When sizing up the shopping cart software you are interested in, a very important question comes to mind. “Do I want to have this cart hosted by the vendor, or do I want to host the cart myself on an independent server?” The answer to this question is definitely not cut-and-dried. There can be many advantages and disadvantages to a hosted shopping cart, especially depending on the vendor. Let’s take a look at a few of the major factors.
Peace of Mind is essential when it comes down to the reliability of the shopping cart. Having a vendor host the cart means that an administrator can quickly bring a shopping cart back online if there is an emergency and the cart is down. This relieves much of the stress that can be caused when you support your own cart. This also means the hosted cart will stay up-to-date as the vendor will apply security patches and bug fixes, which must be done manually when you host your own cart.
Speaking of support… a large benefit of having a hosted cart is the customer support that is typically included. Usually this will include phone, email and chat support with a friendly support staff representative. Having a knowledgeable support representative directly answer your questions certainly beats digging through online forums and manuals trying to hunt down an answer to a simple question. Direct support can save you a lot of time, money, and frustration.
The cost of the cart is definitely an important consideration. A hosted cart means you will pay a flat fee every month. This is very similar to renting a house from a landlord. The landlord takes care of everything involving the house, however you will never own the house yourself. Purchasing a license of shopping cart software is similar to owning your own home. It may cost more up front, and there still might be costs to maintain it, but it could be the better investment in the long run. You will have more control over the application and database when you own it, which makes the platform more flexible.
Flexibility is another aspect to consider when you are debating which route to take when purchasing a cart. Hosted carts are not quite as flexible as a licensed cart would be, and there are many reasons for this. For example, if you want to move your website to a new server and want to move your cart along with it, you might be out of luck with a hosted cart if your current and new vendor do not have compatible cart systems. And then there’s security…
PCI Compliance is much harder to achieve on your own with a licensed cart. This is because not only does the cart need to be compliant, but so does the environment that the cart is hosted in. Hosted cart solutions from reputable vendors are usually PCI DSS Compliant and are hosted in compliant environments. You are taking on this heavy burden when you choose to go with a licensed solution, making this factor very important for consideration.