Woocommerce is an open source, customizable ecommerce platform built on WordPress. Woocommerce offers features like flexible and secure payment and shipping integration. It is written in PHP which is a universal language that can be used to build complex applications.
On the other hand, Medusa is an open source composable commerce engine built with Node.Js. It offers out-of-the-box features like multi-currency support, plugin integration support, and tax configurations among many others. Besides these, Medusa is known for its Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) flows and how it is fully customizable.
Through this article, you will learn why open source ecommerce tools are essential, how to choose a tool for your ecommerce, and the difference between Woocommerce and Medusa open source online commerce platforms per developer’s experience and the general ecommerce features they offer.
What is an Open Source Ecommerce Platform?
Open source refers to software that has its source code publicly accessible for anyone to see, modify, modify, contribute to, and distribute as they want. An open source ecommerce platform is software that gives you full access to the source code, allowing you to customize the ecommerce platform to meet your needs and equally giving you total control over your store.
What is Woocommerce?
Woocommerce is a WordPress plugin used to build an online store. Woocommerce's first version was launched in 2011 and became extremely popular. In 2014, the plugin hit 4 million downloads.
At the time of writing this article, Woocommerce has over 5 million active installations and 8.3k stars on GitHub. Woocommerce is a beginner-friendly tool, so you don’t need to be an expert developer to use it. Additionally, there are thousands of free and paid themes on Woocommerce.
Woocommerce's main aim is to enable you to create an online store with just a few clicks and start selling. Woocommerce runs under WordPress; after creating your Woocommerce account, you will create a WordPress account and give some permission to Woocommerce before building a store. You will need to set up a WordPress installation before setting up a Woocommerce store.
What is Medusa?
Although Medusa is newer than Woocommerce, it becomes increasingly popular each day as it’s being adopted by companies and individuals across the world. What attracts businesses and developers mostly is the customization ability Medusa offers.
Medusa also offers other out-of-the-box features like bulk export and import, creation and management of multiple sales channels, configuration and management of many regions on one platform, addition, customization, and sorting of products into collections, and many more.
Medusa is made up of 3 components:
- The Medusa Server: It’s a headless backend built on Node.js and it's the main component that contains all the logic and data of the store.
- The Admin Dashboard: The store operator uses this component to manage the store, i.e. add, remove and update products, and customize and manage the store settings.
- The Storefront: Here, customers can view products and place orders. By default, Medusa offers 2 storefronts. One is built with NextJs and the other Gatsby, but you could build your own storefront using the Storefront REST APIs.
Medusa Vs Woocommerce
This section highlights the difference between Medusa and Woocommerce in terms of the general features both offer and the developer’s experience.
General Features Comparison
Woocomerce and Medusa allow both developers and businesses to integrate third-party payment solutions. Woocommerce has a variety of ready-made extensions to integrate payment. Most of these payment gateways support Stripe, Paypal, Verifone, Apple Pay, and Amazon Pay.
Developers can integrate payment methods in their Medusa store using payment providers such as Klarna, Paypal, and Stripe with existing plugins. However, as a developer, you could also create a plugin to integrate other payment methods.
A live chat will help engage more visitors and increase customer satisfaction across many channels.
Woocommerce offers extensions like LiveChat that you can install and set up on your store. WordPress has many plugins for live chat Integration compatible with Woocommerce and some of them include LiveChat's WordPress Plugin, OLark WordPress Plugin, Tidio WordPress Plugin, Chatwoot, and WP Social Chat.
Medusa, on the other hand, offers many ways to integrate Live Chat with Tidio, Chatwoot, Zendesk, Hotspot, ChatBot, and many others. In addition, Medusa plugin systems make it easier to create plugins and integrate with these chat services.
Woocommerce offers a simple way to manage taxes, but before configuring your tax, you need to enable taxes. You can choose to either include taxes in your product’s prices or charge taxes separately. You can set up taxes to be applied in a specific region.
