Deciding to invest in ecommerce software for your online business is only the first step in the process. Next, you must choose the type of ecommerce software that will best suit the needs of your business.
Many cloud service providers offer ecommerce software as a service (SaaS), which you pay for through a subscription. Alternatively, you can purchase an ecommerce solution for your server or find a free and open source solution. There are benefits and disadvantages of each that you should consider before making a final decision.
Your Server, Your Rules
When you host your ecommerce software on your own dedicated server, you decide how you use it, when you upgrade, and if you can make modifications when necessary (especially with open source software). The main disadvantage is that you are responsible for installing and maintaining it, and when it comes time for upgrades, you will have to handle that as well, or pay someone to do it. Moreover, you must manage the server itself, and a business with a minimal amount of IT resources may find this overwhelming.
Their Server, Their Rules
By running your ecommerce site in the cloud, you reduce the amount of time and money you have to spend on local IT resources. Your service provider manages the server, handles any maintenance, and preforms upgrades for you. Among the disadvantages are that you are totally reliant on the provider’s software, which they may change or even discontinue at any time. You will also be limited by the amount of customization your provider is willing to permit.
There are ways around some of the disadvantages in either scenario. Your vendor may help you setup a “private cloud” on your own server, providing you with a subscription and maintenance model similar to the standard cloud. On the other hand, a cloud provider may give you an open cloud platform that you can use to develop your own ecommerce solution on your own terms. As you can see, there are many factors to consider and many options from which to choose.