Ecommerce platforms provide essential features needed to run an online store successfully. These features will let you sell your products on the store and collect money from customers. Without features like these, it would be impossible to seamlessly run your online store.
There are a range of ecommerce platforms that you can choose for your online store. These software’s features will let you create an ecommerce website to give your customers a comfortable shopping experience. Depending upon the features and functionalities that they offer, these ecommerce platforms may be free or paid.
‘Open source’ is a term used to refer to software whose code can be viewed, studied, or even altered by the public and can be used free of cost. There are many open source ecommerce platforms that you can use to build a free ecommerce website.
Why A Free Ecommerce Platform Isn’t Free
Building a free ecommerce website will require you to use open source software. The problem with these kinds of ecommerce platforms is that they release their software codes to the public. This also means that someone with the right knowledge will be able to hack into your store and ruin your business operations. This could end up costing a company its reputation and its profits. The security risk can become higher if the free ecommerce platform isn’t patched with regular security updates. Ecommerce platforms like Magento, WooCommerce, and Zen Cart release their software codes to the public.
Shopify automatically sets up SSL certificates, take care of the PCI compliance and regularly provide security patches.
Open source ecommerce platforms will require more manpower for maintenance and installing updates. Either you’ll have to get more staff or hire another agency or third party vendor to make sure the online store is running properly. This is a very expensive scenario for any small business.
An ecommerce platform like Shopify doesn’t require maintenance as the software will automatically get updates and patches from the server.
Open source ecommerce platforms like WooCommerce, Zen Cart, and Magento don’t offer their own hosting services. This means that you’ll have to spend money on an external hosting provider and host the ecommerce software on it. Depending on the bandwidth and space requirements, the cost of hosting a server can increase. This is why a free ecommerce platform is not completely free because you still have to pay for the server.
Every Shopify plan comes with secure hosting for an online store. This hosting service is unmetered which means you won’t be charged for the amount of bandwidth or space that’s used. Shopify uses a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to set up a large network of servers around the world. This global server lets the customers load an online store quickly from any location. Shopify’s global servers are operated by a reputed CDN company called Fastly.
The server hosting services offered by Shopify
When an update is released for an open source ecommerce software, it’ll contain changes to the security vulnerabilities. It can become hard to monitor and fix these security risks because the server will be hosted by an external service provider or the particular update might have been prepared by the community. These updates might also have to be installed manually and might not be compatible with some extensions on the free ecommerce platform. This could lead to technical difficulties that will end up costing more money and manpower to solve.
Shopify will automatically update itself so you won’t have to waste money or manpower to do it. Because Shopify hosts its own servers, it’s also responsible for the security of your ecommerce website.
An open source ecommerce platform may not offer free personalized support for your business. You might have to pay per incident or purchase a monthly or yearly support contract.
All the Shopify plans come with 24/7 support. You can contact them to find solutions for any technical issues that your online store may run into.
If you want to start an online store, consider the pros and cons of using a free ecommerce website. While free ecommerce websites might be tempting initially, it’s important to understand that most of these platforms are not really free. This is because even though setting up your store might be free at first, you’ll end up spending a lot more for other essential features to actually run your store. Instead, opting for a paid ecommerce platform will definitely cut operational costs in the long run.