Are you a retail entrepreneur looking to kickstart your own retailing business online? Are you ready to jump on the entrepreneurship bandwagon to generate a second source of income? If your answer is an emphatic “yes,” an ecommerce platform is what you are looking for.
The first step towards fulfilling your ambition is to choose the right platform. This is not as easy as it sounds. Broadly speaking, the best platform is the one that lets you focus on your core business and not be concerned about the technical aspects.
What is an e-commerce platform?
An e-commerce platform is a digital storefront that allows you to sell your products and services to a wide range of online communities. The technology is backed by an integration of tools, development frameworks, APIs, and business logic. Depending on your business requirements, you are required to make certain decisions, for example:
- Host the platform on-premise or on-demand
- Implement the platform in-house or outsource
- Volume licensing or pay-per-use
- Scalability and integration with third party plugins
An ecommerce platform can invariably bring an abundance of advantages, such as:
- Easy-to-use User Interface
- Ability to update your website on the go
- Easy product search and seamless integration with industry recognized payment gateways
- Powerful SEO and other organic marketing tools
Open Source e-commerce Platforms
With open source platforms, the time to deployment typically lasts anywhere from a few weeks to few months. This is due to the time involved in coding, implementation, template integration, testing, feature customization, etc. The maintenance of such platforms is a complex affair, often mandating the need to integrate expensive third party plugins. Moreover, it is also difficult to merge your own customizations with the patches provided by the open source providers. Add to it inadequate documentation and repeating the development cycle many times over when a feature is introduced or deprecated. In addition, there is usually no formal support provided by an open source platform. The onus lies entirely upon the developers and the worldwide development community. This can be a major bottleneck when implementing a new functionality. Load balancing and capacity planning are also major concerns with open source alternatives especially when dealing with peak hour traffic.
On the other hand, open source platforms give you access to a wide variety of customization and integration, free of cost! Developers can easily create a customized store in addition to higher degree of code management and version control.
SaaS e-commerce Platforms
With SaaS platforms, the overheads usually associated with open source platforms, are minimized to a great extent. One of the biggest plus points of a SaaS platform is its ability to seamlessly handle all types of storefront deployments due to its multi-tenancy attribute. Therefore, upgrades and bug fixes are easily managed. Since such platforms are hosted on cloud, you can have access to unlimited data storage and bandwidth. The pain points associated with buying separate hosting space simply vanish! A SaaS platform is driven by design with little to no dependency on development. Contrary to open source platforms, SaaS platforms provide a more structured and formalized support network. In this platform, security issues are also addressed in the form of state of the art SSL checkouts which come pre-bundled.
The Right Platform
It is ultimately your business which will have a final say whether it opts for an open source or a SaaS based platform. If you are a small business owner with budgetary and time constraints, a SaaS based platform is ideal for you. On the other hand, if you are not restricted by budgetary and customization limitations, an open source platform is just the right solution for you.