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Comparing SaaS vs Open Source eCommerce Platforms

Dec 08, 2020
SaaS vs Open Source eCommerce Platform

It is no hidden fact that businesses that are successful achieve their objectives first- great customer retention, excellent shopping experience, robust marketing strategies, talented team members, and of course off the charts products/services. It is not easy to meet these objectives, there is a lot more than that meets the eye happening behind the scenes.

The main stepping stone to success is customer satisfaction. For this, an efficient user-friendly API is required. Out of the innumerable decisions you make for your business the most prominent one is- Which eCommerce platform to choose to prepare the business for scalability and long-term growth?

To arrive at any conclusion, first, you should be attuned with all the details and wary of all the pros and cons of the options you have. More information at hand is directly proportional to better decision making.

An eCommerce platform basically is a readymade software that once installed, allows online business owners to manage their websites, products, sales, and other necessary operations even with minimum or no knowledge of programming. There is a variety of eCommerce software you can choose from that suits your business and budget.

The best eCommerce platform software solutions are-

  • SaaS platform (Software as a Service) and
  • Open Source platform

When it comes to choosing we always wonder if the grass is green on the other side. Don’t worry, in this article we have mentioned a few major pointers which define the eCommerce platform comparison.

What is an Open Source eCommerce platform?

Open Source platform is a software that allows its users to view, edit, and distribute its source code for their own purposes. It is developed in a very public and collaborative manner.

The greatest advantage of this solution is that the business owner has complete access to the software’s source code and hence if there is any functionality missing or any changes required you can customize it on your own. You can also leverage the large development communities that are available for the same.

The latest study shows that the total global revenue in the open-source market is expected to grow into a 30-billion-dollar industry by 2022.

Best Open Source solution providers are- WooCommerce, Shopygen, Magento, OpenCart, etc

What is a SaaS eCommerce platform?

SaaS platform is a web-based licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis. It is not bought or installed on individual computers but is hosted in the cloud by a third-party vendor. Users access these applications via web browsers and pay a monthly subscription-based on levels of service and number of users.

The providers build, host, and maintain the software on their servers. This means that users are limited in their ability to customize the source code.

According to SaaS statistics, the market hit the $141 billion mark in 2019. Its expansion still continues exponentially and is expected to hit $157 billion this year.

Best SaaS providers are- BigCommerce, Volusion, Big Cartel, etc

Both the eCommerce software have their respective pros and cons. It is up to you to judge and decide which suits your business and budget the best.

Open Source versus SaaS:

The fundamental difference between the two platform solutions lies in getting an open license for the source codes. Apart from this, there are many nuanced factors that will impact how you run your business.


Buying a finished product will always weigh more in your pockets. It is no different when it comes to a ready-made software service.

Hence SaaS proves to be costlier than Open Source software. The cost justifies all that the SaaS vendor provides you.

  • Hosting services
  • Domain services
  • Charges for the Themes provided

Usually, the vendor will charge you on a monthly subscription basis.

Whereas an Open Source solution is generally free of cost. There are paid versions as well, but the only difference being you will get faster support and the platform will not stop working even though your license expires. These being said there are other costs associated with developing your online store using Open Source software. Some being,

  • Licensing fees
  • Hosting fees
  • Fees for Debugging or software updates
  • Security and PCI compliance costs
  • Apps or extensions costs
  • Costs for integration into other systems etc

Build Time:

Though both the eCommerce software is easy to install, there is a major difference between getting everything set and running.

SaaS platform is like a tailored product for which you don’t have to worry about anything such as- hosting, security, and build themes, etc. With close to nil or very minimal coding knowledge you will be able to launch your store online within a matter of a few days.

But, in the case of Open Source platforms, it is almost like you are building your online store from scratch. You require some coding knowledge in order to tweak the source code and to manage hosting, security, and much more. Comparatively Open source software will take more time than SaaS software.


SaaS comparatively charges higher because the software provider is responsible to take care of all aspects of the site like optimization, monitoring, updating features, debugging, etc.

But for an open-source solution, you are responsible for the infrastructure and administration of your platform. You must set up hosting and be up-to-date on software updates. As open-source software is developed and upgraded by people who are just contributing to the community, this process will be time-consuming.


Cybercrimes are not new to us. Given that monetary transactions will take place through the internet, we will be under the surveillance of hackers. Hence it is of utmost importance to secure our website and get PCI DSS compliance(Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard).

SaaS software vendors will take care of security and PCI compliance. You will literally be at the mercy of the software provider for all the safety measures.

But Open source platforms will leave that to their users. So, you need to make sure you keep up with the ever-evolving world of technology and gear up to all the virtual threats out there.


What customers come looking for is a unique and satisfactory shopping experience. SaaS and Open Source platforms are both efficient and serve the right purposes. However, both of them have their pluses and minuses in this case.

In the SaaS platform, the vendor provides you with everything from themes, color schemes, checkout options, and every other feature needed to run an efficient online marketplace platform. They will also provide you with many other plug-ins and applications that will lift up your store like email marketing, and loyalty programs. But, due to restricted access to the source code, you will have limitations in editing the application according to your specific needs.

Whereas in an Open Source platform, there is no limit to what you want to customize. Since you have total control over the source code, you can do as you please and make it much more efficient and effective.


Once your business takes off, it only gets more complex thereafter. A single software platform alone is not enough to handle the burdens of complex order processing, supply chain management, product information management, maintaining client databases, etc. Hence, along with the eCommerce software business owners will simultaneously run multiple other systems to efficiently run their operations.

Both SaaS and Open Source platforms should have interfaces to connect with other systems. Given the vendor takes care of the maintenance in the SaaS platform, there is no need for you to worry about it much.

But with an Open source platform, integrating for sites can be lengthier and more cumbersome. A lot of work needs to be put into safely transfer data between systems.

Now that you have all the information, it is up to you to choose what is best for your business plan. Both have their positives and negatives. And a solution which might work for one site need not be suitable for the other. So, get yourself well equipped before you make a decision.

Good Luck!

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