If you are thinking of setting up an eCommerce store, one of the first decisions you will have to make is whether to have your store on a SaaS eCommerce platform or self-host it. This decision will help you narrow down the various platform options available. In this article we will tell you a little more about self-hosted and SaaS eCommerce platforms, their advantages and disadvantages.
What are self-hosted platforms?
Self-hosted platforms are open source applications that need to get hosted independently. It means that you design and develop your store on one of the open-source platforms and then choose a hosting service that best fits your requirements. It is almost like finding a good location and buying space there to set up your eCommerce site. You not only own the space but also have the freedom to create whatever you want and maintain it the way you want. Though it sounds liberating, this option has its disadvantages. Before we get into that, let us look at some examples of self-hosted platforms.
You can do self-hosting on-premise or on the cloud. In the on-premise option, your eCommerce store gets hosted on servers within the organization’s premises or where its data is stored. The other option is to host it on the cloud by signing up with a web hosting provider that supports eCommerce, like A2 Hosting, Cloudways, Dreamhost and FastComet. Most of them have preferences when it comes to eCommerce platforms. For example, A2 Hosting is an OpenCart and Magento hosting solution, while Cloudways supports various eCommerce platforms, including Magento, WooCommerce, OpenCart, and Prestashop. So the choice of hosting provider will depend on your eCommerce platform. Regarding the pricing, these web hosting providers charge a monthly fee or bill you on the server usage.
Now that we know more about self-hosting, let us look closer at some of the leading self-hosted platforms.
Examples of Self-hosted platforms
Here are just a few examples of Self Hosted Platforms:
- Magento 2
What are SaaS eCommerce platforms?
With SaaS platforms your eCommerce store runs on a SaaS provider’s hosted server. It is not available on-premise, and you do not maintain it yourself. You access your eCommerce store in your browser and pay a monthly fee based on the plan or service you have opted for. The platform provider is fully responsible for the security, performance, and maintenance of your eCommerce store. These platforms come built-in with all features required to run your store successfully.
Examples of SaaS eCommerce platforms
Here are just some of the leading SaaS eCommerce platforms:
- Salesforce Commerce Cloud
Magento has also recently launched Adobe Commerce Cloud. This latest version is 100% cloud-based and comes integrated with the Adobe tools such as Adobe Experience Manager, Analytics Cloud, Marketing Cloud, etc.
A comparison of Hosted and Self-Hosted Platforms
Setting up your eCommerce store
Setting up your eCommerce store on self-hosted sites can be expensive and time-consuming. If you do not have the required technical knowledge, you will need to hire a skilled developer well-versed with your platform to set it up for you. A SaaS eCommerce platform is the best option for those who do not have the time or workforce to set up and manage their store.
Customization and functionalities
Open source platforms are highly flexible and customizable as per your requirements. You have better control over your store and can change anything you want about the design and features at any time. But the reason why people prefer hosted over self-hosted platforms is that they come with powerful built-in functionalities and features. You also have access to thousands of pre-approved themes and plugins on hosted platforms. However, there are limitations to customizing these features to suit your requirements which can limit your creativity to some extent.
Scalability is crucial in an eCommerce business. As you grow, you should be able to scale your eCommerce store to take on more customers, process more orders, etc. SaaS eCommerce platforms are more scalable compared to self-hosted platforms. They can automatically handle peak periods and sudden surges in traffic. With self-hosted systems, you will need to undertake site improvements and manage the site continuously to accommodate the growing traffic and ensure no outages. It might also require significant investments at regular intervals.
A disadvantage of the self-hosted platforms is that you do not have access to centralized support systems when your store runs into a problem. You will need to turn to the developer community, resources, and documentation available on the various forums and find a solution. When it comes to technical support, hosted services have a clear advantage over their self-hosted counterparts. You will have access to a support team 24/7 who will take care of any issues for you.
Security remains the biggest concern for all eCommerce merchants. Your shop should be adept at handling highly-sensitive customer data and payment information. Data breaches are common in the eCommerce industry and can seriously damage your brand. PCI Compliance is one way to ensure that your site is safe.
All businesses that transact online and accept payment from customers need to be compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). There are various levels of PCI compliance depending on the size of your business. One of the advantages of SaaS platforms is that they fully manage your site’s security for you. All the big SaaS eCommerce platforms are Level 1 PCI DSS compliant which means that you do not have to invest extra time and money into making your site secure. The solution provider will keep track of all the rules and regulations, do regular on-site compliance assessments, and ensure your site stays secure.
In self-hosted platforms, your site’s security becomes your responsibility. You will need to keep a watch for the latest security updates and patches, and you will need to deploy them yourself.
The choice of hosted or self-hosted will influence the future of your retail business as it grows. While it is possible to migrate between the two, this can be expensive and challenging.
If you are looking to set up your eCommerce store on a cloud-based or self-hosted platform, let us know at email@example.com or call +359 898 707 570 / +1 877 787 2248