Open Source vs SaaS E-commerce Platforms: What is Best for Your Business?

By Futurism Dimensions May 19, 2021Read Time :- 12 min
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Today E-commerce has emerged as the single largest channel of business across most industries. There are hundreds of E-commerce solutions for each industry, built on different platforms. You will find E-commerce solutions built on WordPress plugins to SaaS platforms and more. This abundance of variety has made the selection difficult. There is no one solution that works well for all businesses. When you look deeper the complexities seem to intensify. For easing the selection, this post focuses on two types of E-commerce platforms – open-source and SaaS. Here, you will get to know these platforms and their advantages, disadvantages, and other features in detail.

What Is an Open Source E-commerce Platform?

It is a type of software that enables its clients to modify and customize the source code to suit their needs. Open-source E-commerce platforms are nowadays gaining popularity due to the flexibility and customization they offer. It enables users to build and experiment with functionality by themselves. Often open E-commerce platforms are supported by user communities. Magento, woocommerce, pretashop, opencart and x-cart are a few popular examples of these platforms.

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What is a SaaS E-commerce platform?

Saas E-commerce platforms are quite opposite to open source E-commerce platforms. They do not allow clients to access or change the source code. They are mostly offered as a software licensing model, which enables the client to access the website at a monthly or yearly subscription. Often, SaaS is available as a hosted or web-based software. In this model, everything right from the website hosting to development to maintenance is entirely handled by the software provider. Futurism Dimensions, Bigcommerce, Shopify, and Volusion are a few popular examples of SaaS E-commerce.

Advantage of Using Open Source E-commerce Platforms

Open source E-commerce platforms have gained immense popularity in recent years owing to advantages they offer. The following pointers will help you understand it better.

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1) High Customizability:

This is one of the key reasons that is appreciated by most E-commerce business owners or business managers. You can modify the source code to design features that suit your business model. Since you have access to almost everything on your E-commerce website so you can handle it accordingly.

2) Flexibility :

Flexibility offered by these platforms is well-appreciated by industry experts. This flexibility is put to best use by fast-growing enterprises, which need multiple deployments and multiple versions. As these open source E-commerce platforms impose no licensing restrictions, businesses can easily customize the codes and create additional copies to meet the growing needs of their business without overspending.

Disadvantages of Open Source E-commerce Platforms

Open source E-commerce platforms may not be suited for some businesses owing to the following reasons.

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1) High Operational Fees:

Although open-source software is free, there are several other expenses that you may need to bear to keep the business going. Licensing fees, hosting provider fees, web agency fees, security and PCI compliance costs, and additional costs to fix bugs are few costs that you need to take care of.

2) Security Vulnerabilities :

As the source code is available for anyone to modify, this makes your website vulnerable to hackers. Most E-commerce websites maintain financial data, so hackers are looking for ways to jeopardize the security of these websites. Many open source platforms offer patches for known issues, however, it is the duty of your team to install it properly.

3) Integration with Other Systems:

Today, most E-commerce platforms are integrated with other extensions, as well as legacy systems such as ERP and OMS. Some open-source systems may not support this integration. Hence, it is important to check if your platform is compatible with extensions and applications that need to be integrated to offer a streamlined experience.

Advantage of SaaS E-commerce Platforms

What makes SaaS E-commerce platforms popular? The following pointers will help you understand it better.

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1) Security and PCI Compliance:

Most customers purchase their essentials directly from the E-commerce website. They share their credit card and debit card information along with personal information during the purchase. It is important for E-commerce websites to protect the safety of personal and payment-related information. Often, SaaS E-commerce platforms ensure high security and PCI compliance, which makes them attractive to customers.

2) Quick Set-Up:

SaaS E-commerce platforms feature pre-built themes and user-friendly interfaces, which most E-commerce start-ups find appealing. Most themes can be customized to meet your application requirements. However, E-commerce platform providers also support with special customization requests. If speedy launch is a requirement, then this option is the best.

3) Scalability :

Most SaaS platforms offer immense flexibility and scalability options. They come with unlimited bandwidth options. Thus, if your business grows in the future, you can easily add new functionalities and extensions to the platform. As said before, these platforms feature a user-friendly interface, you can easily add new categories, images, information or remove any obsolete categories as per the requirement.

4) Customer Support:

Today, most open source E-commerce platforms are backed by the community of developers. Similarly, Saas E-commerce platforms are also backed by the community of developers and in-house customer support teams. Having said that, in-house customer support here refers to developers or technical support staff at the provider’s side. Most packages offer support as a part of their package. If you are targeting customers in particular geographical domain or across the globe, you need to check the offer 24/7 support.

Disadvantage of SaaS E-commerce Platforms

Although SaaS E-commerce Platforms offer several benefits, there are certain shortcomings, which you need to be aware of.

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1) Limited Flexibility :

Some SaaS E-commerce platforms may not support features and apps that you wish to integrate. In this case, you need to check with the support team. For instance, Shopify features an integrated and proprietary payment system, which charges additional 2% fee on every purchase. It offers you limited access to the multi-currency option. So, you need to check if you wish to integrate a multi-currency option into the website.

2) Customization :

Although most advanced SaaS E-commerce platforms offer you immense customization facilities, some may not. So, if creating a user-friendly experience or adding innovative features is your priority, you need to check with E-commerce platform providers.

Conclusion :

All the pointers suggest that although the open-source and Saas E-commerce platforms serve the same purpose, they differ in many ways. Each of them has their own advantages and disadvantages, however, your business requirements followed by your budget and other factors will play a key role in decision making. You need to consider your business requirements and future expansion plans before making the right decision. This post ends by introducing you to Futurism Dimensions, which is a leading AI-powered SaaS platform. This platform has been used by several small and mid-sized businesses successfully to launch their online stores. The platform can support B2B, B2C, as well as hybrid businesses. Get in touch with our team today to understand the different features and benefits offered by the platform.