Choosing Between Hosted and Self-Hosted eCommerce Platforms
If you’re in the market for a new eCommerce platform, there are a few popular platforms that stand out: Shopify, the most popular hosted eCommerce provider, Volusion, and BigCommerce. You may have also noticed a free self-hosted solutions like Magento and WooCommerce. With two different types of platforms and multiple options for each type, you may be thinking, “which one is right for me?” We got you covered. Here’s what to look at when deciding on a hosted eCommerce platform like Shopify compared to self-hosted options like Magento:software
Hosted vs Self-Hosted: What’s the Big Difference?
Deciding between the two types of eCommerce platforms becomes much easier once you truly understand what they are.
A hosted eCommerce platform (Shopify) lives and runs on the platform provider’s server. The user accesses their eCommerce platform through a portal on the host’s website. The provider’s website allows you to make changes to your website without having access to the coding. A hosted solution is confined to the restraints of the provider which can limit some customization. You can think of a hosted solution as similar to Facebook. You can create a profile and edit its information within the parameters that Facebook allows. In a similar way, you can create a website using a platform like Shopify and edit your content. In both scenarios, the website and coding itself is being managed by the host.
A self-hosted platform (Magento) is run on your own server or a 3rd party provider you rent from. Unlike hosted sites that require you to work within their precoded parameters, self-hosting allows you to manage the coding yourself or hire an IT professional to do so for you. This allows for unique personalization and customization when it comes to integrating other applications and software.
When Should You Choose Hosted?
Using hosted solutions like Shopify can be a great choice especially when you’re working with a very limited budget. They have straightforward pricing with different levels of service packages. Most hosted solutions provide all the basic necessities for getting your shop running with some popular features. They are easy to manage giving the user a web interface to work with rather than lines of code. With a hosted solution, you’ll never have to worry about editing or updating codes, the providing host handles that. That said, because you have no control over the code, you’re limited to only the features that your host offers. For businesses that foresee significant future growth, the limitations of a hosted solution may become restricting to you in the future. If you already find yourself needing to integrate your eCommerce site with an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, a hosted solution may prevent that.
“Because you have no control over the code, you’re limited to only the features that your host offers.”
When Should You Choose Self-Hosted?
Open-source eCommerce solutions like Magento are extremely useful for businesses who need additional flexibility when integrating unique applications and features that hosted platforms just don’t provide. Unlike a hosted platform you have access to and manage the site’s code, so you’ll need to hire a dedicated IT professional or technology firm. The main benefit of self-hosted solutions is they allow for more customization with your website’s layout, branding, and integration of custom software features. As long as you have an internal IT team or the budget to hire a technology firm to manage it for you, using a self-hosted platform will allow you to create features that fit your exact specifications like connecting an existing POS, ERP, or CRM system to your site.
“Using a self-hosted platform will allow you to create features that fit your exact specifications.”
What Services Do You Really Need?
If you’re a small local shop, have modest plans for growth, or just need a site to sell a few items, using an eCommerce platform like Shopify can be ideal, if you don’t need custom features. Shopify provides you with a new site and domain to start, and you get basic features like abandoned cart recovery and discount codes. Although, for many larger and growing businesses, custom software solutions are a necessity. If you already have an ERP or CRM system in place, implementing a self-hosted eCommerce platform is a no-brainer. Using a technology specialist will allow you to create and customize an eCommerce site that works with all your current systems.
Need help managing a self-hosted eCommerce site? Contact us to find out how we can help you accomplish more for your business today!