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Open Source vs Saas eCommerce Platforms -Which One to Choose?

Physical stores are no longer the only game in town. From fashion to groceries, online shopping has got everyone covered. 

Now people think – “Why go out when we can shop online?” 

So the possibilities in this field are huge and many entrepreneurs are taking advantage of it. 

But with so many options available, a crucial question arises: Open Source vs Saas eCommerce Platforms – What is the right solution for your business? 

This blog will be your friendly guide, dissecting the pros and cons of both SaaS and open source eCommerce platforms. After reading this blog you will be able to decide between these two platforms. 

So let’s get started!

What is SaaS eCommerce?

SaaS stands for “Software as a Service”. It refers to a cloud-based solution where businesses subscribe to access and use eCommerce software hosted on a cloud server.

Users pay a subscription fee to use the software. The software is maintained and updated by the service provider. 

As these platforms are web-based you won’t have to download or install any software to your computer. 

These platforms are user-friendly and ideal for businesses that want a hassle-free way to launch. 

Examples: Shopify, Squarespace, Volusion, etc.

What is Open source eCommerce?

Open source eCommerce refers to a type of online selling platform where the software’s source code is freely available to anyone. It gives complete control over every aspect of the online store. Anyone can view, modify, and distribute the code. 

Open source platforms offer more flexibility and control over the online store’s functionality and design.

Open source eCommerce CMS often requires technical expertise for installation, configuration, and ongoing maintenance. So businesses with in-house development teams, or who have access to expert developers can benefit from this. Also, developers can use these platforms for their client projects. 

Examples: Magento, Joomla, PrestaShop, etc.

SaaS vs. Open-Source eCommerce: Main Differences

Now you might wonder which is right for your business or client project. Well, understanding the differences between these two is essential to make an informed decision. As per your priorities and needs, there’s always a solution. 

Here’s a quick breakdown of the main features to consider:

Difference Between Open Source and SaaS eCommerce Platforms

Image: Difference Between Open Source and SaaS eCommerce Platforms

Now let’s take a deeper look into the main differences between these two eCommerce platforms: 

Cost

SaaS platforms typically work on a subscription based model with monthly or annual subscription fees. The fees may vary depending on the features and functionalities you need. With package details and features that come with it, you can predict the cost. Often time businesses find this option as an affordable one. 

While the open source software itself is free you will need to bear the additional cost of web hosting, domain registration, developers fees, security measures, and ongoing maintenance. 

Control and customization

While many SaaS platforms offer customization options, they’re often limited compared to open-source solutions. With SaaS, you’re ultimately working with a framework that is provided or pre-built. You can personalize the look but you can’t change the core functionality. 

Open-source platforms provide unparalleled flexibility. It allows you to tailor every aspect of your online store to suit your unique requirements. You can completely customize the look, feel, and functionality of your online store. 

Ease of Use

SaaS platforms are designed to be easy to use, even for those without a technical background. You can typically get your store up and running quickly with minimal setup required.

Open-source platforms, on the other hand, can require technical knowledge for installation, customization, and usage. People with less or no coding knowledge can find it hard to use. 

Scalability

Both options are scalable. With a SaaS solution, you can upgrade your package and subscription fees to adapt to the growth of your eCommerce store. 

And as you can edit and modify the source code of open source platforms, it becomes easy to develop the areas you need to adjust with your growing business or platform demand. 

Security & Updates

Using SaaS you won’t have to worry about handling all security updates and patches. The service provider does that ensuring your online platform is protected from threats. 

With open-source platforms, the responsibility falls on you (or your development team) to stay updated on security vulnerabilities and implement the necessary fixes. This requires ongoing vigilance and technical expertise.

Setup and Maintenance

With SaaS platforms, the setup process is faster and easier. Maintenance is also handled by the service provider, freeing you to focus on managing your business.

Open-source platforms offer more control over the setup process, but it can be more complex and time-consuming. If you lack technical expertise it can be hard to keep up with the settings and maintain the platform regularly as ongoing maintenance is your responsibility in this scenario.

Pros and Cons of Open-Source and SaaS Ecommerce

Now we have a clear idea of key differences between these two eCommerce platforms. Let’s delve deeper and explore the specific advantages and disadvantages of both open-source and SaaS platforms.

This will help you make an informed decision that aligns perfectly with your business goals!

Pros of SaaS eCommerce:

  • Ideal for beginners as it offers quick setup and easy-to-use interfaces. 
  • Platform providers handle updates, security, and maintenance, reducing your workload.
  • Most SaaS platforms offer tiered subscription plans that allow you to easily upgrade your store’s features and storage capacity as your business expands.
  • Monthly or annual subscription fees offer predictable costs without unexpected expenses.
  • SaaS providers typically offer dedicated customer support to assist with any questions or issues encountered. 

Cons of SaaS eCommerce:

  • You have less control over customization and infrastructure compared to open-source solutions.
  • The monthly subscription fee adds up over time and affects businesses on a tight budget. 
  • Your store’s availability and performance rely on the provider’s uptime and support. 

Pros of Open Source eCommerce:

  • Open-source platforms give you complete control over the look, feel, and functionality of your online store.
  • Open-source platforms are free to download and use. 
  • With an open-source platform, your store’s data resides on your own web hosting server under your control. 
  • A vast community of developers and resources are available for assistance and collaboration.

Cons of Open Source eCommerce:

  • Setting up, customizing, and maintaining your online store requires technical knowledge or the ability to outsource these tasks.
  • You’re responsible for security, updates, and ensuring the platform meets your business needs.
  • While the software itself is free, expenses for hosting, development, and support can vary.
  • For extensive customization or unique functionalities beyond pre-built features, development costs can add up. 
  • Due to limited community support troubleshooting technical issues might require more digging and problem-solving on your own. 

Open Source vs SaaS eCommerce – Which One Should You Pick?

Now it’s time to choose the right platform. 

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer! Consider your technical skills, budget, and desired level of customization.

SaaS is ideal for: Beginners, businesses seeking ease of use and fast setup, and those comfortable with some customization limitations.

Open-source is ideal for: Businesses with in-house development teams or a budget for outsourcing, those requiring highly customized storefronts, and those comfortable managing technical aspects.

Final Words

So there you have it! We have explored the details of both Open Source and SaaS eCommerce platforms. 

Remember, there’s no single perfect choice. The debate of Open Source vs SaaS eCommerce platforms can be used as a way to make big decisions for businesses. 

Ultimately, the best choice depends on your business goals, resources, and level of technical proficiency. Consider your priorities carefully and weigh the pros and cons before making a decision.

See you in the next blog!

FAQs

Are Open-Source platforms more secure than SaaS platforms?

Open-Source platforms are not inherently more secure than SaaS platforms. Security depends on factors like implementation, updates, and user practices, regardless of the platform type. Both SaaS and Open-Source platforms can be secure with proper measures in place.

Can I switch from a SaaS to an Open-Source platform or vice versa in the future?

Yes, you can switch from a SaaS to an Open-Source platform or vice versa in the future, but it may require migration of data and adjustments to your website setup. The whole process can be complex and time-consuming.

Is every web app a SaaS?

No, not every web app is a SaaS. SaaS refers specifically to software accessed via subscription over the internet. Web apps can be free or purchased once, and might be hosted anywhere.

Mehrin Jahan

Mehrin Jahan

Meet Mehrin! A technical writer with a Computer Science background. She combines her academic knowledge & creativity to transform complex facts into engaging content. With a sharp eye for detail, she keeps readers updated on tech trends. Outside of writing, she's a visual storyteller, capturing life's moments through photography.

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