SAAS ecommerce solutions such as Shopify and BigCommerce have quickly grown to fill the huge void left behind by Magento 1. For the majority of Magento 1 merchants, Magento 2 would arguably be the most obvious choice of platform to migrate to. However the costs in doing so left a sour taste in a lot of merchants mouths as migrating to Magento 2 was not as easy as just running an upgrade on their existing site. On top of that, when Magento 2 first launched it got a lot of bad press as it was clear early on that the platform was released far too early.
Merchants that migrated to Magento 2 early on had to go through a lot of pain fixing bugs and issues with the core platform which cost them quite a lot of time and money. Migrating to Magento 2 also meant moving to an entirely new platform and forced merchants to redevelop any customisations that they had paid a Magento developer to make to their existing Magento 1 website.
For these reasons alone, a lot of Magento 1 merchants began to look elsewhere for an ecommerce platform that was more cost effective to migrate to yet still met their requirements. Shopify and BigCommerce were waiting with open arms for these type of merchants and their platforms have certainly delivered.
In this article we aim to explain the following points:
- What is a SAAS ecommerce solution?
- What is the difference between a SAAS and open source ecommerce solutions?
- What are the advantages of a SAAS platform?
- What are the disadvantages of a SAAS platform?
- What type of ecommerce solution is right for your business?
What is a SAAS ecommerce solution?
First let’s start by telling you what the acronym SAAS actually means. SAAS stands for software-as-a-service. It is a term used to describe software that is licenced to a user for a set monthly fee. Once a user signs up and subscribes, that user can then access and use the service online so long as they have an active paid subscription. The software is ordinarily accessed via a web browser.
Now let’s go back to the question at the start of this section. What is a SAAS ecommerce solution? A SAAS ecommerce solution is a piece of online software that allows a merchant to setup and launch a website that they can sell products through. The website is active for the duration the merchant has a paid subscription. As soon as the customer stops paying the subscription the website is taken down.
What’s the difference between SAAS and open source ecommerce solutions?
The main differences between SAAS and open source are around ownership. With SAAS platforms you are to a degree renting a service to sell your products with. The service provider will provide you with everything you need to run your website. Hosting, support, upgrades and security patches are all included as part of the monthly fee. The service provider manages all of this for you. The only thing that you have control over is the frontend of the website which you can customise to your own requirements.
With open source you own the entire application and therefore are responsible for hosting and developing the platform yourself. Open source software is completely free to download and use however you must pay for hosting and customising the website yourself. You are also responsible for upgrading the software and ensuring that all security patches are applied once they are released.
What are the advantages of a SAAS platform?
SAAS ecommerce solutions come with a number of advantages when compared with open source solutions.
- No hosting fees regardless of the amount of traffic your website gets.
- All future upgrades to the platform are included as part of your monthly subscription.
- New features that the SAAS platform releases are instantly made available to you at no extra cost (with some platforms this is dependent on which level of subscription you are on).
- All security patches are automatically applied to your website at no extra cost.
- Lower total cost of ownership.
What are the disadvantages of a SAAS platform?
SAAS ecommerce solutions do however come with some disadvantages that merchants should consider before choosing to take the SAAS route.
- You are not able to customise the backend framework in any way. If you need to customise this then it is not possible.
- If you want to develop a custom frontend theme then this can only be used with the selected SAAS platform. You are unable to migrate themes between different platforms.
- Some SAAS platforms restrict you from using certain 3rd party services or will charge you a premium for doing so.
- If customisations to the platform are required then these are often applied in the form of a 3rd party app. Most 3rd party apps require you to pay a monthly fee on top of your SAAS subscription in order to use them and these fees can soon add up.
- Most SAAS solution monthly fees are tied to the number of orders your website generates. This means that your monthly fees will grow alongside your business.
Is a SAAS ecommerce solution right for your business?
The answer to this question depends on a number of different factors.
- How many orders does your website generate per month?
- How many users visit your website every month?
- Does the SAAS solution provide all of the required functionality out of the box?
In our experience SAAS ecommerce solutions are great for startups or small to medium sized businesses that are looking to grow quickly selling their products online. The platforms usually provide all of the requirements a merchant of this size needs. They are great for merchants who want the technical side of running an online store fully managed and taken care of so they do not have to worry about it.
Is there any help available to make the right decision?
If you are still unsure whether a SAAS ecommerce solution is right for you then a conversation with one of our certified ecommerce solution specialists will definitely help. Reach out to us today and a qualified member of our team will arrange a call to discuss your project with you in more detail. Then you can make an informed decision on which is the best type of platform for you and your business moving forward.
We are a certified partner made up of a small team of Shopify and BigCommerce developers. We bring with us a wealth of experience developing SAAS platforms and would love to help you grow your business, Get in touch today if we sound like the sort of technical development partner you’re looking for.