Taxes are available out-of-the-box in Medusa. Like Woocommerce, you can manage taxes in specific regions as well as add multiple tax rates.
Medusa provides a Tax API to developers that allow them to further integrate third-party services.
Woocommerce offers a powerful and reliable RMA tool for selling, managing, processing warranties, and handling return requests within your Woocommerce store. However, you need to download the Woocommerce Product RMA, install, activate and configure it. Unfortunately, this product is not free.
RMA Flows are available out-of-the-box in Medusa and customers can send requests to return items from an ecommerce store. The admin or store operator can manage the order status, shipping, and payment.
Woocommerce allows you to set up shipping zones and add methods to those zones and rates to your shipping methods. Users can create as many zones as possible and add methods and rates.
Medusa allows developers to integrate third-party providers like WebShipping. Medusa has 4 components in its shipping architecture: fulfillment provider*,* shipping options, shipping methods, and shipping profiles which are the highest in the hierarchy of shipping. However, developers can equally create plugins to manage any shipping provider.
Woocommerce does not have an admin dashboard on its own but rather uses the WordPress dashboard since it’s functionally built to use WordPress. When you install the plugin, the Woocommerce menu appears on the sidebar of the WordPress dashboard.
The dashboard is simple and allows you to manage products, orders, Extensions, Reports, and other features. You need to know how the WP admin dashboard works to use Woocommerce.
Medusa has a simple and fluent admin dashboard. The dashboard allows you to manage products, price listings, customers, regions, currencies, settings, and many other elements of your store.
Woocommerce does not offer localization options on its own. To localize your store, you need to install a plugin like PoEdit, Loco Translate, or MultilingualPress.
Currently, the localization feature is not also available out-of-the-box in Medusa. But it can be implemented using CMS plugins like Contentful.
Unfortunately, multi-currency is not available out–of–the–box in Woocommerce. To set up multiple currencies in your online store, you need to purchase the Currency Converter Widget extension and set it up. There are other extensions like Woocommerce Multi-Currency or Multi-Currency Switcher which are also not free.
Medusa supports the multi-currency feature. A business can set up a region and choose specific regional settings such as currency. Additionally, the business can manage each region from one store, hence eliminating the need to create many stores or switch between them
You can create and sell prepaid multipurpose gift cards to customers, which they can redeem at your store. Gift cards are not available out-of-the-box in Woocommerce. Some Woocommerce gift card extensions require at least version 3.9. of Woocommerce. They are not free of charge.
Gift cards are available in Medusa out-of-the-box. Merchants can specify multiple denominations and images. Customers can then purchase the gift cards as if they were buying a product. However, gift cards are not packaged and shipped like products. Customers can receive it in the form of a link or by email.
Reporting and Analytics
Woocommerce offers an analytical board where you can view your number of sales, net sales, number of orders, products sold as well as variation sold. You can compare your sales per date and even download your reports for further utilization.
Right now, Medusa does not provide any analytic module but developers can use third-party services to add analytical features. Fortunately, with the flexibility Medusa offers, developers can easily implement and integrate third-party services in their store.
Speed and Performance
The process of creating a store with Woocommerce is quite fast. With a few clicks, you will have your store set up and ready to sell. If you need to measure the speed and performance in terms of the tools used to build the frontend and backend, this will be different since Woocommerce is not a headless commerce. You can optimize the speed and performance of your store in various ways.
For example, if you decide to use a lighter framework or just pure CSS rather than using Bootstrap, the number of stylesheet files will considerably reduce, and the pages will load rapidly increasing user experience as well as some SEO factors hence improving the speed ad performance of your store
Medusa's headless architecture allows you to separate the backend from the frontend. This makes it faster and lighter compared to tightly coupled architecture. So you can decide to use a lighter framework or fewer resources for both your backend and frontend and this can greatly impact the speed and performance of your store.
