Is Hosted E-Commerce the Best Option?
For most people, the question of which is better between hosted and self hosted e-commerce, comes up as a logical step in the development of Internet-based businesses.
- Whether or not you plan on selling a single item, such as an e-book, or a wide range of products that set you up as a rival to established online retail giants, such as eBay and Amazon, the decisions that you make in this regard are of great importance.
- Not only do they have a bearing on the trajectory along which your business is going to travel, but they also affect everyone with whom you are going to interact. These stakeholders include your customers and suppliers, among others.
Shopify is one of the leading hosted e-commerce platforms.
Where do you start?
- The setup of your online store is an important consideration in your e-commerce journey. Two options are open in this regard:
Hosted E-Commerce vs Self Hosted E-Commerce
In the world of e-commerce, your online store can either be hosted or self hosted.
Self Hosted E-Commerce
Under the self hosted model, you are responsible for downloading or developing the software that you need to successfully launch and run your store.
- The model works best if you are willing and able to maintain the software side of your store.
- This includes, but is not limited to, keeping everything secure, and making sure that no customer details are lost.
- Needless to say that this option can be rather daunting to ordinary people. All that you want to do is set up your store and begin raking in the cash, right?
If that is the case, then the hosted e-commerce option is your best bet. This model simplifies life because you don’t have to worry about taking care of the software side of things. Every technical detail is taken care of by companies that provide e-commerce hosting services. All that you need to do in order to get your store up and running is sign up, pay the required fee and start selling. There are a number of companies that provide these services. These include:
Advantages of Hosted E-Commerce
Hosted e-commerce comes with a number of advantages:
Let’s face it, we all want life to be simple. And what could be simpler than not having to worry about the technical side of your online store?
- All that you want is, after all, to begin selling your products. If you are like most people, going beyond this to begin learning how to code can be rather daunting.
- The existence of hosted e-commerce services providers has made it possible for almost everyone to get an online store, without having to first become an expert in software development.
Unless you have a team of cyber security experts at your disposal, the hosted e-commerce option is probably the best option for you.
- The world is crawling with cyber criminals, all of whom are looking for ways through which they can exploit any weaknesses that may exist, particularly in places that generate a lot of revenue.
- Having carried out extensive market research, and other necessary preparations, before the launch of your store, the last thing that you would want to happen is to have your customer’s personal details stolen under your watch.
- Hosted e-commerce covers this front, mainly due to the fact that the companies with whom you sign up, such as Shopify and BigCommerce, do have teams whose main task it is to keep everything safe and secure.
- They take care of the software management and security sides, leaving you to do what you know best; sell your products and services.
Though this may seem counterintuitive, hosted e-commerce actually turns out to be much cheaper, when compared to the self hosting option. It eliminates a number of cost parameters, most of which could actually turn out to be substantial, should you decide to take the alternative route. Those who decide to self host their online stores have to contend with the following costs:
- Software development, maintenance and management
With sites such as Shopify and Stripe, you do not have to worry about your website’s maintenance. That is taken care of by the hosted e-commerce services provider. As mentioned earlier, you don’t have to worry about the security, maintenance and other technical aspects of the store.
Hosted E-Commerce: The Cons
Along with the simplicity of choosing the hosted option, comes a key disadvantage: hosted e-commerce has limited customization options. This pretty much spells out the major disadvantage that comes with hosted e-commerce.
- Should you decide to launch your online store through companies such as Shopify, BigCommerce and Stripe, you should know beforehand that you will be greatly limited in what you can do with your store.
- Hosted e-commerce software is not open source, meaning there is very little that you can do in order to customize your site.
- Did we say at the beginning that all that you have to do is sell your goods and services without worrying about the software side of things?
- Well, that can turn out to be a major disadvantage. With hosted e-commerce, your online store comes pretty much straight jacketed. Even the available customization options, such as templates and plugins, come already tailor made.
- This is unlike self hosted e-commerce, which allows you to turn your store into whatever you wish it to become.
Who should use hosted e-commerce?
So, who is hosted e-commerce best suited for?
- As you may already have gleaned from the above argument, hosted e-commerce is the best option for small to medium enterprises that do not have the technical know-how to develop and maintain their own stores.
- All that you have to do is sign up for the service, choose your template, install all the additional options, and you are good to go.
- Hosted e-commerce is also the best option for beginners who have little or no e-commerce experience. Everything that you need to get your online store up and running has already been designed and tested. All that you need to do is load up your site with whatever it is that you wish to sell, and you can begin making money. (Okay, perhaps we exaggerate, but the money is what it’s all about, isn’t it?)
Why not just use WooCommerce, Magento, Solidius and other self hosted options?
The options, when it comes to self hosting your online store, include WooCommerce, Magento, Solidius and many more.
- We have already noted that hosted e-commerce is best suited for beginners and small to medium sized businesses. But, wouldn’t it be better for them to choose the self hosted option?
WooCommerce powers 39% of all online stores
- We have to admit that WooCommerce is a popular option. It, after all, powers around 39 percent of online stores.
- However, again, hosted e-commerce has several advantages:
Websites are all about aesthetics. Ask yourself, would you buy from a site that does not look professional? A hosted e-commerce website has that side covered, simply because all the templates and themes are designed by professionals. All you need to do is buy or choose one, and you can begin setting up your store.
- With WooCommerce, on the other hand, the onus on the choice of template or theme is on you. All that you get is a plugin, which you can set up however you wish. While this can be viewed as flexibility for people who have access to professional designers, for most people, the challenge lies in coming up with a website that people can trust.
A second reason why hosted e-commerce remains the best is the issue of cost. While, with a service such as WooCommerce, setting up is free, you actually need to pay more in order to get your online store up and running.
- Hosting: With WooCommerce, Magento or Spree, you still need to find your own web host, whereas with a service such as Shopify, that is already taken care of on your behalf.
- An additional expenditure that you need to contend with, should you opt for self hosting, is the cost of securing your site.
Finally, the speed at which your pages load is another important component that you need to consider when deciding whether or not to go for the hosted e-commerce option. Research has shown that people are more likely to buy from shops that have faster load times.
- This is another advantage that hosted e-commerce platforms have over their self hosting counterparts.
- All the major hosted e-commerce services providers, including Shopify and BigCommerce, offer Content Delivery Networks at no additional cost.
- The Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), available for WordPress, threatens to undercut the advantage that Hosted e-commerce has in terms of speed. However, this open source project is still only optimized for blog posts, mainly publishers.