Choosing between two equally appealing options is never easier. This is the dilemma people face when they have to make a choice between hosted or self-hosted e-commerce platform.
Both of them have features that are lucrative and handy. But, how appealing it depends on your knowledge, business model, and requirements.
E-commerce business is on the rise. According to Statista, by 2021 revenue from e-commerce sales will be around 4.5 trillion dollars.
When opening an online store, you first need a space where to put it. It is where the website is live and visitors can access it. This is accompanied by the e-commerce platform you choose.
Some e-commerce platform solutions provide hosting within the package deal, other times you need to find your own hosting site.
Before deciding which one to go for, let’s take a closer look at both of them.
Hosted e-commerce platform
In hosted e-commerce solutions, the company that is providing the software is also providing a place to host it. It is package deal.
These types of companies are called SaaS (Software as a service) because they provide service in exchange for a fee. Shopify, BigCommerce, Squarespace etc. are some of the biggest hosted e-commerce platforms on the market today.
Right now, there is a battle brewing between the established Shopify and the newcomer Squarespace for the title of the best-hosted e-commerce platform.
Self-hosted e-commerce platform
Unlike hosted e-commerce platforms, in self-hosted e-commerce platforms, you only get the software. This is stand-alone, and most cases open-source software. From there on, it is the responsibility of the user to find a home for it.
There are numerous good hosting sources available to place your e-commerce platform. WooCommerce, which is the most popular e-commerce platform today, is also a self-hosted e-commerce platform.
Hosted or Self-hosted
Hosted and self-hosted, both types of e-commerce platforms offer capabilities and features that are important to build and operate a successful online store.
In some instances, one type of platform builds upon the lacking of the other.
1. Getting started
Hosted: One of the biggest benefits of hosted e-commerce platforms is that it is an out-of-the-box solution. That means that everything is ready when you subscribe to their product.
This feature allows users to set up their online store within minutes if necessary will minimal supervision. Shopify even provides a downloadable free guide with instructions.
Self-hosted: In terms of getting up and running, self-hosted platforms take a bit more time than its counterpart.
Since you are only getting the product, you are going to need several other things to get fully started. For example, you’ll need to secure the site, shopping cart, third-party payment gateway etc.
2. Ease of Use
Hosted: If you are a beginner and have little technical knowledge, hosted e-commerce platforms are perfect for you.
Their whole process is set up in such a way that everyone, no matter how skilled, can operate a business.
Self-hosted: Some knowledge about plugins, coding and general know-how is required for successfully managing and operating an online store in self-hosted e-commerce platforms.
This is also a benefit for some because it provides freedom, unlike hosted e-commerce platforms.
Hosted: There is little customization option available. However, it is the staple of hosted e-commerce platforms. Platforms like BigCommerce offer simple plugins that can be used to add some functionality, but it doesn’t provide any radical customizability
Even though hosted platforms have little freedom when it comes to customizability, it provides a powerful website for conducting online business.
Self-hosted: The ability to customize your online store to an extensive capacity is the biggest draw for self-hosted e-commerce platforms.
The open-source aspect of the platform allows programmers to develop any imaginable plugin or tweaks to enhance your online experience.
Hosted: The costs of hosted platforms are almost one-and-done. They operate on SaaS business model, where you are either paying a monthly or yearly basis.
The fee that you provide takes care of all aspects of the online business. This allows users to avoid any hidden costs or another maintenance cost.
Even though the initial cost may seem high and the cost may add up over time, it allows you too free from the burden of paying each time for numerous functions
Self-Hosted: Even though the self-hosted platforms are free to download and use, they usually cost you to reach full functionality.
The self-hosted platforms require many aspects to be integrated and maintained separately, and thus many of they need to be paid individually for that specific functions.
This can also add up if too many plugins are added.
Hosted: A major concern for online store owners is how to provide security for transactions. And since hosted e-commerce platforms provide a complete solution, they also have it covered.
The package usually contains an SSL certificate and level 1 PCI DDS compliant security system to ensure hardy security.
Self-hosted: The blessing/curse with self-hosted e-commerce platforms is that everything depends on you, the user. Users get to choose how secure the website is.
Individuals have the option to get everything hosted platforms provide and more. You can pick and choose which option you want to protect your website and the transactions.
Laying the wrong foundation can be disastrous for any business. Even though setting up an e-commerce business is very easy today, you first have to make the crucial decision of either going for hosted or self-hosted e-commerce platform.
Both hosted and self-hosted have several highly popular e-commerce platforms that attract merchants with their merit.
So, which is the right one for you?
Hosted or self-hosted? Shopify, BigCommerce or WooCommerce, Magento?
That’s for you to decide. You now have the information now necessary to make an informed decision.
You can now make the right choice and be on the right path to success.