Open Source eCommerce: WordPress vs. Drupal vs. Magento

In an age when online shopping is a procrastination tactic as much as it’s a time-saver, building an ecommerce site that easily allows casual browsers to become paying customers is essential.  Recent reports highlight the increasing significance of the digital marketplace: Q1 of 2014 showed an increase of 11% revenue for online retailers; mobile sales recently hit an all-time high of 27%; and global B2C ecommerce sales are predicted to hit 1.2 trillion by year’s end. The savvy are finding success. Are you one of them?

Open Source eCommerce Development DecisionsThere is no perfect ecommerce development solution that best serves all businesses. This is perhaps both liberating and disheartening in itself. Sure, there are lots of options out there. You can build an online store quickly and inexpensively, but are you creating something that will further your business goals in the present and in the weeks/months/years to come?

In the open source world, we believe three ecommerce solutions—WordPress, Drupal, and Magento— rise far above the rest. Each has their unique strengths and limitations. Our goal here is less to recommend a hard answer and more to introduce avenues for your specific success.

The Basics

WordPress, Drupal, and Magento are all content management systems (CMSs) built in the PHP programming language. Their origins inform their present day.

WordPress for eCommerce

WordPress was designed to specialize in content publication, most commonly blog-based websites. A vast collection of third party extensions extend the basic functionality, enabling functions from social media integration to ecommerce gateways, creating a straightforward platform that can be largely maintained even by users without a significant tech background.


Drupal resembles the user-friendly CMS of WordPress but is built for developers who want to dive into the code and get their hands dirty (as dirty as hands get working in binary, that is). Robust and versatile, Drupal offers the potential for truly custom development, not simply a quilting together of pre-existing extensions.

Magento eCommerceMagento was launched for the sole purpose of ecommerce. While it can integrate with other CMSs to create multi-dimensional functionalities, the online shop remains at this powerful platform’s core.

Ecommerce Platform Advantages


  • User-friendly and intuitive
  • Countless plug-in options (free & paid)
  • Simple and solid for small stores


  • User-friendly (Not quite as much as WordPress, but still easily manageable)
  • Flexible and adaptable
  • Full CMS & ecommerce integration in a single platform.


Ecommerce Platform Limitations


  • Plugins not extremely customizable
  • Not designed for large amounts of products


  • Not as ready-made as Magento or WordPress
  • Less roots. Drupal Commerce was only launched in 2011


  • Complex development
  • Slow when running on smaller servers
  • Sometimes needs to be integrated with another platform to achieve full CMS functionality (such as content publication).


If your website’s focus is on content and you are selling fewer than 100 products, WordPress might be your best answer for the sake of simplicity; if you have more than 100 products and want all of the tools in an online retailer’s tool belt, Magento can be a powerhouse; or if you want a truly customized experience that includes a content marketing strategy and ecommerce tools within one framework, Drupal is unique in its offerings.

Every business model is unique, and now every ecommerce solution can be too. Shoppers are out there. It’s your job to make it easy for them. A solid online store is just the first step.

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan /