Web Design and Development
If you are deciding how to setup an online store, you will find that there are many different options available. But it is not as confusing as it may seem. Shopping carts and eCommerce software typically fall into two categories. You can either a) have a completely custom solution built for you at your own website OR you can b) opt for a 3rd-party hosted shopping cart solution.
In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of hosted shopping carts.1
A hosted shopping cart is an eCommerce cart and payment processing solution that is hosted, controlled, and maintained by a 3rd-party. What this means is that you can setup a store for your products without any technical expertise. In fact, all you would need to do to create a web store is add your products, input your company and payment details, and optionally choose a design.
The simplicity of creating an online store with a hosted shopping cart makes these solutions very attractive. But ease of setup is not the only reason why hosted shopping carts are preferred by many online stores. Some other advantages include:
By using 3rd party solutions you avoid the development time and delays that can result from hiring a developer to build a custom solution.
The upfront costs are unbeatable. Using a hosted shopping cart, you’ll avoid the costs of web hosting, hiring a developer, an SSL certificate, a dedicated IP address, and myriads of other fees which add up quickly and can become very expensive.
If you are accepting payments for products online, one of the biggest concerns you may have is security. With a hosted shopping cart, the security is handled by the 3rd party company that manages your cart. These companies will make sure that customer data is not stolen and that your web store is secure and hacker-proof. They have the best security in the industry and are 100% responsible for protecting your store.
The web is always changing. There are always new or updated browsers, new internet features, new vulnerabilities, and new hackers. With a hosted shopping cart, you don’t have to worry about any of this. Your store will be regularly maintained and updated and will be more reliable than any web developer.
Of course, there are several reasons why a hosted shopping cart might not be a good fit for your store. Here are a few.
With hosted shopping carts, you will find that there are limitations to how much they can be customized. And even if the shopping cart does have a lot of customization options, the documentation may be scanty and costs of customizing the software can be burdensome.2
While getting started with a hosted shopping cart is very affordable, the long term costs far exceed that of a custom solution. Hosted shopping carts are more expensive because of high monthly fees that typically increase with the profitability of a store. Some other fees which might also be charged include high payment processing fees, high traffic fees, and even fees for inactivity.
Because you do not own the software and are simply paying for access, you have no control over what the shopping cart company does to the cart. So if the company decides to modify the cart in any way, your store will also be changed. In most cases, this does not present a problem. However, with large software changes, you may find that you need to adapt your custom templates and other configuration modifications to be compatible with the software changes.
Overall, hosted shopping carts are a great solution for businesses and individuals who have a tight deadline, a low budget, or just don’t want to deal with the hassles of managing a custom store. However, if you do decide to build your own custom store, it would likely turn out to be a better long-term solution. Custom stores enable full control and customization, and they also enable higher profitability.