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What Should You Build Your Online Store On? An Open Source Platform vs. SaaS

Karolina Obszynska Sep 01. 2022


Open Source platform vs. SaaS


When you build a home, you begin with the foundations. The same is true for an eCommerce business, but here the foundations are the sales platform which you choose for running your online store. There are a few solutions on the market which will surely satisfy your expectation and primary business objectives. However, in this article we will take a closer look at the two most popular types.

Which platform will be suitable for your industry and eCommerce business - Open Source vs. SaaS?

The post-pandemic reality is somewhat different to that of three years ago. Currently, all the more people shop online. According to Statisty, eCommerce sales will most probably exceed 1,3 trillion dollars in 2025 in the United States. Who would have thought about such results just a few years back? In comparison to 2015, this is almost a threefold increase! It is difficult to imagine now a modern store which does not exist online, which is why the majority of businesses are joining this race. A race toward digitization and increasing sales.

What is software in the Open Source model?

As part of the Open Source platform, you gain access to software which is based on an open source code. What does that mean? You can freely modify your store, introducing such functionalities and changes which will satisfy your expectations. Open Source software requires basic programming skills because the store must be correctly configured, a server and host must be chosen, and regular updates must be implemented.

Examples of Open Source systems: Magento, PrestaShop, WooCommerce.

Advantages of an Open Source sales platform:


  • Lack of fees for software in the basic version.

  • Independence from a system supplier.

  • Possibility of independent choice or change of host.

  • Storage of data on an in-house server.

  • Access to ready graphics templates for different industries.

  • Possibility of expanding the store with new functionalities and external integrations using available plugins.

  • Access to the source code which allows independent modification of the store according to your vision.

  • Support of a large community using this software.


Faults of an Open Source sales platform:


  • Expenses associated with hiring specialists who will help you implement the online store and provide technical support.

  • Responsibility of independent supervision of hosting and additions.


For whom are Open Source platforms appropriated?

Companies which Open Source software is appropriated for include:


  1. Smaller stores with fast growth potential.

  2. Medium and large stores for which a sales platform enables growth without any limitations.

  3. Online stores for which important is flexibility and adaptation of the website to their needs.

  4. Stores for which important are very extensive functions.

What is software in the SaaS model?

SaaS (software as a service) is a software based on the system supplier providing a ready-made online store. the choice of the right host, software updates, security measures, and development of the whole infrastructure lies with the supplier. You receive a ready store, where you do not have to worry about technical aspects. Billing is most often dealt with in the form of a subscription.

The following platforms work on such a model: IdoSell, Shopify, Shoplo, Shy-Shop.

Advantages of a SaaS sales platform:

  • Fast implementation of the online store.

  • Software updates, servers, and hosting on part of the supplier.

  • Guaranteed technical support in case of store malfunctions or other problems.

  • Ready-made online store graphics templates.

  • Lack of the necessity to have specialized knowledge about software. Also, lack of necessity to employ a programmer or developer to maintain the store.

  • Available integration models for payments, suppliers, and other services.

  • Security and legality guaranteed by the supplier.


Faults of a SaaS platform:

  • The store is not your property – it is located on the supplier’s server

  • Lack of access to the source code results in limited possibilities for expanding the store

  • Increase of costs associated with the development of the store and implementation of additional aspects outside the subscription


For whom are SaaS platforms appropriated?

Companies which SaaS software is appropriated for include:

  1. People who are starting an eCommerce business.

  2. Small companies with a low budget, who are mainly focused on product promotion.

  3. Medium sized companies which want a simple online store and do not require advanced solutions.

Open Source vs. SaaS: which to choose?

Choose an Open Source platform if:

> You care about developing and expanding your store according to your own plan and vision.

> You have technical knowledge, a team of experienced programmers, or contact with an experienced software house.

> You want to own the you customers’ data and hosting.

Choose a SaaS platform if:

> You need a platform which can be implemented quickly and effectively.

> You do not want to implement extensive functionalities or external integrations.

> You are only starting your eCommerce business.

Remember that regardless of which software type you choose - Open Source or SaaS – you can always change it. The entire process will be associated with additional costs and effort, but it is not impossible. Before you set up your online store, consider all the pros and cons of these platforms in order to choose the software which best suits your needs.

Do you want to know more? Read How to set up an online store? 8 necessary steps

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