Free Vs Pay Monthly Ecommerce Shopping Cart Solutions

As a provider of several different ecommerce shopping cart websites to clients all over the world, there is one particular question that I get asked time and time again: “Should I use a free ecommerce shopping cart or a hosted solution?”. My reply is always the same: “It will depend on your specific requirements”.

I have always said that no one ecommerce solution can cater to every single customers individual requirements. We will all have different needs, and we will be trying to achieve different end results.

I wanted to take a look at the pros and cons of these two different types of ecommerce options.

What are the differences?

Usually with a free ecommerce shopping cart you will need to do everything yourself. From choosing your domain name, to selecting hosting, installing your ecommerce software, designing it etc.

With a hosted ecommerce solution provider many of the required steps are already taken care of for you. You still need to decide upon & register your domain name, but hosting is taken care of by the ecommerce company that you choose.

Hopefully taking a look at the pros and cons of each will help you to decide which best suits what you are looking for.

Free Ecommerce Shopping Cart

With a free platform you will first need to decide on platform you would like to use. Zen Cart and OS commerce are popular but are getting old and becoming less supported. Magento, Presta shop and X cart are the choice of the professionals, but have a steeper learning curve.

Pros

  • It’s free! – You can’t get any cheaper than getting something for free ay?
  • No tie-ins – There are no commitments with free ecommerce solutions. If one particular platform is not working for you, you can usually just start again on another ecommerce platform.
  • You have full control – The great thing about hosting and running your own ecommerce store is that you will have full control over all aspects of your store and so cn be a bit more flexible. Some people may find a hosted solution quite restrictive.

Cons

  • Little to no direct support – You are usually on your own support wise when it comes to free ecommerce solutions. So if something goes wrong, you’ll need to either consult forums for the answer yourself, or outsource and hire a developer to fix things for you.
  • It’s harder to install a new theme – Depending on the ecommerce solution you choose, installing a new theme can be a complicated process. You will usually need to access your websites core files and upload your new theme using FTP (File Transfer Protocol) software such as file zilla.
  • Updates – You will usually be on your own when it comes to ensuring your shopping cart software is up to date. Some updates for the software you are using could include important security patches or bug fixes.
  • Security – How secure your website is from hackers will rest with you and you alone.

Hosted Ecommerce Shopping Cart

There are several companies out there not that provide a hosted solution for a reasonable monthly fee. Each company also has their own pros and cons as well as differing feature-wise. You will need to invest time into deciding which best fits your needs. Big commerce, Volusion and Actinic are popular choices.

Pros

  • Free themes – Several free themes are available for hosted ecommerce solutions that are usually just one click away to install.
  • Better support – The majority of hosted ecommerce solutions will have a helpful in-house support team that you can turn to if you are having any problems with your store.
  • Updates – The ecommerce company that you choose will usually ensure all customers are running the latest versions of their software.
  • Security – No ecommerce company would want their platform – or a customers website to be hacked. The majority will do all they can to reduce the chances of this happening.
  • Easy installation – Most hosted solutions are very simple to set up. It’s usually just a case of entering your details.

Cons

  • Not as flexible – Those who prefer to spead their wings and experiment with their store may find a hosted solution quite restrictive.
  • You’re tied in to a monthly fee – Whether your website becomes instantly profitable or not, you will be tied in to paying a monthly fee that will range anything from $10 – $20PM.
  • No core file access – For security reasons hosted solutions will not give you access to your websites raw code. They instead make all aspects of your store editable by using the likes of a WYSIWYG editor ( what you see is what you get ).

So as you can see, the choice when it comes to ecommerce is not an easy one. I personally prefer the flexibility that the free ecommerce platforms can provide; but I can also see why hosted ecommerce solutions are becoming more and more popular.

Types of Ecommerce

Ecommerce is the act of transferring goods and money over the internet. There are also different types of ecommerce. Transactions and terms of sale are done electronically when you are hooked up to ecommerce with your online business.

