SAAS eCommerce solutions vs. Self-hosted ones?

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I have always built my own ecommerce solutions to sell digital products. It has been a tremendous amount of work. Now that I want to expand my horizon and sell more and better, I think it may be time to take the next step.

I had some experience with Magento, but it seems too sophisticated to me and it always seem to take an arm and a leg to get things right. Though it definitely enables the power of customization for your online shop if you have the expertise and the time to tune it.

And then there's the SAAS eCommerce solutions such as shopify and so forth. It's easier to use and seem elegant but my concern is it doesn't seem right for a large online store once you get big. This kind of solutions always make you seem like a small merchant. Or am I right on this?

I'm afraid of getting locked in once I get big and need more customization powers than the SAAS solutions. So are there any merchants that have gone through this? Started and grown from an SAAS ecommerce service to the point with so many customers and more demanding requirements that had to move the site to a self-hosted environment?

Or is it just fine with SAAS providers such as shopify? Even after you have grown very very big?
#ecommerce #saas #selfhosted #solutions
  • Magento definitely has some big ticket clients. If you like their formatting but don't want to build a site yourself (definitely time consuming), you could hire a developer? I think Magento contracts some out, so you know the dev is talented and well versed in working with Magento.

    Shopify does market to small/mid-sized businesses, but I don't see why a large business wouldn't use them as well. I believe you could scale their software to grow with you. Maybe ask this question in one of the Shopify forums? I'm sure some big businesses currently using Shopify could offer you insight.

    Good luck!
    Tiana with ecomdash
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  • Profile picture of the author SaanviRao
    Banned
    Well, have you checked out the Opencart ecommerce platform. It is one of the best ecommerce platform for the light project and based on SAAS platform,Apart from this, it also provides attractive themes and customization facility. The whole website is completely user friendly as well as mobile responsive.
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  • Profile picture of the author Marked09
    I personally used wordpress to build my site since there are a lot of plugins out there that does the job (membership,cart,ready made themes etc.)

    It cuts me the work needed a lets me focus on other things such as marketing and product research/creation.
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  • Profile picture of the author tbk125
    I have used bigcommerce, magento, and woo commerce. I like bigcommerce a lot and they do offer a enterprise version which may resolve your problem but it get's pricey. Personally if I were to launch another store with intent to scale it I would just start with magento.
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    • Profile picture of the author yangyang
      Originally Posted by tbk125 View Post

      I have used bigcommerce, magento, and woo commerce. I like bigcommerce a lot and they do offer a enterprise version which may resolve your problem but it get's pricey. Personally if I were to launch another store with intent to scale it I would just start with magento.
      The problem with Magento is it gets monstrous in devouring server resources as the traffic grows. We had a dedicated server and it's jamming everything down. It's costly to update and customize as well. Developers and programmers cost an arm and a leg to hire. This sucks.
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      • Profile picture of the author OnlineStoreHelp
        I guess the question is, are you looking to continue to sell memberships, digital products or physical products. As for memberships, it is hard to beat a wordpress or drupal with membership software on top of it (DAP or Amember, my picks). But, if you are selling digital downloads or physical products, it is hard not to beat both SAAS and self hosted shopping carts. Almost all of them allow for digital downloads.

        The more I use Magento, the more I am glad I have used it less and less. It does have its place but is overkill for 90% of the sites out there. Someone mentioned Opencart but don't forget Prestashop as well. Both Opencart and Prestashop are lightweight, easy to use and come with some beautiful pre-made mobile responsive themes.

        You can make very good money using the SAAS software providers, whether it be Shopify, BigCommerce, Lemonstand, Americommerce and/or Corecommerce (just to name a few). And in some cases, customers will never know they are on the platform.

        The advantages of them? No worries about hosting, SSL certs, patches, integrations, etc. Set it up, pay your monthly fee and go market your business. Think how much it would cost you to get your own CDN compared to what a SAAS gets. How about top notch servers compared with the shared hosting. Are they perfect? No, but 90% of commerce owners would do just fine on them.

        SO, depending on what you are selling, it might very well look better, help your branding to go with one of the shopping cart applications.
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  • Profile picture of the author webbassets
    Banned
    I'm building a woocommere site and rebuilding it because of the issues i faced with the limited AWS servers i initally allocated. The Goal is to build alternate ecommerce store that automatically sync's products daily from the leading ecommerce websites.

    Believe me, i learnt it the hard way that this is a very big task when it comes to the server esp. as a guy with no experience architecting or handling servers. Yet my vision to build the site far above the problems encountered, so i did build the site wiifom.com which then went on face a lot of overload issues as the product portfolio crossed 100. My goal was 1 Million.

    The guys i worked on fiverr to handle the servers were initially cooperative but then got slagging and slow to respond which also affected the site great a bit.

