. Well that's what is was a few years ago when I started using it just for blogging. And I was developing my own e commerce package and trying various CMS platforms like Modx or silverstripe. And suddenly Wordpress evolved to a full featured CMS platform that I integrated with MAgento and prestashop websites for serious content management those two cannot afford. And suddenly e commerce plugins came to the market. I've tried a few and my preferred is woocommerce. As a developper I just love using the same platform for content management, shopping cart, order management, online payment. And I've never felt limited by the almost perfect customisation development that wordpress integrates : themes and plugins just illustrate the perfect division of tasks for a web site developer. If you want to do OOP like Magento, you can. But you don't have too. If you want to use Smarty like prestashop you can, but there's really no point. And if you want to develop once and reuse code in various website projects, well you can mix all aspects of a website with wordpress. That's just magic I think, at the cost of a rigourous selection of plugins that will take you more than an hour to select and install.
The shop owner point of view
It all depends which kind of shop owner you are. If you can afford one or two full time senior developers, then Magento is all right for you. If not, you will find that unless you have a good friend developer, magento is expensive. Too expensive for my customers. But Yes it comes with a lot of features, but not more than prestashop and woocommerce. At some early stage, Magento was a leader in bulk product editing, very useful when playing with categories and products. But it's now 4 years that WordPress does that job quite well (see our article on information management with wordpress)
Prestashop is not expensive : in fact it runs very well on shared hosting. It also comes all featured, and is much easier to configure and setup than magento, but it has less customisation, especially graphic, possibilities.
WordPress is in my opinion the best compromise between cost, usability and security. as a website owner, you will, just like your developer, love the unique administration platform with drag and drop image uploading, drag and drop content management (via plugins), easy maintenance and upgrades meaning reduced administration costs. Of course this comes at a price : default worpdress installation is not e commerce ready, you need a good professional partner to set you up. After this initial step is done (finding the right web site expert), you have the guarantee of a stable platform for all your web development need : content management , advertising, product management, customer management, newsletter, etc...
The end user point of view
Yes you are building e commerce presence : the end user is the first and last contributor to your project, because it brings the finance that will ensure durability of your online project. Well I might repeat myself now but after a few years of ecommerce development I always felt very frustrated but the lack of Content Management offered by native ecommerce platforms like magento and prestashop. Now that wordpress has its own ecommerce capabilities, it is a very sensible choice to move all your ecommerce data to a single platform. And as a e commerce buyer, I like a website with a lot of information not only on products but also on the company that distributes them. WordPress offers so many layout capabilities that your online customer with feel in good company before he goes to purchase your product.
Conclusion : woocommerce only ?
did I miss something ? are there really some unique features on magento and prestashop that woocommerce cannot perform ?