In addition, you can set up your store following this quick guide and the process is fast since in just three steps, you will now have a complete commerce engine running. However, if you need advanced functionalities then you can check the complete Documentation
Developer’s Features Comparison
This section presents a brief comparison between Medusa and Woocommerce in terms of developer features
Both Woocommerce and Medusa provide extensive documentation for both developers and business owners. Woocommerce codex provides a library of documentation and tutorials to set up, customize and expand your online store whereas Medusa has a detailed user guide to help you get started.
Developers can contribute or report bugs on Woocommerce’s GitHub repository.
Medusa is an open source platform whose aim is to build a strong and collaborative relationship with the community. Both developers or tier persons can join the Discord server to stay up to date with current trends and request and receive help from the community members as well as the core Medusa team.
Developers can equally showcase their work, report bugs, propose fixes or contribute to issues to the Medusa platform on its GitHub repository. There are other channels like Twitter and LinkedIn that developers can join to bring their contribution or get help.
Installation and Time to Get Started
WooCommerce’s installation guide shows you a step-by-step process on how to install and set up your online store easily. To get started with Woocommerce, developers need to know PHP, HTML, CSS3, and WordPress. Non-developers can install WooCommerce via WordPress.com.
Medusa provides a quick guide that allows developers to create and manage their store in just 3 steps: Installing Medusa CLI with yarn or npm, creating a new Medusa project using the CLI, and starting the Medusa server.
For production purposes, it’s recommended to install and configure a PostgreSQL database and Redis to handle events. The step-by-step process to install and manage these tools for various OS is included in the Medusa documentation.
Deployment and Upgrade
Since Woocommerce is built on top of WordPress, it’s recommended to deploy the online store on a WordPress deployment plan hence restricting deployment on any cloud hosting.
Woocommerce deals mostly with updates rather than upgrades. Before thinking of updating your Woocommerce store, it’s recommended to manually back up or automatically back up your store.
Unlike Woocommerce, Medusa can be deployed on any cloud hosting. In its documentation, you can find a straightforward guide on how to deploy on various platforms like Heruko, Digital Ocean, or Qovery.
Upgrading Medusa is quite simple; however, some versions may require you to run migration scripts or take additional actions. Fortunately, Medusa provides an upgrade guide with detailed steps to follow.
Woocommerce is not a headless architecture. Nevertheless, you can build a WooCommerce headless store on your own. This is not recommended, though, as Woocommerce is not designed for this purpose and it does not have the tools or features to build one.
The backend uses an API so developers can extend these APIs to add third-party services and custom features.
You don’t need to be a developer to be able to set up a store with WordPress and Woocommerce. You can set up your online store with just a few clicks. However, if you need advanced features and more customization, then you may need to hire an experienced developer to build those features or make them by yourself.
Due to the decoupled nature of Medusa, you can create the admin dashboard and storefront with any language or framework. All you need is to link the backend using REST API.
Summary of Medusa vs Woocommerce
|API||REST API||REST API but you need to enable it in the Woocommerce settings|
|Stars on GitHub||https://github.com/medusajs/medusa||8.3k|
|Activity||Since 2021||Since 2011|
|Latest Release||1.7.5(5 days ago)||7.3.0(2 weeks ago)|
In this article, you learned the difference between Woocommerce and Medusa based on the features each ecommerce store offers and the developer’s experience. Choosing the best ecommerce platform is an important decision to reflect on because taking the wrong decision may greatly affect your business in the long run.
Woocommerce is easy to set up and can handle both smaller and bigger businesses. It is a good choice for non-developers and developers who know PHP and WordPress.
Medusa is a perfect choice for anyone aiming to build headless commerce. Medusa can equally manage both larger and smaller businesses. It’s a good choice for developers with great JS/TS skills, looking forward to building a NodeJs ecommerce Platform. If you want to design your storefront and admin dashboard then Medusa is also a good choice.
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