If you want to start an online store, then you have to generally decide whether to go for SaaS or open source platform. In this article, we will help you understand the right platform for your e-commerce business when looking at SaaS vs. open-source solutions.

Before we delve into that, let’s explore some basic facts of each platform.

SaaS (Software as a Service) Platform Overview

SaaS (Software as a Service) also known as hosted is a software solution that is generally restricted by the web hosting platform. In this type of platform, you do not need to worry about coding, programming, or managing the back end processes. That’s because the hosting platform typically takes care of that for you.

All you are left to do is manage the core products or services and marketing your business. Support and maintenance are fully provided. Some popular SaaS types include BigCommerce, Shopify, Volusion, and Demandware.

SaaS market is increasingly gaining popularity with the recent reports showing massive embrace of the solution within the e-commerce industry. According to the SaaS industry report published by Business Wire, the SaaS market is estimated to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.2% during the forecast years 2018-2023. According to G2 crowd, some of the SaaS businesses that did well in 2018 include Zoom, Asana, Canva, Slack and Shopify, and more.

Open Source Platform Overview

Open source also referred to as self-hosted, is where the source code is generally accessible on a universal level. That means that you can customize or give your input to the site.

This kind of platform is most suited for people with programming and technical know-how. That is because they will need to handle the e-commerce website back-end processes.

Linux, Joomla, MySql, myBB, and phBB, and more are some of the excellent open source systems that the developer should know. Some popular open- source types include Woocommerce, WP eCommerce, Cubecart, Magento, Jigoshop, and Easy Digital Downloads (EDD and more.

The open source software brings a wide range of perspectives beyond those of a single business. According to the Standish Group report released in 2008, the adoption of open-source software models helped companies save about $60 billion (£48 billion) per year for consumers.

Here is what to consider when you want to choose the ideal software solution for your business.

1.    Technical Resources

The technical resource is one of the factors that you should consider. If you do not know how to code or you lack the right resources to hire a professional team, then you could be successful with the SaaS platform. This is because, with this platform, much of the programming and coding has already been done for you.

On the other hand, if you are a developer or you have plenty of resources to hire a team of developers, then you can go for an open source e-commerce software solution.

2.      Cost and Transaction Charges

Cost and the hidden transaction charges of working with a particular platform is another crucial factor to consider. If you have the resources to dedicate to the development of the website, then you should go with an open source platform.

With an open source platform, you do not incur any other commission besides your standard gateway charges. Delivery is usually via your preferred shipping service, and you can pocket all the profits from the store.

However, if you want to commit fewer resources in technology and more resources into optimizing your ecommerce conversion funnel, then SaaS is the ideal platform. In most SaaS platforms, the providers charge per transaction, per sale, or both.

The customers can pay via popular payment platforms such as PayPal, stripe, and more. However, some service providers have their payment platforms that may come with some added benefits.

3.    Customization and Control Needs

It would help if you also considered the custom needs of your business as well. If your business requires much customization, then you need an open source platform. With an open-source platform, you have the full access to add new features, change the code, edit or remove anything on the site.

However, if the business does not have many customization needs, then SaaS will do. SaaS platform shares a single unified code base that enables the user to deliver updates to all the customers. It helps host every store on the same infrastructure and enhances integration with other third-party apps for every store.

With SaaS platform, you cannot modify features that you’ve already paid for. You can only edit a few layout templates, visibility, positions, and colors. However, if you want to add features, then you will need to change to another plan or pay more monthly or yearly.

4.    Maintenance and Debugging

Maintenance and debugging is yet another crucial factor that you should consider. SaaS platforms charge higher for support and debugging because they are in charge of every aspect, including adding new features, site optimization, fixing bugs, and more.

On the contrary, an open source solution leaves everything upon you. If you are a developer or can hire one, then you can handle technical and maintenance aspects for your website.

Alternatively, you can hire a developer or ask the community to help you diagnose some issues. Most open source users have formed a vast community, and thus if you are stuck or are facing a problem, someone from the community can come in handy.

Why Choose an Open-source platform

●     Flexibility

Open source solution is more flexible than SaaS. With an open source platform, the developers can customize the underlying code.

●     Reduce business risk

Businesses using an open source platform can avoid purchasing the solution and lock-in period. Also, it is easier to tailor it to fulfill the needs of the businesses.

●     Quality-code

With the open source, the developers can quickly identify and fix a bug. Also, they can get help from the vast community of users to diagnose and solve different issues.

Why Choose SaaS Software solution

●     Less Costly

Since most SaaS platforms take care of the business utility tools and bugs, they are less costly compared to open-source.

●     Quick deployment & removal

SaaS platforms are fast and easy to deploy, unlike open source platforms that require some amount of work before implementation.

●     Less Maintenance

Business owners using the SaaS platforms don’t involve themselves in site maintenance because the vendor takes care of it.

●     Ready to use tools

SaaS is ideal for those looking for business utility solutions and wants to run the site with less technical input.

Key Takeaway

Ultimately, the choice between open source and SaaS platform solely depend on your business requirements. Both options are great, but you need to weigh the options and ask yourself some hard questions before you proceed too far down one path. It would be quite frustrating if you choose a particular platform and later realize that the other option would have been better for your business.