A few months ago I wrote an article explaining some pros and cons of hosted cart solutions versus licensed cart solutions. As I previously mentioned, there are many advantages and disadvantages to a hosted cart solution and one article doesn’t do this subject justice. Let’s revisit some of these topics; after all, it is time to gear up for the holiday season and choosing the right cart is more important now than ever this time of year.
Are open source solutions a good deal? Yes! Are they a good deal for everyone? Absolutely not! Generally speaking, open source shopping cart software is free of cost. While this looks very appealing, we must remember the old economic adage of, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” You must still pay a hosting company to host your open source shopping cart software and this can quickly add up. Many companies will not let you host online applications on a shared server and will require you to get a virtual private server or a dedicated server. This might still be cheaper than a hosted cart solution, but now you are in charge of your own web server and this can be very disheartening for some.
Developmental standards are usually in place for vendors of hosted shopping cart solutions. This means that updates and bug fixes to the software are constantly rolling out to give the customer the best experience possible. These standards are almost non-existent for open source carts and even worse, malware can be spread using open source cart applications. “Open source” means the source code of the application is available to the public and can be edited at one’s own volition. This concept is great and promotes excellent, free software. However, because the code is open, it can be edited in a malicious way. Fewer than three months ago there were reports of sites infected with malware from running outdated versions of OScommerce and Opencart.
This brings us back to the topic of customer support. What do you do when you have a problem with your software if you haven’t purchased it from hosted solution vendor? The answer to this question is simple. You must go to an online forum, post a topic about your problem, and then pray that someone answers you. It can take days and even weeks to get a response to your post, and if the problem is severe enough, you could be out of business while you wait. This nightmare scenario is easily avoided when you have a dedicated support team to contact when you are having trouble with your application. Paying a little extra money for a hosted solution suddenly doesn’t sound like such a bad idea, does it?