Choosing an eCommerce Software
Choosing the right eCommerce software for your business will save you from trouble later. When you set-up an online store, you need to decide which software will be the most efficient. There are typically three types of solutions: hosted, off-the-shelf and custom-built.
A hosted eCommerce solution is the easiest way to set up your eCommerce store. You can sign up with your eCommerce service provider and they will host your store on their servers. If you do not want the hassle of building your own store, then a hosted (Software as a Service - SaaS) solution is the best option for you. The SaaS provider will host and run your eCommerce store for a monthly fee.
Recommended Hosted Solutions
Shopify and Foxycart are hosted and paid eCommerce solutions. Since you are the merchant all you need to do is add products and customize the look of your store.
- Easy to set up an account.
- No maintenance required.
- Many hosted solutions provide additional services such as 24/7 support, SSL certificates, analytics, etc.
- Online stores are fully hosted - you need to lease a server.
- Need to pay on-going monthly fee.
- Import and export of your product and sales data are not easy with proprietary solution.
- Customizing may not be possible or is expensive.
Licensed or Open Source eCommerce Software
Licensed eCommerce software is off-the-shelf software you can download and install on your web server. You can purchase an eCommerce software and install it on your own server rather than having someone else host it for you.
- Professional looking and can be integrated with other areas of your website.
- Fixed cost means one-off fee to buy the license.
- eCommerce software is written in PHP, Java or ASP is more flexible.
- More control over everything.
- Needs software upgrades on monthly or weekly basis. Other security risks with different versions.
- Technical expertise is required for installation and maintenance.
This option is best if you need more control and customization. When choosing an eCommerce software for your online store make sure you pick the best for your business. Here are a variety of popular licensed eCommerce packages:
Licensed, Open Source, Free eCommerce Softwares
Magento is an open source, free eCommerce software. It is released under GPL (General Public Licenses). You can download it and modify the code as long as you adhere to the licensing terms. Magento offers merchants flexibility and control over the presentation, content, and functionality of their online channel. Innolance strongly recommends Magento.
osCommerce is also an open source, free eCommerce software released under GPL. osCommerce has a large number of community members and an installed base. osCommerce comes with a catalog front-end and an administrative tool back-end that can be easily installed and configured through a web-based installation procedure.
PrestaShopis an open source, free eCommerce solution. It is lightweight, fast, easy to use, and provides good back-end designs. PrestaShop is a modular and customizable solution realized in PHP and MySQL. PrestaShop offers a wide range of features for catalog, customers, orders, payments, shipping, statistics, translation, localization, SEO, security, administration and modular front office.
Custom Built Solution
Another option is that you can write your own unique eCommerce software. This provides more flexibility than the licensed eCommerce solutions.
- Full control over everything.
- Easier integration with ERP and business
- Costs more.
- More maintenance required.
- More effort required.