SaaS vs Software. Advantages and disadvantages of ecommerce platforms.

From the previous post you already know the platform type dilemma is coming. Here are some key features of both SaaS and Software platforms. But let us once again sum the things up in one place and give it a little visual order.

 

Launch

PROS
  • It will take you as long as a couple of weeks to launch a fully capable online marketplace of enterprise level if you have never dealt with SaaS. If you did your storefront will be up and running in a couple of days.
  • As a result of fast start – you are always on the edge and you are the first to test new products and services.
  • On most SaaS platforms you can create duplicates of your marketplace and test things on different stages without backing up, but only on temporary domain.
  • SaaS platforms are very popular, so you have lots of videos, docs and manuals to read and watch to make up a list of extensions and design preferences before start.
  • No surprises. If you buy software and have it installed on server – it will work. Otherwise you get all your money back guaranteed.
  • All features, extensions, amendments, integrations – everything is made by a single developer. And if you have specific needs you have one phone number (or email) to talk them over with your provider and they will develop or design and implemented everything the way you want.
  • Lots of features and integrations are already included and don’t even have waste your time to look for them.
  • Personal demo. The thing, that can’t be overvalued! You don’t have to pay right away. You can deploy your marketplace on your local computer and will have unlimited time to get acquainted with the product. But you won’t be able to go online, will not get developers support and customization until you pay. Hey, find vendors, upload all product lists, tune SEO and only then pay. It’s like a rocket launch!
CONS
  • Though it’s easy to get started, you will have to hurry, because the provider will charge you from the early start. You will have a free trial but believe me, you will waste most of it on design.
  • It takes more time. Downloadable platform needs more preparations than installation and setting up server
  • You need some technical skills. Not much, but still. Or you need a developer.

Management

pros
  • The admin panel is simple. You can make changes with drag&drop and see the result in real time.
  • All updates are automatic. You always have latest versions.
  • In most case you don’t need development skills at all.
  • To maintain your online marketplace you need only internet connection. Admin panel is always accessible.
  • Multiple levels of admin and vendors access. You can have different types of admins and vendors. Each of them will see only their control options which will make it easier to
  • Lots of settings! You have all controls in your hands. Your will is the order. Power! Unlimited power!
  • You will own your platform forever.
  • If you decide to start all over just change the domain. All your settings and presets will stay. Without additional costs.
  • You can influence on marketplace performance. Change code or find another server.
cons
  • You are limited with management instruments provided by the developer of platform and extensions.
  • You can’t choose server or make your load speed faster.
  • You can get overwhelmed by admin panel settings. Though platform developers try to design intuitive interface, there are so many options to switch on or off and all that combinations of them! It takes time to get over it.

Security

pros
  • SaaS platform security is the headache of the provider. All patches and updates happen automatically without your involvement.
  • You will get a pack of security certificates and settings which are demanded by search engines and for payment processing included. You won’t miss something important.
  • In house data storage. This can be a valid advantage for many vendors, especially major.
cons
  • All your data is… somewhere. Though you can accuse your platform provider of the security vulnerability, it will be you to be responsible before your vendors and customers for any private information leaks.
  • Though SaaS platforms are always up to date and are in partnership with reliable hosting providers, you might have your specific preferences to your marketplace security policy. Probably, your demands could be easily implemented, but they will never be, because SaaS platforms provide an average solution, a compromise, which can be accepted by millions of users.
  • It takes much time and knowledge to tune up your security and keep it updated.

Hosting

pros
  • Larger SaaS ecommerce platforms demonstrate almost 99.99%.
  • Most SaaS providers can handle massive traffic. You can be sure your marketplace will be able to handle peak traffic and stay operational.
  • You can influence on performance speed by choosing a server and tuning your network performance.
  • Though you have a higher probability of server downtime you don’t need to wait for platform support reaction. You can act immediately – all controls are in your hands.
  • You have your data backed up whenever and wherever you desire. Even for free on your home PC.
cons
  • Again, you will have an average, compromise solution without a single chance to influence on your marketplace performance speed.
  • If the server falls you will be one of thousands of platform provider customers writing angry letters. Be sure you will have to wait like the others. No special treatment for you.
  • You have to pay for hosting separately and monthly. Though not much.
  • You have to spend your time on keeping an eye on this. Updates and audit also take time.
  • Not only you have to dedicate your time on maintaining servers, you also need to be familiar with hosting and servers topic. Or you will need to hire someone who is.

