Open Source eCommerce VS. Proprietary eCommerce Solutions
Considering an eCommerce solution? There are lots of options out there. So how do you choose what works best for you? Well, let us make it simple. There are two main types of eCommerce solutions:
- Open Source: These eCommerce solutions are quick, highly flexible, and are sometimes positioned as ‘free’.
- Proprietary: These eCommerce solutions are less customizable and not free. They do, however, provide higher security and more accessible customer service
Open source is ‘free’ like a free lunch
When talking about open source eCommerce platforms, the word free is subjective as the saying goes, “there is nothing like a free lunch”? Sure, so-called ‘free’ eCommerce solutions, are easy to get started, but once you get going, the costs start coming in.
- Want an upgrade? Pay.
- Want to use more features on your plugins? Pay
- Want to integrate your eCommerce platform to the back-end of other systems you are using? Pay... heavily.
Even after you invest in upgrades, plugins or integrations, they might not work. There might be bugs, some plugins might not be compatible with each other, or your integration might only work half as much as was promised to you initially.
Not only are you losing money and time, your business reputation is at stake - something that cannot be rebuilt that easily.
Open source is like letting a stranger into your house.
A couple of years ago, one of our clients installed a carousel plugin that was extremely popular. They set it up and it worked great - no issues! However, one day they wake up and their entire site was down. It wasn’t a server issue, so what happened? Turns out the carousel plugin contained malware and shut down their site along with half the other sites on the open source eCommerce solution. How were they supposed to know about this? They couldn't possibly have!
How many plugins do you have installed? Was the developer credible? Can you be sure this won’t happen to you? Not with an open source solution. With open source eCommerce, you are opening yourself to a world of hackers and cyber- attacks, and if one person gets affected, everyone with that code (including you) will be affected as well.
Open source is like forcing two wrong puzzle pieces together.
In order for your eCommerce platform to work well, all of the components of the platform need to work together, in sync. This means that all the pieces of code that are added or modified need to be compatible with each other.
Open source platforms are usually built in multiple stages, with multiple developers building multiple pieces of conflicting code. This conflicting code leads to expensive, long-term issues that make it difficult for the eCommerce back-end to function seamlessly. Imagine trying to jam two wrong puzzle pieces together - it can be done, but not without damage. And who suffers that damage? You - through various unnecessary expenses, lost sales and revenue, and more importantly, lost trust.
Yes, open source is flexible, but only under certain conditions. Some of these conditions are unreasonable and extremely costly - adding on to the already high initial investment for a supposed ‘free’ open source eCommerce solution.
Who will support me?
Going down the journey of launching an eCommerce platform can be very challenging. It is not just about building the platform - it is about a shift in how you think, how your team works and how your business is going to go around it’s daily operations. Is your team equipped for that? You are not only going to reallocate resources, but you are going to have to hire more people in order to make this digital transformation smooth and efficient. So, what if you hit a stump and need help?
Will you call your open source eCommerce provider for help or the third party company that is helping you with your implementation? What if the person you call doesn’t know the answer?
With proprietary solutions, you are dealing with one software, one back-end, one company. You most likely have a dedicated accounts or project manager and an implementation consultant. Have a question? Reach out and you will be sure to get an informed answer from someone who knows the software inside-out. Sounds more reassuring right?
Will this work well with the rest of the software I have?
Open source eCommerce is extremely tough to integrate with other financial or accounting software. It takes a lot of time, effort, and trial and error to ensure that your business logic is being seamlessly replicated both ways. Now, this would be fine if you were building a site that was just informational (probably not even then), but with a non-integrated (aka open source) eCommerce platform, you risk having errors in pricing, order status, and stock information. On top of this, open source eCommerce solutions are not generally PCI compliant - which means you cannot allow your customers to start buying online right away - not without a huge investment in obtaining PCI compliance.
The potential outcome of open source eCommerce platforms
Someone gave you the pieces to build out an eCommerce store. They didn’t tell you how to put the pieces together in order to build out your eCommerce vision, so now you have to hire someone to do so. This professional gets a bunch of other pieces of code to help, but they don’t fit properly, leaving you with an unsafe and poorly functioning solution, that doesn’t do the one thing that an eCommerce store should do: let your customers buy!
Now let’s look at proprietary eCommerce platforms
Someone gives you a seamlessly well-coded platform with an optimized template to build your eCommerce vision. Your team knows how to work with this template and you don’t need to hire anyone else. Your platform is not open to anyone else and is safe against external threats (cyber-attacks, hackers, etc.). It also integrates with your financing and accounting software - no need to re-enter ALL of your pricing, inventory, and customer data again. Also, if you or your team has any questions, they can reach out to the right people directly. Finally, as soon as the store is set up, your customers can start buying right away!
Proprietary, integrated eCommerce solutions are an investment into the long-term future of your company. It’s an investment into your employees who could be doing better things than rekeying in orders. It’s an investment in you because you should be focusing on growing your business rather than losing sleep over the security of your platform. It’s an investment in your customers that expect a trustworthy, user-friendly platform with accurate and up-to-date information.
This was a guest blog written by the Sage eCommerce XM Developments team which is the world’s only seamlessly integrated eCommerce solution certified by Sage. We are a one-stop shop for eCommerce with provisions for hosting, integration, customization, training, and support. We enable customers to extend their Sage platform to the digital world with secure and real-time connectivity, giving them Intelligent eCommerce. Have a question contact RKL eSolutions to learn more about integrating Sage eCommerce into your Sage platform.