In one of our previous posts, we looked at the costs associated with starting an eCommerce website. In this post, we take a look at one of the most important decisions you’ll need to make whilst setting up your online store – choosing the right eCommerce hosting solution. Broadly, there are two categories to choose from; hosted eCommerce platforms and self-hosted eCommerce software.
A hosted eCommerce platform is one that provides an all-in-one eCommerce solution. One doesn’t need extensive technical know-how or code knowledge to build an online store using a hosted eCommerce platform. All tools from storefront design, customer service, shipping, and inventory are provided within the platform for a certain fee. The reason it is called a ‘hosted’ platform is that your website is hosted on a server that you do not own or have access to. Shopify, Squarespace, Wix, to name a few, are eCommerce hosting solution providers.
A self-hosted eCommerce site is like setting up a website traditionally. One would need to download or purchase a software, code to build the website, install plugins for certain functionalities such as a shopping cart, buy server space, and host your eCommerce site independently. PrestaShop, WooCommerce, and Magento offer self-hosted eCommerce hosting solutions.
When you look at a well-built eCommerce website on the internet, you’ll almost never be able to tell whether the site is on a hosted platform or if it is self-hosted. Small and large businesses worldwide choose different solutions based on their need.
Why choose a hosted platform?
- Ease of setting up: If you’re on a budget, or starting out small, a self-hosted platform is your best bet because it is supremely easy to set it up.
- Tech support: With a hosted platform comes a reliable support team, so you never have to worry about making small fixes.
- Upgrades: Being SaaS products, hosted platforms constantly improve their products in a bid to be the best in the market. You’ll always be assured of innovative features, industry-compliance, robust servers, and improved functionality.
Why choose a self-hosted platform?
- Customization: While hosted platforms are great at providing a package deal, they do not offer a high degree of customization. With a self-hosted platform, you can literally add any feature under the sun to boost your online store and provide a unique experience to your customers. This is especially important when you begin to optimize and scale your online store.
- Complexity: If you’re a large retailer with numerous departments catering to different demographics across different geographies, only a self-hosted software will give you the free rein and the ability to create such a robust website.
- Independence: By choosing a self-hosted solution, you take full ownership of your online store. You will not be affected by any management decisions to change or delete a particular feature. You can choose to invest as much or as little as you want, and the store will always be completely in your control.
Thus, the choice of your hosting platform will depend on your plans for your eCommerce store.
Choose a hosted platform if:
- You’re starting small and you need to setup your store quickly
- Have little or no coding knowledge
- Don’t have a large budget to invest in site development
Choose a self-hosted solution if:
- You’re a large business or a small business looking at scaling up
- Have the time and the budget to hire developers to set up your store
- Need to have greater control, more customization, and a unique customer experience