3 types of e-commerce platforms

Considering all available e-commerce platform options it is very easy to get lost. Comparing e-commerce platforms and choosing the right one for the business can be a very hard thing to do. But all platforms are not created equal. Each of them has their distinct features, therefore, you need to concentrate on what features the platform can provide your business with.

What are the basic characteristics that all e-commerce platforms have? First of all, an e-commerce platform is a place that enables a business to sell products and services online. So every platform must contain a catalog of such goods, e-mail sending and transaction systems, and a visual component editor. Additionally, platforms can include different features, visual or functional, that will distinguish one platform from another. And based on those features you need to find the right e-commerce platform specifically for your business.

Types of e-commerce platforms

SaaS platforms

Software as a Service (SaaS) is a subscription-based platform that provides ready-made solutions and allows to “compose” an online store with editable features. SaaS is cloud-based so you don’t have to worry about hosting. However, it means that your store does not entirely “belong” to you and cannot be transferred to another e-commerce platform.

SaaS platforms are most suitable for small or medium businesses that do not expect rapid growth in the near future. They also are the cheapest option as they require small monthly payments and fees for some premium features. They provide IT support and maintenance, allowing to concentrate more on the commercial side of the business instead of software.

Ready-made components allow to set up a store in a couple of minutes or days if you want to make it more customized. However those components are available to all the users so your business won’t stand out among countless others. It also has limited tools and plugins and at some point, SaaS could be too small for the grown business.

Pros of SaaS platforms

1. Easy and quick to set up
2. Require minimum maintenance
3. Easily accessible
4. Low monthly fees
5. Security is managed by a service provider

Cons of SaaS platforms

1. Lack of control over software and data
2. Features limited to commonly available
3. Low performance at high volume sales
4. Software unavailable during maintenance work
5. Limited possibilities for B2B

Open-Source platforms

The open-source platform allows to build an online store with access to the source code. It means that you can modify it and create unique features that will help your business to differ from others. However, while having full control over the design and functions of your store you also need to manage its creation and maintenance.

The open-source platform itself is free but you have to consider the cost of website hosting and software development. Since the entire store with all the systems will be build from the beginning it could take a couple of months. That will translate to high expenses, sometimes even higher than expected. Nonetheless, you have an opportunity to choose solutions by yourself.

Platforms with open code are better for bigger businesses that have a larger inventory, more store visitors and require their segmentation. Although you have all the options before you, you’ll have to code the entire store yourself or hire a team of programmers that will generate more expenses.

Pros of open-source platforms

1. Control over code modifications
2. Fee free
3. Lots of custom extensions
4. Flexibility

Cons of open-source platforms

1. The high cost of development and maintenance
2. Lack of IT support
3. Security risks
4. Can be less user-friendly
5. Long implementation time

Dedicated platforms

Dedicated platforms are the most expensive because they are built entirely from scratch. Usually, businesses outsource the work to software houses because they have more resources and knowledge to deliver a tailored solution for the business. It allows to create a unique experience for customers and to implement solutions that are not available on SaaS and open-source platforms.

B2B businesses often prefer to create dedicated systems that include all features necessary for them. However, they require constant support and upgrade. So you will be attached to one agency for a long time. Also, it would be difficult to transfer the store from one agency to another as the original agency would probably use their own system as a base.

However, it still is the best solution for a B2B store since other platform types do not provide tools and features necessary for such a business system.

Pros of dedicated platforms

1. Full control over design and functions
2. Ensured security
3. Custom solutions

Cons of dedicated platforms

1. High cost
2. Required maintenance
3. Long implementation time
4. Attachment to one agency

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