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When it Comes to Ecommerce, Here’s What The Cloud Can Do for You

*The following is a guest post from Terry Lin at Bigcommerce

One of the biggest decisions for brands is choosing between a cloud-hosted ecommerce solution –– or what is known as SaaS –– or having your own servers over which you have complete control. There are pros and cons to each option, and today we will do a deep dive to find out which one is right for you.

An on-premise solution means you will be hosting the servers, choosing the shopping cart, setting up the backend, designing the website and getting everything online. There is significant ramp up time required, and it’s very likely you’ll need to find your own developers to roll this out.

A cloud solution, however, affords you an ecommerce store out-of-the-box and readily made. Just sign up for an account, install a theme, upload your products, finalize your payment gateways and you are good to go within a week or less. This allows you to quickly ramp up and focus on what really matters –– building traffic and making sales.

To determine which solution is right for you, here are a few things to consider:

Cart Requirements

Your requirements for a shopping cart will depend on the type of products you sell. Do you sell portable bars with various customizable modules or world map t-shirts? No matter what type of product you are selling, you need to know exactly which features are needed during the shopping and checkout process. The last thing you want to do is go with a shopping cart, design a website, import all your products and realize it cannot do what you need it to.

Very large organizations use on-premise solutions because they have an in-house IT team that can manage these operations. As bigger companies, their requirements among different departments may also complicate the infrastructure in which an on-premise solution makes more sense.

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For most merchants, even larger organizations, however, a cloud solution is a great option because of the robust features built into the platforms. Cloud ecommerce solutions can handle large loads of SKUs and do not require an IT team to keep up maintenance, saving you time and money.

Technical Skill

Are you comfortable fiddling around with a website’s CSS and HTML? If not, an on-premise solution is not a good fit for you. You can go ahead and try to learn, but there is a very steep learning curve and your time is honestly better spent elsewhere.

Cloud solutions allow you to modify the design and functionality of your shopping cart through the backend with a nice user interface. That interface changes the website code for you, so there is no need to dig into lines of text to get the outcome you want. However if you really wanted to, cloud solutions do have a template editor where you can dig into the code.

Time

With a cloud solution, you are able to sign up for a store and have it up and running within a few hours. In addition, when your server needs upgrades or when upgraded features roll out on your shopping cart, your provider will handle all of that and there is nothing you need to do. From a timing perspective, this is one of the key benefits of going with a cloud solution.

For an on-premise solution, you will need to hire your own developers, designers and team members to get your site up and running. The tradeoff for this time is complete control over your shopping cart.

Cost and Investment

When it comes to resources, money can make things move faster or slower. If budgets are tight, a cloud solution is one of the most economical solutions because you get a fully functional cart out of the box with minimal additional costs.

While some on-premise solutions are essentially free to use, the costs usually are hidden in the backend with development, design and paid plugins. These costs will come out of your pocket along with the ongoing maintenance fees and costs incurred throughout the life of an online store.

Plugins and Addons

There is a growing market of third party applications and plugins that can enhance the experience of an online store. Applications in accounting, live chat, order fulfillment and your shopping cart can all “talk” to each other and exchange information. As a result, some cloud-hosted ecommerce solutions, such as Bigcommerce, have a marketplace and one-click integration solutions to help you tackle customer service, conversions, design and more.

For the on-premise solutions, you’ll need to find the plugin, install it, go through setup and configure everything to work on your server.

Which One Is Right For You?

To figure out which ecommerce solution is ideal for your business, write out exactly what it is that you need in a digital shopping cart.

From there, decide what is mission critical vs. “nice-to-have” and then narrow your cart selection down to those criteria. The goal of this exercise is to lay everything out on the table so that you check off all the features you need when deciding on a solution.

For most brands, a cloud solution is the way to go. It allows you to focus less on the technology and more on growing your business through marketing, sales and various channels rather than tinkering around with servers, website code, or troubleshooting the technical aspects.

About the Author:

Terry Lin is a guest writer for Bigcommerce and founder and co-host of the Build My Online Store podcast, a show dedicated to helping e-commerce store owners increase traffic, get more sales, and build a brand. He also hosts ecommerce meetups around the world on the first Sunday of every month. Check out buildmyonlinestore.com to get more information on how to attend and meet other like-minded folks.

Arie Shpanya

Arie is the former COO, Executive Chairman, and Co-Founder of Wiser, a dynamic pricing and merchandising engine for online retailers and brands. He has extensive experience in business development with a focus on eCommerce (eBay and Amazon), and is a guest blogger on Econsultancy, VentureBeat, and more.

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