How to Choose Between Hosted and Self-Hosted E-Commerce Solutions
2017 is the year worldwide e-commerce retail sales are expected to reach two important milestones. They are forecast to go beyond the $2 trillion mark, and their share of total retail sales is expected to reach double digits at 10%. E-commerce retail’s growth rates are still in the twenties, and even though they’re slowly dropping, e-commerce retail sales are expected to be nearly 15% of total retail sales by 2020.
It seems that there’s no time like the present to join in on the fun and start an e-commerce retail business. After all, even the luxury goods market is quickly reaching the point where they can’t avoid online retail anymore. On your way towards forming an online store, you’ll have to make plenty of business decision, and one of the more important will be finding the right e-commerce solution for your business. To help you make that choice, we’ll talk about two ways these solutions are deployed, as hosted and self-hosted solutions.
What’s the Difference Between Hosted and Self-Hosted E-Commerce Solutions?
Hosted solutions are the solutions for which you don’t have to supply the hosting. They are usually hosted on the vendor’s servers, which prevents you from having access to the code that runs your store. If you’re not too tech savvy, that might not even be a problem for you. You don’t have to run anything, fix anything, or manage anything. The most popular hosted solutions include Shopify, Bigcommerce, and PrestaShop.
With self-hosted solutions, you have to take care of the hosting for the solution. You can either run it from a server that you own, or you have to rely on hosting service providers to provide a home for your store. Self-hosted solutions require a more hands-on approach, as you’ll be the person responsible for installation, maintenance, and repairs. Or, you can always pay other people to do it for you. The most popular self-hosted solutions include WooCommerce and Magento.
Why Choose Self-Hosted Solutions?
It seems like self-hosted solutions are just too much hassle to run. And for some people they are. But, if you look at the statistics, you’ll see that they are the vastly more popular options. So what gives?
For starters, self-hosted solutions are usually free to use, although some vendors might offer paid services. But the biggest selling point for self-hosted solutions is their customizability. You can fine tune your store and constantly provide user experience improvements that will benefit your bottom line. And the best thing is that, if you’re tech-savvy, you can customize both the storefront and the back end.
Or, you can pay someone to do it for you. Self-hosted solutions can end up being more expensive if you need to hire someone to set your store up, maintain it, and fix it when it goes wrong. You also won’t have the benefit of automatic updates, so that’s another thing you’ll have to take care on your own.
Are Hosted Solutions Better, Then?
Hosted solutions have a lot of advantages, that’s for sure. Hosted solutions are delivered using the Software-as-a-Service model, which is much more user-friendly, especially for the novices. Hosted solutions are accessed through a web-browser, and they can be set up quickly without the need to tackle the steep learning curve of self-hosted solutions. The vendor takes care of the updates, you have support when something goes wrong, and you pay a monthly rate for all of it.
But you’ll probably never be able to fine-tune your store as much as you would if you used a self-hosted solution. Hosted solutions are improved because that’s in the interest of the vendor, but those improvements are used across the board and are not specific to your store. Simply put, you won’t have to dabble as much as you would with a self-hosted store, but you’ll have a hard time providing a truly unique using experience.
So Which One to Choose?
Both options come with their benefits and drawbacks. Hosted options are ideal for people who don’t have the time to learn how to handle a self-hosted solution. If you’re willing to trade customizability for easier usage, then hosted options might be better for you. If you already know how to work with e-commerce solutions, and you’re willing to invest time and money into building a truly unique store, then self-hosted solutions might be the better fit.
You should also remember that, before choosing, you might want to look at one of each option. You can use a comparison between WooCommerce and Shopify, and see which one of them has the features that are best suited for how you envisioned your store. Your choice will determine the future of your business to a great measure, so make sure you choose well.
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