    I found AWS solutions architect to design the servers for my requirement but also to keep the costs down, so he gave me a simple solution without a CDN, Cache, Read Replicas, Staging Servers which in itself was totaling to around ~$700 in monthly bill.

    Now with the new servers installed and configured, i am now struck between the config. engineers in fiverr who also some time tend to be egoistic acting as if they were the bosses telling me what to do and refusing to work if i didn't go by their suggestion.

    As of date that i'm writing this reply, the site is down and hope to be upped on new servers in a day or two but suggest me a topic under which i could write a new thread sharing my experinces with the site, the problems and how i encounter them, my goals and how i reach them until we have a system that you all you replicate to establish large ecommerce affiliate sites without all these hassles that i'm currently going through.
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  • Profile picture of the author CreativeWest
    Banned
    SaaS providers like Shopify are time based solutions, you only grow by hiring people, other solutions like Magento can be semi-automated and then you get to the high-end platforms like Hybris which can be fully automated. You can run huge stores on Shopify, but you will also have a very low revenue per employee number often sub $100k, Amazon is $750k.

    On the Magento side you have semi SaaS such as @Pixafy, @CommerceKick, @Creatuity. We are setting up some business data loads for an affiliate site based around Magento (SIA-Affiliate which is the parent of @CommerceKick) on AWS which is scheduled to grow to millions products, if you don't know what you are doing however it implodes almost instantly.

    A SaaS can run large stores and onsite platforms (Magento) can run small stores, the key is in the revenue you generate per resource and that is what restricts the platform choice.
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  • Profile picture of the author amcg
    No, but 90% of commerce owners would do just fine on them.
    This sums up the hosted route i.e it's good enough for most. Only when you get the revenue/sku's/scale do you really want to take on your own IT infrastructure and develop your own Internet properties.
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    • Profile picture of the author FibeOpBlack
      I actually chose OpenCart because of the benefits and features most people listed in this thread, super fast, simple, user friendly, clean looking, SEO friendly, and nice themes available.

      After purchasing the top theme, customizing, adding products, and developing the site, I'm actually ready to throw it out and use a new platform and start from scratch.

      Am I missing something here? Honestly?

      I installed Journal Theme for Opencart, then chose a demo layout to customize, and that was a tedious process, having to learn all new concepts for different functions.

      1. It's hard to add options like new colors etc into the theme if they aren't already there.
      2. It takes forever to add categories, options, and products.
      3. It takes about 2 hours to completely add and have everything set up for 1 product. That doesn't seem feasible to me? What happens when you grow and have a bunch of products, which is the goal i assume.
      4. Since doing all of this, the site is the slowest I have ever seen on the net, EVER.

      Honestly, Am I doing something wrong or is opencart just not easy to work with?

      Is the Journal Theme causing the massive slowdown? Is there a bunch of functions, etc, loading that doesn't have to be or something.

      I am really at a loss here. If anyone thinks they can help with it, please message me and I can show you the site, maybe I'm doing something wrong, and maybe theres an easier way.

      Thank you for your time, and I hope to hear from someone!
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      • Profile picture of the author OnlineStoreHelp
        Originally Posted by FibeOpBlack View Post


        I installed Journal Theme for Opencart, then chose a demo layout to customize, and that was a tedious process, having to learn all new concepts for different functions.

        1. It's hard to add options like new colors etc into the theme if they aren't already there.
        I haven't used that theme but most themes I have used have an option to easily choose your color pallets. Are the color themes fixed in that theme? Some themes have options but you have to use their color themes.
        2. It takes forever to add categories, options, and products.
        Once you have a base set of products, you can get an extension that will let you upload it via CSV.
        3. It takes about 2 hours to completely add and have everything set up for 1 product. That doesn't seem feasible to me? What happens when you grow and have a bunch of products, which is the goal i assume.
        I am really surprised it takes you that long to add a product. Do you mean setting up all the attributes and options to attach to the product?
        4. Since doing all of this, the site is the slowest I have ever seen on the net, EVER.
        Who are you using for a host? As good and lightweight as Opencart is, if you are using a cheap host like GoDaddy (shudder...) or Hostgator, you can have issues with speed. And, depending on the theme, with all the options they have, it can sometimes take up resources. Does the theme allow you to turn off functions you aren't using?

        Honestly, Am I doing something wrong or is opencart just not easy to work with?

        Is the Journal Theme causing the massive slowdown? Is there a bunch of functions, etc, loading that doesn't have to be or something.

        I am really at a loss here. If anyone thinks they can help with it, please message me and I can show you the site, maybe I'm doing something wrong, and maybe theres an easier way.

        Thank you for your time, and I hope to hear from someone!
        See my responses up in Red. All of this being said, Any shopping cart takes time to create and set up. The easiest can be done in a day, the more complicated take more time. PM me the site and I will take a look when I have a chance.
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