The View from England

From Magento to WooCommerce, 1 year on

Just over a year ago, I moved my website from Magento to WooCommerce. I described my process of evaluating and, ultimately, selecting WooCommerce in a 5-part series here on Practical Ecommerce. Now, in this post, a year after making the switch, I have come back to report my experience.

First and foremost, I have no regrets in moving to WooCommerce. Although it has significantly fewer features than Magento, it is still much better for my business. Those last two words — “my business” — are an important caveat. WooCommerce is not for everyone, just like Magento is not for everyone. WooCommerce is better suited for smaller businesses with a reasonable range of stock — not larger businesses with thousands of lines.

WordPress and WooCommerce have more than lived up to their reputation for ease of use. It is simple to keep them up to date. This is unlike Magento, when upgrading made me nervous that the site would break and need professional help. With WooCommerce, the upgrade is literally the press of a button. To date, upgrading WooCommerce has been error free — nothing has gone wrong.

Instead of one large multi-store Magento site, I run several discrete WooCommerce sites. My annual hosting bill is what I used to pay monthly with Magento. Yet my sites are all significantly faster now than with the Magento site. (I ran version 1.8 of Magento, not 2.0, which is supposed to be easier on resources.) Nevertheless, the combination of WordPress and WooCommerce is much cheaper to run than Magento.

The system maintenance is significantly easier, too. Whilst for Magento any upgrade was a major exercise, with WooCommerce it is simple. Since WooCommerce does not have the complex layered navigation and super-menu features, I split my stock into discrete genres and have a website for each. This should have made system maintenance more time consuming. Instead, I spend next-to-no time on system maintenance. It is no longer an issue.

Keeping the stock up to date is also much simpler. I have not missed the overly complex “Add Product” process with Magento. Adding products quickly on WooCommerce means that I can spend more time getting the images right, which is essential for my high-value items.

Having orders spread across multiple sites would seemingly be annoying. But I use an order management system — Linnworks — that processes all orders centrally and automates the WooCommerce processing. I do not have to log into each site to deal with each order.

Regarding plugins, after 16 months I realize some are essential and others I don’t use as much as I had initially planned.

For example, the Yoast SEO plugin is essential. It continues to prompt me, to add and develop my on-site search engine optimization. I don’t spend nearly as much time on SEO as I should; the Yoast extension graphically shows this to me.

The Jetpack plugin, however, which I thought would be helpful, with numerous features that I thought I would use, I do not use it at all. The feature of publishing to Facebook is fine, but I found myself stopping its default action and waiting until I had added a range of products before posting manually a single summary to Facebook. The other features I just never got around to using.

Other plugins, like the grid-list toggle and the points and reward systems, I have not used. There is nothing wrong with them. I just don’t need them. The import plugin, whilst I still highly recommend, is not really necessary once I went live.

In fact, I have either removed or disabled over half of the plugins I originally installed.

In the meantime, WordPress and WooCommerce have continued to develop and improve their platforms. The last major WooCommerce release included an Ajax cart and checkout, which makes the cart and checkout process more professional.

In the last year, WordPress and WooCommerce have had many upgrades and releases. My plugins have had less frequent releases and my themes only occasional releases. But all releases installed within seconds, no problem.

Keeping WordPress and WooCommerce up to date is so effortless I would consider continuing doing it over the Christmas sales period. I could not do that with Magento.

In short, the move to WooCommerce has been successful. I would never consider returning to Magento.

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