There are two broad types of shopping cart website you can implement for your online business. These are hosted shopping carts and self-hosted shopping carts. What are the pros and cons of each option?
Hosting is a term to describe the physical location of a website that is available on the Internet. Hosting providers establish the technology platform for the website to exist, that is the computers, the hard drive, the Internet connection to the outside world and an IP address so that the website can be found by other computers and networks on the Internet.
A self-hosted website does not mean that you have to use your own computers or network connections to house your website. Instead, it refers to whether the eCommerce software provider hosts your website or whether it is hosted on a provider of your own choice.
A self-hosted website gives you complete control of the features of the website as you can control all of the files that the shopping cart uses to run and the database. Assuming it is not against the license of your software, you also have access to modify the cart to suit your specific needs and customisations too.
While this level of control sounds like an excellent option, the downside of this approach is that it is considerably time consuming as you must first secure your website so that it meets strict security standards (much tougher than the standards that need to be met for a static website or one that doesn’t sell anything) and keep it up to date, fixing bugs in the software, fixing bugs in your custom modifications, adding new modifications, changing design elements and so on. You need a lot of time to do this work yourself, or access to an internal resource to maintain the website’s technology on top of the time it takes to run the store.
Given these complexities it is sometimes easier to have a specialist take care of your shop hosting so you can get on with selling. This is true even if you have the skills to do it yourself. A hosted solution is stored at the shop software provider’s end, and it’s their responsibility to keep the environment operating, respond to issues you raise, keep the technology platform and give you support for your shopping cart software on top of that. This frees up a lot of time, and can save money in terms of contractors too.
There are pros and cons of each approach and what is best depends on your business and its objectives.