If you are thinking about starting an e-commerce business, choosing the shopping cart that is right for you is one of the most important decisions that you will have to make. E-commerce entrepreneurs enjoy an abundance of shopping cart choices that offer a variety of features, but one of the critical questions business owners have to ask themselves is whether they want to host their own cart or whether they prefer to have one that is hosted by an outside party. This hosted vs. self-hosted carts blog post explores the advantages and disadvantages of each solution.
A hosted cart refers to software that runs on a third party’s server, otherwise known as software as a service (SaaS) solution. The cart is hosted on someone else’s server, and you pay a subscription to use their service. Some examples of hosted carts are Shopify and BigCommerce.
Hosted solutions are easy to use even if you don’t have extensive technical knowledge, and getting started can be as easy as signing up for a Facebook account. Instead of accessing overwhelming lines of code, you use their web interface to create and make changes to your site.
With hosted platforms, you have access to a wealth of features and expert support. The third party is responsible for server backups, maintenance, upgrades, and security, and should any issues arise or should you have any questions, you have access to technical support, giving you peace of mind.
The biggest drawback of hosted solutions is that they are less flexible and less customizable. You are limited by the third party’s software infrastructure and the features they offer.
Since hosted shopping carts are subscription-based, you have to pay a monthly fee. As your sales grow, using a hosted solution can get expensive since fees can include a percentage of your gross sales.
Self-hosted or licensed shopping cart solutions can be obtained for free or purchased from a vendor and then customized by your developer and hosted on your server. In other words, self-hosted solutions allow you to build your own type of cart and customize it to your specific needs. Some examples of self-hosted carts are Magento and Zen Cart.
With self-hosted solutions, you can customize anything since you have a lot more flexibility and control. You can decide what features and functionality that your e-commerce website requires and build it to suit your specific needs, including using various plugins, add-ons, or themes.
Since there are no monthly subscriptions, once you have set up your online store, you don’t have to worry about a recurring cost
With self-hosted solutions, you download the code and are responsible for installing the software, as well as keeping it update and secure. If there are any issues, it’s on you to solve them. If you don’t have access to reliable and competent technical support, troubleshooting can get stressful and frustrating.
With the self-hosted solution, rather than paying a monthly subscription, you are likely to incur most of your expenses up front, especially if your site requires heavy customizations. You will also need to consider maintenance costs since software updates and security are your responsibility.
Numinix has extensive experience with both hosted and self-hosted shopping carts, so if you need help to get started, contact us today!