What are we going to talk about?
- Prices and expenses
- Installation and use
- Community and support – where can you turn to?
- Let’s sum it up
- What is Magento capable of?
- What is VirtueMart capable of?
- VirtueMart or Magento? Which one should you use?
You can observe a great deal of fundamental differences between the two systems, the simple reason for which is that Magento was originally made to be an ecommerce system: its primary aim is to have online stores built on it, in particular those that require higher performance because they often operate with several thousands of products and high traffic.
On the other hand, Joomla! is a CMS, which means it was born as a Content Management System. VirtueMart is no other than the extension of Joomla! that also has ecommerce functionality.
Let us see which of the two systems, that have followed fundamentally different paths, may be appropriate for the creation of a new ecommerce store.
Prices and expenses
An aspect, right at the beginning, where there is basically no difference between the two systems: both Magento and VirtueMart can be downloaded free of charge, at least their simplest versions can be. You can take this for granted, as both online store software applications are of open-source code.
In case of Magento it is primarily Magento Community Edition that may be a good choice for those operating under the large company level: it is a free of charge system, to which both free and paid extensions can be downloaded. Expenses will emerge rather when you want to develop the capabilities of the system, or to customize its appearance. Because in this case you will need to have individual developments made by a third party.
You can do the same thing in case of VirtueMart as well, and the software has such unique, further developed versions that are available for purchase by default as commercial editions.
You have to take into account the price of the hosting service in both cases, and it is also worth mentioning that Magento has a version planned specifically for the needs of large companies, the Enterprise Edition, which can presently be used in exchange for an annual subscription fee of 18 thousand dollars.
Installation and use
Installation and launch of VirtueMart is a simple process which can be done relatively smoothly even by beginners. Installation of Magento is not particularly complex either, although it may require some preparedness. On the other hand, launch of an operating ecommerce store may be perplexing for those who have not yet worked with a similar system before.
Great power in this case does not go together with great responsibility but with high complexity. Magento is an extraordinarily powerful system capable of creating giant and complex ecommerce stores – the interface is obviously packed with features, the use of which you have to learn.
What is missing from most ecommerce software applications is common in the two systems: the frontend is diversely customizable, it can be tailored to your needs. Joomla! is at advantage being a more simple system thus its design can be more easily modified and it can be more simply extended with extra functions. Magento on the other hand offers you a more professional solution, it outstrips its competitor in the field of shopping cart, in other words, the purchasing process.
It is a built-in feature in case of Magento that you can modify each product or product category almost any way you want to: you may apply countless different attributes to the products, which the users can search by filtering.
Much more important than this are the diverse promotion possibilities: you can either offer discounts within a certain period of time, offer those for more precisely defined user groups, or even provide certain products at a different price if they are bought together. You can advertise certain products together with those that are regularly purchased together. The number of possibilities is almost higher than what a single online store can take advantage of.
Being able to create quite detailed reports is a standard feature in case of Magento: you can study how certain products or product groups perform, how the users use your ecommerce store, what kind of behavioural patterns you can register. Joomla! on the other hand provides you very restricted possibilities, you have to apply various extensions to be able to carry out more complex analytics.
The system of Magento can be actually well optimized, you can create individual URIs and you have other options as well, at the same time, this is not a content management system – so these are considered rather like extra features in this case. Joomla! on the other hand is a CMS, so VirtueMart that was built on its basics can be extremely well optimized as well.
If you want a system that is fundamentally well search engine optimizable, actually there is no major difference between the two platforms in this respect. If SEO is a significantly important aspect of your strategy and everything is subordinated to that, the balance tips in favour of Joomla!.
Community and support
Both platforms have fair-sized communities behind them: a great deal of developers are engaged in making different extensions and plugins to the systems of Magento and Joomla!. Consequently, this means that should you have any kind of problem, you have many places to turn to, you will easily find a platform where you will be able to contact the competent professionals.
Furthermore, you can easily find extensions as well, both free and paid versions –, which is useful in case of both systems, although in case of Magento it is many times more worthwhile having individual developments made.
Let’s sum it up
What is Magento capable of?
The Magento system is modern and is continuously developing, there is a huge developer community behind it that provides a great deal of free of charge and paid extensions for the users. The development is continuous, the official company is constantly working on it as well so that the system meets the most recent requirements. In addition, the webmaster can hire a professional development team in order to completely customize the open source code software.
Being versatile is another advantage of the system: thanks to it you can modify the frontend any way you want to, by which you can ensure the best user experience. Also, the available settings in the administrative interface are so diversified that practically no other system that is available free of charge can compete with.
Of course Magento has relative disadvantages as well. One of these for example is that you will need a stable hosting service, because Magento is a resource-intensive system. This is particularly true when you are working with a large number of products and with high traffic, in which case you would need strong hosting for your services – the difference is that Magento is capable of handling online stores of any size.
Complexity may be a disadvantage if it is a beginner who starts creating an ecommerce store. Magento has an amazing amount of setting options and features, which is even further enhanced by the customization possibilities, extensions and individual developments. Therefore experience is necessary for the handling of Magento, it is less recommended for the creation of your first online store because the inexperienced webmaster will likely have difficulties finding his way around the system.
For this very reason you will probably need professional assistance as well, developers who will forge Magento ideal for you – for which job you will need to have a separated budget.
What is VirtueMart capable of?
The most significant advantage of the extension of Joomla! compared to Magento is that it is simpler. Even users with a lower level of knowledge may be relatively simply able to manage the system, to search for and to install extensions. Typically, when using VirtueMart it is unnecessary to hire a separate developer because there are available extensions well applicable for the simpler needs, and also, there are such VirtueMart variants that have adequate functionality.
VirtueMart is at advantage in the field of content management as well, which is not a big surprise, since Joomla! is a content management system by default. Thanks to it, you can easily extend the online store with a blog, a guest book, a forum or any other interfaces focusing on content. Also, being able to display content more easily will facilitate SEO as well.
Its disadvantage is that the pace of its development is quite slow, that it has difficulty keeping up with others, as well as the lack of more developed functions from the basic system. You will have access to more significant ecommerce store functions only if you use its commercial edition versions, and there is a good chance that you will need various extensions to these as well.
What is the final verdict? That both systems fundamentally work well, however, they do not satisfy the needs of the same people.
According to this year’s February survey of Aheadworks, Magento CE has a 25% share on the ecommerce market of the one million most popular websites based on the data of Alexa, while the Enterprise edition made for large companies, available for an annual subscription fee of 18,000 dollars has another 4.5% share. In contrast, the share of VirtueMart compared to this is only 3.5% – which of course means that it is still considered to be one of the most popular systems (to be precise it is in the 6th place).
VirtueMart is a simple, easily manageable and quick system, however, many functions, which are considered as standard features in Magento, are missing from it. Magento on the other hand is a more massive, more complex system that requires a higher energy input.
Consequently, those who wish for a simple solution, who are launching an online store of a smaller size, who would like to sell products in addition to content publication or are launching their very first ecommerce store, may take more advantage of Joomla! VirtueMart.
However, for those who would like to create a major, complex professional online store that can be customized and optimized to the extremes, that has several hundreds or thousands of products and is planned for a high traffic, Magento CE may prove to be the perfect choice.