Should You Host or Use a Hosted Shopping Cart?

What are the pros and cons of hosting your own shopping cart vs using a hosted shopping cart solution?

hosted shopping cart
Is a hosted shopping cart the way to go for most small businesses?

When you are preparing to open your online storefront you will have to decide if it is best for you to go with a licensed or hosted shopping cart solution. When debating between the two, one of the most important elements you need to consider is the time that you have to manage your ecommerce store. Another factor in your decision making process will revolve around your level of programming knowledge. If you have little time and no programming experience then a Read our reviews of the top eCommerce solutions is the way to go. If you have extra time and programming experience, you might go with a licensed ecommerce software solution but even then it still might not be right for your business. The bottom line is that there are a lot of features you need to review and compare to make sure you choose the shopping cart that is right for your ecommerce store.

Choosing Between a Hosted Shopping Cart or Licensed Ecommerce Software: What to Consider

Hosting and Maintenance: When you begin your research you should have a certain budget in mind because the start up and maintenance cost can vary between hosted shopping carts versus a licensed ecommerce software. You need to determine how much of an investment you can make because when you go with a licensed ecommerce package there will be much more investment involved. Most people will choose to use a 3rd party hosting provider whereas some business owners might use their own server or servers for hosting, when working with licensed software. One of the biggest benefits of a hosted shopping cart is that you will have very little work to do to get started and even less work down the road to maintain the hosting. This is because hosted shopping cart companies take care of all maintenance including bug fixes and security updates to ensure your store is always available for your customers to make purchases. This can save you a great deal of time and stress when your shopping cart provider takes care of all of this for you.

Many of the best licensed ecommerce software out there provides a hosting option as well, if you want to keep your online store on a secure server with the ecommerce company that knows your software the best. Choosing to let the ecommerce company host your licensed software also makes it easier for you to obtain customer support on a more regular basis, which merchants that do not have code knowledge tend to prefer.

Security: Security is another thing that you have to factor in when picking your shopping cart software. When you go with a hosted shopping cart solution, everything is taken care of by your cart provider whereas when you go with a licensed option you may have to oversee the security of your site. Customers will not want to buy from your store unless they feel it is a safe and secure site where their transactions are protected. Because of this, make sure you choose licensed ecommerce software that includes security patches and updates, if you decide that a licensed solution is best for you.

Features and Support: Shopping cart features are crucial to running your online business and if you choose a hosted shopping cart, then all the feature upgrades are seamless and automatic. Licensed ecommerce solutions mean that you will need to upgrade the cart on your own so that you have the latest features. You might also need support when something goes wrong and typically hosted shopping carts give you much better support than when you handle the hosting on your own. Sometimes there could even be fees involved when you use a licensed solution and need support.

Costs: Another defining factor that sets hosted shopping carts apart from licensed ecommerce software is cost. Hosted shopping carts require you to pay a monthly fee which includes use of the ecommerce software and hosting. Monthly fees can start as low as $9 and go all the way up to $700, depending on the hosted solution you choose. While this seems like a very broad range, you will find that some of the most feature rich shopping carts cost as little as $14.99 per month to use. Licensed ecommerce software is slightly different, in that you pay a one-time fee to own the software license outright. Each solution is different, because some provide free upgrades for life, while others require you to pay for upgrades after your first full year of using the shopping cart software. Once you have paid the upfront cost to purchase the license, you will then have to find your own web host, or use the hosting provided by the company. At this point, you will still be paying a monthly fee, it just might be lower than some hosted shopping carts and you will own the ecommerce software for good.

Hosted Shopping Carts vs. Licensed Ecommerce Solutions: Final Thoughts

As you can see there are a lot of things to think about when deciding if a hosted shopping cart solution or licensed ecommerce software is right for you and your online storefront. All of the options available on this site have hosting included in their monthly costs and all licensed solutions provide a hosting option as well. There is no right or wrong answer when choosing an ecommerce platform to power your online store, but the first step in narrowing down your options is to choose between using a hosted shopping cart or a licensed cart. Check our Top eCommerce Solutions tools to see which carts have a hosted solution and which ones allow for self hosting with a one-time license fee.

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