The Pros and Cons of hosted eCommerce Websites
When a small business owner makes the decision to enter into the world of eCommerce, the first decision that confronts them typically is whether to build a stand-alone eCommerce website or go with a hosted application provider such as Big Commerce.
Each approach has its advantages and disadvantages. What the small business owner has to decide is which method of online selling will provide the most value and return on investment (ROI). In this article, I’m going to take a closer look at the pros and cons for online eCommerce storefronts based upon this question – especially Plano eCommerce storefronts and Frisco eCommerce storefronts.
The Initial/Immediate Advantage: Quicker & Easier Startup
The first thing that you’ll find is the initial cost to get started. Hosted eCommerce applications aimed at the small business market typically will have a lower startup cost compared to the expense of developing a custom eCommerce web site.
Depending on the provider, the startup fee will provide you access to a set of design templates that you can roughly customize through some sort of setup ‘wizard’ – or it may buy you some time (usually a few hours) to work with an account specialist who can customize the store template for you.
Additional elements of the setup (including product entry) are typically wizard-driven, which means you don’t need any specialized knowledge of development languages like HTML in order to get your store running. You may need some patience to work step-by-step through multiple setup routines, but otherwise there’s no rocket science involved.
Hosted applications also offer simpler and less expensive payment options. Most of them will process payments for you, which means you don’t have to purchase a security certificate or sign up for a payment gateway account. In some cases you may not even need a merchant banking account.
The Monthly Bill
Of course, those payment services aren’t free. Hosted application providers charge a higher monthly fee than you’ll pay for almost any stand-alone hosting. You’re essentially leasing an eCommerce engine and payment platform.
Be aware that some providers charge you a small percentage of your store sales in addition to their monthly fee, while others may have an escalating fee structure that’s based on either your sales volume or the scope of your store inventory.
A major disadvantage to a hosted eCommerce application is that the heavily template-driven nature of hosted applications makes your site design almost impossible to customize in any large measure. That’s not to say all stores based on a specific application look alike, but if you want a unique design or specific ‘look’, then a hosted eCommerce solution may not be your best solution.
From our perspective, the biggest disadvantage of a hosted eCommerce application is that is doesn’t provide you with all of the tools you need to give your site a competitive edge in the very crowded online Internet marketplace.
Most hosted eCommerce applications provide search visibility that’s mediocre at best, and they give you almost no modern options to optimize your site nor the products you sell. In some cases you may be able to pay the application provider (or a skilled developer) for additional search engine optimization – but a good stand-alone eCommerce engine should have a ton of useful SEO tools built-in that are far superior from a SEO perspective.
Read More : How to Make An eCommerce Website SEO Friendly
In addition, hosted applications offer very limited marketing tools and are usually difficult to interface with external marketing software. Some offer ‘advanced’ marketing features for an additional fee but – again – these are all features that should be included in the basic functionality of any good stand-alone / custom eCommerce website.
Stand-alone sites that are built around industry-standard SQL databases are typically very open to a variety of data interchanges, while hosted application sites generally use more proprietary data structures that aren’t as open (or aren’t open at all) to advanced development work.
For the above reasons, North Texas Web Design specializes in custom eCommerce websites as well as customized eCommerce WordPress websites. We’ve found great success with this approach versus hosted eCommerce applications.
Contact North Texas Web Design for any of your eCommerce website needs and applications.