Due to the changes caused by technological progress, the global pandemic, and our constantly evolving society – online shopping has become as casual as going from store to store in a shopping mall. Online shopping can save a lot of time, and tempting discounts or free shipping can attract many potential customers. The eCommerce market is definitely growing each year, taking as an example eCommerce in Europe, which grew from €633 billion in 2020 to €718 billion in 2021.
This time seems to be perfect for entering the market and selling products online via eCommerce platforms. Nonetheless, this decision must be made without a rush. The first question you may ask is how to create an online business and what options are available on the market. Due to that, this article aims to describe two of the most popular options: open-source eCommerce platforms and SaaS eCommerce platforms. Both options have their pros and cons, and the choice should base on what suits you best.
Let’s start by explaining the first option, which is an open-source platform.
What is an open-source eCommerce platform?
Open-source eCommerce platforms are a common solution among web developers/technical teams. The name “open-source” means that the source code is public and accessible to the community without a fee (but it doesn’t that you will have a free eCommerce platform – you should have in mind e.g. the costs of its development). Thus, others may contribute to the development and improve or modify existing functions. Also, the community takes part in finding and fixing possible bugs. All of the above proves that open-source eCommerce solutions are updated almost always and are developed by the aforementioned community rather than by a single company.
Open-source eCommerce platforms allow high customization and integration with many plugins and modules that offer particular tools dedicated to delivery, sales, and payment process within your eCommerce website. Nonetheless, managing such tools require particular knowledge regarding development. Thus, if you are not a programmer yourself or you don’t have a team of developers, you’ll most likely need some help from a freelancer or a development agency. To give an example, an open-source eCommerce platform may need third-party integrations with systems/eCommerce solutions responsible e.g. for accounting or inventory management systems. Worth mentioning here is that the open-source eCommerce platform does not necessarily mean that all additional functionalities and plugins are free.
Advantages of open-source platforms
Developers in the community thoroughly check the eCommerce software source code for errors.
Open-source platforms are constantly updated. However, if some features or plugins were modified, they may not be compatible with their newest versions.
Access to the code provides numerous customization options. Integrate with various systems and own functionalities without any limitations.
Many hosting options
It is up to you where the eCommerce site will be hosted (e.g, VPS or Hybrid Cloud).
Disadvantages of open-source platforms
If you are not a developer yourself (you don’t have technical knowledge), or you don’t have a development team, it will be necessary to hire a team of specialists.
Apart from the help of the community, additional technical support can be required.
Decent performance requires the work of the developers and a suitable hosting solution. It may generate additional costs.
5 best open-source platforms
The best open-source option will depend on the specific needs of your project. Generally, the best open-source software has a large user base, is well-supported by a community of developers, and is regularly updated with new features and bug fixes. Additionally, the software should have a strong security record, be well-documented, and provide ample support for customization. With the wide variety of open-source options available, it can be difficult to choose the best one.
Sylius is a complex eCommerce platform based on the Symfony framework. Due to its flexibility and unlimited scalability, it is suitable for any type of business and project – from standard B2C and B2B platforms to multi-vendor marketplace solutions. However, it requires programming skills to be used efficiently. When managed properly, Sylius offers high-end performance in comparison to other eCommerce platforms, and as a result, it attracted many of the largest players in the eCommerce market.
If you have any questions about Sylius, please contact us. Our team of experienced Sylius developers and engineers can provide you with advice and guidance regarding the setup, installation, customization, and optimization of the Sylius platform, as well as its integration with other systems.
WooCommerce is an open-source plugin for WordPress and one of the most popular free eCommerce platforms. It provides key eCommerce features and many plugins necessary to run an online store. Its undoubted advantage is low implementation cost to start with. It has a large community. Thus, further development is relatively cheap in comparison to other platforms. WooCommerce is best for rapid development for small and medium businesses.
Shopware was created by using Symfony on the backend and Vue.js on the frontend. Shopware focuses on user experience. Thus, it’s flexible, has an intuitive admin panel, and is adapted to mobile devices. This eCommerce solution also has a big community (100,000+ customers worldwide), including for example Aston Martin. This platform is easy to configure and administrate, and the trouble-free scaling makes Shopware a perfect solution for omnichannel, both for smaller and bigger businesses.
We are always happy to answer any questions you may have about Shopware and its features, so if you need help with Shopware, please contact us.