Features and flexibility

pros
  • When you pay for any extension or feature for your multi vendor store, it is ready to use. You only push one button to make a purchase and it starts working at once.
  • If the feature breaks you don’t need to close a storefront and cut it out from the code. Again, you just push the button, switch it off and write a claim to its developer. Simple.
  • Your needs might not be met. You have only things being sold on app market, nothing more. Need a feature, but it’s not listed on app market? Forget about it.
  • Flexibility is something that downloadable ecommerce software is all about. You can craft ANYTHING what you need. Moreover, you can make it look and perform the way you want with no compromise.
  • Most software platforms have multiple language support for their admin panel.
  • Although you will have your Google Analytics tag integrated, you will have a built-in advances reports tool. Sales, warehouse, orders, shipments and more – all in one admin panel with import/export ability. And it’s included in price.
  • More payment gateways options and more currency options for vendors and customers.
  • You can integrate any existing service with your online marketplace if it has this capability as far as you have full access to code.
cons
  • Extensions and add-ons have limited settings. Probably, you only can change the colours, but can’t change the shape.
  • For your platform subscription you will get a minimal functionality. You will have to buy and pay monthly fees for additional functionality you need. And you might need much more than basic.
  • You need to have proper skills in development to create qualitative features. Otherwise you will have to hire someone to develop for you.
  • While making changes in code you can accidently harm it critically. Well, you have back ups, but you can’t back up spent time, can you?

Design

pros
  • Simple installation with only one button.
  • Greater variability of themes. Plenty of free themes of good quality and even more to purchase for affordable price.
  • Easy to make changes in existing themes by drag&drop. Change colours, frames, shapes, backgrounds, move elements, resize them, show or hide them, add dynamics and much more.
  • Safe to change themes. It will not harm your layout.
  • Downloadable platform has a little less options for design in the admin panel. Some providers also offer drag&drop instrument. But when you have access to code, there is nothing you can’t do. Make your “Purchase” button look like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s face and pop out of nowhere singing “It’s raining men”! Why? Just because you can…
cons
  • Sometime it’s just not enough. Sometime your imagination will face the limits of the platform.
  • Less existing themes. And even if you find the one you like, you should make sure it will not ruin your existing layout if you made custom modifications.
  • Takes time to make a perfect design if you are not familiar enough with the platform you use.

Spendings

pros
  • Cheap start. You can start selling for as cheap as a domain cost. If you are experienced enough to create your marketplace within free trial period.
  • Often you start paying more as you grow. So it’s always a comfortable cut of your revenue you can afford to spend.
  • You pay for the license only once in your life. If you are planning to seriously grow your marketplace, in a couple of years your platform investments will return
  • You don’t have to pay for extensions, add-ons or integrations if you can develop them yourself. By the way, they will also be yours forever.
  • Sometime providers don’t demand to pay the whole amount of cost. As far as custom development takes time and testing, the work has stages to perform intermediate control. Platform developers allow “staging” payments. This is normal practice.
cons
  • You will pay monthly fees forever. Sorry.
  • The platform might cost little, but all add-ons may cost much more.
  • Price may grow. Not that it happened, but if it does, you will have to pay more. Or replatform.
  • If you for some reason you miss regular payment your storefront disappears. You can miss it just because your card has been stolen. It’s not your fault but who cares.
  • Way more expensive! Can be 10 or 20 times more expensive than a SaaS solution.
  • You will have regular payments for hosting. An you can miss regular payment also. But those guys are so friendly in most cases that they can keep your marketplace up and wait a little or even charge you next month for the whole period. High competition works wonders.

Summary:

SaaS is a fast starters for the people with lack of developments skills. It has everything you need to create an inline multi vendor marketplace of high quality for a reasonable money. But as you grow you realise that you need more. To be on the edge of sales technology (which is more than ecommerce only) you need to adapt fast. And it demands more control, more options, more freedom. That can be found in software only. Even the price tells the story – individuals and small business or serious enterprise business.

 

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