Hosted Vs Self Hosted Ecommerce Solutions : Which Is The Best?

Hosted Vs Self Hosted Ecommerce Solutions : Which Is The Best?
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Starting an online store of your own has always been a difficult task. The biggest decision for starting your store would be whether to choose a hosted or self-hosted ecommerce platform. Firstly, let us define what both terms actually mean. What is the difference between both and what are the advantages and disadvantages of both the platforms.

Hosted platforms are the ones which provide you with the software and hosting, known as SaaS – software-as-a-service. You do not have access to the code that runs the software. It’s provided to you as a service, usually in exchange for a fee. Some examples of these platforms are – Bigcommerce, BuildaBazaar, Shopify, Prestashop etc.

Whereas self hosted platforms are the ones where you download and run the software yourself. Very commonly this would be open source and you can host it wherever you please. The responsibility of this setup will be solely yours. Some of the examples of self hosted eCommerce platforms are Magento, Woocommerce, Solidus etc.

Conceptually this is simple but the decision comes down to knowing the benefits and drawbacks of each solution and clearly understanding the needs and nature of your business. To offer a fair comparison let’s evaluate the pros and cons of both alternatives for three distinct stages.

Building Your Store


Hosted platforms:
It begins by signing up for a trial on a hosted platform and you’ll choose a theme or template to define the look of your store. Next you’ll find apps or add-ons to extend your store. You don’t need to know that much about eCommerce to get started.
However, while you get a lot out of the box, you’re limited by the constraints of the platform. You will have limited control and ownership of your store. You won’t know what features are on the roadmap.

Self Hosted platforms:
It begins by downloading, installing and running the software yourself or hiring developers to set-up things for you. You have free rein with what you customize. Any integrations you need can be built. You’ll have total control and ownership over your store. Usually the code for self-hosted platforms is open source so you can freely share with others. Customization and ownership come at a cost though.

Optimizing Your Store


Hosted platforms:
The key benefit is hosted platforms run thousands of stores so they can regularly run tests and push improvements to all sites on their platform. Responsive design is an example of an optimization and SEO is another common feature. This is good for those having very little knowledge about these things.
The issue is, to optimize your site from good to great you’ll want to tweak very specific features. Some might be unique to your business.

Self Hosted platforms:
You can focus on any area you like and freely change any aspect of it. An optimized shopping cart and checkout process, for example, can offer a better experience. You will be free to integrate and customize your site search engine, add machine learning features, change how products are filtered and discovered, how the checkout works, which back-end services to integrate with.
But it’s not for everyone – you need vision and expertise for this.

Maintaining Your Store


Hosted platforms:
The majority of the maintenance is outsourced to the hosted platform provider. They will respond to downtime, look after SSL certificates, and update the platform on your behalf.

Self Hosted platforms:
Maintenance is inevitably higher when you’re looking after things yourself. You need to keep on top of software updates, especially security patches, SSL certificates and responding to downtime. But you can choose your level of control vs management. You could also hire a development firm who is experienced with maintaining eCommerce stores and avoid common mistakes.


Majority of online businesses are small and offer a standard customer experience so hosted eCommerce makes sense. But businesses with sufficient funding, aggressive revenue goals, and visionary leaders can avoid the expense of moving off a hosted platform by jumping straight to self hosted eCommerce.


Pragyan Sharma

A quiet person, likes to keep things to myself - well mostly. Have a passion for writing. Loves singing and playing Guitar. Reader. Dreamer. Wanderlust.

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  1. This is a massive topic. There are entire sites that compare the specifics of each platform.Reading this we will get a brief 3. understanding about the difference between hosted and self-hosted platforms.Good job brother. 🙂

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