If you’re all geared up to escalate your venture by opening a much in demand online store, this could be a good read for you. A digital commerce site’s design and usability is bound to have a major impact on the growth and success of any business. So, you ought to be ultra careful in choosing the right E-commerce Platform; pick one that meets your specific needs and allows you to effectively manage your website, marketing, sales, and operations.
If you’ve done a little digging into finding the right platform for launching your e-commerce site, you must have come across the popularity of Open Source E-Commerce Platforms. Open source platform refers to the one for which design and source code are free to be used and modified. Whereas proprietary platforms have a licence fee attached to them and they retain the source code copyright. Which is better depends entirely on the business needs, budget, and required ROI.
Image Credit – Syncrasy
For relatively new or small businesses, OSS has garnered a lot of acclamation from enterprise owners for its multiple advantages over proprietary platforms. However, it would be unwise to go with the tide without learning open source platform’s capabilities and suitability for your specific business needs.
Here we’ve jotted down the features of OSS under distinct Pros and Cons, which will aid in your selection of the right open-source platform for your business.
The Pros of Open Source Platforms
Cost Effective Most ecommerce platforms do not have any licencing fees or ownership costs. This single advantage can be a major driving factor for small enterprises or start-up ventures, where budget is a constraint. Since cost is an important consideration for them, opting for an open source ecommerce platform can help them stay within budget.
Flexible Hosting Open source software allow you to choose your own hosting solution. Some OSS providers may provide you with a cloud hosting environment and offer to manage it off-site. Else, you can look for a trustworthy hosting provider and have an on-premise hosting. Cloud environment or in-house hosting solutions do not come with unlimited bandwidth. So, make sure you check for the allowed bandwidth and choose optimum bandwidth packages.
Easy Integration Any ecommerce site needs lot of integrations with many external softwares, such as for payment gateways, CRMs, shipping vendors, shipment trackers etc. Most enterprise owners look for easy and customizable integration with third party software to ensure that their ecommerce site runs smoothly. Open Source platforms lead the pack with this advantage. With OSS, you can create custom integration, and easily edit existing modules or plugins that can be tuned to the third party software based on your requirement.
Customizability & Endless Capabilities In my opinion, this is the most attractive perk of Open Source Platforms. OSS gives you complete access to the source code and the freedom to modify it. It comes with multiple themes, several uniques features, and a pool of plugins to choose from. You can give shape to your imagination by customizing the site the way you want. All you need is a creative vision and hands-on support of savvy developers. Once you’ve laid out a clear picture, your developers can bring it to life by creating a site that works best for your unique business needs. You’ll have a better control over the design and functioning of your website.
Choice of Payment Gateways Another benefit of OSS is that they do not tie your site to some specific payment gateways. OSS enables you to integrate your site with a wider range of payment gateways. This is particularly helpful if you are looking to take your business overseas, since some nations might have their own preferred gateways. You won’t have trouble integrating with any specific gateway that is preferred by a nation and compliant with their security norms.
Widespread Support Open source systems are built and monitored by a community. The developers aren’t employed for wages, they are passionate contributors. They are also willing to provide great support and continue to add new ideas and upgrades. There are several active community blogs and forums that creates a good knowledge base for OSS users. Many developers and tech savvy people take part in testing the platforms, and finding security bugs.
It makes it easy for OSS newbies to give wings to their imagination while remaining anchored with tremendous support and guidance.
The Cons of Open Source Platforms
Complications of Building and Maintaining the OSS Unlike proprietary platforms, OSS platforms do not include hosting, a website builder, plugins, marketing tools, and inventory options. Although it provides a lot of flexibility, OSS users are also required to have more advanced coding knowledge to be able to build and maintain a functional site. From building a site to its maintenance, security, and optimization, much is left to the discretion of business owners who are forced to hire developers and tech experts.
Prone to Hacking Most open source software are open to be downloaded and modified by anyone. It exposes also expose them to hackers and pose a threat to their security. Complete archetype of your ecommerce site’s make and operation can be hacked, making it vulnerable to theft and security breaches.
Although, more reputable OSS providers regularly release new security updates to combat this threat, it’s an added responsibility for business owners to catch up with the latest upgrades. They will have to invest in hiring a team of tech-savvy individuals who’ll ensure timely implementation of security features. to safeguard their company’s as well as customer’s data.
Hosting Hassle While some high-tech companies might prefer to self-host their ecommerce site, it may be a hassle for others. It’s a task to find a trustworthy hosting provider, bandwidth packages and overall cost are important factors to be considered.
Hidden or Unpredictable Costs Many open source software providers give free access to the source code. It becomes an attractive option for many who want to jump right in and start exploring the endless possibilities. But amidst this excitement of free and easy onboarding, you should be aware of all the hidden and unpredictable expenses. As you move ahead with the launch of your ecommerce site, you’ll have to take into account other expenses such as maintenance costs, hosting charges, IT staff costs, and support fees.
A mindful read upto here would have unveiled the key features of an open source ecommerce platform for you, and a fair picture of its advantages and disadvantages. However, seemingly advantageous features for some businesses might not be a viable option for others. Considering your specific business needs, you can do your own shuffling of pros and cons. Nevertheless, if you are looking for a low initial cost, easy installation and integration, and an excellent support, then Open Source E-commerce Platform is just the right choice for you.