B2B is one type of ecommerce. This is when online businesses do business with one another. A good example would be when manufacturers sell to wholesalers. The prices are often negotiable and based upon the quantities of the orders.

Business to commerce, or B2C, is another type of ecommerce. This is when a business sells to the public in general such as catalogue orders. The shopping cart software is utilized in this type of transaction as well. Whatever you need can be done in literally minutes when you utilize the help of ecommerce.

C2B, or consumer to business ecommerce, is another type. It involves a consumer posting a project online with a set budget in mind. Companies then review the project and bid on it. There are some popular sites online where much of this type of ecommerce is done. These sites empower these consumers to find people for their jobs and vice versa. They provide a viable platform and meeting ground for the consumers and the businesses.

Consumer to consumer, or C2C, is yet another form of ecommerce. This is like eBay or sites like it. It is when a site lists various items to be auctioned or sold amongst consumers. Person to person transactions have been taking place since 1995 and there has been much success in this arena of ecommerce.

Ecommerce involves transferring information quickly and efficiently over the internet. It has changed the way the world does business in just a few short years. Ecommerce covers a wide array of businesses from small retail to huge wholesale distributors. The boundaries between ecommerce and regular transactions have become blurred as time goes by. More people than ever are choosing to do business online. It does take research on ecommerce principles to get a business up and running.

If a person tried to open an online store without the proper knowledge of ecommerce it could be a disaster. It is best to learn all that you can about what it entails before embarking on an ecommerce adventure. There are all sorts of online sites that can educate you about all that is involved in ecommerce. Take the time to look these sites up so that you can be well informed before opening your ecommerce website.

Facts About Web Hosting and Ecommerce

The web hosting facility was first established in around 1991. Since a lot of up gradation was done in the internet system. The concept of Web Hosting slowly became popular. Initially only the big companies and business farms only used to host their personal websites. In these websites, an individual would get all the information of the particular company. But, no transaction could be made. The individual did not have the right to buy the manufactured items of the company. Only the information about the manufactured items, the details of the particular company and where the products are available was offered in the websites. From this web hosting facility an individual could not make any transactions that is, he or she cannot buy products from the company or sell to the company. No online transactions can be made through this facility.

Later the concept of Ecommerce came into the market. Initially people hardly knew about it. But, when the particular stuff became more and more interesting and helpful, people slowly started knowing about the particular concept. Before talking about the concept, first we need to know what Ecommerce is, what are the different types of Ecommerce and how does it work along with the web hosting. When business is made through the help of internet and transactions can be made through online facility, it is called Ecommerce. In ecommerce business most of the companies do not deal with the customers physically. Only online interactions can be made. Ecommerce mostly deals with buying and selling stuff over the internet. Ecommerce is mainly of 5 major types. They are as follows:

  • B2B (Business to Business): when Ecommerce is done between two companies, it is known as B2B Ecommerce. Relationship between two companies is maintained through this system.
  • B2C (Business to Consumer): when Ecommerce is practiced between the company and the consumer, it is called B2C Ecommerce.
  • B2G (Business to Government): when Ecommerce is done between the company and the Government sectors, it is known as B2G Ecommerce.
  • C2C (Consumer to Consumer): when the business is done between consumers via internet facility, the system is known C2C Ecommerce.
  • M commerce: this is a new branch of Ecommerce. This technology is very nascent. In this system, one can make the transaction through a wireless system, for example: an individual can use his or her cell phone to make the transaction. In present condition, Japan is in the leading position of M commerce technology.

Web hosting technology allows the individual to get the information of the companies. One has to visit the particular website of a company, search for the product and buy it. All these are possible only because of the Web hosting system. From this we can conclude that Web Hosting and Ecommerce go hand in hand. They are interrelated with each other. Web Hosting is possible without the Ecommerce but, the vice versa is not possible. Web Hosting allows the business to grow globally. For this reason, Ecommerce has become so popular.