E-commerce platforms help modern businesses thrive. Without them, online shopping wouldn't exist. Whenever you start an e-commerce site, the first things you need to decide on is whether or not to use a hosted or self-hosted e-commerce platform. Granted they are pros and cons, on top of a variety of reasons to choose one on the other. Naturally, the choice comes down to what sounds best for your business - but it never hurt anyone to do a little pro and cons list. Right?
Surely you're aware that there are certain factors that can weigh in on your decision. Such as your needs, goals, technical knowledge, and overall experience. Other aspects you might want to take into consideration are the expectations of your customers and how much control you want over the store.
E-Commerce Hosting Sites -the Pros & Cons
A hosted site is best if you want something that's easy to set up, but the downside is that it offers little control. Whereas a self-hosted site gives you a lot of freedom and customization. However, it demands a lot more know-how. If you're still unsure which route to take, then this post is for you. Below you'll find everything you need to know about the pros and cons of e-commerce hosting sites. Hopefully, by the end of it, you'll be able to choose the right option for business.
Pro #1: It's easier to set up and use.
With a hosted e-commerce site, both the hosting and the software are done for you. With self-hosted sites, you have to choose, download, and operate the open source software program. This might be a nightmare, especially if you don't have any prior knowledge. With a hosted e-commerce platform, you don't really have to understand how it works in order for you to have your own store. Since the provider takes care of it for you, there's no knowledge required. This is a great way to start an e-commerce site because most of these platforms already have the best tools and features at your disposal.
In contrast, a self-hosted site does require some knowledge. With a self-hosted site, you need to choose a hosting provider, select, install and set up your own e-commerce platform. On top of having the knowledge of e-commerce you also need to set up and maintain the site. Which means you'll need both time and resources in order to devote to it.
Con #1: You have less control over features.
A hosted site offers a lot less freedom when it comes to controlling the customization. Obviously, with a hosted platform, you have to work within the confines of the theme or template. This means that you have very few things that you can optimize when it comes to customization. Unfortunately, this means you don't have the freedom to tailor your customer's experience. This can be a huge downside. Especially when certain changes could be to the benefit of your customers.
With a self-hosted site, you can find or build plugins, and extensions that can help your customers. This comes in handy when it turns out that you need additional features. This means that you can offer a completely unique customer experience.
Pro #2: You Don't Need Too Much Technical Knowledge
Sure you won't have a lot of control with a hosted site, but that means you don't need any technological knowledge. This is great because you don't have to maintain or run the server or the software. This is great if you don't know anything about the workings of how to operate a hosted platform. Hosted sites also give your customers the guarantee of a type of security and privacy they expect when buying online. As a result, you don't need to worry about the technical aspects of that either. Since a lot of hosted platforms offer payment processing, you don't need to sign up with a payment gateway or purchase your own security certificate.
But a self-hosted site means that you have to be responsible for getting your own security certificate and payment gateway. Having a self-hosted site means that you probably won't have access to technical support if you run into any software problems. Sometimes that means you'll be taking care of all the troubleshooting. With that in mind, you need to have a basic understanding of development languages, some experience with coding.
Con #2: You can't just change your platform.
Another pitfall with hosted sites is that they don't give you a lot of freedom when it's time to move. Which means you'll typically have to stick with the platform you've chosen for your hosted site. Now that isn't to say that you CAN'T switch platforms down the road. But the process is often expensive and require a lot of time and effort.
But a self-hosted platform is relatively easy to select, startup, and switch hosting services whenever you outgrow your current one.
Pro #3: You Can Get Help Whenever You Need It
Since hosted sites don't require a lot of technical skills (and you work within a centralized service) you have access to technical support. If something ever goes wrong with the server, you don't have to worry about fixing it yourself. The same thing goes for if there is a bug in the software. However, with a self-hosted site, you don't necessarily have that help. Especially when it comes to the software. Granted you could hire a developer if you encounter any problems, but there is, of course, an additional cost to consider.
Pro #3: Hosted Sites Are More Expensive
Hosted e-commerce platforms are a lot more comprehensive and offer full-service. Therefore it makes sense that they cost a lot more than self-hosted sites. You also have to keep in mind that the more traffic you get, the larger you store becomes. As a result, there will be more features and resources that you might want to offer. It also means that your annual or monthly fees will increase as your store grows. So the money you spend on paying somebody else to deal with the maintenance of the platform will offset the time you save by not having to worry about it yourself.
A self-hosted site tends to have higher upfront costs when compared to hosted sites. But you need to keep in mind that the monthly costs will be lower once your store is up and running. This means that a self-hosted site will require a greater upfront investment, but a lower cost overall. In contrast, hosted sites require lower upfront costs but higher monthly costs for the rest of the time your store is hosted.
Choosing between a hosted or self-hosted e-commerce site is a huge decision.
The choice you make impacts your business in the future. Which is why it's important to consider all the pros and cons. Taking these into consideration will help you make a more informed decision. The most important thing to remember about a hosted site are the advantages and disadvantages.
- the startup costs are much lower
- you'll have access to help and support
- hosted sites are easier to maintain and operate
- it doesn't require you to have a lot of technical knowledge
- you're stuck with the same host
- the monthly costs will be much higher
- you won't have the freedom to control or customize the site
Overall, a hosted site is great for any business that wants to get started on an e-commerce site quickly. They're typically hassle-free and can offer customers a basic, but high-quality shopping experience.
Have you thought about setting up an e-commerce site for your business? What route sounds best for your business. Let us know in the comments below, so we can discuss.