An eCommerce website can be one of the most complicated websites you can run. There are a lot of moving parts but it can also be very lucrative. There are solutions for everyone it’s a matter of doing the research and asking the right questions before making the decision, going back after can be very costly both in time and money.

There are three primary approaches to hosting an online eCommerce solution. They are:

Enterprise eCommerce

We’re not going to focus much on enterprise eCommerece in this series. This subject is in league of it’s own, it typically involves specialized teams who work with hight end clients that focus large retail shops. The projects can easily run into the six to seven figure numbers and focus on platforms such as Magento.

Why would someone choose a system like this? There are a few reasons, but generally they fall into a few specific areas… code quality, security, stability and scalability.

Hosted eCommerce 

Over the past few years we’ve seen the rise of the SaaS (software as a service) platform. It’s absolutely exploding at this time and there quite a few eCommerece platforms around to choose from.

The benefit of choosing a hosted solution is that they take care of some of the advantages of enterprise level features. This is great, if you’re a small business that just needs to sell your digital or physical goods and want to bother with maintenance or development of your own site, this solution is for you. It’s as turn key as it gets, and you can be up and running fairly quickly.

That’s great so what are the pitfalls of hosted solutions?

There are a few, you online store is a web presence. Over time people will link to it and the bigger  your brand and reputation gets the more value your online store has. The problem is that all this brand equity that’s being developed is typically on  that platform. When you decide to leave that platform you could potentially be losing all your links that have been created to your site. This can severally affect your SEO and traffic levels if you decide to switch platforms in the future.

The other aspect to keep in mind is flexibility of the platform. Typically the price you pay for all those great enterprise level features is less flexibility. In order to keep the platform secure and scalable your freedom to make your store look and function the way you like will be quite a bit more limited. Take a very close look at what options you have to style your site and make sure the platform will support any integrations and tools you might need to run your business effectively now and in the future.

Last, but not least is pricing. To gain access to a hosted eCommerece platform you will be paying a monthly price. Review the contract in detail, pricing structures can vary from a simple monthly price to percentage based models on the revenue your store brings in. It’s also very important to review the contract in much detail to make sure your business won’t be violating any terms of service and being potentially kicked off the platform, this can be devastating to the business.

Self Hosting

As I mentioned above eCommerece is not a subject that should be taken on lightly, so make sure you’re ready to take on the challenge.

The scale of the eCommerce project can also vary substantially so it’s important to ask your client or yourself as many questions as possible before making any decisions. You should be looking at the entire process from the visitor’s point of view and put yourself into every possible situation and ask what happens now.

In the next lesson we’ll dive deeper into those questions you should be asking and what you need to consider when planning your WordPress eCommerce website.


About the author

Bart Dabek

Bart Dabek

Bart lingers in the shadows of WordPress. He specializes in creating, managing and optimizing complex, high performance WordPress websites.