Want to explore the best eCommerce technologies and deep dive into Shopware? Check out our free e-book – A comprehensive guide to choosing the best technologies for eCommerce
PrestaShop is an open-source eCommerce company located in France. Despite this, the platform supports over 25 languages. The software is written in PHP and based on the Smarty template engine, currently used by 165,000 stores worldwide. Due to that, it has a strong community that can help you with any problems. PrestaShop is easy to integrate with 3rd part applications and is highly customizable. Nonetheless, programming knowledge is required to use its full potential.
Magento Open Source
Magento is a well-known platform in the eCommerce community. It offers flexibility and scalability options while maintaining simplicity at the same time. Due to that, Magento is great for users with no tech experience. Moreover, it easily integrates with many popular payment gateways. Nonetheless, developing an eCommerce platform using Magento is relatively more expensive than in other open-source solutions.
Software as a Service platforms
Software as a Service (SaaS) is a solution where the platform is hosted in the cloud. Thanks to that, a client does not have to use their own servers to host software as he rents it from the SaaS vendors. Moreover, vendors provide technical support and solid security which reduces the cost of maintenance. Data storage is not an issue either, as it is regularly saved in the cloud. This model usually works on a subscription model basis.
Advantages of SaaS platforms
SaaS solutions offer a variety of advantages over traditional software. Here are some of the top benefits of SaaS platforms:
In comparison to the open-source platform, SaaS platforms offer ready solutions in terms of graphic themes and external integrations with other systems and plugins. To launch a website, the user has to only configure the layout of the website, install plugins, and enter product information. In addition, hosting is provided by the vendor, so the user does not have to spend additional time working on it.
In most cases, SaaS platforms offer a free trial of their software to show the user how it works and what he can expect before paying for it.
Relatively low cost of maintenance
The owner of the website does not have to pay any extra fees for the hosting or developers’ work, except subscription fees and chosen plugins if they were paid.
Since the software provider is responsible for hosting and maintenance, he is also responsible for data security; for example, PCI security compliance and taking care of outside threads are the website owner’s responsibility. If anything bad happens, it’s the vendor’s responsibility to handle it and make sure it won’t happen again.
Disadvantages of SaaS platforms
SaaS (Software as a Service) platforms offer businesses the convenience and cost-effectiveness of a cloud-based service, but there are some potential drawbacks to consider.
Lack of full control
Using SaaS software allows us to forget about the problems mentioned above. Nonetheless, it means relying more on external factors, like even internet access. What’s more, if the vendor had some malfunction, you online store would be offline. Platform provider also has access to the data your website collects.
Limited customization and personalization
Due to the lack of access to the source code, customization possibilities are limited. Store owners can use out-of-the-box themes and plugins. However, making its own changes is impossible. This makes standing out from the competition a lot harder as the websites may look more or less the same.
Paying in advance for a SaaS platform can be a risk for new businesses without steady cash flow.
5 Best SaaS platforms
SaaS platforms offer a variety of tools and services that are designed to make it easier for entrepreneurs to manage their businesses. From accounting to project management to customer relationship management, SaaS platforms can provide the necessary tools to help entrepreneurs get started and grow their businesses.
Here are five of the best SaaS platforms to help you start your business:
Shopify is one of the biggest eCommerce platforms available on the market. Currently, it has over 6000 plugins and integrations that users can apply to their eCommerce stores easily. It has features for omnichannel, customization, and a large number of payment gateways. Also, it has extra functionalities for beginner entrepreneurs who just start their business online.
This platform has all the tools to create a professional eCommerce store. BigCommerce key functionalities comprise multicurrency, search engine optimization, hosting, and more. Stability and scalability make this platform a suitable solution for all kinds of businesses. Additionally, it offers 24/7 technical support.
Salesforce Commerce Cloud
Salesforce Commerce Cloud is a cloud-based solution for medium and large businesses operating in B2B and B2C models, for example, Puma or Lacoste. Salesforce offers two separate products for B2B and B2C commerce in order to meet the needs of users and buyers. Both solutions have an extensive list of features and a uniform system available to have sales, delivery, etc., in one place.
It is a headless eCommerce platform that offers to establish cost-effective and scalable eCommerce websites by using ready-made building blocks and pre-built APIs. Commercetools offers functionalities essential for a successful online store that has advanced business processes and needs sustainable performance and security.
This platform is great for companies that focus on multi-channel sales of many products. Also, Hybris enables to the adaptation of the website to mobile devices. Its functionalities provide flexibility and stability to the website, that aim is to sell products through many channels internationally.
The choice of the right solution should be determined by your needs, the size of the business, and its objectives. Both open-source and SaaS solutions have their own pros and cons that will determine the success of your dreamed online store. To put it simply, do some research and choose what suits you best. In case of any hesitation, feel free to reach out to us!